Understanding Hardware CompTIA A+

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A major objective within the CompTIA A+ Exam is Hardware and we are going to highlight some of the areas that you are going to be asked during your test. Let’s go ahead and outline 1.1 through 1.7.

1.0 Hardware Objectives

Given a scenario, configure settings and use BIOS/UEFI tools on a PC
If you have ever needed to change a setting to boot from USB than you’re already familiar with it. UEFI is the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface and it provides several features but if you haven’t ever seen it before than really just think of it as a GUI for bios with some extra functions and security features. Best way to practice is simply to boot into it and look it over. Both BIOS and UEFI. Both are common.

Explain the importance of motherboard components, their purpose, and properties.
The motherboard provides the physical interface for your components. You will have a variation of the layout and different types of components will go into them but the general outline goes like this. You have your PCI and PCI-e slots, Northbridge which communicates with the CPU and your RAM, Southbridge communicates with everything else, cpu fan, memory slots, your power connector, ide or sata connections, panel connections, usb connections and your CMOS battery.

Compare and contrast various RAM types and their features.
What is important here is to understand that not every ram is the same and getting them mixed up can damage them. You will need to know SDRAM, DDR, RDRAM, SODIMMS and DIMMS. You’ll need to know about the memory speed, CAS Latency and the different types of Cache.

Install and configure PC expansion cards.
Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. You have the PCI (take off the express part), PCIe x1, PCIe x4, PCIe x8, PCIe x16. You don’t need to go so far as to learn the pinouts but you certainly need to understand that they all have different power draw limits.

Install and configure storage devices and use appropriate media.
Making sure you have enough storage for your games is almost as important as understanding that the different kinds of disks will impact the speed of your games. Learn about IDE, SATA and RAID. What the differences are and for RAID make sure you understand what each level does.

Install various types of CPUs and apply the appropriate cooling methods.
Know about Land Grid Array (LGA) and Pin Grid Array (PGA). Understand about thermal paste, how to apply it and why you should.

Compare and contrast various PC connection interfaces, their characteristics and purpose.
Here they are referring to IDE, USB (know all the versions and speeds), 3.5mm Audio, Digital Audio (S/PDIF), S-Video, RCA, VGA, DVI-A, DVI-D and DVI-I, HDMI (Types A-E), Display Ports (especially if you have multiple monitors), Firewire (IEEE 1394), eSATA, RJ45 (Ethernet). I don’t remember if they ask for Fiber but even if they don’t you WILL run into it in the field and most likely in your demarcation points so know the types and colors.  

Written by Travis Northrup

That is the first half of the 1.0 Hardware Objective for A+ 220-901 & 220-902. We will go over the 2nd part of Hardware in our next post.

1.8    Install a power supply based on given specifications.
1.9    Given a scenario, select the appropriate components for a custom PC configuration, to meet customer specifications or needs.
1.10    Compare and contrast types of display devices and their features.
1.11    Identify common PC connector types and associated cables.
1.12    Install and configure common peripheral devices.
1.13    Install SOHO multifunction device / printers and configure appropriate settings.
1.14    Compare and contrast differences between the various print technologies and the associated imaging process.
1.15    Given a scenario, perform appropriate printer maintenance.



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