How can I find out what kind of components my computer has without opening it up?
If you are able to boot into windows successfully and your system is running fine but you are just looking for driver updates the easiest way to go about it is to download and run a free utility called CPU-Z. This utility was created by the developers at www.cpuid.com. It categorically identifies each subsystem of your computer as well as the bios revisions and primary manufacturers of each part.
CPU-Z can be used to identify the CPU, Motherboard, Ram amount, type/(SPD settings) of installed ram in the corresponding slots, and basic information about the graphics card and maker that is installed in your system.
The first page of CPU-Z shows current CPU details such as name, socket (package), the speed, and the multiplier strap. This information can be useful if you think you processor is running slower than it should be, but make sure to check the processor when under load as intel processors run something called speedstep that reduces processor speed when idle. The screenshot below shows that the i3-2100 at its idle speedstep setting of 1.6ghz instead of the working speed of 3.1ghz as reported in the specification box.
For motherboard identification specifically you will want to look at the mainboard tab on CPU-Z. Here is where it will tell you the; Manufacturer, model, and bios version that you are currently running as well as when that bios version was released. If you were to run CPU-Z on a CTL GC-14 you would see this report as an example.
The memory tab is useful to determine what multiplier and speed your memory is currently running at. The timings can be useful to look at as well though they don’t have as much of an influence on performance as they did in previous years.
SPD is a standard that shows the base readings off the memory controller’s interactions with the DRAM installed in the system. This basically shows you what the ram is rated to be capable of, as well as what kind of ram you have installed in your system. Everything from the stick size to the manufacturer information can be gleaned from this page of the program.
The final primarily useful page is the Graphics page. This section shows you very basic information regarding your graphics processor in your system. You see GPU name and if you were running a discrete graphics card from nvidia or AMD you would see the bus width, memory size, and other basic features of the card’s capabilities.
While CPU-Z may not identify every last component of your system it does give you a good start for looking for up to date drivers, and can give you peace of mind in knowing what your system components are before you start your search.