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 many types of computer – including desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs.

Let's look at two of the most common types: desktop computers and laptops.

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.

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

Parts of a desktop computer

Keyboard

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

Mouse

The mouse lets you select objects on the screen.

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

Computer case

The computer case contains the Central Processing Unit (CPU), which is often called the processor or chip. You can think of the computer case as containing the brain of the computer, where all the processing and storage happens.

Monitor or Screen

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

Speakers

Speakers allow you to hear sounds, such as music or someone talking if you are video calling. Some speakers are built in to the screen or computer case, and sometimes they come separately.

Parts of a laptop

Let's find out what the different parts of a laptop are used for.

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

Track pad

Just like a mouse, the track pad lets you select objects on the screen.

Power cable

The power cable supplies power to the laptop and charges the battery when it's plugged in. The battery powers the computer when it's not plugged in.

a laptop computer with the power cable highlighted in purple
a laptop computer with the screen highlighted in purple

Screen

Laptop screens are usually the top lid, which you open up when you start using the laptop. Like a desktop monitor, they show what is happening on your computer.

Speakers

Speakers allow you to hear music and other sounds from your laptop. On a laptop, they are built-in rather than separate.

a laptop computer with the built-in speakers 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