Journey though Your PC - PSU, Video Card

This is part two of our journey through your PC. Today we cover a few components at once which hopefully will clear up some jargon for you.

Power Supply Unit (PSU).  This is where the power cable plugs into the back of your PC.  It converts the 240V source to voltages more suitable for sensitive electronics and inside the PC plugs into most of the components such as the hard drives, motherboard and CD or DVD drives.  PSUs are generally rated in terms of Watts; a standard PC might have a 350W PSU while a performance PC with a lot of extras may ship with at least a 500W PSU or higher.

Video / Graphics card.  At its most basic, this provides the output signal to your monitor to display the image of what you are working on.  Most standard PCs have the video card built onto the motherboard.  Higher end or gaming PCs will have a separate video card, and the video card has its own high-end processor and memory for performing the complex 3D calculations required for the latest games.  The top end gaming video cards alone can cost more than an entire standard PC package ($800 plus).

Sound Card.  Like the video card, these are now nearly always built into your motherboard.  Even entry level boards support multiple speaker arrangements these days.  However separate cards for enthusiasts and music production are still available; these features things like extensive banks of MIDI music, optical digital/SPDIF output and advanced processing.


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