CompTIA A+ Prep: Types of Computer Systems and Their Specifications


CompTIA A+ Prep: Types of Computer Systems and Their Specifications

By definition, a computer system is a computational machine that can perform mathematically, arithmetic, and logical operation with high speed, and can additionally store large amounts of data and information. This information can be used by a computer user at any time they wish to. Different types of computers have been developed in the past, with each having a specific set of purpose and applications.

Progress in different industries and businesses is taking place and in order to cater to this advanced landscape, innovation in computers is taking place rapidly. Long ago, computers used to be in the size of houses and now they vary in sizes, and the smallest one of them can actually fit in a person’s pocket. For people looking to acquire CompTIA training for A+ Certification, basic knowledge about different types of computer systems, their classifications, and their primary functions would be vitally important in order to answer questions and build systems.

With that being said, here are the types of computer systems classified according to their size:

  • Super Computer
  • Mini
  • Mainframe
  • Micro

Super Computers:

The most advanced computer with the highest speed. They have tremendous capacity and can process chunks of terabytes of data within seconds. Supercomputers are also heavily expensive and only a few tech corporations specialize in their manufacturing. Supercomputers are also accommodated in a large air-conditioned room since they need to be cool all the time and require hefty space. A supercomputer is able to process information in nanoseconds and its speed is measured in Floating Point Operation per Second or FLOPS. Supercomputers are majorly used in measuring climate, scientific applications, monitoring earthquakes, conducting space investigation, running atomic weapons, etc. The fastest supercomputer in the world is manufactured by China, and it is called “Tianhe – 2”.

Mainframe Computer

A mainframe is huge in size, costly to set up, and very expensive to maintain, just like a supercomputer. However, unlike super, a mainframe is not as efficient and fast. In fact, it is a low-level supercomputer and can only process millions of data per second. Since they are able to process tremendous amounts of information, they are used for commercial purposes and mainly in educational organizations, airports, railway reservations, etc. A mainframe can support thousands of remote computers and can be treated as a host for multiple operating systems. Examples of mainframe computers include Hitachi’s Z800 and IBM Z890.

Mini Computer

Minicomputers were first introduced during the 1960s and are also called Midrange Computers. They are small in size, easy to install and not expensive. They are fast as per their capabilities, but the speed cannot be compared to supercomputers and mainframe. Minicomputers are widely used in the organizational landscape, in superstores, production departments, warehouses, and assembly lines. They have different kinds of functions and the operating system is complex to deal with. It can be used as a host system and can support hundreds of terminals. Example of minicomputers includes Texas Instrument TI-990 and VAX.

Micro Computer

A Microcomputer is simply referred to as a Personal Computer which is used by millions of people domestically as well as commercially. Microcomputers are the smallest and cheapest. They can be used personally and for this reason, they used more than any other computer system. Since they are small, they can be installed in relatively compact places and their use is growing faster. A PC consists of a microprocessor and has input and output units, as well as primary and secondary storage sources. Their storage speed is measured in terms of Mega Hertz or MHZ and Giga Hertz or GHz.

PCs have an input unit which allows a user to send data to the control unit. An output unit prompts information on the screen display when demanded by a user. Examples of microcomputers include desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and palmtops.

Desktop Computers

A single user device that can be easily installed in a compact space. They have a single microprocessor and they are built for a single location. Desktop computers can be sued for entertainment and official purposes. They can also be used as a host in computer networking. A desktop computer works faster and can process a considerable amount of information. Examples of desktop manufacturers are DELL, IBM, Apple, ASUS, HP, etc.


A laptop is powered using a battery and can be used personally by individuals. Laptops can be carried to different locations since they are portable and only needed to be connected to a power source for battery charging purposes. They are lightweight and smaller in size than PCs. A laptop’s function is exactly the same as of a PC and today, advanced laptops with great capacities and speeds are built to facilitate customers of all kinds. The top manufacturers of laptops include DELL, HP, Apple, ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, etc. 


These devices are considerably small in sizes and have an input and output function. Users can connect keyboard and mouse to these devices. Palmtops are meant to perform the same functions as PCs and Laptops. They are equipped with a screen where a user can perform all kinds of modern day functions like running apps, sending emails, playing games, etc. Palmtops are found everywhere around the world and in the modern day, their usage is constantly growing at a fast pace. Palmtops are generally found in the corporate landscape and they are mostly used by entrepreneurs, businessmen, marketing managers, etc. The top manufacturers of palmtops are Apple, Toshiba, DELL, etc.

Notebook or Tablet PC

They have been around for quite some time now and they work exactly the same as a PC or Laptops. Notebooks appear to be similar to laptops in size and functionalities and are mostly used by students in colleges and schools. This article is helpful for every computer science student who is looking to acquire special certifications. For additional information regarding computer systems, make sure to sign up with CompTIA A+ classes.

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