Difference between Hardware and Processor

In a computer system, hardware and processor are two related terms, but they are absolutely different from each other. Hardware is the term used to represent any physical part of the computer system, while processor is a hardware component used for data processing in the computer system.

In this article, we will understand the important differences between hardware and processor. But before that let us first discuss the basics of hardware and processor individually.

What is Hardware?

The physical components of a computer system are called hardware. Therefore, CPU, CPU cabinet, motherboard, keyboard, power supply, mouse, monitor, etc. are examples of hardware.

Hardware can be of two types, namely internal hardware and external hardware. Internal hardware are the hardware components of a device which are placed inside the case or body of the device. For example, motherboard, CPU, RAM, ROM, etc. are examples of internal hardware. On the other hand, external hardware are the hardware components of the computer which are placed outside the computer case and are usually connected through cables, like monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.

Basically, hardware forms the basic Skeleton of a computer or any other electronic device.

What is Processor?

A processor is a hardware component that is used in automatic electronic devices like computers. In a computer system, the processor is also known as CPU (Central Processing Unit).

Processor is used for data processing and decision making in a computing device. It receives instructions from a software and follow them to perform a task.

In modern computers and electronic devices, processor is built in the form of an integrated circuit. A processor typically consists of three sub-parts namely, ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit), CU (Control Unit) and MU (Memory Unit).

ALU is the part which is entirely responsible for data processing and decision making. The control unit performs controlling function, and the memory unit stores instructions required for processing.

Overall, in any automatic electronic device like a computer, the processor acts as its engine that perform tasks.

After getting an overview of hardware and processor, let us now understand the important differences between them.

Difference between Hardware and Processor

The following table highlights all the major differences between hardware and processor:





The physical components of a computer system or electronic device are called hardware.

A hardware component of a computing device that performs data processing is referred to as a processor.


Hardware forms the basic skeleton of a computing system.

Processor acts as a central processing unit or CPU.


There is no such thing in the case of hardware.

Processor has three primary components, namely, ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit), CU (Control Unit), and MU (Memory Unit).


Different types of hardware perform different functions like keyboard and mouse performs inputting function, HDD functions as a storage device, and so on.

Processor performs data processing through the execution of instructions.


There are two types of hardware namely, internal hardware, examples CPU, motherboard, etc. and external hardware, examples monitor, keyboard, etc.

Based on instruction set architecture, the processors are classed into two types namely, CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer) processors and RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor.


The cost of hardware components depends on the component type, brand, etc.

The cost of processor depends on the speed, cache size, number of cores, brand, etc.

Major manufacturers

There are a larger number of manufacturers that make hardware parts.

The major manufacturers of processors are Intel and AMD.


Examples of hardware parts are CPU, motherboard, keyboard, mouse, RAM, ROM, HDD, SSD, Speaker, etc.

CPU or central processing unit of a computer system is a processor.


Although a processor is a type of hardware component, but they are different from each other as described in the above table. The most significant difference between hardware and processor is that hardware is an umbrella term that can include a vast category of components like CPU, motherboard, mouse, keyboard, etc.; whereas a processor is a specific hardware component used for data processing and instruction execution in a computing device.

Updated on: 16-May-2023


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