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.

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