On our lesson today, I will be taking you through the knowledge base computer classifications and how best to see, identify and classify all the various parts and types of computer systems.
Recall that in our last topic, I was able to show you how best to boot a computer system as well as the step by step guild on computer introduction in our modern African time. Feel free to check them out anytime.
A Computer system comes in various sizes, purposes and operations. These different features give us room to classify a computer system.
Historically computers were classified according to processor types because development in processor and processing speeds were the developmental benchmarks. Earliest computers used vacuum tubes for processing, were allows bug and frequent break downs. However, as vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors and then chips, their sizes decreased and processing speeds increased.
Computers are now classified on the basis of their use or size
A desktop computer is a personal computing device designed to fit on top of a typical office desk. It houses the physical hardware that makes a computer run and connects to input devices such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse users interact with.
A laptop is a personal computer that can be easily moved and used in a variety of locations. Most laptops are designed to have all of the functionality of a desktop computer, which means they can generally run the same software and open the same types of files.
Laptops are folded shut for transportation, and thus are suitable for mobile use. Its name comes from lap, as it was deemed practical to be placed on a person’s lap when being used.
Similarities between a desktop and laptop
- Most Desktops and Laptops are sold with pre-installed software and operating systems like Windows 7, or if it is an Apple computer, then the Mac OS.
- Both computer units come with port connections (varying between each make and model), and a built-in CD/DVD component, however this is being phased out in some of the newer Laptop models.
- Peripheral devices can be connected such as external hard drives, printers, cameras, and phones, etc.
- For both the Desktop and Laptop, key specifications to consider before purchasing is: CPU, Memory (RAM), Hard drive capacity, Graphics card.
These specs determine the computer’s limits so if video production is the primary task and the computer has a low end graphics card, then the computer (laptop or desktop) will not be well suited for the job.
The Main Difference Between Desktop and Laptop
The biggest and most noticeable difference is the Desktop needs basic external devices to be fully functional, whereas the Laptop has all necessary devices built-in, making it the most portable.
A Desktop stays in the office or home and needs the computer terminal to be connected to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse; whereas the Laptop has the built-in components and thus easily transported as one complete device that can be used in most environments.
The Laptop can run off AC power, batteries, or mains power, whereas the Desktop can only run off the main powers. It is not manufactured for any battery use.
The Laptop battery has improved over time, and can last up to several hours, depending on how much processing power is being used and keeping WiFi or Bluetooth connections open, increases the battery power consumption.
Although the Desktop and the Laptop are becoming more equal in terms of speed and performance specifications, the Desktop still remains as the more powerful choice for activities such as gaming and video production.
Buying a Gaming Laptop with similar specs to a Gaming Desktop would be at a much higher price than a Gaming Desktop.
If the computer is needed for basic office processing, internet usage, and photo viewing, then a standard Laptop would be perfectly suitable.
Generally, Laptops are known to have lower specs than Desktops, as there is a compromise on size and portability, vs performance and speed.
Desktop monitors can vary from small 15 inch screens to larger ones such as the 34 inch. Laptops have built-in screens which also have varying sizes.
The larger the screen, the larger and heavier the Laptop, however if a small Laptop is purchased for easy mobility, it can be connected to a larger external monitor if possible.
If connecting an external monitor to a Desktop computer that permanently stays in one place, then the size of the monitor would not be a restrictive factor as it is setup once and not necessarily moved so the weight is not an issue.
Storage, Memory and Data
For storing very large amounts of data, the Desktop computer would be a better choice and if needed, additional memory can be added to improve performance, or the hard drive can be replaced. Laptops cannot be so easily expanded as the Desktop.
Backups are recommended for all data, whether it resides on a Desktop or Laptop, however if using a Laptop is would be essential to have backups as the risk of losing data increases with mobility due to theft, loss of computer, physical damage (dropping the computer), etc.
A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a mobile device, typically with a mobile operating system and touchscreen display processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single, thin and flat package.
Tablet computer, computer that is intermediate in size between a laptop computer and a smartphone. Early tablet computers used either a keyboard or a stylus to input information, but these methods were subsequently displaced by touch screens. Tablets can be used to browse the Internet, check email, download and read books, play games, watch videos, organize content, and much more. Most tablets are touch operated and are between the size of a smartphone and a laptop.
A server is a computer that captures data from one machine and delivers it to another machine on the same network or over the Internet. Even though any computer that is running a special software can be used as a server, they are often high-powered, large machines that can manage multiple computers.
Servers are computers that run services to serve the needs of other computers. There are, for example, home media servers, web servers, and print servers. There are also file servers and database servers.
A desktop computer system typically runs a user-friendly operating system and desktop applications to facilitate desktop-oriented tasks. In contrast, a server manages all network resources. Servers are often dedicated (meaning it performs no other task besides server tasks).
A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer used primarily by large organizations for critical applications like bulk data processing for tasks such as censuses, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and large-scale transaction processing
Mainframes are computers used by organizations like banks, airlines and railways to handle millions and trillions of online transactions per second. Important features of mainframes are −
- Big in size
- Hundreds times Faster than servers, typically hundred megabytes per second
- Very expensive
- Use proprietary OS provided by the manufacturers
- In-built hardware, software and firmware security features
Supercomputers are the fastest computers on Earth. They are used for carrying out complex, fast and time intensive calculations for scientific and engineering applications
What is a super computer used for?
Supercomputers play an important role in the field of computational science, and are used for a wide range of computationally intensive tasks in various fields, including quantum mechanics, weather forecasting, climate research, oil and gas exploration, molecular modeling
Most common uses of supercomputers include −
- Molecular mapping and research
- Weather forecasting
- Environmental research
- Oil and gas exploration
The graphics below shows a typical classification on a computer in our modern African time.
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