Introduction: How to Build Your Very Own PC!

Picture of How to Build Your Very Own PC!

I know there are lots of people here who want to know how to build a PC, and no Instructables on how to do it, I am going to change that for all your computer fanatics out there, I will give a lot of details, and more about the PC. I will show you how to build a simple, but good system for under $250! That's pretty good by todays standards even though the parts I'm going to be using for this are old (BUT! still good). This is for beginners so now flaming please!

WARNING: THIS COMPUTER IS ANCIENT, A new tutorial, with steps will be coming soon, videos included this time :D

Also Serious problems have been found with this Instructable, feel free to share you knowledge as Mr. IT Guy did, not being mean just forgot the name. I will remove this tutorial when my new one comes out with videos and more updated parts.

WARNING: REMEMBER TO WEAR STATIC PROTECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! READ THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step 1: History of the PC

Picture of History of the PC

Here is some history on the PC, I know most of you are gonna skip this, but some won't.

Here is the link for the page: PC History

But those who can't access that link I will write out the basics of it here:

The first PC was a microcontroller kit made by Popular Electronics, it didn't have a keyboard at all or even a monitor, just a bunch of switches. The first GUI based computer to hit the market was the Apple II, it was complete with a blazing fast 16Mhz processor, 1MB of RAM, and a 40MB-80MB hard drive, this was considered the first "personal computer" since it was adopted very fast, and was very cheap. Then came the best selling computer of ALL time, no not back then, ALL time. THE commodore 64!!!It was equipped with a blazing fast, 64K RAM Module! WOW! Here is how the commodore main screen looked like: Commodore 64 Screen

This is a very basic history of the PC, this is the basic background you should know, for more detail go read the link I gave earlier.

First Picture is a Tennis game on the Commodore 64, and the second is the Commodore 64.

Step 2: Get Your Parts!

Picture of Get Your Parts!

Finally you get to order your parts! I am going to make a list with the approximate price of the part, and any other notes, also the site I bought it from, I will also list all the tools your require. Note: I am telling you how to build the very minimum, on my next Instructable, I will show how to upgrade this computer. I won't include shipping prices in my approximations.


CPU: Celeron 2.20Ghz Socket 478, $20, Ebay, Notes: The socket 478 is very important, the motherboard I used is only compatible with socket 478, socket 478 means there are 478 pins on the processor.

RAM: Corsair SDRAM DDR 400, $25, RAM

Motherboard: BIOSTAR P4M80-M4 Socket 478 Micro ATX, $80, Motherboard Note: Sometimes the motherboard isnt green like in later pictures but is red, no worries as long as it says P4M80-M4 somewhere on it.

Hard Drive: Western Digital 250GB, 7200 RPM, 8MB Cache, $60, Hard drive

Disk Drive: Asus CD-ROM IDE/ATAPI 52X, $10, CD Drive

Floppy Drive: Mitsumi 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive, $5, Floppy Drive

CPU Cooler: Ultra Fire socket 478 CPU cooler, $10, CPU Cooler

Case with Power Supply: Sunbeam Silver/Black Steel; ATX Mid Tower w/ 450 Watt PSU, $70, Case with PSU

You will also need: Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse (USB plug and play ONLY), a operating system, and some extra IDE cables, jsut in case.


Needle nose plyers
Screw driver

Now for the hard part... waiting.

Step 3: Prepare the Case

Picture of Prepare the Case

Take the case you ordered, it should have come with a bag of peices, take the little risers out, look at your motherboard and allign the holes with your case (some cases have pull-out motherboard trays), not all of the holes will be there but most will. Before placing the risers into the case, double check them with the board, sometimes risers can be tricky to place inside the case holes, I like the take some vasoline and spreading it on the hole the riser will go into, after getting the risers in, clean off the vasoline, completely. Now take the power supply that came with the case, if it is already installed skip this step, take your PSU and allign it with the special slot for the PSU, screw in the screws for it, make sure the switch on it is off, and it is set to your countries voltage rating, either 115 volts (USA), 230 volts (UK).

Step 4: The CPU and Cooler

Picture of The CPU and Cooler

Take the BIOSTAR you ordered, if you ordered it from newegg, it is a open box product, so it might be missing a few things, DO NOT attach the motherboard to the tray yet! Go get your CPU and ULTRA Fire cooler, look closely at your CPU's pins, clean them off with a brush , and check for bent pins, if there are bent pins return it and get a new one. Now look at your motherboard CPU socket, there is a little lever, pop that lever up at a 90 degree angle, the look at the bottom of your CPU, there should be two missing pins in one of the corners, match those up with the two missing pin slots on the socket, place your CPU VERY GENTLY into the socket, very little force should be applied, once the processor is completely inside the socket take the lever and place it back in its normal position, you have no sucessfully intalled the CPU, now open up your coolers box, it WILL come with thermal grease, that stuff isnt optional it's required! Open up the little packet and squeeze it onto the CPU, then grab something like a buisness card and spread it across the CPU's top. Grab your ULTRA Fire cooler, and line it up with the socket, place it over the CPU and drop it on, then use the clamps, and clip them on in a diagnol way, to minimize tension on the board, then take the 3pin power pin from your cooler and plug it into the 3 pin connector on the board, now you have inserted your CPU and Cooler!

Step 5: The RAM

Picture of The RAM

Now were gonna install the RAM for our computer, you should always read the motherboard manual for what kind of RAM it supports and what is the maximum RAM it supports, In our case it supports DDR 400 RAM and 2 GB Maximum. Now lets grab that Corsair RAM we ordered, unlock it by pushing hte clicks back, line the indent up with the bump on the RAM socket, this bump/indent keeps your from inserting it backwards. Now push the RAM down into the socket until the two clips snap back into their locked position.

Step 6: Preparing the Motherboard Tray.

Picture of Preparing the Motherboard Tray.

Now take the motherboard that we just finished setting up, and match your risers up with the holes on the motherboard, once your do that GENTLY place the motherboard on the risers and screw it in. Now slide the tray back into the case, make sure the PCI, AGP, and the connectors (The I/O) line up with their correct area on the case.

Step 7: Preparing the Case

Picture of Preparing the Case

Now take your hard drive and insert it into the internal 3.5" bay, take some screws and screw it into the bay. Next go get your floppy drive, do the same thing except on the external 3.5" bay, remove the plate covering the bay, disk drives and floppy dries all slide in from the front not the back. Then grab your CD-ROM and do the same thing you did with the floppy except in the 5.25" bay, remember to slide it in from the front, and to remove the faceplate covering the bay, remember to screw them in, on both sides.

Step 8: Combining Your Case With the Motherboard

Picture of Combining Your Case With the Motherboard

Now grab all those cables that came with your drives. Let's start with the IDE cables, look on the back of your hard drive, and insert the IDE into the ATA Connector as shown on the picture. Now go get your needle nose plyers and switch the jumper on it to cable select, (It is easier if you remove the drives from the bays when you do that.) Cable Select can sometimes be abreviated into CS. Take the other part of your IDE cable and put it into the ATA on your board, make sure it's on the first connector. Now take your CD-ROM Drive and do the same thing that you did with the Hard Drive, remember to set it to cable select, and place it in the second ATA connector. Now for the tricky part the floppy drive has a special cable that should have came with it, its smaller than a normal IDE cable, and has a twist in it. Set your floppy's jump to cable select if htere is the option, make sure the part of the cable that has a twist in it goes closer to the floppy that is very important, the other part goes onto the connector on the board, which on this board is next to the PCI busses. Now for the final part of the case, this case comes with extra usb ports, plug those into the USB connectors on the board, as shown in the yellow square under the PCI Busses, Then grab all the LED's and Button connectors, look at the motheroard manual on how to place them on your board.

Step 9: The PSU

Picture of The PSU

The final part until it's time to close up your case, I won't go into tons of detail about this part as I did on the others, if your PSU came with a 3 pin fan cable plug it into the second connector on your board, if it doesnt, you can plug and of the fans that came with your case into it. Then get your 4 pin sqaure CPU power cable and plug it into the board, on this board it is located right next to the CPU cradle, this cable should have 2 yellow wires and 2 black wires, then get your 24 or 20 pin motherboard power connector and plug it into the giant connector on your board, make sure they both click into place. Then get your floppy connector power connector, and connect it to the back of the floppy, and after that get the 4 pin molex and connect it to your hard drive and CD-ROM.


You have plugged everything toghether on your system, you can now close up your case.

Step 10: Starting Up Your System

Picture of Starting Up Your System

This part requires a good knowledge of the BIOS and CMOS, if you do not have this go to your local techno geek and ask for help. Now it's time to start up your system, press the button, if it starts up good job, if it doesn't.... well then try to check all your connections and, try again, if it doesn't work check all your parts if they are damadged. Now when your system starts up it should say something like: CMOS ERROR, PLEASE CHANGE SETTINGS. So go into your BIOS and set everything up for how you want it, a very important thing to remember is your boot-order. Once you set your CMOS and BIOS save it and restart your system, it will say BOOT FROM CD, somewhere on the screen during loading, so go get your Operating System CD and place it in the CD-ROM Drive, install it and your done! HORAY! You finished! If you need more help go on this page: the people there will help you a lot if your system has problems.


Captain MacTavish (author)2014-01-28

What do you do if the motherboard is all plugged in then is makes a chime type noise not beeps and then shuts off?

Captain MacTavish (author)2014-01-28

What do you do if the motherboard is all plugged in then is makes a chime type noise not beeps and then shuts off?

The_pyrogeek (author)2007-12-23

"A little dated", yeah, you can sure say that again. (What's with the floppy drive?)

Shifrin (author)The_pyrogeek2007-12-23

This is me on my friends account, the floppy drive is if you want to update your BIOS, you always need that.

bmlbytes (author)Shifrin2008-02-26

Never update the BIOS unless completely necessary. If the flashing goes wrong, you've disabled your motherboard.

ReCreate (author)bmlbytes2009-04-12

unless if you buy another bios chip and replace it,sometimes they are removable

mason0190 (author)ReCreate2010-07-19

actually bios updates can be burty useful. i once bought 4 gig of ram ( about $65) but my computers bios only saw 3 gig. i acctually was able to do it from a cd!

lucek (author)mason01902010-07-19

and let's not forget the debacle with the phenom processors.

lucek (author)bmlbytes2010-07-19

and and manufacturer worth their salt left a way to reset the bios back to factory default in such an emergency. multiple methods from simply moving a jumper to re-flashing the bios without a GUI.

lucek (author)bmlbytes2008-10-21

learned that the hard way too. last computer I bought had a mandatory bios update. I had to jump the mobo to reset to default after the flashing failed.

livesteamfan (author)2008-08-13

I've built three pc's without static protection and they all work fine. The third one, I just have it on my floor waiting for a case, I use all three almost every day and they all run fine.

lucek (author)livesteamfan2008-10-21

and I've killed pc's with static. take the extra time and save yourself the hassle.

livesteamfan (author)lucek2009-04-12

I've killed one with gasoline and a match. (I was bored and it was an old socket 7 K6 board.) I did it with it hooked up and running. It kept goin for about 30 seconds after I lit it up. I also once killed an old 486 processor by over clocking it. I reprogramed the BIOS with something I made, and overclocked it to about 300 Mhz. it worked for 3 seconds, then shorted and caught fire. It actually CAUGHT FIRE from overclocking!!!

ReCreate (author)livesteamfan2009-04-12

well what was the original clock speed?

livesteamfan (author)ReCreate2009-04-12

About 90 Mhz or so. like I said, I was bored and wanted to have some "fun" with a few old things I had no use for.

ReCreate (author)livesteamfan2009-04-13

oh,wow. you should have put a bigger heatsink on that thing

livesteamfan (author)ReCreate2009-04-13

The heatsink I was using came out of my computer. It's about 4" square and 4" tall with a cooling fan. I have a 2.2Ghz athlon dual core.

ReCreate (author)livesteamfan2009-04-13

did it have a thermal pad or something? Because,your overclocking over 3 times the original speed,and the maximum i have ever seen was 2

lucek (author)ReCreate2009-04-13

try it again with liquid helium.

ReCreate (author)lucek2009-04-14

People are using liquid helium now? The highest i have ever seen was 6GHz

lucek (author)ReCreate2009-04-14

yes that 6.2ghz run on an amd phenom 2 was done by cooling with nitrogen till the core if I remember right was 150 deg K then used liquid helium to get it to 85 deg k.

ReCreate (author)lucek2009-04-14

85 degrees kelvin? Wow,thats cold.

mason0190 (author)ReCreate2010-07-19

kelvin??? wtf is kelvin

lucek (author)ReCreate2009-04-15

yes they where afraid that if they cooled it much further superconductivity would affect the chip. imagine what would happen if all resistance in the chip stopped? thats only 65 deg k away.

ReCreate (author)lucek2009-04-15

Yeah,what would happen,and wouldn't it be even neater if they built a new cpu that should only be used with superconductivity(highly doubt it though) ,to cool it down to close to absolute zero! And reach amazing clock speeds,heh,i can already see 10GHz processors of the future

xarlock667 (author)ReCreate2010-07-18

They have built a quantum computer. I read about it in popular science once. Only problem though is that they have to keep individual quantum particles in one spot and read their states. From what I understand they use near absolute zero temps and a super computer just to read it. Not convenient, and likely to never be seen outside a lab.

ReCreate (author)xarlock6672010-07-19

I saw it in a nova episode once too. :P

lucek (author)xarlock6672010-07-18

that's completely different. quantum computers witch are getting better and better are not even functioning under the same physical rules as regular computers. in a regular computer a bit can be 1 or 2, the irrational way that the quantum world works makes a Qbit (a bit in a quantum computer) have a possibility of 1, 2, or 1 and 2. this basically extends computing power geometrically instead of linearly.

livesteamfan (author)lucek2010-07-19

I thought it was 0 and 1.

lucek (author)livesteamfan2010-07-19

your right. it's 0,1 and 0,1,0 and 1 respectively. quick late night error but it doesn't affect the core point. the processor functions like no other we can imagine making it insanely fast and powerful with just a few (by comparison)Qubits (another late night.)

livesteamfan (author)ReCreate2009-04-14

Of course it had one.

ReCreate (author)livesteamfan2009-04-14

well,it looks like you made a mistake,it should have lasted longer than 3 seconds

lucek (author)ReCreate2009-04-14

good point maybe there was a short in your rigged circuit or the heat sink didn't sit right.

livesteamfan (author)lucek2009-04-14

Well it was an old 486. I guess it just couldn't handle the power. Heatsink was too hot to handle after that. I had put a layer of thermal paste about 1/16" thick on the thing but I guess that wasn't enough or something.

lucek (author)livesteamfan2009-04-15

what was the voltage you pumped in it?

mason0190 (author)livesteamfan2010-07-19

then take an old giant crt tv ( the 52" sony kind, you can find broken ones (they're freaking SONY.) at garage sales or at the front of drive ways), clean out the inside,, and make a giant aquarium.

xarlock667 (author)livesteamfan2010-07-18

DUDE! That is awesome! My old 80486-33mhx gx was too slow and the "new" pentium 75mhz processors had come out and I looked bad. So with a configurable bios board a fish tank full of nice cold water, and some copper tubing (Cheap at the time) I overclocked and ran that processor to 90+mhz! Lasted me about a week until an errant BB emptied my fish tank and my processor was suddenly on it's own for cooling. I came back to a flooded dorm room, and a fried processor.

ReCreate (author)lucek2009-04-12

indeed,sadly Ive killed some pc's too,i placed the bios chip backwards,then when i turned it on it started melting the plastic on top of it

ReCreate (author)livesteamfan2009-04-12

wait till the fourth,and you'll see You see,chips,static do not like each other

xarlock667 (author)ReCreate2010-07-18

Well I am up past 400 now and I have NEVER used static protection and I have NEVER lost a part to static. NEVER. Those cute little static guard wrist bands are SNAKE OIL. Now heat paste on the other hand is a vital commodity, as anything that bleeds head off your processor is a GREAT thing.

lucek (author)xarlock6672010-07-19

no they are not. even if you don't completely fry your components you can damage them causing them not to function properly. I saw a demonstration where someone installed every component into a PC without static protection and an identical one with static protection and the with static protection PC ran significantly faster. further as I pointed out before I once accidentally shocked a MOBO with static and it never turned on again. I ended up replacing the whole computer. your lack of knowledge isn't evidence and frankly promoting it as such when that can lead to the damage or destruction of others property is irresponsible. that said the fancy bracelets aren't necessary but they are more convenient then holding a different grounded piece of metal.

ReCreate (author)xarlock6672010-07-19

Well you must have handled the parts carefully. :P Recently, I killed a video card(i had 2 identical ones though) with static, just by handing it without any static protection.(and 2 mainboards, too >.>)

livesteamfan (author)ReCreate2009-04-12

I guess I'm just lucky. I've already rebuilt one about three times because I've been getting better parts, and the power supply blew up. Literally, loud noise, smoke, no fire though. I gave up one board because the BIOS was too picky on working or not and I couldn't get an update. So I've gone from a 2.21Ghz Athlon dual core to a 667Mhz pentium III.

mason0190 (author)livesteamfan2010-07-19

that's kind of funny actually. I think I'll try to run Halo 2 on my old pc. [BOOM]! The moral: never divide by zero indoors.

mrwolfe (author)2010-07-18

Nice instructable, jrgcool!   

Note to other readers:
The CPU doesn't necessarily have to be 478, but the motherboard, CPU and cooler socket types ALL HAVE TO MATCH. You can't put a socket 775 CPU into a socket 478 Motherboard, for example, and a socket 478 fan will not fit anything else except a socket 478 motherboard.  Also, check the memory specifications of the motherboard.  Some motherboards use DDR, some use DDR2 and some use DDR3.  Memory types are not interchangeable.

pyro man (author)2008-08-21

a good site for pc parts is

xarlock667 (author)pyro man2010-07-18

I just checked them out, AWESOME! Thanks man!

xarlock667 (author)2010-07-18

Not for a LONG time has TIger Direct had great deals. I used to buy my ram from them and I still look, but NO ONE seems to beat NEWEGG for prices, except E-BAY, and with that you really have to know what you are doing.

heavydeath (author)2009-03-21

I have an etower 600cd and it has all orignal parts but the psu went boom and now it does not start its not the fuse i tried plz help

xarlock667 (author)heavydeath2010-07-18

Remove your power supply. Take pics of your motherboard so you remember how shit was hooked up. Take it to just about ANY PC recycler, OR any used PC store and they will sell you a new or used replacement. For an etower I would go used. DO not pay more than $30. Make sure it has all the right connectors.

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