Introduction: How to Build a Computer!

To many people, building a computer may seem difficult and scary at first. They don't know where to start, or what to do, and are afraid they might mess it up. But building a computer can be very helpful. It may be cheaper, and it allows the builder more freedom over what they put in their computer. Also, a computer will be much easier to fix once you know how to build one. So, let's get to it!

Step 1: Proper Safety Equipment

Before we begin building the computer, we need to make sure we have the proper safety equipment. An antistatic mat and an antistatic wristband can help prevent electrostatic discharge, which can damage computer components.

Step 2: Getting Computer Components

It's important to have all of the necessary components of a computer before trying to build one. Know that you are going to need:

  • case
  • motherboard
  • RAM
  • CPU
  • heat sink and fan assembly
  • a tube of thermal paste
  • hard drive
  • SATA cable
  • power supply

make sure that the motherboard and the case have the same form factor, which means that they fit together; possible form factors include ATX, or Micro-ATX. Also, CPUs are either pin-grid array or land-grid array. If the pins are on the CPU, there must be sockets for them on the motherboard, and vice versa. Your RAM must fit in the slots on your motherboard labeled the DIMM slots.

Step 3: Insert CPU Into Motherboard

The first piece that must be inserted into the mother board is the CPU. The CPU socket on the motherboard will probably have a latch that needs to be opened first. Also, there will be a tiny arrow in one of the corners of both the CPU chip and socket; line these up in order to make sure you insert the chip in the right direction. The CPU chip should not require ANY force in order to insert it into the socket; you should be able to just set the chip in the socket without pushing. Close the latch and continue.

Step 4: Attach Heat Sink to CPU and Motherboard

Next you will need to attach the heat sink and fan assembly to the motherboard, on top of the CPU. Apply a VERY small amount(about the size of a pea) of thermal paste to the gray square on the heat sink, and press it against the CPU chip. There should be a locking mechanism on the heat sink, which you can use to lock the assembly to the CPU socket on the motherboard. Finally, there should be a tiny, 3 or 4-pinned wire that plugs into the motherboard, in a tiny port labeled "CPU Fan".

Step 5: Install RAM

RAM comes in bars that will click into the DIMM slots on the motherboard. There will be two latches on the ends of these slots, which you will have to push down on to open. You can then insert the RAM bars, using a bit of force, and the latches will click into place.

Step 6: Install the Motherboard in the Case

The next step is to install the motherboard in the case. First, you must hand-screw the standoffs that should have come with your motherboard into the case; these are there so that the actual motherboard doesn't make physical contact with the case. Pace the holes on your motherboard over the standoffs, and use screws to secure it in place. In the case, there will be cables called the front side panel cables. These are very small and will each be labeled; and they will all plug into the motherboard, near one of the edges, into the corresponding labeled ports.

Step 7: Install Hard Drive

Locate your hard drive. There should be slots in the case somewhere for storing drives. There will either be a locking mechanism or holes for screws in the slots. Insert your hard drive and lock it in place, either with the locking mechanism or the screws. Use a SATA cable to connect your hard drive to your motherboard. The SATA cable is keyed, so you should be able to tell where it plugs into the motherboard and the hard drive.

Step 8: Installing Power Supply

The next step is to install the power supply. There will be a large rectangular hole somewhere on the case. Insert the power supply so that the end with the switch is facing outward of that hole, and the wires and cables are inside the case. There will be a long, rectangular cable with 24 pins that goes into the motherboard. There will be another cable that is similar, but will be way smaller, and only have 4 pins. This plugs into the motherboard, but it may not reach; in this case, you can use a 4-pin power connector extension cable, which may come with you power supply, or can be purchased separately. There will be multiple SATA connectors, and any of them will work; plug one into the hard drive. Place the remaining cables somewhere where they won't get in the way of other components. You can use zip ties to bundle them together and make them easier to manage, if you'd like.