A simple definition of computer hardware is “any physical parts or components that contribute to a computer system.” There are several different kinds of hardware inside a PC. Both desktop and laptop PCs include these types of hardware, though the size and type differ because of a laptop’s compact design.

Think of computer hardware as the parts of your computer that you can see and touch. These are the tangible components that are likely fitted together inside your computer case and installed with a screwdriver.

So computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer, such as the central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), motherboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, and computer case. It includes external devices such as a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and speakers.

By contrast, software is the set of instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it is hard or rigid with respect to changes, whereas software is soft because it is easy to change.

Hardware is typically directed by the software to execute any command or instruction. A combination of hardware and software forms a usable computing system, although other systems exist with only hardware.

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