Do you remember when you were a kid, tearing things apart to figure out how they work? Well, this Lazy Old Geek does. I was a Nerd before I became a Geek. Actually, I still tear things apart to see how they work.
Now that I'm older, I thought, how about figuring out how some thing works by putting it together. And I am talking about a computer.
Now there are a lot of good Instructables on how to build a computer.
But perusing through them, I noticed a topic that is not covered very well: component selection, choosing parts that will work together. So I will guide you in the selection process and hopefully give you some insight on how computers work. Even if you don't want to build a PC, someday you might want to fix or upgrade your PC. This Instructable should help you do that also.
Skip this: Since you are reading this, I assume that you are fairly knowledgeable in using a computer. But what do you do if/when your computer stops working. Well, I know many of you have a GoTo guy/gal that you call up to fix it. Well, this GoTo person is probably a GEEK. So do you want to become a GEEK? No, I don't think so. But maybe you would like to communicate better with your GEEK.
Totally Irrelevant: GoTo is also a programming command that was often in early versions of Basic. In early computing days, there was a big division between Basic programmers and C programmers. C programmers always thought Basic programmers weren't really computer programmers because they used the 'GoTo' statement. There is a little bit of truth to that. I've always been more of a Basic programmer, than a C or C++ programmer.
So why build your own PC? Here are some of my excuses, uh, reasons:
Save money. The truth is I don’t really need a new PC.
Design it the way I want it.
Put in expandability/upgradeability that I might want.
Challenge to see if I could do it.
No bloatware (probably). Bloatware is all the free software most manufacturers put on their production PCs that’s hard to get rid of.
Out of boredom.
Incompatibility. I will try to address mostly of these issues.
What if it doesn’t work?
So here is my list of essential components:
A phillips screwdriver
Willingness to learn
If you read through all of this Instructable, you may not believe it but most of these components are standardized. Motherboards come in a few standardized sizes and layouts. Memory modules for desktops are the same size and fit in the same sockets. Power supplies are physically about the same size and have standard mounting holes. Hard drives and DVD players fit into a couple of different standard slots and have only a couple of different interfaces. Power supplies have pretty much standard connectors.
Step 1: CPU Selection
The CPU (Central Processing Unit) or microprocessor is the brains of any computer. See Computers Are Dumb
ASIDE: IMHO most of the high end computers systems/components are driven by gamers. Well, I play games on my PC; well actually I play ‘Spider Solitaire’ so I’m not really a gamer. ‘Spider Solitaire’ plays almost as well on an old XP as my new Sandy Bridge. I do use ExtremeTech.com which is pretty much tech for gamers and GEEKs.
TIP: I made all of my computer part purchases from Newegg.com. They seem to have pretty good prices especially with E-blast and Shell shocker deals. I also usually read the reader reviews before buying. Newegg’s descriptions are much better and more complete than Amazon.com.
AMD vs Intel
Many of you know these are the two big microprocessor (CPU) manufacturers. They are pretty much your only choices. There is no best choice. It depends on your needs, funds and preferences.
Aside: There also used to be two big video card makers, ATI and Nvidia. AMD bought out ATI. So now there is AMD and Nvidia. Now Intel is also trying to get into the video market so the whole industry is a bit muddled.
Some people say AMD has better bang for the buck (performance/price). And their current processors should be compatible with most AMD motherboards. This makes upgrading CPUs easier.
Intel processors are generally faster processors. The thing I hate is that there are so many different types and different sockets they plug into which means you may have to replace your motherboard if you upgrade your CPU.
Step 1: Choose your CPU manufacturer: AMD or Intel
Step 2: Choose the CPU model
These choices should be made:
What you are going to be using your computer for, now and in the near future
Are you a gamer, do you just surf the Internet, will it be used for business, are you into photo/video editing; are you a Geek?
I chose Intel. Some of the current types are Pentium, dual core, i-series first generation and i-series second generation. If you want a Pentium or dual core, I would suggest you just buy a completed PC system.
Confusion: What I call the i-series are i3, i5 and i7. Here is where it gets more confusing. This year, Intel came out with 2nd Generation which is still i3, i5 and i7 but not compatible. These are generally known as Sandy Bridge. Sandy Bridge is defined as a processor microarchitecture which gave me a headache trying to figure out. Sandy Bridge includes integrated graphics/video. Besides the i5, there is some more numbers which identify processor speed.
CPU Sockets: All CPUs are installed in a socket on the motherboard. The reason this is important is that each CPU will not fit into any socket. The first Intel i-series used LGA1156 and LGA 1366 sockets. The 2nd Generation uses LGA 1155 sockets. AMDs have different sockets.
Bottom Line: Once you choose a CPU, find out what socket it uses.
I chose the Intel i5-2500K. The 2 in 2500 means it is 2nd Generation. The K means it can be overclocked. That means the speed of the processor can be raised above standard values. This CPU uses the LGA 1155 socket.
CPU fans: Most CPUs come with a heat sink and fan. CPUs do so much work they generate a lot of heat. The top of the CPU is metal. a good heat conductor. The heat sink is pressed against this with thermal compound which helps transfer the heat from the CPU to the heat sink. The fan dissipates the heat from the heat sink. The stock heat sink/fans are adequate for most users. For extreme uses, there are higher performing add-on cooling fans that cool much better than stock fans. Some are even liquid cooled. (See pictures)
Step 2: Motherboard Selection
STEP 3: Choose a Motherboard
Motherboard: The motherboard is the large PCB (Printed Circuit Board) where the CPU is installed and basically everything else is connected to it.
I selected a Gigabyte GA-Z68P-D3 motherboard.
Some specifications you need to worry about are: CPU socket, size, memory sockets, graphic card sockets, expansion slots, other sockets, chipset, I/O (input/output) and storage interface.
CPU socket: This is the socket that the CPU fits into. This should be easy as you should have already selected a CPU which will define the socket you will need. I needed an LGA 1155 socket.
Form factor or size: This is mostly the physical size of the motherboard. Some of the older form factors are AT and Baby AT, most current motherboards use either ATX or Mini ATX. Here is a table of the differences:
You probably won’t be choosing a form factor but you need to know it so that you will know if it fits in the computer case you select. Mine is an ATX form factor.
Memory sockets: The memory (RAM) modules are also installed in sockets. For my CPU, the motherboards had either two or four memory sockets. Probably not important but it might be if you need/want a lot of memory. Mine has four sockets that will hold up to 32Gbytes of memory.
Video card support: On newer motherboards, this has to do with PCI Express slots (discussed in a later step). Since I’m not currently using an external video card or cards, this in not important to me. For extremists, you may also want Crossfire or SLI. This is multiple-graphic cards. If you want/need this then get it.
If you are using internal graphics/video like I am, then take note of the type of video connector on the motherboard. Some of the current ones are VGA (old school analog), DVI, HDMI and Display Port. This is important as you use this to connect your monitor to the motherboard. My motherboard only has an HDMI connector. Since my monitor only had DVI, I also had to buy a DVI-HDMI adapter cable and hoped that it worked; it did. Generally, DVI and HDMI should be compatible but you have to be aware that sometimes audio is included in the signal and sometimes it is not.
Display Port is the latest interface that I know nothing about. I would say it’s in its infancy and, for most people, wouldn’t worry about it.
Other expansion slots: These are PCI slots. This is probably not important unless you have specific requirements for them.
Chipset: Chipsets are a group of ICs that support a specific type of CPU. For the i5, the choices are: H61, B65, H67, P67 and Z68.
Here is a table listing the differences:
What was important to me was On-CPU GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) support and overclocking. I chose the Z68 chipset. SSD caching and dual video support are interesting options that I might use in the future. Basically, you need to select a chipset that supports the features you want now and for the immediate future. For many people, this may not matter.
I/O (input/output): Most motherboard come with a built-in LAN connection and audio. The LAN connection may be 100Mbs or 1Gbs. This is the speed. For most users, 100Mbs is just fine. If you are planning to use a 1Gbs network, make sure you motherboard and everything else is 1Gbs compatible.
Tip: LAN (Local Area Network) is usually how your PC is connected to the Internet. Usually, you have a broadband router or cable modem that connects to the LAN port.
Tip: 1Gbs LANs will work with 100Mbs devices but if you have a 100Mbs device connected, then probably everything else will be limited to 100Mbs.
Most audio is fairly standard.
My motherboard also has a serial and parallel port. This is very old school and unusual. It’s probably not useful to most people but then I am and Arduino user so might benefit from them.
Storage interface: Currently, there are two main types of storage interface: IDE/PATA and SATA. IDE/PATA is old school. My motherboard only has SATA. If you are planning on using older IDE/PATA devices like hard drives or optical drives (DVD/CD) then make sure your motherboard supports them.
Confusion: Current SATA comes in two flavors SATA2(3Gb/s) and SATA3(6Gb/s). Faster is, theoretically, better. My motherboard has both. Supposedly all SATA2 devices will work on either.
There is another connector called eSATA on some motherboards. This is for connecting external SATA devices.
TIP: So there is another concern about SATA cabling. SATA2 and SATA3 have the same physical connectors. Some cables say that they will work with SATA3. Some just say SATA. If you buy new cables, I would suggest SATA3 cables as I don’t think there is much difference in price. Now if you are using a SATA3 device plugged into a SATA3 port with a SATA cable and you are wondering if it’s working correctly, then you might try a SATA3 cable to see if there is any difference.
More confusion: So now there is USB2 and USB3. Again, these are speed issues. But the USB3 cable is different from USB2. Currently, I don’t think there are that many USB3 devices available. But be aware. My motherboard only has USB2.
Step 3: Operating System - 32 Bit or 64 Bit
Step 4: Choose Operating SystemYou may be wondering why I put this step in here. Well, I just figured out I needed to discuss this before I get into Memory. So you should decide which operating system you will use. I would guess you will choose between Linux and Windows. (If you want MAC, then you are probably not building your own PC.) But there is another sub choice: 32 bit or 64 bit. Basically this means how the operating system handles memory. The main difference to the average user is how much memory you can use and install. Most 32 bit systems will limit RAM to 4Gbytes and, at least Windows VISTA and 7 will only let you use a little over 3Gbytes of that.
So, you may ask, why wouldn’t I want 64 bit? Well, there is some software and hardware (mostly older) that won’t work with 64 bit. And if you are currently running 32 bit software, you will have to find new drivers for 64 bit.
So I selected Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium. I have found drivers for most everything I use. One issue I haven’t resolved yet is with Arduino. I installed 64 bit drivers for the FTDI and Prolific USB devices. I am able to run the Arduino serial terminal. But I am not able to rewrite Arduino scripts to my Arduinos.
Step 4: Memory Selection
Step 5: Choose memory
See Computers Are Dumb
Wouldn’t it be nice if one of these Steps was easy? Well, this one isn’t too bad.
The specifications on my motherboard says it supports these memory standards: DDR3 2133 / 1866 / 1600 / 1333 / 1066
So DDR3 (double data rate) type 3 defines a certain type of memory and the numbers are just various speeds.
What speed do you want? Faster is better, right? Well, not really. What I did was look up the specifications for my CPU, i5-2500K:
It says memory types: DDR3-1066/1333
It also says # of memory channels: 2
So I don’t know much about overclocking but apparently, memory over 1333 won’t do me any good so I decided on 1333. You might find that faster memory, say 1600 is cheaper, so get it, it should work fine.
A look at the Gigabyte MB manual says that it supports dual channel memory which agrees with the Intel information.
Dual Channel: Okay, as I understand it, all DDR memory is 64bits wide. This means that data can be accessed 64 bits at a time by the memory controller.
With dual channel the memory controller can access 128 bits at a time but this is with a pair of 64 bit modules. So this is theoretically twice as fast. For optimum performance with dual channel, you want to buy memory modules in matched pairs. Most memory suppliers will sell you ‘matched’ pairs of memory modules.
By the way, there is also triple channel memory but only for i7 with LGA 1366 socket.
How much memory: Nothing is simple anymore.
Okay, I inserted the Operating System Step so you should have selected an Operating System.
So if you are going to use a 32 bit operating system, then you limit yourself to 4Gbytes of memory. Here’s a table of how much you can use for various versions of Windows 7.
To add to your confusion, 32 bit systems won’t let you use all of the 4Gbytes. Depending on your video card, it somewhat less the 3.5Gb. But you can only get 4Gbytes. I would advise you get 4Gbytes for a 32 bit system.
So with Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium, I am limited to 16Gbytes. (Actually, I didn’t realize this until I started researching for this Instructable).
But I decided to get 8Gbytes for now.
Almost done. Well, there’s a lot of brands and selections out there even if I limit it to dual channel, DDR3, 8Gb, 1333.
Well, for me one solution is my motherboard website:
(This page may not come up correctly all the time but you can search gigabyte.com to get there) has a memory support list
which happened to include the memory I selected.
G.Skill F3-10666CL9D-8GBNS memory modules which had all the requirements configured as 2x4Gbyte modules. Newegg.com has a nice search feature for finding memory by the specifications you need.
Now Gigabyte updates this list constantly, but if you can’t find what you want from the list, but meets all of the specifications, it should still work. I make no guarantees however. Most other motherboard manufacturers have their own lists. Check your motherboard’s website for similar information.
TIP: There are two versions of DDR memory. One is 240 pin for desktops and the other is 204 pin for laptops. Make sure you buy 240 pin or that it says for desktop.
Step 5: Video Cards
Step 6: Video Card
Well, this one should be fairly easy as I don’t have one yet. I am using the i5 Sandy Bridge internal graphics/video.
Okay, I don’t know much about these but here’s what I think I know: There are two major manufactures of video/graphics cards, AMD (used to be ATI) and Nvidia. AMD makes the Radeon series and Nvidia makes the GeForce series. There seems to be about a thousand different cards and manufacturers. If you choose one of these cards, make sure that you have the correct expansion slot. Some of them call for PCI Express 2.1x16. My motherboard says it has PCIEx16 so I’m not sure if it would work.
For extreme users there is also Crossfire and SLI. As I understand it these are systems with two video cards and the motherboard has to support it. Mine supports Crossfire.
Step 6: Hard Drive
Step 7: Hard drive
See Computers Are Dumb
Well this one should be easy.
Most hard drives are a standard 3.5” form factor. Most have SATA interface and SATA power connection. My motherboard came with extra SATA cables and (I’m guessing) all new power supplies come with SATA power connectors.
Now my hard drive uses SATA3 and my motherboard has SATA3 so that works fine. As I said, the experts say that hard drives won’t operate fast enough to use the extra speed of SATA3 but most have data caches that will. I suspect what this means is that you might see a slight improvement in throughput with a SATA3 hard drive connected to a SATA3 connector.
Where it does make a difference is if you get an SSD (Solid state drive). Since they have no rotating platters to slow data down, they will theoretically operate faster than SATA2 rates. Some even claim to run faster than the 6Gbytes/sec rate of SATA3. So if you get an SSD that supports SATA3, you will probably want a motherboard that supports it.
Full disclosure: mSATA (Mini SATA) is rather new. Apparently it is just a SATA2 interface on a special connector. My motherboard has one. This is in support of ‘SSD caching via RST’ which is a feature specific to the Z68 chipset. This is another method to speed up software by caching frequently used software on the SSD instead of on a hard drive.
Hard disk size: Well, I heard there is a 2Tb (Terabyte) limit for hard drive capacity but apparently there are ways to work around this. Anyway, I decide on a 1Tb drive.
Other factors: RPM is usually 7,200 or 10,000. Faster usually means faster operation. Cache size: bigger is usually better.
My choice was a Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS, 7200RPM, 32Gb cache, SATA3.
Step 7: Computer Case
The case is the enclosure where most of your PC will reside. All of the components will go inside. Many of the features are cosmetic.
I selected the Antec One Hundred. One of the bigger factors was cost as I got it on sale for $32.99.
Motherboard form factor:The case needs to support the motherboard. Mine is an ATX. Most cases will support both ATX and mini ATX.
Type: Desktop or Tower. Most DIYers prefer the tower but you might have space limitations.
Cooling: Most cases come with cooling fan(s) included. There are so many variations, I won’t go into it. It mainly depends upon CPU selected, overclocking, video card(s). Aside from the fairly high end CPU my configuration is fairly basically so I don’t need a lot of cooling. My case has a 120mm and a 140mm fan. Most (many) cases have the option of adding fans later if needed.
Drive bays: All cases have external and internal drive bays for 5.25”, 3.5” and possibly 2.5” devices. Make sure you have enough for now and in the near future.
Most of the other features are cosmetic. It might be important to you to have a lot of access from the front for USB ports, audio. Choose accordingly.
Some cases come with power supplies. I decided to get my power supply separately since I could specify what I wanted and had more specifications and reviews available.
Step 8: Power Supply
Step 9: Power Supply
There is a reason why this category is so far down the list. The selection of the other components will help determine your power supply needs.
I chose a Rosewill RD450-2-DB 450W power supply.
Wattage: This is the most important factor on buying a power supply. You can go over what you need but do not go under. Now it is hard to calculate how much wattage you need but there are plenty of calculators on the Internet.
This one is my favorites:
Other considerations are brand name, number of fans, energy efficiency, and compatibility with standards. I like to read through the reviews.A couple of possible problems are: does it have all of the power connectors that you need. And will they reach the motherboard/device when installed in the case. I suspect that most power supplies of your required wattage will have all the connectors you need or adapters can be bought. Unfortunately, most of this information might not be available so I rely on reader reviews.
Step 9: DVD Drive
Step 10: DVD drive
So finally an easy one! You will likely need a DVD drive to load your operating system and some of your other software.
I chose an ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK
Interface: SATA. There are still IDE drives but if you have SATA get a SATA.
Other choices: I guess all of the Blu-Ray also support DVD so get it if you want to watch Blu-Ray movie CDs. But make sure it also supports DVD/CD as most software comes on DVD or CD. You can also select write speeds to your preference. I selected mine based on popularity.
Step 10: Static Electricity
Here is an article that all DIY PC builders should read:
Did you read it? In case you didn’t I will summarize. A static shock that you can feel is 3500 to 4000 volts. Electronic ICs can be destroyed by as little as 400 volts. The following is a quote:
“What's worse is that the component you installed may appear to be fine, but days, weeks, or months later your PC may lock up or start acting strangely.”
I used to work in manufacturing using laser diodes so I know this is true. Now I spent over $200 for my CPU so I want to take care of it. Static electricity could damage it and it wouldn’t work at all. That would be bad but what I think would be worse is if the damage didn’t show up until months later and it was an intermittent problem that I couldn’t necessarily attribute to the CPU. So I recommend that you use proper ESD procedures.
Here’s my beef!! Many instructions suggest that you use attached to the computer case as shown in the picture. This is okay if the power supply cable is plugged into AC even turned off. The problem is during assembly, most instructions recommend that you unplug the power supply. What this means is that the computer is floating around at an unknown potential that can generate static electricity.
For correct ESD procedures, you should do all of your work on an ESD mat (see picture) with the mat connected to earth ground. This means to a metal water pipe or more commonly to the ground in an AC plug the wrist strap attached to the mat.(see picture)
I realize most of you don’t have an ESD mat so I would recommend that you ground the computer case to the AC earth ground with a banana plug from an old DMM or Radio Shack and use a ESD wrist strap.
Full disclosure: I don’t have (or couldn’t find) a wrist strap, but I do have an ESD mat so I grounded my mat and myself, put the motherboard on the mat, and installed the CPU and memory. Once those are done then you are fairly safe from static discharge.
Step 11: Installing Power Supply
Step 11: Installing power supply
I am not going to go into a lot of detail or pictures of my assembly as there are a lot of websites and Instructables that already do this. I will just contribute some tips.
Your PC case will probably have an instruction manual. Mine was online. Usually the first step is to install the power supply in the case. This manual also had a nice picture of the various screws include with the case and what they are used for. (See picture).
Power supplies are fairly standard. There’s usually a switch, fan, power cord and power selector on the back that should show out the back of the computer case. My power supply mounts at the bottom of the computer case so if you have a power supply with a fan on the bottom, the case manual says to mount it upside down so that the fan is pointing up. Screw it in. (See pictures)
Step 12: Assembling Motherboard
Step 12: Assembly motherboard
Okay, now you should have all of your components ready for assembly. The better way is to work on the motherboard with a grounded ESD mat. (see first picture)
I guess an alternative would be placing the motherboard on a table or desk in an uncarpeted room and attaching a wrist strap to one of the grounded mounting holes on the motherboard. (see picture) Those little spokes are attached to the motherboard ground.
Third suggestion if you don’t have a wrist strap is again on a table or desk in an uncarpeted room. While touching the mounting hole on the motherboard, grab the CPU case with your other hand, then open it up and install it per instructions in the CPU manual or per other Instructables.
Once the CPU is installed, install the fan. I believe most fans that come with a CPU have thermal compound on the metal surface that contacts the CPU. Mine did. It was a thin brown layer. If it’s shiny metal, then you need to put on some thermal paste.
Contrary to other people’s advice, I wouldn’t use toothpaste or other products other than real thermal paste. This can be purchased from Newegg or at your local Radio Shack. Clean off both the top of the CPU and the heat sink with isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel or use special Arctic Fox cleaner.
Newegg has a good video on using thermal paste:
Once the fan is installed, plug it into the CPU cooler connector on the motherboard. (see picture)
Next install the memory modules. They only go in one way. Again, there are good Instructables on this. With dual channel memory like I am using, you need to pay attention to which slots you use. Read your motherboard manual. Usually, the two modules are separated by a slot (I assume for better cooling) and are different colors. I put mine in the white slots. (see picture)
Step 13: Installing Motherboard
Step 13: Installing motherboard
The motherboard comes with a metal rectangular strip that fits over the external connectors. My case manual calls it an I/O panel. If you look at where the motherboard goes in the case, you will probably find an I/O panel already there. Remove that strip and put in the one for your motherboard making sure that the connector openings will line up. It should snap in.
Carefully position the motherboard over where it will go. Take note of where the motherboard mounting holes are in the case. There might already be motherboard standoffs at these locations. If not install them. Make sure there are not any extra standoffs in the case.
Now most of those I/O panels have little springy pieces that help ground the connectors. (This helps reduce RF emissions). So carefully put in the motherboard so that the connectors line up with the I/O panel and push it in, while lining up the mounting holes. Put screws in the all the mounting holes.
Attach the power supply cables. Motherboards have a 24 pin power connector. Some power supplies have a mating 24 pin cable; others have a 20 pin and a four pin connector that mates up. You cannot put them in wrong. Mine has another 4 pin power connector.
Step 14: Installing Hard Drive and DVD
Step 14: Installing hard drive and DVD
Hard drives are internal devices. They usually go in the lower part of the case. Each case has its own procedure on mounting hard drives. Read the manual. You will probably have a choice of which slot to put it in. I think I put it where the cables reached easily.
Assuming SATA, connect a SATA power cable from the power supply to the hard drive. Connect a SATA cable from the hard drive to the motherboard. In my case, I hooked it up to a SATA3 connector.
DVD drives are accessible externally so they usually go towards the top. Each case has its own procedure on mounting external drives. Read the manual.
Assuming SATA, connect a SATA power cable from the power supply to the DVD drive. Connect a SATA cable from the DVD to the motherboard. In my case, I hooked it up to a SATA2 connector.
TIP: I would suggest not installing any other devices besides the minimum until you get it working. If it doesn’t work then you will have fewer parts to troubleshoot.
Step 15: Finish Up
Step 15: Finish up
The case has some more connections to make. You will probably have a power switch, maybe some USB ports and audio. Follow the instructions in your case manual and motherboard manual. The USB and audio are usually standard connectors that cannot be inserted incorrectly. The power switch and hard drive LED will probably be two pin connectors that plug into one connector.
My case has two fans. The manual didn’t have any instructions on how to hook them up. The connectors looked like power supply connectors but one had some extra stuff on it. I figured out that one connector fit into the other one and that the set connected to a power supply connector.
Next you want to dress the cables (make it neat). The case manual may have some suggestions. My main rule is to keep cables away from fans and heat sinks. I used the enclosed tie wraps and some of my own. I wouldn’t use those little tie wraps that come with electronics that have a wire down the middle.
Leave the case open for now.
Step 16: Fire It Up
Connect a monitor, keyboard, mouse and power cord. Read your motherboard manual. It will probably suggest you default your bios as the first step. Push the power button.
If it works, put the case covers on as it will cool better.
Problem: So I got a blank screen.
Solution: Okay a quick check and I found out I’d plugged the video cable into my monitor but didn’t plug the other end into the computer.
After you pushed the power button, did you hear the power supply fan?
If not, check:
Power supply switch turned on
Power supply set to correct AC voltage
Power switch plugged into the correct pins on the motherboard
Power supply connected to motherboard, probably a 24pin and a 4pin at least.
If power supply fan starts:
Here’s where it gets tricky. Your motherboard manual should have a troubleshooting guide. Some motherboards have LEDs to indicate startup status. You may have to hook up a speaker to get POST (Power On Self Test) status.
Ok, I got mine to come up and cleared the CMOS.
Now is probably a good time to shut it down and put the cover on.
Then put in your Operating System DVD and install away.
Problem: No audio
Solution: Okay, I plugged my speakers in the wrong connector.
Good luck. I hope you learned something along the way and this helps.