AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port): A computer with an AGP will allow you to add a video card that will greatly increase the speed at which the computer can display graphics.
Bus: Refers to the path data travels on through a computer. Different computer models can have different bus speeds.
CD-R (Compact Disk Recordable): This is a CD that can be recorded or "burned" only once.
CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read Only Memory): A CD that stores information a computer can read but not alter. A CD can hold less information than a DVD but is also less expensive.
CD-RW (Compact Disk Re-Writable): This is a CD that can be recorded and re-recorded many times.
DVD-ROM (Digital Video Disk Read Only Memory): A DVD that stores information a computer can read but not alter. A DVD can hold more information than a CD.
DVD-RW (Digital Video Disk Re-Writable): This is a DVD that can store computer information that can be recorded and re-recorded many times. A DVD can hold more information than a CD.
Ethernet: A common method of connecting computers to a Local Area Network or LAN. Most computers today have ethernet capability.
Gigabyte (GB): This is a measurement of hard drive capacity. One gigabyte is equal to about one billion bytes.
Gigahertz (GHz): This is a measurement of processor speed. One gigahertz is equal to one billion hertz.
Hard drive: Also called a hard disk. This is where the computer permanently stores information, including the operating system and other software. This size of a hard drive is usually expressed in gigabytes (GB).
Hardware: The physical components of a computer system such as the keyboard, monitor and tower.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): This is a type of monitor that has a flat screen as opposed to a more traditional curved glass tube screen. LCD monitors are thin and lightweight and have little to no glare.
Megabyte (MB): This is a measurement of hard drive capacity. One megabyte is equal to about one million bytes.
Megahertz (MHz): This is a measurement of processor speed. One gigahertz is equal to one million hertz.
Memory: Also referred to as RAM, or Random Access Memory. This is where the computer temporarily holds the data it needs to perform various functions. The more RAM a computer has, the less often it has to read information off of a disk.
Modem (MOdulator/DEModulator): This is a device that allows a computer to connect to the Internet.
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect): A computer can have one or more PCI slots, which allow you add on extra components such as sound cards.
Processor: The computer's "brain." Processors are gauged by how fast they can access and interpret information, and this speed is measured in either megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz).
RAM (Random Access Memory): The amount of RAM in your computer determines how much data your computer can handle at once. If a computer only has a small amount of RAM, the processor must work harder to shuffle data around, which results in slower performance. There are two basic types of RAM:
SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory): This is the traditional, less expensive type of RAM. It is still commonly found on low and mid-range models.
DDR (Double Data Rate): This newer technology is faster than SDRAM, but also more expensive.
Resolution: The number of pixels per square inch displayed by a monitor. Most monitors support many different resolutions. The higher the resolution, the sharper the picture displayed.
Scanner: A device that can read text or images printed on paper (including photographs) and translate the information into an electronic computer file.
SCSI (Small Computer System Interface): Pronounced "scuzzy," this is a way for external components such as a keyboard, mouse and printer to connect to a computer. It has been largely replaced by USB technology.
Software: A general term for computer programs.
USB (Universal Serial Bus): This is a common way for external components such as a keyboard, mouse and printer to connect to a computer. Unlike older SCSI technology, USB devices can be added to and removed without having to reboot the computer.