Parts of a computer or laptop

 

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Parts of a computer or laptop

two different types of computer - a laptop computer next to a desktop computer

What's coming up?

Take a moment to look at the computer or laptop in front of you. Do you know what the different parts are for?

It helps to learn the basics about how your computer or laptop works. In this activity, you will find out about the difference between laptops and desktop computers, and the main parts of a computer.

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Types of computer

There are two main types of computer – the desktop computer and the laptop.

Although they basically do the same thing, laptops are smaller and easier to move around. Desktop computers are bigger and so tend to be kept in one place. They are often cheaper (because they are bigger), but also are often more powerful than laptops.

Let's take a look at what makes up the parts of these computers.

two different types of computer - a desktop computer and a laptop computer
parts of a desktop computer with the keyboard highlighted in purple

The keyboard

All desktop computers come with a keyboard that contains letters, numbers and a range of symbols. The keyboard looks similar to a typewriter and it is used to type information into your computer.

The mouse

The mouse allows you to navigate around the screen. Some types of mouse connect to the computer by a cable, and other types of mouse do not. You can select things and perform tasks on your computer using your mouse.

parts of a desktop computer with the mouse highlighted in purple
parts of a desktop computer with the computer case highlighted in purple

The computer case

The case, or tower, is the brains of the desktop computer. It contains the processor, microchips, circuits and hard drives that are used to perform tasks and save your files. A desktop computer must be permanently connected to mains power, and the power cord plugs into the computer case.

The monitor

The monitor is also known as the screen, and it allows you to see what's happening on the computer.

parts of a desktop computer with the monitor highlighted in purple
parts of a desktop computer with the separate speakers highlighted in purple

The speakers

Many computers have speakers built into the monitor or tower, however older computers will require speakers to be plugged into them so you can hear sound.

Parts of a laptop

Laptop computers are more compact than desktop computers, so are lighter and portable. Let's find out what the different parts of a laptop are used for.

The keyboard

The keyboard allows you to type information onto the screen and navigate around the screen.

a laptop computer with the keyboard highlighted in purple
a laptop computer with the track pad highlighted in purple

The track pad

The track pad operates in the same way as a computer mouse. You can navigate around your laptop by gently running your finger over the surface of the trackpad.

a laptop computer with the screen highlighted in purple

The screen

The screen of the laptop operates in the same way as a computer screen, however it is built into the laptop itself. You can view your files and photos on the laptop screen and also browse the internet.

The speakers

Laptop speakers are built into the laptop body, usually on either side of the keyboard, and the volume controls are often positioned on the top row of the keyboard. The speakers allow you to hear music and other sounds, as well as anyone you are video chatting with.

a laptop computer with the built-in speakers highlighted in purple

The power cable

Unlike a desktop computer, a laptop has a battery built into it that allows you to use the laptop without being permanently plugged into mains power. However, the battery does need to be recharged regularly, so every laptop comes with a charging cable for plugging into mains power. You can also keep using the laptop while it is recharging.

a laptop computer with the power cable highlighted in purple
four symbols commonly used to indicate USB drives, music, sound recorder and camera

Get connected

You now know the main parts of a computer. But there are lots of other devices you can connect to your computer, depending on what you need. Here are a few examples:

  • digital cameras can connect to your computer to upload and store your photos
  • music and media players, e.g., mp3 players
  • sound recorders, e.g., microphones
  • USB flash drives, which store digital images and documents.

Test your knowledge

Question: What do you use to view information on a desktop computer?

There are three possible answers below. Click on the card you think has the right answer.

The speakers

Click to flip

Sorry, that is not the correct answer. Try again.

The monitor

Click to flip

Well done! That is the correct answer - you use the monitor to view information on a desktop computer.

The keyboard

Click to flip

Sorry, that is not the correct answer. Try again.

Well done!

You have completed the Parts of a computer or laptop activity.

In this activity, you found out that there are different types of computer, some that are intended for use at a single location, e.g. desktop computers, and others that are portable, e.g. laptops.

You also examined what the various parts of a desktop and laptop computer do.

In the next activity, Turning computers on and off, you'll find out about the safest way to close down a computer.

a father and daughter catching up on the news on their laptop