Laptop Jargon Buster: Everything You Need to Know

Shopping for a new laptop, be it online or in a store, can be a bit confusing. If you’re not an expert, product descriptions like ‘a lightweight Ultrabook with a super-fast quad-core CPU, 160gb SSD and 8gb of RAM’ might all seem like gibberish.

Here to help you is a list of some key terms and what they mean.

What is CPU?

CPU is the computer’s central processing unit. This gizmo performs all the complicated arithmetic that allows your laptop to carry out the tasks you demand of it. The greater a CPU’s ‘clock rate’ the faster it can carry out these tasks.

Dual/Quad Core Processor

Multicore processors are a step up from single core processing. This is because the separate cores can work on separate tasks at the same time. This allows you to multitask processes, such as sending emails, watching videos and downloading music, without the processor becoming overloaded and speed suffering as a result.


Laptop’s HDD (hard disk drive) is a device with rotating disks on which information can be recorded and retrieved. Importantly, a HDD retains that information even when switched off, so the information is not lost unless it is deliberately deleted.


A solid-state drive, or SSD, is an alternative method of data storage to HDD. It has no moving parts but is a more expensive method of data storage. It has typically been used for such products as camera memory cards and mp3 players, as their portable uses can interfere with moving HDD parts. SDD memory is now more viable as the main storage method in laptops thanks to fall in price.


RAM (random access memory) stores data temporarily in a random method that allows that information to be accessed very quickly. If you imagine a hard drive as the cupboard that you store information in, RAM is like the desk that you can put things from the cupboard on for quick access. By increasing your laptop’s RAM it is like getting a bigger desk: so you can access more information quickly.
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