Computer Hardware

From USB connectors to motherboards, the HowStuffWorks Computer Hardware Channel will help you find explanations, reviews, videos and prices for the parts you need.

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Wireless mesh networks promise to deliver high-speed Internet connectivity anywhere, anytime. Find out when you would use them.

By Chris Pollette & Dave Roos

Is your computer more than a year old? If so, there's a good chance you're running low on disk space. Adding a hard drive will help -- we'll show you how.

By Marshall Brain

Most PCs use simple electrical fans to keep them cool. But upgrading to a liquid-cooling system can keep high-end gaming PCs running faster for longer.

By Tracy V. Wilson & Talon Homer


Dell, Apple and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that several lithium-ion laptop batteries could short-circuit, causing an explosion or a fire. Find out why.

By Tracy V. Wilson

We're already on the cusp of one of the next big media revolutions -- media-center PCs. The goal is to overcome the overlaps in the way we work and play, making the separation between home computers and entertainment systems obsolete.

By Julia Layton

PCI slots are an integral part of a computer's architecture, but they have some shortcomings. Now there's a protocol that provides more bandwidth and is compatible with existing operating systems. Find out about PCI Express.

By Tracy V. Wilson

Nearly everything you use to run your computer or enhance its performance is either part of the motherboard or plugs into it. But what does it actually do?

By Tracy V. Wilson & Chris Pollette


Movies play, pop-ups pop, and video games fill the screen, immersing you in a world of 3-D graphics. Today, every aspect of computing uses lots of graphics. The Accelerated Graphics Port enhances the performance and speed of graphics hardware. Find o

By Jeff Tyson & Robert Valdes

Smart dust sounds like something out of a Disney movie, but it's definitely not. Also called a mote or a wireless sensing network, this new technology is intriguing everyone from military personnel to vineyard owners.

By Marshall Brain

Think you know how routers work? These devices use intricate formulas to figure out exactly where to send a packet and how to get it there. Learn all about routing algorithms.

By Roozbeh Razavi

C programming can create a formula for a computer to generate a random number, but there are other ways to. Check out this explanation and diagram.


Chances are good that your operating system includes virtual memory. It makes your computer act like it has a lot more RAM than actually it does. Find out what virtual memory is and how it increases the speed of your PC.

We've all used one, and most of us are sitting in front of one right now. Curious to know what's going on inside that ever-present PC? Here's your chance to find out — without prying open your own.

By Jeff Tyson & Talon Homer

Removable memory has unchained us from our PCs -- we can now carry gigabytes of data wherever we go in a device the size of a matchbox. Learn about the three major digital storage technologies.

By Jeff Tyson

Silicon microprocessors are about to reach the limit to their storage capacity. But one technology may extend the life of the silicon microchip -- it's called extreme-ultraviolet lithography, and it may keep silicon useful for a few years longer.

By Kevin Bonsor


A computer is full of buses -- highways that take information and power from one place to another. While USB is good when utilizing small electronic devices, sometimes you need something bigger. That's where SCSI comes in.

By Jeff Tyson & Tracy V. Wilson

Voice over Internet Protocol lets you make free long-distance phone calls using your computer. It's essentially a phone network that uses the Internet infrastructure already connecting computers all over the world. Learn all about the technology behind VoIP and how you can set it up on your PC.

By Robert Valdes & Dave Roos

As we move closer to intelligent computers, they may begin to follow us wherever we go. Learn how ubiquitous networking will allow our data and information to travel with us.

By Kevin Bonsor

Essentially, a bus is a channel or path between the components in a computer. And having a high-speed bus is as important as having a good transmission in a car.

By Jeff Tyson & Ed Grabianowski


If your computers are in different rooms, phone-line networking may be a good way to connect them. Learn all about the pros and cons of using a phone-line network.

By Jeff Tyson

No new wires! Power-line networking uses the wiring already in your house to connect your computers. Learn about the pros and cons of a power-line network and how to set one up.

By Jeff Tyson

If you're thinking of networking the computers in your home, you have several options to explore. Will you go wired or wireless? And what's the best way to ensure the safety of your network?

By Tracy V. Wilson & John Fuller

For high-end gaming and video editing, an upgradeable graphics card is a must. Cutting edge video processors allow users to render complex visual effects, blisteringly fast frame rates, and multiscreen displays, with resolutions up to 4K and beyond.

By Jeff Tyson, Tracy V. Wilson & Talon Homer


The Integrated Drive Electronics interface is the most popular way to connect a hard drive to a PC. Find out where IDE came from and how it works today.

By Jeff Tyson

The power supply in your PC provides all the different voltages your computer needs to operate properly. Find out how it puts the pieces together and troubleshoot your power supply problems.

By Gary Brown & Talon Homer