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After completing this lab you should be able to do the following:

Describe the basic features of input, output, process, storage, and communications hardware

Design a desktop computer system based upon provided requirements

Obtain a price quote for a desktop computer system

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................... 2
Part One: Identifying Computer Components...................................................................................... 2
Part Two: Designing a Computer System .......................................................................................... 12
Submitting your Lab Report ............................................................................................................... 12


A Windows-based computer
Access to the Internet



In this lab you will perform some basic research to learn more about computer and networking hardware.
Based upon the information obtained you will design a computer system for the office staff of an
imaginary company.

Part One: Identifying Computer Components

The tangible components of a computer system can be classified into the following five groups: input,
process, output, storage, and communications (network) (Figure 1). This lab is divided into sections
based upon these five groups. For each section you will investigate the properties and characteristics of a
specific computer component using sources on the World Wide Web. You will then be asked to answer a
set of questions regarding your findings. After collecting this background information you will design a
computer system for staff members of an imaginary organization. Finally you will create a report based
upon your design and post it to your Google site.

Use whatever resources you have available for answering these questions. Include a list of your
references at the end of your report. A useful starting point is

Figure 1: An exploded view of the computer hardware components of a laptop computer

Another is Detailed pictures and explanations of motherboard components
are available at Include at
least three additional sources in your list of references. Be aware that contributions to Wikipedia are
made by volunteers and are not necessarily edited for correctness. Likewise, some information found on
either or both of the above mentioned sites may be out-of-date. Include the most accurate and up-to-date
information you can find in your report.
Input Hardware
1. How many keys do most modern keyboards have?
2. What keys besides the typical alphabetic and numeric keys are included on a keyboard?
3. What types of connectors are used on modern keyboards?

Figure 2: A computer keyboard

Figure 3: A computer mouse

4. What type of mouse has replaced the traditional mechanical mouse?
5. What types of connectors are used on mouses?
6. Name two pointer-type devices that might be used with a computer system.
7. What is the purpose of a scanner?
8. List at least two devices that have the capability to scan documents?
9. What type of software is required to convert scanned text into text that can be modified by a word

Process Hardware
Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Motherboard

Figure 4: An external view of a computer processor

Figure 5: A computer motherboard or system board

10. What speeds (measured in hertz) do present-day CPUs attain?
11. Provide definitions for each of the following components of a CPU:
a. Arithmetic/Logic Unit
b. Registers/Primary Storage Unit
c. Control Unit

12. Provide definitions for each of the following components of a motherboard or system board (See for a set of pictures
that shows detailed pictures of a motherboard and its components)
a. System bus
b. Data bus
c. Address bus
d. Local bus/Video bus
e. Expansion bus
13. What is the purpose of the system bus?
14. What is the purpose of the data bus?

Figure 6: A Random Access Memory chip

Figure 7: A conceptual view of processor hardware, primary and secondary storage, memory caches, and
the network interface. Speeds for these components diminish from left to right.
15. What is the difference between Random Access Memory and Read Only Memory?
16. What is the purpose of cache memory?

Output Hardware
17. What are the two most common types of monitor technologies?
18. Briefly describe how the two technologies differ.

Figure 8: A flat-screen computer monitor

Figure 9: A computer video adapter

Video Cards
19. What is the purpose of a video card?
20. Why would you want lots of memory on your video card?

21. Early computer printers were based upon typewriter technology. Newer printer technologies
discarded the older approach were the print head contacted the paper to create a character image.
List three advantages that non-impact printers have over the older typewriter-style printers.
22. Search for information on dot-matrix and daisy-wheel printers. Briefly describe the differences
between these older typewriter-based technologies.
23. The two most common types of printer used today are laser jets and ink jets. Briefly explain the
difference in these technologies. List 3 advantages of each type of printer.

Figure 10: A modern desktop printer

Figure 11: A dedicated FAX machine

24. Is it reasonable to consider a fax machine as a type of computer? Explain.

25. Describe two different approaches to sending a fax (Hint: one approach uses dedicated hardware
and the other does not).
Storage Hardware
Hard Disk Drives
26. List three different hard disk drive interface technologies.
27. What is meant by a track on a hard disk drive?
28. What is a sector?
29. Describe how data are physically stored on hard disk drives.
30. What does the acronym RAID refer to?
31. List and describe three different classes of RAID
32. What does the expression hot swappable mean with regard to drives in a RAID array?

Figure 12: A hard disk platter and read-write head and mechanism

Figure 13: A floppy disk and drive

Floppy Disk Drives
33. List three ways in which a floppy disk drive differs from a hard disk drive.

34. Why are floppy disk drives no longer available on most computers?
35. What is a zip drive?
36. What is a thumb drive?
Other Types of Storage
37. Provide a description for each of the following types of storage hardware:
b. Blu-Ray
c. DVD
d. Thumb drives
e. Network disk drives and arrays

Figure 14: A CD-ROM/DVD drive

Figure 15: A Network Adapter Card

Communications Hardware
Network Interface Cards (network adapters)
38. What is the purpose of a network adapter?
39. What two different types of network adapters are typically included in laptop computers?

Figure 16: Dell Computers home page

Part Two: Designing a Computer System

In this part of the lab you will use the knowledge gained in Part One to help you design a computer
system for the office staff of a fictional organization. You will not be given specific budget information,
but must attempt to design the most cost-effective system you can, based upon the resources available.
The system should be capable of accomplishing the tasks performed by the office workers, but should not
contain unnecessary features.
Assume that you work in the IT department of a large corporation name Acme Productions and that it is
your job to periodically provide management with price quotes for new office computers. You are
required to obtain quotes from two different vendors. The quotes must include an itemized list of
components and a justification for why each component is appropriate and necessary. Both quotes must
be for a computer that includes a set of components that meet the needs of the office staff, but do not
exceed these needs. Specifically your quotes must be for computers that have sufficient computing power
and storage capacities, but are reasonably priced.
In general, the office staff uses computers for email and word processing purposes. They also need
access to the company intranet to download purchase forms. The staff also needs to access the Internet to
exchange orders with Acmes business partners. Office workers store documents that include large
graphics files on their PCs. They also need to access network storage drives for archiving older
Designing a Computer System
Design a computer system for the office staff. Obtain price quotes from two different vendors. Use online resources and include the names of the vendors in your quotes. Sources for information used in your
quotes must be well-known reputable companies such as Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, etc. Write a
short summary indicating the differences and similarities between the computer systems you have
designed. Also include a short justification for any price differences that are encountered.

Submitting your Lab Report

Create a new page on your Google site. Name this page Lab Four Report. Copy the questions on
computer hardware and their answers to the Lab Four Report page. Create a separate section for your
price quote summaries. Attach the actual itemized price quotes to your report using the Google
Attachments feature (See Figure 17).

Figure 17: A sample Google site report page showing the Attachments feature