The following steps will guide you in the building of your own computer.
Step 1: 1) Get Your Parts.
The first thing you want to do is find a retailer such as Fry's Electronics. If you don't mind waiting for shipping, Newegg and TigerDirect are great websites to find computer components. For the purpose of these instructions I will use the generic terms for the parts. You will want to research individual brands and models that you feel will fit your needs.The following is a list of the main components you will need:
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
- Hard Drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD)
- RAM (Random Access Memory)
- Motherboard (MOBO)
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- Video Card (GPU)
- Optical Drive (DVD)
Step 2: 2) Safety for Your Parts
Once you have all of your parts you will want to make certain your maintain a neutral charge so that you do not fry your new components with an electrostatic discharge (ESD). ESD happens when you touch something metal or electronic after your body has accumulated a static electrical charge. This is one of the most important steps in building your computer. To combat ESD, make sure you ground yourself by attaching a grounding strap to yourself and plugging it into the ground of an electrical socket. If you don't have one, you should at least make certain to touch something metal (that is not your computer) before touching any of the new components.
Step 3: Install Your Power Supply
The power supply (PSU) does exactly what it sounds like it does; it powers the computer. To install this component, first locate where it goes in your case. Most commonly it is mounted at the base of the case but in some cases it mounts at the top. Once you've found the mounting location set the PSU in the case in that spot. Using the included screws, secure the PSU to the inside of the computer by attaching the screws through the matching holes in the back of the case.
Step 4: Prepare the Case for the Motherboard
Inside the case there will be some screw holes spaced fairly far apart. These are to accommodate varying sizes in motherboards. Take your motherboard and line it up in the case to see what holes you will be using. There will likely be some coupler type screws included with the case. These are meant to space your motherboard away from the case. Attach those screws to the holes previously matched to your motherboard.
Step 5: Install Your Motherboard
The motherboard (MOBO) is the main interface for all of the components in your computer. Remember to ground yourself by a strap or by touching the case with the power supply plugged in.
To install the MOBO, place it into the case so that the ports on the side are able to slide out of the case through the I/O plate on the back. Once that is lined up, secure the MOBO to the case using the screws provided. The holes in the MOBO should line up with the coupler screws used the earlier step.
This procedure should be done on a flat, non-fabric surface.
Step 6: Installing the CPU
The CPU or Central Processing Unit is quite literally the brain of your computer.
To install the CPU
1. Find the square opening on the MOBO with a little bar next to it.
2. Loosen that bar and move it back, out of the way.
3. Place the CPU in the socket with the notches on the chip matching the notches on the MOBO.
Step 7: Install the Heatsink
The important thing you will need for this step is a thermal compound. This allows for proper cooling of the CPU by its heatsink.
Follow this procedure:
1. Apply thermal compound to the top of the processor.
2. Set the heatsink down DIRECTLY on top of the CPU. The heatsink should be tight against the CPU.
3. Replace the small bar mentioned in the previous step over the corresponding ridge on the heatsink to lock it in place.
Step 8: Installing the Hard Drive
For this step all you need to do is the following:
1. Slide the hard drive into one of the ports on the front of the case. It should snap into place where it will rest mounted into the slot.
2. Find the appropriate plug from the PSU (you may need to consult the hard drive manual to know which one).
3. Plug the power supply cable into the back of the hard drive.
4. Find the motherboard interface cable included with the hard drive.
5. Attach the MOBO cable to the back of the hard drive and then to the receptacle on the MOBO. The manual for the MOBO will have the layout to know which receptacle to use.
Step 9: Install the RAM
For the Random Access Memory (RAM) all you need to do is locate the slots in the motherboard and plug the RAM cards in.
The slots will look like 4 parallel rows spaced pretty much right next to each other.
To attach the RAM: Pull back the small tab on the end of a slot and slide the card in. Push down on the card until it locks in place. It should not take a lot of pressure.
Step 10: Wiring the Computer
This step can be somewhat confusing as there is a lot of cable action going on in the case.
The important thing to note is that there will be extra cables when you are done. The power supplies have extra cables simply to accommodate multiple component models.
The best thing to do here is consult the individual components manuals to know what cable goes where as the components chosen can vary significantly.
Step 11: Install the Video Card
This can tend to be a larger component so I've found it easier to install after everything else.
Having everything in place already makes it easier to locate the PCIe slot for the card.
On most motherboards it will be almost directly beneath your CPU and Heatsink.
It installs in the same fashion as the RAM from step 9 only with the video card, it is attached to the back of the case using screws provided.
Step 12: Install the Optical Drive
With the optical drive (DVD drive) it can (depending on the case) be installed from the front of the case.
In this situation you simply slide it into the slot (generally located at the top front of the case) like the Hard Drive.
Take the cord provided and (with help from the manual) plug it into the motherboard.
Step 13: Connecting Your Peripherals
The peripherals are the parts such as the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
For the monitor:
Plug the cable (most likely HDMI or DVI) into the monitor and then into the computer itself. The motherboard will likely have and integrated graphics processor so to utilize your video card, find the corresponding outlet near where the video card was mounted.
Mouse and Keyboard:
Now days these are USB so it's simply a matter of plugging it into the USB ports in the back of the computer; usually near the top.
Step 14: Power ON
The components are in place and it's time to give it life.
Step 15: Installing the Operating System
We'll be using a Windows Operating System (OS) for this computer.
Now that you have the power on, you will see a screen that seems unfamiliar. This is the boot screen.
1. Place the disk into the optical drive.
2. Select the drive you want the OS installed on. (This will be an easy choice since we only have one Hard Drive)
3. Sit back and let the boot process install your OS and get ready to enjoy your new computer!