Introduction: How to Build a Computer From Spare Parts

The Following set of instructions will guide you on how one could build a computer from used parts. If you have happen to have some old computer parts and want to make a computer for fun. The instructions here are not for all computer parts or types. There are many different types of computer parts, cases, connectors, and drives out there and we will not cover them all, only a select few used in this project. If you have several similar machines and want to try this with working parts just for fun these steps can assist you but are not a guide for all computer parts. Reminder, DO NOT use excessive force with computer connection and parts as they may be damaged and become unusable.
Parts List:
� ATX Case with a Power Supply
� ATX Mother Board (MB)
� DVD and CD ROM drives
� 3 1/2” Floppy Drive
� 80 GB Hard Drive
� PC3200 RAM
� AGP Video Card
� IDE cables
MB– Mother Board
HD– Hard Drive
DVD– Digital Video Disc
IDE– Integrated Drive Electronic
SATA– Serial Advanced Technology Attachment
� #2 Phillips Screwdriver

Step 1: Step 1


Open case, this case has to have both sides opened (Case already has power supply installed.)

Front Panel
Remove both the thumb screws on the back of the case. Slide the panel back about ½” then tilt the top away from the case and lift panel off.

Back Panel
Repeat above instructions.

Most cases are similar to this case, however, some can be easier or harder to remove the side panels

Step 2: Step 2

Install mother board (MB)

Check stand-off placement for mother board mounting
This particular MB has 9 mounting screws, since this MB is of an ATX form factor and so was the previous, usually no mounting standoffs need to be adjusted.
Inside case where MB Mounts

Install motherboard bezel plate in back of computer

Install bezel into case from the inside making sure bezel is placed with the bottom of the MB towards the back of the case. Double check orientation of the bezel plate on the MB before inserting into the case.

Insert MB at a downward angle into bezel plate then lay down against standoffs, insert all nine (9) screws loosely then finish tightening one by one, until snug.

Step 3: Step 3

Install DVD/CD drive(s)

Insert drive into the machine, from the front of the machine, in a open 5 1/4” bay. Align the drive flush with the front of the case.

Attach to case with four (4) mounting screws, two (2) on each side in a diagonal pattern in the provided mounting holes on the side of the DVD/CD drives.
Repeat this step for all 5 1/4” size drives.

Step 4: Step 4

Install Floppy drive

Insert drive from front of machine, make flush to front of case. Attach drive to inside of case with four (4) screws, two (2) on each side in provided mounting holes on the floppy drive.

Repeat for all 3 ½” drives installed, usually only one, which is becoming more rare or non-existent.

Step 5: Step 5

Install Hard drive (HD)

Slide hard drive in from inside of case into a free 3 ½” bay, and fasten to inside of case with four (4) screws, two (2) on each side in provided mounting holes on the HD.

Repeat this step for all additional HD’s.

Step 6: Step 6

Install Random Access Memory (RAM)�

There are three (3) memory slots (sockets) that will accept RAM. We will be using two of the same color. Align the notch in the RAM stick with the key in the socket, making sure the side latches are completely open. Gently set the RAM in the socket, then push straight down firmly until the two side latches engage the RAM. Don not apply excessive force as the RAM or MB may be broken.

Repeat for the second RAM stick.

Step 7: Step 7

Install Graphics card

Find the upper most accessory card slot on the MB. This socket is an AGP socket. Only AGP video cards will fit. Gently align the card with the slot with the large metal tab touching the back of the computer case. Firmly press down until the card is fully seated in the socket, the large tab should be seated against the case. Insert the screw in to the video card and case and tighten, this keeps the card from moving when attaching cables. Do not apply excessive force as the video card or MB may be broken.

Step 8: Step 8

Connect necessary enclosure power switches and lights

Each motherboard is different and the manual needs to be checked to confirm proper placement of the connectors for the case lights and switches. After checking the manual gently slide the connectors over the pins and do not force them or the pin or connector can be broken. If a pin on the MB is broken, it may make the MB unusable.

Step 9: Step 9

Install IDE and SATA cables

Order of connections is not important as long as they are connected correctly. CD/DVD drives use an IDE cable connection, however, there may be a few exceptions. The cable has two connectors at one end and a single on the other, the single is for the MB connection. Orient one of the two IDE cable connectors so the key on the cable connector aligns with the notch on the device you are connecting. Insert connector and it should slide easily in, if it is not sliding in easily the drive or cable may be damaged, more likely the drive making it unusable.

Repeat for second CD/DVD drive connection.

Follow the same procedure for the MB connection, drives should be connected in the channel 1 connector on the MB.

For the HD they same procedure can be followed for it’s IDE cable connections, unconnected connectors are fine to have.

Some HD may have an SATA connector, which has only a single connection at each end, follow similar procedure by aligning and inserting connectors

The floppy drive has its own dedicated cable, called the floppy cable, the cable installs in the same way as the larger IDE cables for the CD/DVD drives and the HD drive. The floppy cable connects to the MB in it's own dedicated connector marked floppy. Newer MB's no longer have floppy or IDE connections.

Step 10: Step 10

Connect all power connections, Power Supply (PS)

Connection order is not important when connecting your power supply, however, make sure it is unplugged and switched off. First connect the MB power connector, the connectors are keyed using different shapes on the connector and socket. Rotate until the connector lines up and the latch is aligned with hook on the socket press into place and it will latch. Be careful as before ,do not press excessively hard or the connector or the MB may break.

Connect each CD/DVD drive to the PS using the four pin connectors, they will be keyed similarly with angle corners and will only go in one way. Line the shaped connector and socket correctly and press firmly.

Repeat for all other CD/DVD drives.

Our hard drive has the same power connection as the CD/DVD drives so follow above instruction. SATA HD’s will have a different power connector and in our case an adapter would be needed, but newer PS have both style power connectors.

 Not all video cards need special power connections like the one we have, follow the CD/DVD drive power connection procedure.

Plug the smallest power connector into the floppy drive and it will be keyed by its shape, orient it in the correct position and don NOT force it if it doesn't go.
Finally connect all case fans to the power supply, they will usually have the proper connections attached; sometime adapters are needed.

For this computer and many others power splitting adapters will be needed to connect all devices to the power supply. Using zip ties you can bundle loose power cables together and move them out of the center of the case. All fans need to have cables routed around them so they do not get damaged when the fans run and to allow more air flow into the computer.

Step 11: Step 11

Re-attach side panels to case
Follow reverse procedure used in step 1 to reattach the computer case side panels.

Step 12: Conclusion

We hope you found these instructions helpful. Any comments or questions welcome.
Building a computer can be fun a task, especially if you got the parts secondhand
and free.