Introduction: Building a Computer
How to build a computer for everyday use
Step 1: Prepare Work Space/Gather Materials
- Make sure your work space
- Is clean
- Has good lighting
- Has good ventilation
- Is a good room temperature
- Avoids clutter
- Has a work bench accessible from all sides
- Antistatic wrist strap,
- Antistatic mat,
- Computer case
- Power supply
- HDD (Hard Drive)
- expansion cards
- CPU cooler fan
- Computer fans
Step 2: Install the CPU and Related Components
NOTE: Assemble the motherboard before placing it into the case
- Align the CPU pin 1 with the socket pin 1. Look for a dot on the CPU and a triangle on the socket to indicate pin 1. Check the CPU and motherboard documentation to ensure alignment. Place the CPU gently into the socket. Never force the CPU into its socket, as excessive force can easily damage the CPU and the socket. Stop if you encounter any resistance and make sure that you have aligned the CPU properly.
- Secure the CPU to the socket on the motherboard with a latch plate. Close the CPU latch plate.
- Secure the latch plate in place by closing the load lever
- Secure the load lever under the load lever retention tab
- Apply thermal compound to the CPU. Thermal compound helps to conduct heat away from the CPU. In most cases, only a very small amount of thermal compound is required. The compound spreads out evenly under the weight and pressure of the heatsink and fan assembly. Follow the application instructions provided by the manufacturer of the thermal compound. Use no more than a grain of rice.
- Align the heatsink and fan assembly retainers with the holes on the motherboard and place assembly onto the CPU socket,. Avoid pinching the CPU fan wires
- Tighten the assembly retainers to secure the assembly in place. Follow the instructions from the heatsink and fan assembly manufacturer carefully
Step 3: Add RAM
- Open the DIMM slots that house the RAM
- Firmly press straight down on the RAM but be sure to line up the slots in the RAM with the slots in the DIMM
- Close the DIMM slots to secure the RAM
Step 4: Open the Case
Depending on the form factor of your case you can open it by:
- Removing the cover in one piece
- Removing the top and side panels
- Removing the top of the case before the side panels
- Pulling a latch to release the side panel so it can swing open
Step 5: Install the Power Supply
- Align the holes in the power supply with the holes in the case
- Secure the power supply to the case using proper screws
*Don’t fully tighten the screws until they have been slightly hand tightened.
*Place all unused cables into the case where they will not interfere with any other components or face. Use cable ties, rubber bands, or hook and loop straps to bundle power cables to keep them out of the way
Step 6: Install Motherboard
- Choose the proper motherboard standoffs for the case. A motherboard printed circuit board (PCB) cannot touch any metal portion of the computer case. Therefore, it must be mounted to the case using special plastic or metal standoffs
- Install the standoffs in the computer case at the same locations of the mounting holes in the motherboard. Install only the standoffs that align with the holes in the motherboard for an ATX motherboard. Installing additional standoffs might prevent the motherboard from being seated properly in the computer case, or cause damage.
- Install the I/O connector plate in the back of the computer case. The I/O plate has cutouts that match the connector layout of the motherboard.
- Align the I/O connectors on the back of the motherboard with the openings in the I/O plate.
- Align the screw holes of the motherboard with the standoffs.
- Insert all the motherboard screws and hand-tighten all of them before tightening them with a screwdriver. Do not over tighten the screws.
Step 7: Install the Hard Drive
To install a 3.5 in (8.9 cm) HDD into a 3.5 in drive bay, follow these steps:
- Position the HDD so that it aligns with the drive bay opening.
- Insert the HDD into the drive bay so that the screw holes in the drive line up with the screw holes in the case
- Secure the HDD to the case using the proper screws
*When installing multiple drives in a case, it is recommended to maintain some space between the drives to help airflow and enhance cooling. Also, mount the drive with the metal side face up. This metal face helps to dissipate heat from the hard drive.
*To install an HDD, find an empty hard drive bay in the case that will accommodate the width of the drive. Smaller drives can often be installed in wider drive bays using special trays or adapters.
Step 8: Install a Video Adapter Card
- Find an empty PCIe x16 slot on the case and remove the small metal cover.
- Align the video adapter card to the appropriate expansion slot on the motherboard.
- Press down gently on the video adapter card until the card is fully seated.
- Secure the video adapter card mounting bracket to the case with the appropriate screw.
Step 9: Connect Power to the Motherboard
- Align the 24-pin (or 20-pin) ATX power connector to the socket on the motherboard.
- Gently press down on the connector until the clip clicks into place.
- Align the 4-pin (or 8-pin) auxiliary power connector to the socket on the motherboard.
- Gently press down on the connector until the clip clicks into place.
- Align the CPU fan power connector to the socket on the motherboard.
- Gently press down on the connector until it is fully seated.
Step 10: Connect Power to the Internal Drives and Case Fans
The steps to connect the SATA cable to a drive are:
- Align the 15-pin SATA power connector to the port on the drive.
- Gently push in the connector until the connector is fully seated.
Other peripheral devices, such as the case fans, also need to be powered. Most motherboards provide 3-pin or 4-pin connectors to connect fans. The basic steps to power case fans include:
- Align the 3-pin or 4-pin fan power connector to the port on the motherboard.
- Gently press down on the connector until the connector is fully seated.
Step 11: Install Front Panel Cables
- Plug the power cable into the system panel connector in the location marked PWR_SW.
- Plug the reset cable into the system panel connector in the location marked RESET.
- Plug the power LED cable into the system panel connector in the location marked PWR_LED.
- Plug the drive activity LED cable into the system panel connector in the location marked HDD_LED.
- Plug the speaker cable into the system panel connector in the location marked SPEAKER.
- Plug the USB cable into the USB connector.
- Plug the audio cable into the audio connector.
Step 12: Reassemble the Case
- Before reattaching the side panels to the computer case, make sure that all items are correctly aligned and seated properly. This list includes the CPU, RAM, adapter cards, data cables, front panel cables, and power cables.
- When the cover is in place, make sure that it is secured at all screw locations. Some computer cases use screws that are inserted with a screwdriver. Other cases have knob-type screws that you can tighten by hand.
Step 13: Install External Cables
- Attach the monitor cable to the video port. Secure the cable by tightening the screws on the connector. If the computer you assembled has a video adapter installed, be sure to connect the cable to the adapter, and not the motherboard video port.
- Plug the keyboard cable into the PS/2 or an USB keyboard port.
- Plug the mouse cable into the PS/2 or an USB mouse port.
- Plug the power cable into the power supply.