How to Understand What’s Inside Your Desktop or Laptop
Windows: If you’ve built your computer, chances are good that you know what’s in it. Or at least you have a general idea – and perhaps from time to time you only need to remember specific model numbers. If you bought a ready-made desktop or laptop computer, you’ve probably forgotten what’s inside long ago. But don’t worry; Either way, it’s not hard to identify the components of your system.
But why do you need this information? You may need to know which motherboard you have so you can find the correct BIOS update online. Or maybe you want to update your memory (or add what you already have) and need to know the characteristics of your memory. You might even read about some newer CPUs to use and want to know if you are affected (or if there is a fix that affects the performance of your CPU).
So how do you know what’s inside your system? You have several options.
Find an invoice (or read a few fields)
The easiest way to find out what’s on your system is to make sure you save the specs when you buy it, assuming you opted for an off-the-shelf laptop or desktop. But whether you built it yourself or just purchased the standard configuration, you will be able to keep your specs – or find them on your bill – when you buy a PC. Save them in a convenient place like Google Drive or Dropbox, so you always know what’s on your system. It is so simple.
If you’re building your computer yourself, it never hurts to write this information into a simple .TXT file. Otherwise, you can always put a mark for their components – because you have kept the boxes, right? If they are easy to access, this is an easy way to find out what’s on your system. However, if you’ve stashed these boxes in your garage or crawl somewhere, you can explore other, faster options.
Device Manager is (basically) your friend
The next easiest way to get a good idea of most of the key components of your system is to open the Windows Device Manager. However, first navigate to it through the system window, which you can find by typing this word after clicking the Start button. Under the heading “System” (with the appropriate name) in the “System” window, you will see which processor your system uses and how much RAM you have. (The former is more useful than the latter.)
From there click on Device Manager on the left sidebar. You should now be able to search for components such as:
- Your floppy drives (type must be specified when expanding the menu)
- Your video card / installation (in the “Video adapters” section)
- Your monitor
- Your processor (again)
The information you get from Device Manager, plus a quick web search, should be all you need for most of the components of your system. But there is a little more information you may need about what’s inside your computer, so we’re not done yet.
Try third party utilities if you need to keep digging
You learned a little from Device Manager, but some features are probably still eluding you, like the specifics of your memory, what you need to know if you want to buy multiple sticks of the same, or which board are you actually using to get you could figure out BIOS updates, future updates, and troubleshoot issues. And if you haven’t been able to find out anything important from the system or device manager, you may need additional firepower.
I really like this free utility because it gives you extensive information about your system’s processor, RAM configuration, and motherboard, you guessed it. Download and run CPU-Z , and you will see:
- The exact name of your processor (and codename)
- Your CPU socket (useful if you want to upgrade or buy an aftermarket cooler)
- Make, model and chipset of your motherboard.
- Your motherboard’s graphical interface (to make sure the graphics card upgrade you are planning actually works on your system)
- Your memory type, frequency and part number are pretty much all you need to order more (or replace it if you bought it right the first time)
- What free RAM slots are there on the motherboard?
- Your exact GPU and its manufacturer
While there is certainly more you might want to know about, such as the exact configuration of your motherboard, before you start doing some upgrades – like what version of SATA it supports for different connections, which might help. it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth putting another solid state drive into your system at all – CPU-Z will at least give you the final pieces of the puzzle you might need to manually locate this information.
Other utilities worth exploring
If you want a nicer way to see all the specs of your system in one place, I also recommend the free version of Speccy – you can’t go wrong.
HWiNFO is also a great free utility that provides similar information about your system: