Introduction: How to Put Together a Computer Using Purchased Parts

In this tutorial I will be showing you all how to put together a computer.

To give you some background as to why I have put this tutorial together, I am doing this because I am currently working toward completing my graduation project for high school. The project that I chose to complete was to learn about the different components of a computer and get a general idea of how they all worked together. I then purchased parts to build my own computer with the knowledge that I learned in my research. Today I want to share some of the information I learned during this process with you and hopefully get some feedback.

When I was putting this computer together, it took me about 9 hours. Granted, I was being extremely cautious and trying to not break anything (I didn't) so I took my time with it. Depending on how quickly you can work with a screwdriver and in tight spaces, you could fully put together your computer in less time.


Step 1: Purchasing Parts for Your Computer

For this step, I highly recommend using PCPartPicker. This website helped me a lot in this process because it helped me to identify which parts would be compatible or not. I found that the knowledge that I learned from the research portion of my project helped me to understand more about what would fulfill my needs the best. However this website makes it fast and easy to see specifics on a part and then limits the other parts on the list to compatibles ones.

Generally speaking you will need these parts:

-A motherboard

-A CPU chip*

-A cooling unit

-RAM card (dependent upon what your use for the PC is)*

-A power supply (wattage dependent on other components)

-A hard drive (capacity dependent on how much storage you want)

-A case

Optional parts

-A graphics card

-An optical drive **

*Depending on what you will use the PC for, you will need to purchase additional parts to help it be more efficient for those uses

For example: Gaming on PC generally requires a mid-to-high end CPU chip, additional or larger RAM cards, and a graphics card independent of the motherboard's on-board graphics card

** This part helps with installing drivers for the various components that you buy. The process of installing these drivers involves using a USB flash drive and downloading the drivers from the part manufacturer's website from another computer. Also this part can be used for watching movies, burning DVDs, etc.


-A small flathead screwdriver

-A small flashlight

Once you have acquired all the parts you need for your PC, you are ready to start putting it all together.

Step 2: CPU

The first thing that you need to go is to take your motherboard out of it's packaging. Make sure that you place it on a clean, static free surface. For this I used the cover it came in. The motherboard that it pictured here might look a little different as a whole but the individual parts on each motherboard will look similar.

Identify where the CPU chip will go (circled in the first picture of my motherboard). Open it using the lever on the side of it. At this point you need to be very careful of what happens because it is vital that the metal pins that have been exposed remain upright. Take note of the indicator. In my case it was a dot on the board itself at the top left (see second picture, and apologies for the poor quality).

Remove the CPU chip from it's packaging, making sure to be careful of the metal underside. Orient the indicator on the CPU chip (my case it was a triangle) with the indicator on the motherboard. Push the chip straight down into it's seat on the motherboard. This way it ensure the mental pins make contact with the chip correctly.

Close the cover for the CPU chip. This might require a little force, so as long as you are careful it should be fine.

Step 3: CPU Fan

With the CPU fan that I purchased, it came with thermal paste and heat sink with a fan attached. You may want to follow the specific instructions that come included with the fan if your's varies greatly.

For my CPU fan I placed the thermal paste over the chip. You will want to put the past towards the middle of the chip rather than spreading it out as evenly as I did. This is because I ran into a problem of the paste running over the side once I placed the heat sink onto the chip. If this happens to you, I recommend gently running a toothpick over the excess paste to remove it.

Once the paste is in place, place the heat sink onto the chip and secure it to the motherboard with the parts that came with the fan. Then, if the fan is not already attached, do so.

Refer to the diagram of your motherboard to find out where to plug in the fan for the CPU cooling unit.

Step 4: RAM

The next step is to put the RAM into the motherboard.

Start by removing the RAM from the packaging. Find where it will be placed on the motherboard. On my motherboard, it was located directly next to the CPU. Consult with the manual that came with your motherboard as to where the first RAM set should be placed (on mine, it was slot two).

It might take some force but make sure you are applying pressure evenly to make it a little easier. Make sure the side levers are secured once the card is in place.

Step 5: Securing the Motherboard to the Case

With the computer case you purchased, there should be a set of risers. Screw these into the case.

Once that is done, line up the motherboard with the risers and secure it to them. This will hold the motherboard in place.

Step 6: Power Supply

The next step is to put in the power supply. Unbox the power supply and locate the side which allows a three pronged cord to be inserted. This side will be placed facing out the back of the case.

In my picture you should be able to see that the power supply fit directly below the motherboard. Line up the side with the hole with three prongs in it with the back of the case and place the power supply in that hole.

Use the screws provided with the power supply or case to secure it to the case.

Using the manual provided with motherboard, identify which cords will be used from the power supply to power the motherboard. Plug these cables in.

Step 7: Optional Step: Optical Drive

If you decided to purchase an optical drive, this is when you will be adding it to computer.

First remove any covering for the slot in which the drive will go. Next insert the drive so it is flush with the case.

Now secure the drive to the case using the screws that were provided with the case. If it is possible to remove the opposite side of the case, do so, and secure the drive from this side as well.

Identify which power cable is used to power the drive and plug it in. If needed, you can use zip ties to help with wire management of the power cables.

Step 8: Hard Drive

This step might also vary greatly from what you will need to do for your own computer. If your computer looks similar to my own, then follow these. If not, consult another source.

Because my case has removable memory trays, I removed one and secured the hard drive to the tray using the screws provided. In my case, because the hard drive was so flat, I had to use rubber washers to raise it off the tray slightly in order make room for the cables.

Next place the hard drive and tray back into the case. Now find the correct cables that will be used to connect the hard drive to the motherboard. These cables were likely provided with the power supply.

Step 9: Optional Step: Graphics Card

If you did not need a graphics card, you can skip this step.

Now you are ready to add the graphics card to the motherboard. Unbox it and set it aside for a moment. Find where it will be inserted (It will be close to the back of the case, as one end needs to be able to provide an output). Remove any covering from the back of the case that might prevent the graphics card from being inserted.

Firmly place the graphics card into the slot. Make sure the side levers are secured (if any). If there is a place for a screw, use one to help secure it to the computer. Find the matching power cables that were provided with the power supply and plug them in.

Close up the case because now you are ready to boot up your computer.

Step 10: Booting

Now comes the most exciting part; the time when your create comes to life.

Plug in power cable into outlets, video cables, keyboard, mouse, etc. Press the power button on the case.

At this point there are two way of finishing.

The first way is to use the optical drive and run the boot disks provided with each of the parts. I ran the boot disk for the motherboard first and then the operating system that I purchased.

The second way is to use another computer and flash drive to download the installers for each of the parts online from the manufacturer's website.

At this point, your computer should be complete.

Thank you for reading and/or using my tutorial on how to build a computer. I would greatly appreciate some constructive feedback on my tutorial (how I did, what I did right, what I did wrong, how I can improve myself, etc). Thanks!