A 3D printer is a computer-aided manufacturing
(CAM) device that creates three-dimensional
objects. Like a traditional printer, a 3D printer
receives digital data from a computer as input.
However, instead of printing the output on paper,
a 3D printer builds a three-dimensional model out
of a custom material.
3D printers use a process called additive
manufacturing to form (or "print") physical
objects layer by layer until the model is complete.
This is different than subtractive manufacturing, in
which a machine reshapes or removes material
from an existing mold. Since 3D printers create
models from scratch, they are more efficient and
produce less waste than subtractive manufacturing
3D Printer
An adapter is a device that allows a
specific type of hardware to work with
another device that would otherwise be
incompatible. Examples of adapters
include electrical adapters, video
adapters, audio adapters, and network
An electrical adapter, for instance, may
convert the incoming voltage from 120V
to 12V, which is suitable for a radio or
other small device. Without regulating
voltage through an adapter, the incoming
electrical surge could actually fry the
internal components of the device.
A barebones PC is a computer that has minimal components. A typical barebones
system includes a case, motherboard, CPU, hard drive, RAM, and power supply.
Most barebones systems are sold as kits, in which the components must be
assembled by the user.
Since barebones PCs usually do not come already assembled, they are not designed
for the average computer user. Instead, barebones kits are aimed at computer
enthusiasts and users who prefer to build their own PCs.
Blu-ray is an optical disc format such as CD and DVD. It
was developed for recording and playing back (HD) video
and for storing large amounts of data. While a CD can
hold 700 MB of data and a basic DVD can hold 4.7 GB of
data, a single Blu-ray disc can hold up to 25 GB of data.
Dual-layer Blu-ray discs are able to store 50 GB of data.
That is equivalent to 4 hours of HDTV.
Blu-ray discs can hold more information than other
optical media because of the blue lasers the drives use.
The laser is actually blue-violet, but "Blu-ray" rolls off
the tongue a little easier than "Blu-violet-ray." The blueviolet laser has a shorter wavelength than the red lasers
used for CDs and DVDs (405nm compared to 650nm).
This allows the laser to focus on a smaller area, which
makes it possible to cram significantly more data on a
disc the same size as a CD or DVD.
Buses are a communication system that
transfers data between components
inside a computer. Each bus inside a
computer consists of set of wires that
allow data to be passed back and forth
called bus cables. Most computers have
several buses that transmit data to
different parts of the machine. Each bus
has a certain size, measured in bits (such
as 32-bit or 64-bit), that determines how
much data can travel across the bus at
one time. Buses also have a certain
speed, measured in megahertz, which
determines how fast the data can travel.
Buses can connect the CPU to the rest of
the components on the motherboard.
Stands for "Peripheral Component
Interconnect." It is a hardware bus
designed by Intel and used in both
PCs and Macs. Most add-on cards
such as SCSI, Firewire, and USB
controllers, use a PCI connection.
Some graphics cards use PCI, but
most new graphics cards connect
to the AGP slot. PCI slots are
found in the back of your
computer and are about 3.5" long
and about 0.5" high. So before you
go buy that Firewire expansion
card, make sure you have at least
one PCI slot available.
Stands for "Accelerated Graphics Port." AGP
is a type of expansion slot designed
specifically for graphics cards. It was
developed in 1996 as an alternative to the PCI
standard. Since the AGP interface provides a
dedicated bus for graphics data, AGP cards
are able to render graphics faster than
comparable PCI graphics cards.
Like PCI slots, AGP slots are built into a
computer's motherboard. They have a similar
form factor to PCI slots, but can only be used
for graphics cards.
AGP Slot
The motherboard is the main circuit board of
your computer and is also known as the
mainboard or logic board. If you ever open your
computer, the biggest piece of silicon you see is
the motherboard. Attached to the motherboard,
you'll find the CPU, ROM, memory RAM
expansion slots, PCI slots, and USB ports. It
also includes controllers for devices like the
hard drive, DVD drive, keyboard, and mouse.
Basically, the motherboard is what makes
everything in your computer work together.
Each motherboard has a collection of chips and
controllers known as the chipset. When new
motherboards are developed, they often use new
Stands for "Printed Circuit Board." A PCB is a thin board made of
fiberglass, composite epoxy, or other laminate material.
Conductive pathways are etched or "printed" onto board,
connecting different components on the PCB, such as transistors,
resistors, and integrated circuits.
PCBs are used in both desktop and laptop computers. They serve
as the foundation for many internal computer components, such as
video cards, controller cards, network interface cards, and
expansion cards. These components all connect to the
motherboard, which is also a printed circuit board.
While PCBs are often associated with computers, they are used in
many other electronic devices besides PCs. Most TVs, radios,
digital cameras, cellphones, and tablets include one or more printed
circuit boards.
Circuit Board
A chipset is a group of integrated circuits that
work together. It may refer to the design of a
single component or may describe the relationship
of multiple components within a computer system.
For example, the chipset of a video card describes
the design of the card, while a motherboard
chipset describes its layout and the different
components it supports.
Diagrams are often used to illustrate chipset
designs. For example, a diagram of a video card
chipset may contain the GPU, video RAM, and the
PCI bus. It may also include lines and arrows that
represent the circuitry between the components.
Together, the components and circuitry make up
the overall design of the chipset, and may also be
called the architecture of the video card.
Stands for "Read-Only Memory." Please do not confuse this term with RAM or a
hard drive, as many people already do. ROM is memory containing hardwired
instructions that the computer uses when it boots up, before the system software
loads. In PCs, the instructions are read from a small program in the ROM, called
the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).
Stands for "Random Access Memory," and is
pronounced like the male sheep. RAM is made up of
small memory chips that form a memory module.
These modules are installed in the RAM slots on the
motherboard of your computer.
Every time you open a program, it gets loaded from the
hard drive into the RAM. This is because reading data
from the RAM is much faster than reading data from
the hard drive. Running programs from the RAM of the
computer allows them to function without any lag time.
The more RAM your computer has, the more data can
be loaded from the hard drive into the RAM, which can
effectively speed up your computer. In fact, adding
RAM can be more beneficial to your computer's
performance than upgrading the CPU.
Most of the processing done on a computer is done
via the computer's central processing unit, or CPU.
So in order to give the CPU a break and help it run
more efficiently, a video card can be used to
process the graphics portion of the processing
load. Because most of today's programs are
graphically oriented, the video card can help
almost any program run more efficiently.
However, the difference in performance is
especially noticeable in image editing applications
and 3D games.
Video cards, also called graphics accelerators,
which can speed up both 2D and 3D graphics
Video Card
Pronounced "nick," this is the card
that physically makes the connection
between the computer and the
network cable. These cards typically
use an Ethernet connection and are
available in 10,100, and 1,000 Base-T
configurations. A 100 Base-T card
can transfer data at 100 Mbps. The
cards come in ISA and PCI versions
and are made by companies like
3Com and LinkSys. So if you want to
connect your computer to a network,
you better get yourself a NIC.
Network Interface Card
Stands for "Universal Serial Bus." USB is the
most common type of computer port used in
today's computers. It can be used to connect
keyboards, mice, game controllers, printers,
scanners, digital cameras, and removable media
drives, just to name a few.

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