Introduction: Making a Computer

Picture of Making a Computer

There are many how to build computers instructables and guides out there, but they all tell you to get certain parts.
You can use any parts in your computer as long as they fit. Once you have the right parts, you can build it in a short time. By "right " i mean the actual part, like ram, Hard drive etc
My computer didn't cost me anything to make, because i was able to get parts from family members, and scavenging.
Throughout the instructable, there will be links. I give a basic overview, and the links are for a more in depth look at the part.
I also give a relate each part to parts of the body if i can.
Also, keep In mind I have never taken any classes about computers, except for the typing class at my school, and that this Instructable is the most research I've ever done about computers, so try to keep harsh comments to a minimum please! It would help more if you tell me what I've missed without being sarcastic

Step 1: The Materials

To build a computer that functions, you only need-

-a Hard Drive
-a Processor with fan and heatsink
-a motherboard
-a Monitor
-256mb or more of ram
-a Power Supply Unit-(PSU)
-a mouse
-a keyboard
-cables to connect it all

But to add form to function you need, in addition to that above-

-a case - AT, ATX, BTX, or LPX -a modem
-an ethernet card
-CD/DVD drives

and if you want it to be even better-

-a graphics card
-a sound card
-another hard drive

Step 2: The Motherboard

Picture of The Motherboard

I have five motherboards, one is shot, one is in use and three are in storage. The motherboard is one of the most important part of the computer, kind of like a heart and Circulitory System. It circulates electricity like a heart circulates blood through the Circulitory System. The more important parts are the PCI, PCI-E, PCI-X, AGP, Processor, IDE ports, ram, heatsinks, fans, and the other ports that are found on the side, etc. etc. There are many graphics ports and PCI versions.
More Here

Step 3: Processors

Picture of Processors

I have 2 processors, one Celeron, and one Pentium 3. they are interchangeable. The processor is like the brain of the computer. It processes commands like a brain does. There are different brands, and sometimes the manufacturer of the processors will make two different processor types and improve both. This is a little confusing. But research is always best if you're unsure.
More Here

Step 4: Hard Drives

Picture of Hard Drives

Hard drives are like the memory of a computer. They store information on disks called platters.
More Space=good.
Hard Drives typically come somewhere between 40 and 160. Laptop hard drives get up into the 320 range.
More Info here-

Step 5: Graphics Cards

Picture of Graphics Cards

Chessman.exe says this body part would be the eyes. The Graphics card shown is an AGP, meaning it goes into an AGP slot, but they can go into any slot. The ports are typically a display port, S-video, and Digital Video Interface, or DVI
More info here

Step 6: RAM

Picture of RAM

RAM is like the short term memory of the computer. It stands for Random Access Memory. There are many other versions of RAM, like SDRAM which stands for Synchronous Dynamic RAM, Random-access memory is a form of computer data storage. It takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order for example, at random. The word random refers to the fact that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether or not it is related to the previous piece of data.
More Here

Step 7: CD/DVD

Picture of CD/DVD

CD and DVD drives are like the eyes of a computer. I don't have much to elaborate on this, except like the blu-ray did to the DVD and HD-DVD, they pretty much made floppys obsolete. They also come in any combination of CD, CD-RW, CD-ROM, DVD, DVD-RW, and DVD-ROM
There are a variety of things that you can do with a CD Drive DVD drive or better, from burning CD's, to Ripping DVD's and playing CD's and DVD's.
RW stands for Rewritable. In a CD drive, you can burn CD's, in a DVD drive you can burn DVD's
ROM stands for Read-Only Memory.

Step 8: Monitor/Visual Display Unit

Picture of Monitor/Visual Display Unit

This is the output of the computer.
Screen size is measured diagonally
More info here-

Step 9: Drive Connectors

Picture of Drive Connectors

Some drive Connectors are ATA,SCSI, and SATA.
ATA's, or are 20 pin ribbon cables used to connect the Hard and disk(ette) drives. They used to be 20 wires, but now are 40 still with 20 pins, and have been all but replaced by SATA
SCSI is a set of standards for physically connecting and transferring data between computers and peripheral devices. The SCSI standards define commands, protocols, and electrical and optical interfaces. SCSI is most commonly used for hard disks and tape drives, but it can connect a wide range of other devices, including scanners and CD drives. The SCSI standard defines command sets for specific peripheral device types; the presence of "unknown" as one of these types means that in theory it can be used as an interface to almost any device, but the standard is highly pragmatic and addressed toward commercial requirements.
SATA, or Serial ATA, is computer bus is a storage-interface for connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives and optical drives. The SATA host adapter is integrated into almost all modern consumer laptop computers and desktop motherboards.
There are two types- single and double are what i call them, but really the first is regular and the second is master/slave, where the master is the main drive and the slave is the secondary.

Step 10: Modems

Picture of Modems

Modems, internal modems and wireless modems basically provide Internet and Ethernet to the computer.
More info here-

Step 11: Operating System

Picture of Operating System

Operating systems run the computer. Without an operating system, or OS, the computer has to run on a pre-installed OS, which is typically very basic.
Some OS's are
All the Rest-

Step 12: Other Stuff

Picture of Other Stuff

So i've covered Motherboards, Hard Drives, Ram , Monitors, Graphics Cards, Processors, Drives and more. But I haven't covered all the small but (fancy word alert) intrinsic parts of the computer
Mouse/Trackball/Pointer-moves cursor
Computer Case-Contains Motherboard and other internals
Speakers-Gives the computer a voice
Heatsinks-cool down the processors

Step 13: Assembly

The assembly is pretty easy. See the pictures on the other pages for help locating the parts.

Motherboard - If you bought a motherboard, or took one out of a different computer, you have to make sure it fits into the case. If it doesn't, you'll either have to get a new one, or run it bare-bones. If it does,make sure the screw holes align, and screw it in

Processor/s - Stick them into the processor ports. Some of the corners are missing a few contacts, and if you put it in wrong, you'll squish the contacts on another corner, so check the bottom of the processor to be sure.

RAM - goes into the RAM slots. The different types of RAM have different contact configurations. By this I mean they'll have indentations at different points. For example, Some RAM have two indentations and some RAM have one, so make sure your motherboard is compatible before you buy it. If you scavenge it, it doesn't matter if you scavenge it because you aren't wasting any money

PCI cards and the like - goes into the PCI Slots and the corresponding slots to the like. First, you have to take off the slot opening dust cover. Just unscrew it. Then, push the card straight down into the slot, and screw it in using the screw from the dust cover.

Hard Drives - if you use IDE, find the IDE port on the motherboard and the hard drive. They look exactly the same on the hard drive as they do on the motherboard. Then, there is a four slot port on the back. This is where the PSU connector goes in. There is a notch on the side, so if it doesn't go in, turn it around and press it in until it sort of clicks, or snaps in.

Disk Drives - Connect it to the motherboard and PSU the same way you connected the hard drive.

PSU - If you scavenge this, it probably came attached to a case. If it didn't, then attach it, probably by screwing it on.

Connect all the cables, which should be easy, because most of the ports are different. If something doesn't work, unplug it, switch it and try again.
*If something doesn't work, look it up. It's pretty much common sense that if you are reading this and trying to build a computer, you already have a functional computer.*
**If you need to reference for any of these parts, look on the motherboard or intro page**

Step 14: A Quick Bit on Gaming and Enthusiast Computers

Picture of A Quick Bit on Gaming and Enthusiast Computers

Gaming computers are built to be really fast so the end users can play games like WOW on.
Enthusiast computers are built to look cool. These type of computers usually include lots of lighting. Some lighting includes: LED's, Neon etc.
These computers usually run at a hotter temperature than normal computers, so the have a lot of heatsinks and cooling devices, including water cooling, and even liquid nitrogen!

Step 15: Thats It!

Picture of Thats It!

Thats all you need to know to build a functional computer. If you want to know more, use the links and Google.
I hope you viewers have learned as much about computers by reading this as I have adding in all the other reader's suggestions.

Please Enjoy This Picture Of Achmed The Dead Terrorist!

Step 16: Credits

Picture of Credits

The Commentors who know more than me about computers who've haven't rubbed it in my face, but instead shared their wealth of computer knowledge. Thank you!
and more that I've forgot


MarinaM25 (author)2016-02-21

Hello! Thanks for this project! I like stuff like this! In my opinion it is more better to make your own comuter then to buy "ready to use". I know it by my experience! Recently, I have bought new hardware to my old computer. One of the things I bought was power supply (I bought this model I can say that it costed me cheaper then to buy new computer!

iApple guy (author)2012-04-17

Whenever I TRY to boot a computer it always says DRIVE:A ERROR. I think this might have to do with the slave, master, etc. setting I have one HD, and one CD rom drive can someone help me with what setting to put the drive(s) on. Thanks a LOT!

WildOne1985 (author)iApple guy2015-05-23

Late reply, but Drive A: is normally your floppy drive. On more recent computers they don't use that drive letter when no floppy drive is present.

Marlton (author)2013-10-14

Mineral oil is by far, the best cooling system for computers

______ (author)2011-05-06

Laugh if you want my computers HDD is 1.19GB Gateway P5-133 Win98

~KnexBuild~ (author)______2012-01-10

did you make it?

~KnexBuild~ (author)2012-01-10

what computer is that?

grundisimo (author)2011-09-15

The pink one is a parallel port. You plug a printer into it.

drresearch (author)2010-03-28

Here you said that you built a computer for free, but you are showing a Windows booklet and Windows is not free (and I don't think you could have found it with your old stuff :) ). Maybe you should have installed Linux instead, which is actually better than Windows (safer, faster, small in size and free) (I use Ubuntu 9.10 which is a linux OS).

______ (author)drresearch2011-05-06

I agree and if you want a cool os that looks like apple goto

Spannerz (author)2011-02-03


Spannerz (author)2011-02-03

Oh, and it has wireless XD

Spannerz (author)2011-02-03

Sweet - I have the same router (speedstream) but mine's supplied w/ telstra.

flargman98 (author)2010-11-28

i have more : ))

rafitf (author)2010-04-08

that long connector is the parallel port for older printers

drresearch (author)2010-03-28

I saw you have a BLB (Black Light Blue) light in your computer (the one which makes all the glowing effects in the dark), that light emits UV radiation which are bad especially for the eyes. It is okay to use such lights occasionally for partys, etc., but you should NOT have it daily in use in your computer! Also they are not called neon lights, but flourescent lights, no offense, just informing you. MANY people confuse these lamps as neon lights because of their long shape, which originally I think they had something to do with neon.

drresearch (author)2010-03-28

Actually for a computer to function you also don't need a hard drive, nor CD drive. If you have a proper setup, you can boot from the LAN. I know a place where they have this kind of setup and they have one computer with no hard drive and no CD drive. This is called an LTSP setup (Linux Terminal Server Project). However for a place without such a setup you do need a hard drive.

firion (author)2009-07-09

you can have a computer that functions with under 256mb of ram

dungeon runner (author)firion2010-03-24

But most people will want something a little faster [is all he's saying].

Shaun-c (author)2009-09-04


Hycro (author)Shaun-c2009-11-30

Up until I got some old Toshiba Satellite notebooks, the smallest RAM I had ever seen was 16MB, now it's 8MB that's the smallest I've

Rossiroller (author)Hycro2010-02-18

 i played with one of my dads olllllllllld laptops, the hard drive was a whopping 1 gb

SmAsH! (author)Shaun-c2010-02-02

Nope, ive seen 8mb chips XD

hcaz-301 (author)Shaun-c2010-01-08

i have seen a mother bord that take up to 144gb ram and two 64bit CPU
this would run

chilll2009 (author)Shaun-c2009-09-07

The highestRAM is infinity gb.

bowmaster (author)2010-02-17

"At least 256MB of RAM". OUTDATED!!!!! I'm making a high performance computer with 8GB of RAM. For An XP I would recommend 1GB.

chessman.exe (author)2009-07-12

I had never heard of liquid nitrogen cooling. That would ruin hardware, condensation? yeah. The cooling you are thinking of is called phase cooling. Search it up on google.

xana (author)chessman.exe2010-02-03

if you do it right it will not condense water on the liquid nitrogen system.    also pure water with nor conductive ions will not ruin your motherboard or hard where.    but that only for people that know what there doing.

chessman.exe (author)xana2010-02-03

sorry, nitpicking here.

Liquid NITROGEN, not liquid pure water :P
that is unless you are looking at a water-based cooling sys, then you have to get de-ionized water, not sure they make de-ionized liquid nitrogen...i'll have to look that up.

xana (author)chessman.exe2010-02-04

    i was not trying to say that liquid nitrogen is water sorry for the bad grammar.    liquid nitrogen does not need to be de-ionized liquid nitrogen it to the best of my knowledge it does not exist.    theblindferrengi's comment is right and it does go super fast. i have got a couple of mine to go to 4.8 ghz, but having the silicone on the CPU chip conduct or super-conduct is not good it might cause a short on the chip.    and it has done that to me once or i got a defective cpu its most likely the second one of the two.  go to this sight it might help explains it well

experimental new processors (like gallium based processors) and some supercomputers use liquid nitrogen to cool the computer processor well below freezing because as a processor gets cold enough it starts to superconduct and that makes the processing speed go way up.

chessman.exe (author)2009-07-12

Hard Drives typically come somewhere between 40 and 160. Laptop hard drives get up into the 320 range. WHAT??! NO :P heh, the laptops hard drives actually store less information, but can get up to 500 GB with what we have today and what i've seen last. The regular ide and SATA hard drives at 7200 RPMs can get up to 2 TB. that is 2000 gigabytes my friends.

xana (author)chessman.exe2010-02-03
that is 2048 gigabytes Binary.   

1024 kB kilobytes = 1megabyte    

1024 MB megabytes = 1gigabyte     

1024 GB gigabytes = 1terabyte     

1024 TB terabytes = 1Petabyte
chessman.exe (author)xana2010-02-03

well dont we just know every thing about everything.

yeah...iunno what that is supposed to mean..of course it is the amounts of bits to the byte, but...what does that have to do with my post >.>

chilll2009 (author)chessman.exe2009-09-07

Connect 2 two tb hardds

xana (author)chilll20092010-02-03

put 4 2 TB hard drives in    

Hycro (author)2009-11-30

In your picture of keyboards, the one in the middle of the stack is exactly the one I'm using does all I need it to do, and was relatively inexpensive, though I'd like if the keys were backlit in the same sort of way that cell phone keys are backlit, as in the letters and numbers are what light up. That would look cool for a keyboard :D

Rock Soldier (author)2009-09-05

If gaming computers are more prone to over heating, then why so many neon lights and the such? Won't that only help make your computer hotter?

zack247 (author)Rock Soldier2009-09-18

yes. but people just install that stuff to make it look cool.


Venal1ty (author)2009-07-09

You cant use any part with any all willy nilly, you have to make sure each part works with the mother board.... Can't find a stick of ram and be all "LOL I R HAS GOT TEH RAMz LUL WEEEE"... you have to make sure its the right speed and pincount.... and wether its ddr ddr2 ddr3 as well...

Redfox888888 (author)Venal1ty2009-09-09

yeah, i recently figured that out. I upgraded my ram, and my computer started having problems. I fixed the problems, and replaced the ram and i haven't had a problem since

chessman.exe (author)2009-07-12

When you say "not sure what this is, i've never used it" That is a printer port. That is what printers (and other things im sure) were connected...but that was a LONG time ago :\

K. thank's

not so long ago, probably phased out in '00 or '01, invented in 1970 though, used in scanners, printers, external drives, fax, even internet. it is very easy to scavenge a printer that uses it.

"but that was a LONG time ago"
Exactly why i"ve never used it

chessman.exe (author)2009-07-12 dont seem to know a LOT about building computers, that blue one is actually supposed to go to the mother board.

My own Picture Confused Me!... :) Now I see, the two on the bottom are closer. Thanks for pointing that out.

no problem

chessman.exe (author)2009-07-12

the eyes :)

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