Examples of computer hardware include a keyboard, mouse and monitor. Computer hardware is any physical equipment that is used to make up your computer. All of the individual equipment inside of a computer is also hardware, including the hard disk, motherboard, memory and any disk drives.
The word "hardware" applies to all mechanical, magnetic, electronic and electrical devices that make up a computer system. Hardware is generally divided into two groups: external hardware and internal hardware. External hardware is equipment that connects to the outside of the main computer, such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, external hard drive or speakers. Internal hardware is equipment that is necessary for a computer to function, such as a motherboard, CPU, processing memory, video card or hard drive. An optical drive or card reader is considered internal hardware, while the disk or memory card inserted into these devices are considered external hardware. With most computers, hardware can be replaced or upgraded to improve the performance or functionality of a computer.
The main difference between computer hardware and software is that hardware is a physical component of a computer, whereas software is a program that relies on the hardware to function. A word processing program, for example, relies on hardware to execute its functions and store data. Because software applications rely on the hardware to operate, programs often list minimum hardware requirements to ensure proper functionality.