Network interface cards (NICs) supply the connection between the computer and the network's physical medium.
The NIC supplies the MAC or hardware address that is used to identify a computer on the network.
Operating systems that embrace plug-and-play technology automatically install and configure plug-and-play NICs.
In cases where the operating system does not configure a NIC that you've added to the system, you will have to identify an available IRQ for the NIC to use.
A motherboard is the main circuit board for a PC, and it provides the connection point for the processor and peripheral cards. The motherboard also supplies the data bus used to move data from various devices to the computer's memory and processor, and vice versa.
Computer memory speed and capacity have changed dramatically as the PC has evolved. The Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) is pretty much the rule for outfitting and upgrading PCs with RAM.
Hard drives come in two basic flavors: IDE (or EIDE) and SCSI. SCSI drives are typically used on network servers because a SCSI controller can support up to seven drives.
A hub is used as the central connection point for network devices that use copper wire, such as unshielded twisted pair (UTP).
Bridges can be used on large networks to segment the network and preserve valuable network bandwidth.
Switches can be used to segment large networks in logical VLANs. Dedicated bandwidth can also be provided to client and server computers connected to a switch. Switches can also support full-duplex data transfers, which allow a computer to send and receive data on the network simultaneously.
Routers are used to divide networks into logical subnets, which keeps local traffic on each of the subnets. Routers also have the ability to determine the route that data should take as it is moved on the network.
Network servers require more processing power, RAM, and storage space than network clients.