Alternatively referred to as an auxiliary device, a peripheral is hardware input device or output device that gives a computer additional functionality. Peripheral devices, however, are not essential for the computer to perform its basic tasks; they can be thought of as an enhancement to the user's experience.
Computer peripheral examples
Below are examples of computer peripherals that could be used with a computer. None of these devices are required by a computer but gives the computer additional capabilities. For example, the sound card gives a computer to play sounds and although it might be boring to have a computer with no sound or music the computer would still work without one.
- Digital camera and Digital camcorder
- Monitor, Touchscreen, Projector, or other display
- Sound card
- Tape drive
Note: Unlike the computer, a peripheral is incapable of operating by itself and relies on the computer to function properly. To find the roles or functions of each of the peripherals click on each of the above links.
Why are the keyboard and mouse a peripheral?
Many computer users are surprised to learn that a computer can run without a keyboard and a mouse. Both of these devices are not required for a computer to run, which is why they're considered peripherals. In fact, many of the servers at data centers have no keyboard or mouse and are often managed remotely.
What peripheral devices come with a computer?
When you buy a new desktop computer, it comes with a keyboard, mouse, sound card, power plug, and may also include a monitor. A laptop computer includes everything, so it only includes a power cord.
Tip: See our computer definition for a full listing of computer components and everything that may be found on a computer.