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Home > Computer Buyer's Guide > Computer Glossary

Glossary Of Basic Computer Terms

When shopping for Cheap Computers, many terms are going to come up that aren't well known to most consumers. This computer glossary is intended to help you understand more about the technology you are looking to purchase.


BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) - the program logic used to boot up a computer and establish the relationship between the various components.

Cable set - one or more interface cables (typically, in relation to a motherboard, includes cables for a floppy drive, hard drive, and CD-ROM drive; may include cables between an internal connector header and a bracket or other opening at the front of rear of the system; may include cables for both IDE/ATAPI and SCSI devices).

Chassis - the structure used to house the various "internal" components of the computer (i.e., the motherboard, adapter cards, various storage devices, power supply, etc.)

Chipset (or core logic) - two or more integrated circuits which control the interfaces between the system processor, RAM, I/O devises, and adapter cards.

Driver - software which defines the characteristics of a device for use by another device or other software.

LAN - Local Area Network - the interface to your local area network.

Motherboard - the principal printed circuit board assembly in a computer; includes core logic (chipset), interface sockets and/or slots, and input/output (I/O) ports Printed circuit board (PCB) - a thin, laminated sheet composed of a series of epoxy resin and copper layers and etched electronic circuits (signal, ground and power).

PCI - Peripheral Component Interconnect - a high speed interface for video cards, sound cards, network interface cards, and modems; runs at 33MHz. ISA - Industry Standard Architecture - a relatively low speed interface primarily used for sound cards and modems; runs at approx. 8MHz.

Processor - the "central processing unit" (CPU); the principal integrated circuit used for doing the "computing" in "personal computing".

Power Supply - the device used to convert, regulate, and transmit external power for use by the components housed inside the computer chassis Additional Terms Applicable to Motherboard.

PS/2 - a low speed interface used for mice and keyboards.

RAM AGP - Accelerated Graphics Port - a high speed interface for video cards; runs at 1X (66MHz), 2X (133MHz), or 4X (266MHz).

RAM - Random Access Memory - see System RAM Port (serial, parallel, PS/2, USB, sound, LAN, VGA, SCSI) - interface connectors for the associated types of devices Serial - a low speed interface typically used for mice and external modems Parallel - a low speed interface typically used for printers.

SCSI (interface) - Small Computer System Interface - the interface between a SCSI controller and an external or internal SCSI device Jumper - a small block (approx .250" wide x .312" long x .125" thick with two holes running lengthwise which are connected with a metal structure), or the functionally equivalent electronic "interconnect"; used to enable, disable, or select operating parameter on a motherboard or other PCB by either electrically connecting two pins on the PCB (closed) or separating them (open - only one pin is covered or the jumper is removed). Connector header - a series of two or more metal pins on the motherboard or other PCB; used to attach a cable to indicator lights, switches, and/or other devices in the computer Jumper header - two pins or a series of two-pin groups where jumpers are used.

System RAM - the random access memory (RAM) used by the CPU for computational purposes.

USB - Universal Serial Bus - a medium speed interface typically used for mice, keyboards, scanners, display panels (control features, not data), speakers (control features, not sound), scanners, and some digital cameras Sound (interface) - the interface between the sound card or integrated sound connectors and speakers, mic, game controllers, and MIDI sound devices.

VGA - Video Graphics Adapter - the interface from your video card or integrated video connector and the system display monitor.

Video Card (Graphics Accelerator) - an interface card with dedicated video processor and RAM; used for processing data for display on a monitor or display panel.


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