How a Laptop Computer Works

How a Laptop Computer Works

What is a Laptop? A laptop is a personal computer (PC) produced for providing mobility and portability to users. Laptops are designed to work on small desk space or a user’s lap, hence the name. Laptops combine the majority of desktop computer function and components. Laptops feature the abilities to display information, input data, control a mouse, create sound and attach to networks including the Internet. Where desktop computers function on AC electrical current, laptops feature rechargeable batteries which are powered through an AC adapter.


While laptops were once far behind desktops in power, they are now comparable, if not surpassing, in computing ability.Laptop devices are normally 15-by-11 inches in diameter and weigh in the area of 5 to 10 pounds. They use hinge design to open the display screen to access the monitor and keyboard for the user. Newer monitors are incorporating touchscreen technology as well.

How a Laptop Works

A laptop works in a very similar manner to a desktop computer. Laptops use the same ideology in hardware but have differences in the size and connectivity of the components. Desktop computers use motherboards, or centralized circuit boards, to connect other components such as memory, hard drive, optical drives and video cards. Laptops, due to their compact size, must use a system board that has ports that take responsibilities shared by expansion cards in desktops. Laptop system boards will have built-in connections for video, sound and network connectivity. Components that are not part of the system board must be smaller, designed to create less heat and use less energy.


Memory chips for RAM function the same as their desktop versions except they are smaller and limited in capacity by physical size. Hard drives are smaller and thinner and connect directly to the system board rather than through a data cable as in desktops. The other major differences are the keyboard and monitor. The keyboard is built into the laptop’s system and is not interchangeable. Data entered from the user goes directly into the system via a system board attachment. The same can be said for the monitor, which receives display information through cables in the hinges of the laptop case.


While laptops are replacing desktop computers with their portability, netbooks are doing the same to laptops. Netbooks are small, light computers measuring less than 10 inches and weighing the area of 3 pounds. Netbooks normally do not use internal components such as CD-ROMs, floppy drives or DVD-drives and function mainly for Internet connectivity and mobility.

What Is a Computer Network Interface Card?

What Is a Computer Network Interface Card?

A network interface card, or NIC, is the hardware component that enables a computer to communicate on a network. NICs act as a computer’s physical interface and hardware address within a network. Without a NIC installed, it is impossible for a computer to communicate on a local area network or the internet.

MAC Address


All NICs have a unique physical address assigned to them called a MAC address. This address consists of 6 pairs of hexadecimal characters separated by dashes or colons (i.e. 01:23:45:67:89:ab.) This address is used to identify the card on the local network and assist in the efficient delivery of data from one location to the next. Generally, a MAC address is burned into the card on ROM and cannot be changed.


Network interface cards are designed to use a standardized interface to the transition media. In other words, they only work with specific connectors or wireless standards. Some common examples of these technologies include the ISDN, DSL, Ethernet, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards. In order for a local network to function properly, the NIC must utilize the same technology as the other devices on the network.


The two most common network standards are Ethernet (via RJ45 connector) and Wi-Fi (via 802.11 wireless standards.) An Ethernet NIC will generally have one RJ45 input that can be used to connect a computer to a router or modem with a Cat-5 cable. A Wi-Fi NIC will generally use a small antenna to transmit and receive the 802.11g or n wireless standard signal. There are many less common variations and alternatives to these technologies, but Ethernet and Wi-Fi are by far the most broadly available.

Hardware Interface


NICs can interface with a computer in several different ways. Internal NICs can be built directly on the motherboard or installed in a PCI slot. External NICs will often use a USB or Firewire interface. Some are built specifically for use with laptops and can fit in a free PCMCIA card slot.


When choosing a NIC the most important factor to consider is the technology utilized by the network it will be interfacing with. If the NIC operates using incompatible cabling or technology it will be unable to communicate on a network. If the network in question is wireless, it is important to make sure the standard of the wireless router is the same as the wireless standard used by the NIC. Other factors that influence the performance of a Wi-Fi NIC are distance from router, radio interference and matching channels of all devices on the network.