Sat. Jan 21st, 2023

Factors affecting the choice of components

In a perfect world, every device would contain the best, most powerful components possible. However, this isn’t a perfect world, and therefore it is necessary to choose components wisely.

Some of the factors that affect the choice are:

Form factor

Form factor refers to the shape and size of a device. For instance, Apple have a reputation for designing and creating extremely slim laptops. The choice of an extremely slim form factor places restrictions on what sort of hardware can be used. For instance, you won’t find a mechanical hard drive in any Apple laptop, as they are physically too thick to fit. Likewise, the size of the enclosure places limitations on the capacity of the cooling system, and therefore components are selected with a performance level ensuring that the cooling is not overwhelmed.

Power efficiency requirements

Mobile devices clearly require lower-power components than PCs and servers: a typical PC may require:

  • CPU – 65W
  • RAM/Motherboard – 30W
  • GPU – 200W
  • Storage/peripherals – 50W+

That’s around 350W for a “basic” PC. The biggest laptop batteries are found in Apple Macbook Pros, and are 100Wh – the FAA limit on battery size for carrying on to a plane. That means it can provide 100W for one hour before it is exhausted. But laptops can last up to ten hours on a single charge, meaning that power consumption must be closer to 10W. This obviously therefore impacts the choice of component.

In a mobile phone, the battery is far smaller, and yet battery life is just as long. As above, this power consideration therefore affects the choice of component.

Servers may not be subject to the same restrictions as mobile devices. However, consider that unlike PCs, servers are often part of a bank of servers, or a server farm. This means there are a great number of servers in the same location. The power requirement of air conditioning to keep the environment cool (to deal with the exhaust heat from the machines) can exceed the power required to actually operate the servers: as a result, environmental concerns can also be a driver for choice of component.


Hardware is available at many price points; whilst generally it’d be nice to have the best of everything, even if there were no other constraints, it is entirely possible that budget could be a factor in choice.


The required performance of a system will directly dictate the choice of components used – for instance, a server that must service thousands of clients will be configured differently to a server that supports twenty clients.


Not all hardware is compatible with all software – whilst Windows is extremely good in terms of compatibility, other OSes are more particular about the hardware. For example, MacOS no longer supports nVidia GPUs.