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What do you call the main component of a computer system?

I have a hard time talking to our techs when I want what I call the "tower" serviced (even though the stickers would indicate the box's orientation was supposed to be horizontal, but instead to save space the box is oriented vertical.

So depending on the tech, I would get terms like "base", "cpu", "desktop", "beige box (even though most HP are gray)", etc.

So what is the industry term for the box that contains all the hardware?

marked as duplicate by squillman, Kara Marfia Jun 9 '09 at 16:00

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"computer" is sufficient.

  • Agreed. No need to overcomplicate things. – ceejayoz Jun 9 '09 at 15:29

It varies per person. There is already a post about this here:


I tend to call it the central unit, but it is a literal translation of the french term (fench being my mother tongue).


Machine, System, Box, Server, Desktop, Laptop, POS ;-)


Cup holder...no wait, that's just the DVD drive...

I usually refer to them as desktop unit (for horizontal footprints) or tower unit (or just towers (for vertical footprints).