Computer Hardware Technical Interview Questions

What are the Hardware Components of a Desktop Computer or Laptop?

A computer is a complex device with a variety of parts. The amount of hardware components of a computer or a laptop may vary depending on the requirements of the user. However, there are certain components that are necessary for any computer or laptop. These include monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, hard disk drive (HDD), graphic card, sound card, memory (RAM), motherboard, etc.

A computer would also require the comparative software, which will allow the computer to detect and command the hardware. Any computer needs a combination of hardware and software to run.

What are Hard-Disk Partitions?

Technically speaking, Hard-Disk Partitions are partitions that are made on the hard disk. When the hard drive is purchased it comes in a raw format, it must be first partitioned in order for it to be used and files be saved on it.

The user has the option of formatting the disk into one large partition, or dividing it into smaller partitions. The number depends on the user. For example: a 1 TB hard drive can be formatted into one 1 TB partition, two 512 GB partitions, four 256 GB partition, one 512 GB and two 256 GB partitions, or any combination as long as the total memory doesn’t exceed the size of the disk.

Partitions are often recommended as they tend to have certain benefits. Partitions divide the hard drive into segments. One benefit is that if one partition is corrupted or unable to be read for some reason, the user will only loose data in that partition and not in the whole hard disk. Another benefit is that partitioning makes it easier and faster to read the data on the hard drive, as the processor will only read the partition that the file is stored in, and not the whole drive.

Another benefit is that the user can have different file systems, or load different operating systems on different partitions. The user can also use these partitions primarily for organization, such as separating system files from personal files.

What is the difference between RAM and ROM?

RAM and ROM are two different components of a computer. Each has a different function and each one is required for the computer to run effectively.



Random Access Memory

Read-only memory

Type of data storage

Type of data storage

Read and Write

Read - only

Can be accessed randomly at any time

Cannot be easily altered or reprogrammed

Volatile memory

Non-volatile memory

Data is lost when the power is turned off

Data is not lost when the power is turned off

Are read faster

Are read slower

Stores the data that is required to run applications

Stores the program required to initially boot the computer

Two main types of RAM are Static RAM and Dynamic RAM.

Types of ROM include PROM, EPROM and EEPROM.

Can store multiple gigabytes (GB) of data

Typically stores only several megabytes (MB) of data

What is the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)?

The Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) is one of the scariest things for someone who works on a computer. It is an informal name for a stop error screen. It is named as such as it shows a blue background with white lettering on it.

It is an error screen that is displayed on a Windows computer system after a fatal system error, aka a system crash. It is an indicator that something is wrong with the system and that the operating system has reached a place where it can no longer function safely. Hence, it stops immediately and displays the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

It is sometimes possible to come back easily from the blue screen just by restarting the computer and the operating system. However, more often than not this is the result of something significantly wrong with the system, which requires in-depth repair. The blue screen may include some hexadecimal values from a core dump, which can possible be used to determine what caused the crash.

Why are Device Drivers required?

A device driver is practically required for all plug and play devices, if not for all devices connected to the computer. This includes monitors, printers, CD-ROM readers, optical drives, USD drives, etc.

A device driver is a type of software that allows the device to be recognized by the computer and for the computer to able to communicate with the device.  The device driver basically converts the general input/output instructions of the operating system to messages that the device can understand.

Before being able to use any device, one will have to install the drivers of that device onto the computer. If not, the device will probably not work.

What would you check if there is no sound from your computer?

There are times when there is no sound coming from the computer. Here are the steps one should check to diagnose the reason why.

The first steps should always be to check the obvious:

  • Check mute is not turned on
  • Check the speakers are plugged into the computer
  • Ensure that the speakers are powered on
  • Ensure that the volume button isn’t turned accidently down

If none of those are the problem then:

  • Check that the correct sound device is selected
  • Check that the sound card was detected properly
  • Update the software driver
  • Check that the sound card is working

If still no sound, then either the speakers are faulty or the sound card is. Check both against different systems.

If a computer is working really slow, what are the things you would check?

A computer that is working really slowly can be really frustrating. There are a number of things that can be causing the computer to run slowly. Here are some of the things to check that could be the problem:

  • Check to see if everything on the computer is running slowly or is it a particular application that is the problem
  • Close all background applications
  • Check time take by computer to start up
  • Run a virus scan to check for viruses or hardware
  • Clear cache and temporary memory
  • Free disk space on the hard drive
  • Clear up or upgrade RAM if required
  • Check if processor is overheating
  • Check for outdated software and system updates
  • It is a network latency issue, then conduct a simple ping test to test network traffic
What is Ping?

The term ‘ping’ means to "to get the attention of" or "to check for the presence of" another party online. In terms of hardware, the term ping refers to a command that can be used to check the connectivity of the system with an IP address.

The process of pinging basically involves sending a small packet of data from the computer to the IP address. If the connection is viable then the IP address will receive the data and sent its own packet of data to the computer.

Ping is primarily used to check if the connection is working and if both parties are able to both send and receive data back and forth.

What is a Data Cable?

In simple terms, a Data Cable is a type of cable that is used to transfer data. More specifically, it is type of wire that allows two devices to be connected to each other for the sole purpose of communication. This communication deals primarily for transferring data back and forth between the devices.

For example, the data cable connecting the computer and the monitor allows the computer to transmit the image that needs to be displayed on the monitor. Once the monitor receives this information, it then proceeds to display that picture.

Some other types of data cables include the CAT5, IDE/EIDE, SATA, and USB cables to name a few of the prominent ones.

What are the lights on a Modem / LAN Card?

A modem or a LAN card is primarily used to connect the computer to the internet. While each modem and LAN card might differ depending on type, make and the manufacture, most of them tend to have at least four of the following lights in common.

  • Power Light: Shows if the device is on or off
  • Link Light: Shows if the device is getting broadband/internet signals from the ISP
  • Data Light: Shows whether the internet is working or not.
  • Connectivity Light: Shows whether the Modem is connected to a computer or not.
What are some of the Ports available on a Computer?

A computer port is a connection point that helps user to connect an external or internal device with a computer system. Internal ports may connect devices such as hard drives and CD ROM or DVD drives; while, external ports may connect devices such as modems, printers and other devices.

Types of ports:

Serial Port: A serial port is an interface that allows a PC to transmit or receive data one bit at a time. Compared to a parallel port, the data transfer rate of a serial port is slower. Used for external modems and older computer mouse.

Parallel Port: A parallel port is an interface that allows to send multiple bits of data at once. Used for scanners and printers.

PS/2 Port: This port is used to connect a keyboard and mouse with the computer.

Universal Serial Bus (or USB) Port: This port is used to connect external devices, including external storage devices and other devices, to your computer. Types: USB Type A, USB Type B, Micro USB, USB Type C

VGA Port: It  connects a monitor, projector or TV to a computer

Power Connector: It is a three pronged plug. It is used to connect the computer's power cable to a power socket.

Firewire Port: It transfers large amounts of data at very fast speeds. It connects camcorders and video equipments to the computer.

Ethernet Port: It enables a computer to connect to a network or high speed internet.

Game Port: It is used to connect a joystick to the computer. It is now replaced by a USB port.

Digital Video Interface, DVI port: DVI stands for digital video interface, it is used to connect a flat panel LCD monitor to computer and enhance their quality.

Audio Port: Audio ports are used to connect speakers or other audio output devices with the computer.

HDMI Port: It stands for High Definition Media Interface. It is used to connect external devices to a computer that require high data transfer rate within them. For example: connecting cameras, LEDs, gaming consoles with LEDs etc.

What does the term USB stand for?

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It allows the computer to communicate with devices. USB cables are used to connect devices such as keyboard, mouse, hard drives, etc. to the computer. USB cables are also used for charging devices such as mobiles and tablets.

What is an IP Address?

An IP Address, also known as, Internet Protocol address is a unique address that computing devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones use to identify itself. It is also used to communicate with other devices in the IP network.

What is DHCP?

DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a network protocol that dynamically assigns an IP address to a network device. A DHCP server automatically assigns IP address whenever a computer which is a DHCP client is turned on or whenever it receives a request by client computer. Whenever the client’s system gets turned off and restarts, DHCP assigns a new IP address to it automatically, thus removing manual input of IP address in the system.

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. The Domain Name System translates Internet domain and host names to IP addresses and vice versa. Whenever you visit a website, your computer uses a DNS to get the site’s IP address and connects you to it. Thus, DNS acts like a translator converting human readable web address into machine readable address.

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