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How-to: Build A PC

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Building a PC can be a daunting task. It takes research and patience. Rushing through a build can create immediate or intermittent issues. In this tutorial, I'll walk you through the process of of installing the PC components and provide some handy tips along the way. This tutorial uses parts for an Intel based system. The parts for an AMD based system are similar; the only difference is the motherboard and processor. I'll toss in a brief segway into AMD processor installations for those of you going with the underdog. Let's get started!
 
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Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools
02case.jpg
03tools.jpg
Gather the components. The components I use in this build are listed in parenthesis.
The bare minimum components for a computer to POST are are

power supply (Antec Earthwatts 380 Watt)
motherboard (ECS G31T-M MicroATX motherboard)
processor (CPU) and heatsink (Intel E5200 2.5GHz)
memory (2x1GB DDR2 Crucial Ballistix)
video card [can be onboard] (EVGA 8800GTS 320MB)

The other components of a standard computer are:
optical drive (none, I use an external USB DVDRW)
hard drive (SATA: Maxtor 160GB, IDE: Samsung 80GB)
case (Cooler Master Centurion 5)

Tools:
magnetic screwdriver

Optional:
gloves (latex will do, but antistatic gloves are better)
cable ties
cable mounts
thumb screws
thermal compound
cleaning rag
rubbing alcohol
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jackowens2 years ago
Wow this was only 3 years ago but already everything seems ancient. Computers sure advance fast!
yeah, when I look at the my old computer, i have a same feeling (ancient device)
awang85 years ago
I'm planning on building a new computer. Will this work? It's mostly a general home PC (no 3D gaming, not too much strenuous tasks). CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Motherboard: Asus P5QL-E RAM: Corsair DDR2800 800Mhz (2X1024MB dual-channel) Case: Huntkey H401 Case Fan: CoolerMaster 12CM Blue Led Case Fan PSU: Antec ATX TruePower 550W Trio Keyboard: Logitech Newtouch Keyboard 200 USB Mouse: Logitech Optical mouse USB Black Disc Drive: Asus DRW-20B1LT 20x DVDRW SATA LightScribe Hard Drive: Samsung 640G 7200RPM SATAII Monitor: Acer V223WB 22inch Widescreen 5ms Black Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (OEM) Graphics Card: Asus EN8400GS Silent 256M HDTV DVI PCI Express Should I improve something?
As said below, CPU is overkill, but that's not a bad thing...Just stay away form 3dfx cards. I suggest more than one hard drive, no matter what you have. Set windows to use the secondary drive for the swap file instead of you primary, this will vastly improve performance because read/writes will be done aside from your primary drive, optimizing RAM usage. Lose Vista....The smart people use WinXP SP2 if anything, and know better. Vista will never be as good as XpSP2. Don't let the myth of "newer is better" fool you. Your system is great with exception to Vista. Vista offers nothing more than problems for you, XP SP2 is ideal for this system. If you are that excited about Vista, then get the real thing: Mac OSX 10, or Leopard. After all, Vista was merely an MS port of OSX10 anyway, and a very poor one at that.
I've been using Vista since SP1 has came out and this is what I think about people who say it sucks: rubbish. Vista isn't a slow, memory-hogging, totally incompatible worthless piece of junk, it's simply brilliant! No-one in the whole entire universe can put me off my personal favourite OS, and no, it's not because it's new! I don't give a fig for what Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3 reviewers say. 2 hard drives... My budget doesn't really extend that far, but I guess the "overkill" CPU will make up for the performance drops. As for Mac... Well... If you swapped the title for a Vista review to "Mac OSX 10 review" then it would be perfect.
M0HIZ awang82 years ago
You're having a laugh! Vista's (I hate even the thought of it) is RUBBISH). I just about managed to put up with it for 3 years, and have now got Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit very cheaply because I am a UK student (see my Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-UK-Students-can-get-computer-software-at-massi/)
Apple's rubbish - get windows 7 ultimate 64 bit!
Yes, and OSX is just a port of Linux, although a very good one! Why not go to the Master OS, Ubuntu? Totally free, Windows and Mac compatible, huge array of FREE apps, you don't have to pay for MS Office, Photoshop, AutoCad, or almost anything else!
Investigate this OS, even if only to deal with the BSOD situations that WILL happen. You can burn a fully-operational boot-CD, and keep it safe for your time of need.
And they release a (free) update every 6 months, this thing just gets better!
A dual core is overkill? Wow, Then what's a quad core considered as? That's what i'm getting...
That CPU is pretty much overkill for what you are gonna do with it, you're better off with a E5200.
I got a 2.8ghz Pentium 4 right now and it's SLOW. Everyone in the household is complaining about it. I've read many great things about Intel's E8000 series of CPUs, so i'm stuck with it.
That most likely has more to do with your operating system or amount of RAM than your processor. Try reinstalling the OS, then upgrading RAM (to 1 or 2 GB) and I assure you your computer will be running mighty quick in no time. If you dont have a nice video card, and you want to play games, buy an 8600 GT or better, and you can even play crysis!
Overkill:

http://www.nvidia.com/object/personal_supercomputing.html

960 cores

250 times faster than a normal computer

$10,000
absolutely positvely not worth the money. A core i7 and a nice MB with quad SLI GTX295 will provide 3.576 teraflops, and will be much more functional. It supports NVIDIA's CUDA which is consistant with your link, and is only slightly less powerful. If you want, you could add another 295 which would provide another 1.788 teraflops (5.364 Tflops total). That doesnt even include the CPU, which is very, very good as well. (although scalar, not vector, if you know what that means) This rig would be 300 for case+PSU, 300 for CPU, 300 for MB, 1700 for GPUs, and 100 for other stuff. That doesnt even top 2000 dollars. (plus, if you buy the personal supercomputer, youd need a computer and extra CPU anyways)

20% of price, 500%+ of functionality, 134%+ of sheer power.

total=more than 1,440 cores.
I think you ought to know a Core i7 920 isn't much faster than a Core 2 Duo E8600, but the i& costs much more. Anything more than the Core i7 920 is overkill, even by my standards. (Would you pay $2000 for a 3.3ghz quad core chip?)
Hi enigmacipher, was just scaning over the HOW TO BUILD A P.C .able. Now i am computer literate to a point and am enginering minded and trained but i have been away from computer technology for a long time. used to build my own p.c 's back in the day. The old 8086,186 ect up to the start of the pentium era. Now as in the how to build a p.c post nothing much has changed on the physical builing but the spec's are totally different world now. Could you expain to me ( treat me like a total new commer ) what is ment by the terminology you use. core i7, quad SLI GTX295, teraflops ? ? ?GPU's ? ? ? You may laugh at my ignorance but trust me i am just out of touch just give me a little push in the right direction and i'll be talking the talk in no time i promise. Thans. Mick Caulton, from Midlands, England.
186? It was 8088, then 8086, then 286, etc... Just saying...Been a long time since I wrote for C64 too lol....
Yes you are correct ( as you know ) there was no such thing as a 186 . Silly thing is i don't know why i typed really. I do and should know better. You say you are a self taught engineer may i ask in what field. You may well be a man of my own heart. I personally love mechanical engineering although as i am sure you will agree, to grasp any form of engineering fully a person needs a good knowledge of all fields. oh and writing for the C64. Great old day's.
No worries, I was just razzing you lol. My skills center on mechanical and electrical engineering, but I generally try to stay a "jack-of-all-trades", with as much variety as I can have. I wouldn't say you need a good grasp of all fields, but the wider your spectrum, the easier it is to tackle bizarre problems. My parents hated it because I would always take things apart relentlessly, but it all worked out in the end...Cheers!
Hi, Most of the things that probably confused you are commercial terms. After the end of the Pentium Era, intel release the core, which focused on developing two cores on one CPU, then the Core 2, which was almost exclusively DualCore and QuadCore, and then the Core i7, which is Intel's newest line of CPUs, currently exclusively Quad Core, and very fast. Basically, core i7 is intel's brand name for their newest CPU. (they start at 300USD) SLI stands for Scalable Link Interface (I think) it was developed by 3dfx (a computer graphics company) in the late 1990s. 3dfx has since disapeared, and the current computer graphics giant, NVIDIA, now supports SLI. Normally, GPUs (graphics cards) render 3D as a single unit, but by splitting up work between multiple GPUs, better (or faster) 3D can be rendered. This is relevant because Graphics processing requires something called vector processing. Vector(most GPUs) is differnt from Scalar(most CPUs) the way .33 is differnt from 1/3. Keep in mind, that is a vast over-simplification, but you get the idea. Now that Vector processing is almost as popular as Scalar processing, NVIDIA realized how effective it can be used for supercomputing. (protein folding in biology, searching for life in other solar systems, etc.). So SLI is NVIDIA's name for multiple GPUs. Recently, NVIDIA has realeased triple SLI, and even dual GPUs withing one card. The most recent Graphics cards from nvidia have a naming scheme of "GTX 2??", where the "??" can be numbers up to 95. In this case, the GTX 295 is NVIDIA's fastest single graphics card, aided by the fact that it contains 2 GPUs (in SLI). These cards cost up to 500USD. By using 2 of these cards, you have a total of 4 GPUs, in two graphics cards, which NVIDIA calls quadSLI. Because these are commercial terms, I will mention Crossfire, which is basically the same thing as SLI, but developed by NVIDIA's rival, ATI (which is owned by AMD). teraflops is a way of measuring floating point processing power FLOPS is an abreviation of FLoating point OPerations per Second. Tera means trillion. In other words, 1 teraflop is 1 trillion floating point operations per second. After people started using GPUs as supercomputers, NVIDIA produced a standard which would keep programs meant for GPUs working on all differnt models numbers. NVIDIA named this Standard "CUDA" If the GPU you have supports CUDA, as most newer NVIDIA GPUs do, then you can aid in the quest for alien life or cure for cancer buy downloading a program like SETI@home or folding@home. Although you can run these programs on almost any CPU, GPUs are often over 140 times faster. A computer such as the one I have described i meant for gaming. However, because more consumers want to game than super-compute, a processor meant for supercomputing is more expensive, when a GPU can do the same work. I say 500% of functionality because NVIDA's Tesla GPUs arent actually GPUs (these are what dark sponge was tallking about). They cant do any graphics processing, and so are limited to super computing. However, a GTX295 can do better supercomputing then a TESLA, AND play games, browse the web, write documents, spreadsheets, and more. To put this in perspective, a single GTX 280 GPU contains 240 processing cores. A GTX 295 has two sets (so 480), and if you had two of those, you would total 960 cores. This is the max number of GPUs that can be used to play games, but a nice motherboard would allow you to add another GTX 295 (which could help in other applications, like super computing) to total 1440 cores. I don't laugh at you ignorance, but marvel at what you probably know that I have never heard of, considering I am just a 15 year old hobbyist coming at you from the Midwest, USA. Cheers!
Well that was some thing else... Thank you very much for taking the time to answer me. I couldn' t have asked for any more than that. I just can not get over one point, it has nothing to do with computing it is that you are 15 years of age. Wow . so well informed well spoken and have such a humble manner. You trully amazed me. As for your answers well ill P.M you . Thank you again.
Well said Mr. Man.....you have a very promising future in IT/IS.....Verse yourself in Mac and you will be an indispensable commodity in the high-tech market. All you need to do now is to survive tech-support without becoming a serial-killer. If you live through that, you might have a chance at a very lucrative career in IT management. It's not often I run into a promising candidate for genius around here....Whatever you are doing, keep doing it and let no-one stop you. Extraordinarily-well done sir. You are the example of promise of a future that humanity has. You are currently the valedictorian of the instructables community. An exceptionally-knowledgeable answer to a question, as well as an honorable humility at the same time. You win an Internet for your skilled answer sans ego. You are an example to all Instructables members. Well said and way to go to keep your ego in check. Brilliance without belligerence.....You are a shining example of what a member here should be. I am enthralled by your example here, as I have not seen it before, until now. You are an example to all, well done! Stay in school and put Gates in the ground for the rest of us! I must say, the best overall response I have seen on this site on no less than 2 years.
If any of this confuses you, or you still want to talk to someone who doesnt have a formal education in this subject, feel free to PM me. If you are interested in building, just keep reading these instructables.
i apologize, i meant 3,000 dollars, so its 30% of price, not 20%
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the biggie: 4 Teraflops of computing power!
Now all I need is a motherboard and permission to build a computer (I just found a load of 256 and 512MB RAM chips and what I thought was a motherboard, but it was a graphics card). Now why'd they put the RAM so close to the video card? It causes me to inadvertently touch the video card and move it out of place causing everything to fail (which was what happened when I tried to fix my PC). Oh, yeah, what about the power buttons? If none then do you mean to say that it can turn on by itself without the buttons (perhaps using the switch on the power supply?) In case I missed something, please point it out.
_Scratch_3 years ago
lol, i am starting to build a new computer, but my power supply sucked, so i had to get a new one with a better design, more power connectors etc. etc. so, i thought that my 200watt one was too small, so i bought a 600 watt power supply, a bit much maybe? if my comp only uses 200, i think i should of bought a smaller one.. or is a unnecessarily big one alright?
Flea (author)  _Scratch_3 years ago
It depends on your system. Unless you have a dual video card high end system, you won't need a 600W PS. For general PC use something under 400w. Make sure it's a brand name like Antec or Seasonic (or check newegg reviews as it's generally a good guideline). Make sure the PS is at least 80% efficient. This will help ensure that they're not just tossing in cheap parts.
manumanu7644 years ago
Can I ask you what for are these audio outs in the optic drive? I'ts driving me crazy!!
Flea (author)  manumanu7644 years ago
Those are legacy audio connectors for back in the 90's (pre windows 2000). One set of pins is for digital out, the other set is for analog out. Now, everything is transferred over the IDE/SATA cable.
thanks bro
Spannerz4 years ago
 I love that computer! Although I would sacrifice height a little; I don't need 5 disk drives; one's enough for me, and two is more than enough XD Could be done if the mobo and psu were moved down a little. Love the front though!!
xd12c5 years ago
Why amagnetic screwdriver? Won't that wreak havoc with the hardware?
Not really, modern components are pretty well protected these days. Ive dropped a neodymium magnet in my computer and it got stuck to the case and that was a pain to get out but the computer was fine.
Magnets will still wreak havoc if it's running, though. It will also hurt CRT monitors.
Flea (author)  xd12c5 years ago
No, there's not enough magnetism to do any damage. You'll cause more damage from dropping screws and fishing them out.
anarchysk84 years ago
lol you got the picture off of newegg didnt you hehe
Nothing wrong with that....
anarchysk84 years ago
o yea as a rule of thumb if you have no anti static just keep the power supply near and touch it every time you are about to touch something else (other than your self hehe)
Or just lean on the case....it's grounded by supply!
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