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Glossary of Computer Hardware Terms - The Letters Q & R

written by: Jesma•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 12/30/2008

Definitions and explanations of common computer hardware and networking terms that begin with the letters Q and R. Looking at terms such as QWERTY, RAM, Raster, RFI and Router.

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    The Letter Q

    QWERTY Keyboard

    The modern standard keyboard or typewriter keyboard. Gets its name from the characters across the top row, from left to right. Q-W-E-R-T-Y.

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    The Letter R

    RAM - Random Access Memory

    All memory accessible at any instant by a processor. Called random because of the random placement of information within the memory bank. Operates at very high speeds on a high speed bus, to the CPU.

    Raster Graphics

    A technique for presenting a picture as a matrix of dots. It is the digital counterpart to the analog method that was used in TV for decades. There are several standards pertaining to raster graphics.

    Real Time

    The actual time in which a program or event takes place. In computing, it refers to a mode under which data is received and processed so quickly that it appears to the user to be instant.


    The process of restarting the computer and reloading the operating system.

    Refresh Rate

    A common term for the vertical scan frequency of monitors - essentially the rate (expressed in MHz) at which the data displayed on a screen changes per second.


    The system configuration files used with Windows 9x and NT to store settings about installed hardware, drivers, software, and other settings required to keep Windows operating correctly.


    1) Refers to the size of the pixel used in displaying graphics. The higher the resolution, the smaller the pixel.

    2) A measurement of the number of horizontal and vertical pixels that can be displayed by a video adapter and screen.

    RFI - Radio Frequency Interference

    A high-frequency signal radiated by improperly shielded conductors. RFI can interfere with the operation of other electronic devices.

    Ribbon Cable

    A flat cable with wires that run in parallel to each other, like those used for IDE or SCSI.


    A standard connector used in networking with twisted pair (UTP/STP) cabling. Looks much like a telephone jack (RJ-11) but is large and utilizes more wires.

    Root Directory

    The main directory on any hard disk or floppy disk. It has a fixed size and location and cannot be resized dynamically like subdirectories can.


    Hardware that routes messages from one LAN to another. It is used to connect both similar and dissimilar networks and selects routes based on traffic, line speed, number of hops, and failures in the network.