Updated date:

The Four Categories of Computer Hardware

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

An illustration of desktop computer set  comprising all the categories of computer hardware.

An illustration of desktop computer set comprising all the categories of computer hardware.

Computer hardware refers to the physical devices that make up a computer. Examples include the keyboard, monitor and disk drive.

Hardware devices can be classified into four distinct categories:

  • Input devices: For raw data input.
  • Processing devices: To process raw data instructions into information.
  • Output devices: To disseminate data and information.
  • Storage devices: For data and information retention.

1. Input Devices

Components which are used to input raw data are categorized under input devices. They aid in feeding data such as text, images, and audiovisual recordings. They even aid in file transfers between computers.

The keyboard is probably the most commonly used input device. Below are just some other types of input devices.

A microphone is an example of a sound input device.

A microphone is an example of a sound input device.

Input TypeExamples

Pointing Device

Mouse, touchpad, touchscreen, multi-touch screen, pen input, motion sensor, graphics tablet, interactive smartboard, and fingerprint scanner.

Game Controller

Joystick, gamepad, and steering wheel.

Audio Input Device

Microphone and midi keyboard.

Bluetooth Peripheral

Keyboard, mouse, headset, gamepad, printer.

Visual and Imaging Device

Webcam, digital camera, digital camcorder, TV capture card, biometric scanner, and barcode reader.

Network Device

Ethernet hardware and Bluetooth/wireless hardware.

2. Processing Devices

Processing is the core function of a computer. It is the stage where raw data is transformed into information. Once data has been processed, it can be used for useful purposes.

An AMD microprocessor is an example of a processing device.

An AMD microprocessor is an example of a processing device.


Components that manipulate data into information are categorized under processing.

The microprocessor is the major device in this category. It works closely with primary memory during its operations. Data is stored temporarily in processor cache and primary memory during the processing period.

The microprocessor is subdivided into three important units, which work together in order to accomplish its function. The units are:

  • The control unit: It manages and supervises the operations of the processor and other components that are crucial in data manipulation.
  • Arithmetic and logic unit: The ALU is responsible for all arithmetic and logic operations like addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, and comparison logic operations.
  • Register and cache: These are storage locations inside the processor that respond to the instructions of the control unit by moving relevant data around during processing.

3. Output Devices

Hardware components that disseminate and display both data and information are classified under the output category.

Output is the culmination of a cycle which starts with the input of raw data and processing.

These components are sub-categorized under softcopy and hardcopy output.

Softcopy output includes the intangible experience. The user derives visual satisfaction by reading a message through display components or listens to audio files through speakers.

On the other hand, hardcopy output devices are tangible, like printouts of paper and 3D models.

The CRT monitor is an output device.

The CRT monitor is an output device.

Popular Softcopy Devices

Visual display devices include:

  • Monitor
  • Projection display
  • Interactive (electronic) smartboard
  • Touchscreen

Sound devices include:

  • Speakers
  • Headphones and earphones

Network input/output includes:

  • Ethernet cables
  • Wireless and Bluetooth transmissions

USB input/output includes:

  • Flash drives
  • External drives
  • Optical drives

Popular Hardcopy Devices

Impact printers include:

  • Dot matrix printer
  • 3D printer

Non-impact printers include:

  • Inkjet printer
  • Laserjet printer
  • Thermal printer
A 3D printer

A 3D printer

4. Memory/Storage Devices

Components that retain/store data are classified under memory/storage devices.

Storage is sub-divided under primary and secondary memory and is either volatile or nonvolatile.

Primary memory usually refers to random-access memory (RAM) but can also refer to all memory that works in tandem with the processor. RAM is volatile, meaning that it retains data only when the computer is powered up.

The central processing unit (CPU) or accelerated processing unit (APU) reads instructions stored in this memory and executes them as required.

Computer memory devices.

Computer memory devices.

Secondary memory is labeled as such because data stored within secondary storage media (usually disk drives) do not communicate directly with the microprocessor. Any data stored in such media is first transferred to a RAM device for processing to take place.

This type of memory is also non-volatile since it permits long time storage as opposed to volatile memory.

To give some examples of these devices, primary memory includes:

  • DRAM
  • SRAM
  • ROM

Secondary memory is subdivided into two categories:

  • Internal devices are designed to be placed inside the computer at all times. Examples include hard disk and solid state disk drives.
  • External devices are plug and play media used to transfer files between computers. Examples include optical disks, flash disks, and external disk drives.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Alfred Amuno

Comments

Cathy on July 16, 2020:

Thanks alot it was of great help

emeka on May 31, 2020:

thanks dear your article is helpful

Samuel on May 20, 2020:

Wow!!!!! This really helped me alot

LUJALA on May 14, 2020:

THANK YOU

Ibrahim kabiru on April 28, 2020:

CPU

ssetabule patrick all way from uganda on March 19, 2020:

i want to thank you for the wonderful information .

ochola emmanuel on March 18, 2020:

Thanks

may God bless you!!!!

alfonsia on January 20, 2020:

good work thanks

selam sisay from Ethiopian on November 26, 2019:

10q I get information what I need so thanks thanks so much

Adebayo Margaret on November 07, 2019:

Thanks for d information

hassan joseph on October 02, 2019:

you really help me to understand between primary and secondary storage devices

Elfariji Abdallah Kalage on September 08, 2019:

Nothing to say all thanks to you who act as my helper"

Brian on September 06, 2019:

Thanks so much for your help

reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee on August 29, 2019:

why this

Shivani negi on August 25, 2019:

It is very good information

Sileshe melaku on August 17, 2019:

It is very Good

tarashankar roy on August 14, 2019:

this is the best of the information sites ever used on google chrome browser software

thank you

willie salsona jr. on July 24, 2019:

thank you

vijay on July 11, 2019:

And indeed, Iam just always astounded concerning the remarkable things served by you. Some four facts on this page are undeniably the most effective I have had.

mohit on July 06, 2019:

thanks a lot

Rudrandh on June 19, 2019:

Helped me a lot

jimuel on June 12, 2019:

Thank you! It really helped me answer my homework.

mpho poso on June 09, 2019:

the info was really helpful

Amandeep kaur on June 04, 2019:

Amazing

Davis on May 21, 2019:

great work thnx

collins musonga on May 20, 2019:

i appreciate for good work done

Kumari Soumya on May 18, 2019:

Thanks a lot bro

Memory on May 10, 2019:

The information is too helpful, very easy to understand.

MicaiahA4 on March 18, 2019:

Very informative, going into enough detail for someone to understand even without being in the field.

miyanda phiri on January 25, 2019:

you teach alot and thank you

Mutumba Brian on December 29, 2018:

Your notes are mob G.

You are a great teacher

Benard on December 16, 2018:

This is an amazing work.

laura on November 13, 2018:

i have learnt a lot

jumail ahamed on October 29, 2018:

thanks for your lot of help

Real timothy on October 21, 2018:

Really useful in the opposite I didn't get a thing

Ahmed Abdikarim Hirey on October 19, 2018:

So much benifitable for me thank you very much

its Tataya moon on October 08, 2018:

wow thank you sir I learnt something new

blessing ikeh on September 23, 2018:

Good one

Emidolling on September 17, 2018:

Thank u sir, it's helpful

DanielBellamy03 on September 16, 2018:

im so confused how can i link this to creating a digital game

Keney on September 02, 2018:

This is very nice. Thanks

Melkamu Nemesha from Ethiopia on August 29, 2018:

wow .. amazing it is very important to know how much is helpful. knowledge of computer is more and more usefull

Erich on August 15, 2018:

Wow!I really appreciate your help and now I can answer my activity thank you so much

Marian Grace Opima on July 21, 2018:

Thank you author because of you I learned a lot....

Aarif A. Ahnaf on June 23, 2018:

First of all, I want to start with thanks to the author to help me. I have been searching for an article for some time. In fact, I used to benefit from this reading.

YUSUF AUWAL on April 19, 2018:

HELPFUL INDEED

Kalilu kamara on April 06, 2018:

Thanks very much sir I learned something new

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on April 04, 2018:

Happy that you learned something Gladys

Gladyschepngeno18@gmail.com on April 04, 2018:

Thanks. It has really helped me.

ANKIT KUMAR on March 28, 2018:

It's very helpful for student

Jamilu HUssaini Baba Jarmai on March 22, 2018:

I am very much indepted

Dak Chuol Dhuor on February 28, 2018:

It help a lot and give your more knowledge in hardware computer.

MARTHA on February 20, 2018:

HELP FULL AND VERY GOOD INFO HERE THANK YUO SO MUCH

Miracle on February 11, 2018:

This is wow! I salute you man. the article is much helpful. I really do appreciate. Thanks a lot.

luke on February 09, 2018:

this a lot of good info

The mn on February 05, 2018:

i ctrl-c and ctrl-v so much....... ty

Larry Enticer on January 16, 2018:

OMG this Helped ME nothing Not at All

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on December 09, 2017:

Thanks for appreciating Caleb

Caleb Kiprotich seth on December 09, 2017:

This a very good combination of Computer Basic Skills Which are useful ...Thanks for this plausible and fantastic ideas

Scolah on December 03, 2017:

Nice article and well explained.

Krittika Rasiah on December 03, 2017:

Nice

cithy Ephraim on November 14, 2017:

Indeed this page is fully contained with all necessary guidelines for basic applications of this course . Thanks

Shift_L

cithy Ephraim on November 14, 2017:

Indeed this page is fully contained with all necessary guidelines for basic applications of this course . Thanks

Shift_L

abduselam sul on November 14, 2017:

thanks for sharing agreat article

Ciplak on October 30, 2017:

great articles..it's help me to know more about computer hardware..thanks dude

Muhammad Abdullah on October 23, 2017:

write down the four types of computer briefly explain?

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on October 10, 2017:

Thanks Chad, hope it really is beneficial to the young fellows.

Chad Crouch from South Africa on October 09, 2017:

Nice article for learners. Very well structured. Good work.

Viral Prajapati from Ahmedabad on August 28, 2017:

Great way to explain here..All basic and important information are cover with video and images, It's a really good..

Grace kaonga on August 17, 2017:

well explained have surely enjoyed

Lucia on August 11, 2017:

Its a great note. Its what I was needing for solve a problem

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 17, 2017:

wow, you sure know your techiness). I bow before you.

ronielyn on June 25, 2017:

thank you very much for the good info..it was a big help! ty

Kingsley Aghedo on June 21, 2017:

Very nice presentation. I am a computer guru myself. Your pictures of a computer really drive home your points.

Pinky Mahadeo on May 21, 2017:

I have learnt so much, also knows more about the hardware and its categories. Am so thankful

Ashir Mubeen on May 06, 2017:

This information is pretty awesome. It helped me a lot. Following you.

Harindi on April 16, 2017:

This was very helpful me to do my university assignment.Thank you very mush

Well expalined. I really gained a lot. on March 25, 2017:

Mashford

kelvin tatenda chirefu on March 19, 2017:

thank you so much man its so helping . i have learnt a lot from your work keep it up .

tulise on February 08, 2017:

nice

aqs on December 01, 2016:

Thaks for sharing such type of useful information.

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on November 02, 2016:

Thanks Maggie for appreciating.

Maggiesanchez on October 31, 2016:

Great work men!! i'm glad since i have got to understand more abt hardwares.CONGRATS!!!!!

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on September 29, 2016:

Quite true Chad

Chad Crouch from South Africa on September 28, 2016:

Great article. Can help young lads with homework.

Janu Cap from Ha Noi on September 09, 2016:

Thanks for Alfred Amuno! Glad to know the info was helpful. Follow you and follow you. Thanks friends

lol on August 31, 2016:

helped with my hw

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on August 09, 2016:

Thanks Penny

penny on August 09, 2016:

it awesome summary

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on July 02, 2016:

Good to know Phoebe

phoebe faraon on June 24, 2016:

A glad to see to know the info in your computer

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on June 23, 2016:

Glad to know the info was helpful

AS"LMFlkdlhdo on June 23, 2016:

The information Was Prety Awsome I almost Get all The Correct Answers For My Assignment

Thank you !

Marck on June 20, 2016:

Ty vm

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on March 29, 2016:

Thanks for appreciating Sya

sya on March 29, 2016:

it good note. good for student to the homework..

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on January 17, 2016:

Thanks for appreciating Farida

Farida Achieng on January 17, 2016:

I have learnt allot and it has enabled me to gain more and learn more about the hardware and its categories .Am so grateful.

THANKS SO SO MUCH!!

Related Articles