A hardware control panel is a dashboard full of buttons, levers and dials for configuring and controlling the equipment.
A software control panel is a screen dashboard that presents to the user any combination of buttons, check boxes, submenus and input fields for configuring applications, the operating system and the hardware. "Options," "tools," "settings" and "preferences" are common titles for control panels. If a setting in a control panel is not modified by the user, the default settings are used. See default
Lots of Settings
There are tons of settings in an operating system as is evident in this Windows 7 control panel menu.