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Examples of Different Computer Types

Updated on September 4, 2015
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Patrick is a dedicated technology writer wishing to make the world better by informing those people seeking for more knowledge.

Different Computer Types

We have four different computer types classified according to their performance, power, and size. A computer is an electronic device that accepts data, processes it, stores, and then produces an output.

There are different computer types available depending on the number of users they can support at any one time, their size, and power. In this hub, we are going to have a look at the difference between supercomputers, mainframe, mini, and microcomputers.

Supercomputers

1. Supercomputers Supercomputers are very expensive, very fast, and the most powerful computers we have in the world.

Supercomputers are optimized to execute a few number of programs. This makes it possible for them to execute these few programs at a very high speed. Due to their inhibiting cost, they are used in high end places like in scientific research centers. The supercomputer consists of thousands of processors making it clock very high speeds measured by petaflops.

These computer types are also very large in size due to the numerous parts and components involved in their design.

A good example of a Supercomputer is Tianhe-2: TH-IVB-FEP Cluster; National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, China; 3.12 million cores (33.86 petaflop/s)

A Supercomputer

Amalka Supercomputing Facility
Amalka Supercomputing Facility | Source

Mainframe Computers

2. Mainframe computers These are large and expensive computer types capable of supporting hundreds, or even thousands, of users simultaneously. Thus, they are mostly used by governments and large organizations for bulk data processing, critical applications, transaction processing, census, industry and consumer statistics among others. They are ranked below supercomputers.

Minicomputers

3. Minicomputers Minicomputers are mid sized computers. In terms of size and power, minicomputers are ranked below mainframes. A minicomputer is a multiprocessing system capable of supporting from 4 to about 200 users simultaneously.

The use of the term Minicomputer has diminished and they have merged with servers.

Note: Users connects to the mainframe or minicomputers using dumb terminal – a keyboard and monitor. A dumb terminal is simply an output device that accepts data from the CPU. In contrast, a smart terminal is a monitor that has its own processor for special features, such as bold and blinking characters. Dumb terminals are not as fast as smart terminals, and they do not support as many display features, but they are adequate for most applications.

Microcomputer

4. Microcomputers or Personal computers A personal computer is a computer designed to be used by one user at a time.The term microcomputer relates to microprocessor which is used with a personal computer for the purpose of processing data and instruction codes. These are the most common computer types since they are not very expensive.

Microcomputers Are Classified as Desktop and Portable (Mobile) Computers

Desktop Computers

Desktop computers are not built to be mobile. They are moved, but only to a new desktop location and with the power supply inactive. There are a number of major differences between computers that are intended to be used in one place as a desktop and portables or mobiles that can be easily moved from one location to another.

Desktop computers are large and heavy in comparison to portables. They can be carried in specially manufactured cases, but only to assist a support engineer in moving, not as a frequent procedure. The monitor, keyboard and mouse are all separate items on a desktop.

Desktop computer components and devices, although quite resilient to movement while active are not made to be constantly moved, even less so when they are operational. A mains power supply is mandatory, as desktop computers cannot work without a constant supply of electrical power.

The desktops can further be subdivided depending with the casing type, tower casing and desktop casing.

Tower casing

For tower casing, the motherboard is placed on side of the system unit, while the other major components like the power supply, and mass storage devices are stacked on top of each other in a cabinet. One main advantage with computers using the tower casings is that there is ample space for future upgrades for example if you wish to add more storage devices.

A Mid Tower Case

A Mid Tower Case
A Mid Tower Case | Source

Desktop casing

For the desktop casings, the motherboard lies on the bottom and is parallel to the desk or table. The system unit is usually smaller and more compact. It is not a very good choice if you are going to install other drives like another hard disk or a DVD writer. One main advantage is that they are small and thus will occupy less space. The placement is also ideal since it will lie on top of a desk and then you can place your TFT monitor on top.

Tower or Desktop Computer?

Note: You can flip over the tower casing and end up with a desktop and you can turn your desktop to a tower literally though but the problem will be your drives will be facing sideways. So you will always have a problem inserting or removing your CDs because they will keep on falling, other drives might fail to access your CD or DVD contents due to the awkward tilted position.

Why choose a desktop?

The size of the casing determines how much space you need on your desk to place the PC. If you have a small desk with limited space, you might consider the smaller mini computer case.

There are two things that may make you consider going for tower:

a) If you have more than enough space is not an issue, then you can go for the tower casing where there are more functions.

b) If you will be adding a lot of devices to your system, for example more drives.

In terms of cost, tower casings prices are a little bit higher compared to desktops.

Portable or Mobile Computers

Portable or mobile computers are manufactured with a very important feature; they are portable (are designed for mobility). This means a computer user can be able to move with it from one point to another comfortably. One can also work from any location irrespective of if there is a power source. They:

  • Are small, compact and light in weight
  • Have their own power in form of a battery but of course it does not last forever, thus they have to be plugged to a source of power once in a while.

These portable devices are produced in a variety of sizes and very high processing capabilities. Good examples are Laptops, Palmtops, PDAs.

An Example of the Portable Computers

An Acer Chromebook
An Acer Chromebook | Source

I am currently using

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© 2010 Patrick Kamau

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      nuggets 14 months ago

      this helped with nothing i am doing in class

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      Patrick Kamau 17 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thank you @Dawood for the visit and comment.

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      Dawood 17 months ago

      Great information for computer science students

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks bahiya for reading and commenting. Glad to be of help.

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      bahiya 3 years ago

      i liked your profile cuz it was quite useful 4 my ICT reserch

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      thanks afella

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      afella 3 years ago

      good site

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome roselda

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      roselda 3 years ago

      nice one..tnx nkgwa nrin ako ng homework ko dhil dto

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi junaid, you ate welcome. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      junaid 3 years ago

      hello dear u have solved my problem...u have done a great job thnxxx dear.

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      wendy cortes, thanks for reading and commenting. I am glad you learned something from these notes I have provided here. It is my wish that you check the other tutorials and see if they can be of more help to you.

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      wendy cortes 3 years ago

      thanks 4 solving my problem . i have more laerning about computers :)

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks lucy patrick for reading and commenting. Glad you liked the hub.

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks martin, glad you liked it.

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      martin hi 3 years ago

      very very very very very ggoooood

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      lucy patrick 4 years ago

      good hub

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      Patrick Kamau 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Tanya, starting with the least expensive we can say Desktop, Laptop, Minicomputers, Mainframe, and Super Computers being the most expensive. This is in most cases, but sometimes the different specifications of a laptop and desktop can change things around. Thanks for asking.

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      Tanya 4 years ago

      Can you arrange various types of computers in the order of their cost ? Arrange them from least expensive to the most expensive order ?

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      nancy, thanks for your visit and question. A laptop has a CPU (in this case a processor) in the inside. There is no computer that can operate without a CPU. The CPU is usually a small device used for fetching, decoding and executing program instructions.

      There a mistake people make of calling the system unit, or base unit (the metal casing) the CPU. In that vein people fail to know that there is the real processor inside the system unit. You can refer to my hub by the name the Major Motherboard Parts And Their Functions. It will shed some more light on this.

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      nancy wanjiku.at m.k.u thika 4 years ago

      thanks.question:how a laptop operate without a CPU in the outside?

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      Patrick Kamau 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      advaneil, thanks for reading and commenting, glad you liked it. I will continue producing great materials for people to read and benefit.

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      advaneil 4 years ago

      Great work!

      Very nice post. I wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

      Thanks,

      http://www.pccardsdirect.com/products/industrial-c...

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      Patrick Kamau 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      hania, I will try to add more pictures of different types of computers.

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      hania 4 years ago

      still i am not finiding classification of computers pics............oh

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Glad you liked it. Check the other tutorials. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      lin 4 years ago

      dude thanks

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks gautam dadhich though your qustion is very similar to one below asked by PIE, but I will still answer it. A Microchip (which is an integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit, also referred to as IC, or chip)is not the main component of the microcomputer, minicomputer, mainframe or the supercomputer. A microchip can be viewed as a support chip.

      Each of these (microcomputer, minicomputer, mainframe or the supercomputer)uses a Processor or central processing unit also known as Microprocessor for execution of instructions, performing logical and arithmetic calculations. Supercomputers make use of thousands of microprocessors for example Japan’s “K Computer” uses 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores.

      Just check these links for more info

      http://www.top500.org/lists/2011/11

      mainframe computer

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      gautam dadhich 5 years ago

      hello sir! m just wondering if the main component of the microcomputer is microchips or microprocessor, what should be the component of the minicomputer, mainframe and supercomputer? can you post a picture of the mainframe and supercomputer for me to know more about the looks of the two? thanks again sir for the information...

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks Claire blaai, you are welcome to read more of my works.

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @ Gracejon Nyawira, I am glad that my hubs were of much help to you. Remember to check the others for more helpful information. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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      Claire blaai 5 years ago

      Wow thanks for such an advance information i have learnt a lot.

    • profile image

      Claire blaai 5 years ago

      Wow thanks for such an advance information i have learnt a lot.

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      Gracejon Nyawira 5 years ago

      I have gained a lot of info that helped me excel in my examinations and also in the society. Thanks a lot and keep up the good work

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome Hassan. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      hassan 5 years ago

      very informative..thank you very much

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks kk for stopping by and commenting.

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      kk 5 years ago

      thx nice tutorial

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @love, thanks for reading. I am glad you have learnt something from this informative hub. Remember to check my other works for great informative contents. Thanks for the comment also.

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      love 5 years ago

      this is very educational 4 some1 who has limited info on this subject. thanks so much

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks carmita for approving the contents I have posted here and declaring them good for people.

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      carmita 5 years ago

      this is good for people

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks again PIE. You are welcome.

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      pie 5 years ago

      thanks again sir for the info.

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks PIE.

      All computer types must make use of a microprocessor in order for them to be able to process data. So even in a minicomputer, mainframe and supercomputer we have many microprocessors in them. I have included some links that can help you understand more about supercomputers and mainframes.

      http://www.google.co.ke/search?q=mainframe+compute...

      http://www.top500.org/

    • profile image

      PIE 5 years ago

      hello sir! m just wondering if the main component of the microcomputer is microchips or microprocessor, what should be the component of the minicomputer, mainframe and supercomputer? can you post a picture of the mainframe and supercomputer for me to know more about the looks of the two? thanks again sir for the information...

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Welcome PIE and keep on checking on my hubs and others to gain more knowledge. Thanks.

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      PIE 5 years ago

      THANKS FOR THE INFO...

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      Patrick Kamau 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @ somebody, thanks and you are very welcome.

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      somebody 5 years ago

      thanks a lot for solving the problems. i wish to join your great institute one day

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