Building A Computer From Scratch


Safety The first thing you should do before beginning any project is to be safe.When dealing with electricity is dangerous. By now your probably telling me that I'm stating the obvious, but many people try building their own PC and burn up their hardware, or worse, their home.

First Things First To start with, you need some basic tools: Phillips screwdrivers antistatic grounding straps small flashlight (I use the light on my cell phone) And most importantly: YOUR HEAD.

Now We Begin

1. Locating the components for your project can be a lengthy task. Compatibility is the most important. The parts must fit both, electrically and physically.

 2. Locate a case be sure to balance cost with quality. Note the power supply wattage, the number of drive bays and board compatibility.

3. Locate a motherboard scalability is key. You want to be able to upgrade. You also want to count expansion slots, note the type of slots (PCI, PCI Express, AGP and so on). You need to note all data concerning memory speed, type, max capacity and so on. You need to know the BIOS (read the manual that comes with your board) Warning: Overclocking is risky. I don't recommend it You could loose valuable data, Or worse, you could fry your system!

4. Locate a processor. Note the socket type that your mother board supports(LGA775, socket A ect...) Try to find a bundle kit with heatsink and fan to insure compatibility. Avoid OEM, OEM Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer These products come with Logo labels. You have to obtain a license to use them.

5. Locate RAM (system memory). Note the type of memory supported by your mother board. Match the same type to insure compatibility (some type are reverse compatible).

6. Locate a hard drive. The more storage space and the higher the speed the better. I.E. 320GB at 7200RPM. Note the type as well (ATA, SATA, Internal or external).

7. Locate floppy, CD, CDR., CDRW, DVD, DVDR, DVDRW drives of your choice. Note the number of bays in your case and the max allowable IDE devices for your motherboard. You may use USB or SATA if your board supports it.

8. Locate a video card. Note slot type. It must match your mother board.

9. Locate a sound card PCI is standard I recommend Sound Blaster for compatibility. If your board already has integrated video and sound, you can ignore the last two statement Unless you wish to bypass them. You then need to do that in BIOS(read the manual)

Put It All Together First, use that grounding strap. It will keep your delicate components safe from ESD (Electro Static Discharge) AKA static. ESD is the No.1 killer of computer systems in general. Lightening generates it in phone lines. Its time to use that screwdriver. Begin by opening the case. It should come with all the screws and fasteners you need. Start by inspecting the case. Be sure it comes wit a power supply if it does not then buy one. Remove the I/0 plate on the back of the case and install the one that comes with your motherboard. This is to insure a perfect fit. Inspect the screw holes on the motherboard and note their locations. Install the screw extensions (usually brass) that came with your case (in the same pattern of the mother board). Be sure to read the installation instructions of your processor. Some socket types require you to install a backing plate underneath the board to support the heatsink prior to board installation. Install the motherboard carefully. Use supplied screws (match Thread).

Wiring The Motherboard To the Case I felt that this subject needed its own title because of the complexity. You will find al sorts of wires inside the case with black plugs at the ends. They are labeled. Usually one colored wire twisted around a white wire. The colored wire is usually the positive and the white negative. Polarity matters so be sure to read the manual that came with your mother board. The plugs are labeled as followed HDDLED; PWRLED; PWRSW; RESETSW; SPEAKER. These plugs are for the lights and switches on the case and are in some variation of the above. Use that little flashlight of yours to locate on the motherboard (usually close to the front and bottom of the case) the jumper panel usually labeled 1. It is arranged as a selection of pins. Due to the variety of deferent configurations it is easier to refer to the manual on this. In the manual you will also find out what to do with all of the other USB and Audio ribbon cables inside your case.

Plug In Your Motherboard Do not plug the computer in to the wall outlet yet. We are simply plugging in the power supply to the motherboard. Refer to the manual for proper fit. ATX has at least two variation of plugs the small type from the power supply is compatible to the large type on the motherboard if plugged up properly.

Plug in Your Drives Hard disks and CD-ROM drives use slavery. I know your thinking I'm pulling your leg but I'm not. If your using only one hard drive set it to "master" by moving the jumper on the drive to master. It is usually labeled on the drive itself. Plug in the IDE cable from the hard disc to the "primary" IDE port on the motherboard. It is usually labeled too (sometimes it is colored blue). Since there is only one disk it is master (you really only need one disk 320gb is more than enough) If you wish to connect more than one CD-ROM "type" (DVD, CDR, DVDR ect..) Drive then use a dual IDE cable and set one of the drives to master and one to slave Then connect the cable from the two drives to the secondary IDE port on the motherboard. Be sure to fully install all the drives in the case before hooking up the plugs and IDE cables. Use screws supplied. Plug in all the power plugs in all the drives from the power supply. After installing the floppy or card reader plug in the special IDE and/or the Internal USB to the Motherboard The IDE has a special twist in it so be sure to connect it properly (usually labeled) Its smaller than the rest so plug it in to the "floppy IDE" port on the motherboard. If its a card reader or a combo floppy card reader then plug in the internal USB to an available USB Jumper Panel (refer to the manual for your mother board). Plug in the special power plug into the floppy drive.

Plug In your RAM When installing the RAM be sure to slide each card in the correct direction and facing the right way. They can really only go in one way but this keeps you from damaging them by trying to force them.

Install The Processor Be sure to install the processor in the correct direction. Apply Heatsink Grease to the top of the processor and install the heatsink and fan according to the instructions that came with your heatsink or motherboard.

Plug In Your Expansion Cards To plug in the expansion cards IE. videocards, network cards, sound cards ect. Match slot type(PCI to PCI; AGP to AGP; PCI express to PCI express). Be sure to remove the slot cover for the selected slot then install the card. Be sure to place a screw to hold the expansion card so it does not come out of place. All card basically follow the same installation instructions.

The Final Check Take the time to look over the system and be sure all plugs are properly installed. If you have any doubts ask don't be afraid to ask someone in the field of computers to help you or you can contact me.

Connect The External Stuff You can now connect your monitor, keyboard, mouse and install your operating system. After your operating system is installed be sure to install all the software provided with your motherboard, video card, soundcard, disk drives, monitor, and other input devices.

Your Done Well you did it. Was it tough? It gets easier every time you do it. I hope you did not have any serious problems. Problems crop up almost every time you build a PC. Its how you solve those problems that matters. Well Good luck!

About the author: Richard Horton. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was always fascinated with computers and electronics as a child. I completed the Cisco Networking Academy course in At Mary G. Montgomery High School and attended the University of South Alabama majoring in computer engineering but never completed. I'm mostly self taught. I am currently a webmaster and business owner of at Hortontech Custom Computers



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