Computer Hardware Abbreviated as HW is the physical part of a computer, as distinguished from the computer software that executes or runs on the hardware. The hardware of a computer is infrequently changed, while software and data are modified frequently.

As hardware refers to the physical elements of a computer. This is also sometime called the machinery or the equipment of the computer. Examples of hardware in a computer are the keyboard, the monitor, the mouse and the processing unit. However, most of a computer's hardware cannot be seen; in other words, it is not an external element of the computer, but rather an internal one, surrounded by the computer's casing (tower). A computer's hardware is comprised of many different parts, but perhaps the most important of these is the motherboard. The motherboard is made up of even more parts that power and control the computer.

In contrast to software, hardware is a physical entity. Hardware and software are interconnected, without software; the hardware of a computer would have no function. However, without the creation of hardware to perform tasks directed by software via the central processing unit, software would be useless.

Hardware is limited to specifically designed tasks that are, taken independently, very simple. Software implements algorithms (problem solutions) that allow the computer to complete much more complex tasks. Hardware is best described as any physical component of a computer system that contains a circuit board, ICs, or other electronics. A perfect example of hardware is the screen on which you are viewing this page. Whether it be a computer monitor, tablet or Smartphone; it's hardware. Without any hardware, your computer would not exist, and software could not be used.

Below is a list of external hardware and internal hardware that may be found with a computer.

External hardware examples

  • Flat-panel, Monitor, and LCD
  • Keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Mouse
  • Printer
  • Projector
  • Scanner
  • Speakers
  • USB thumb drive

Internal hardware examples

  • CPU
  • Drive (e.g. Blue-Ray, CD-ROM, DVD, floppy drive, and hard drive)
  • Fan (heat sink)
  • Modem
  • Motherboard
  • Network card
  • RAM
  • Sound card
  • Video card

Refers to objects that you can actually touch, like disks, disk drives, display screens, keyboards, printers, boards, and chips. In contrast, software is untouchable. Software exists as ideas, concepts, and symbols, but it has no substance. Books provide a useful analogy. The pages and the ink are the hardware, while the words, sentences, paragraphs, and the overall meaning are the software. A computer without software is like a book full of blank pages you need software to make the computer useful just as you need words to make a book meaningful.

Input and Output Devices: Input devices are the hardware that are used for providing information to the computer like mouse and keyboard and output devices are the hardware that are used for receiving information from computer like monitor, printer or the sound system.

Storage Devices: Storage capacity is the total amount of information a computer's memory or disk can hold at any one time. A personal computer system has three basic types of memory storage devices: RAM (random access memory), disks, and magnetic tape. Capacity can be upgraded, or increased, as the user's needs grow.

CPU: Is an electronic circuit that executes computer program. It is responsible for carrying out arithmetic and logic functions as well as executing instructions to other components. The components of a CPU work together, and depending on how they are made, determine exactly how fast these operations can be carried out along with how complex the operations can be.

Computer Peripherals: Any device that is attached to the computer is considered a peripheral. Examples include the printer, monitor, and mouse. Information and commands are transferred from the computer to the peripheral device through controllers, which are often single chips. Controllers for items like the keyboard and disk drives are standard, while additional devices such as a modem usually require the insertion of new controllers from the expansion board. Furthermore, the bus (series of connected wires that connects peripherals with the computer) must be compatible with the controller. There are three basic types of bus architectures. The AT bus, PCI and SCSI.