Introduction: KCTC - Rilley's Class - Building a Computer

In this guide, we'll be talking about how to build a computer, from what materials you need, to the safety precautions you'll need to take. It may seem like a daunting task at first, and there should be plenty of research done into finding what components you want for your PC, among other things. However, building a PC is a very rewarding experience, so don't feel afraid!

  • Reasons to build a computer:
    • Easy & fun!
    • Educational
    • Cheaper than retail computers
    • Fully customizable, you choose the parts you want
  • Before you begin, you should have...
    • A clean & open work space
    • A helper
    • A plugged in, working monitor
    • Patience
    • Computer Parts
    • Some flat-head & Phillips head screwdrivers

Step 1: Parts

Case: ATX Ultra-brand case

Power Supply: Orion power supply

CPU: AMD A8-7400k

Heat Sink: Thermaltake heat sink

Motherboard: Gigabyte motherboard

Ram: PNY 4 GB 1600 MHz

Graphics Card: nVIDIA GT GeForce 610

Hard Drive: Western Digital Blue 1 TB

Optical Drive: Misc. optical drive

Case Fans: 2 Cooler Master 120mm fans

Misc. thermal paste

Step 2: Precautions & Safety

First, we need to make sure that the workplace is safe, both to the person working on the computer, and to the computer components themselves.

  • Electrostatic Discharge Safety:
    • Wear an ESD wristband, and use an anti-static mat.
      • If those items are not available, touch an unpainted, metal surface on the PC case.
    • Keep all components in their anti-static bags until they're ready to be installed.
    • Use a clean and open work space.
    • Work on a grounded surface, and never work on a carpeted surface if possible.
  • Tool Safety & Maintenance:
    • Only use tools for their intended purpose, never use an oversized screwdriver for a smaller sized screw.
    • Use proper cleaning materials.
  • Component Safety:
    • Never apply force to a component into a port/slot.
    • Only hold a component by the edges, and never by the contacts.
  • Use patience & common sense

Step 3: Motherboard

  1. Take the motherboard out of its box & anti static bag, and place it on top of its box.
  2. Place both on top of the anti-static mat.

Step 4: CPU

  1. (1st Picture) Locate the CPU socket on your motherboard. Find the side bar/lever, and lift it back as far as you can, without forcing it.
  2. (2nd Picture) Very carefully, take the CPU out of its box, handling it by its sides.
  3. (3rd Picture) Line the golden triangle up with the triangle on the CPU socket.
  4. Carefully lower the CPU into the socket, making sure you don't use any force. If you line it up correctly, it should just fall into place.
  5. (4th Picture) Use the retention arm to lock the CPU in the socket.
  6. (5th Picture) The CPU is correctly installed.

Step 5: Thermal Paste & Heat Sink

  1. (1st Picture) (If you already have thermal paste on the heat sink, ignore this step) Add a small amount of thermal paste, about the size of a rice grain, to the middle of the CPU.
  2. (2nd & 3rd Picture) Make sure the lever on the heat sink is in the open position, not the closed position. Line up the metal side hooks/tabs heat sink with that of the plastic hooks on the motherboard. Make sure that the power plug for the heat sink fan lines up with the motherboard's CPU fan header.
  3. Set the heat sink down on the CPU, and make sure the tabs are firmly lined up with, and holding on to, the plastic tabs/hooks on the motherboard.
  4. When they are firmly attached, pull the small lever on the side of the heat sink until it locks into the closed position.
  5. (2rd Picture) Attach the power plug for the fan to the CPU fan header on the motherboard, making sure that the cable doesn't touch the fan itself.

Step 6: RAM

  1. (1st & 2nd Picture) Locate the DIMM slots for RAM on your motherboard. Push the tab on each end of the slot that you're installing the RAM to, until they click open.
  2. (3rd Picture) Line up the small indent on the RAM stick to the small tab on the DIMM slot.
  3. (4th Picture) Firmly insert the RAM stick into the DIMM slot, making sure to press on both sides, until the tabs on the side of the DIMM slot click into place.

Step 7: Graphics Card

  1. Find the PCI-Express slot on your motherboard.
  2. (2nd Picture) Align the indent on the graphics card to the small tab on the PCI-Express slot.
  3. (3rd Picture)Insert the graphics card, firmly pushing on both ends until it clicks into place, making sure the side tab inserts into the small hook on the side of the graphics card.

Step 8: Power Supply

  1. (1st Picture) Place the power supply on the anti static mat.
  2. Make sure it isn't plugged in, and make sure the switch is in the off position.
  3. (2nd & 3rd Picture) Find the 4-pin molex connector and the 24-pin molex connector.
  4. (4th Picture) Locate the VGA power header on the motherboard.
  5. (5th Picture) Line the up the hook on the molex connector with the tab on the VGA power header, and insert it, until it clicks into place.
  6. (6th Picture) Locate the ATX power header on the motherboard.
  7. (7th Picture) Line up the hook on the molex connector with the tab on the ATX power header, and insert it, until it clicks into place.

Step 9: POST

  1. Take the speaker out from the bag of parts that came with the case.
  2. (1st Picture) Locate the speaker header on the motherboard.
  3. (2nd Picture) Insert the speaker connector into the header fully, orientation doesn't matter.
  4. (3rd Picture) The motherboard so far should look like the picture.
  5. (4th Picture) Locate the front panel connectors that are connected to the case.
  6. (5th Picture) Find the front panel headers on the motherboard.
  7. Line up the front panel power connector with the PWR section of the front panel headers on the motherboard, and connect it fully.
  8. (6th Picture) Connect a monitor to the graphics card installed on the motherboard. Make sure the monitor is connected, and has power.
  9. Connect the power cable from the back of the power supply to an outlet.
  10. Flip the on/off switch on the back of the power supply to the on position.
  11. Press the power switch on the front of the case.
  12. Within a few minutes, there should be a small beep emitted from the motherboard, along with the visual logo for the BIOS appearing on the monitor.
  13. If there isn't, go back and revise the steps, making sure you've followed every step correctly. If you've revised the steps, and you've also double-checked your build, but you still aren't receiving a beep or a visual confirmation of a successful boot, check with a classmate or the teacher.
  14. Turn the power supply off, & unplug the power cable for the power supply.

Step 10: Fans

  1. Remove the two sides of the case by removing the screws on the back of the case, two screws for each side.
  2. Set the side panels in a safe location, where they won't interfere with the build.
  3. (1st Picture) In the back of the case, there should be a spot for a case fan, above the rectangular I/O shield port.
  4. There should be two arrows on the fan, one pointing along the fan, showing which way the fan will rotate, and one pointing to the back of the fan, where air will be pushed. Orient the case can so that the air will be pushed out the back of the case.
  5. (3rd Picture) Make sure that the power connectors for the fan are closest to the open space for the motherboard.
  6. (1st & 2nd Picture) Line up the case fan with the holes. Use the two screws that came with the fan, & install them in holes that are diagonal from each other.
  7. There should also be a spot for another fan near the front of the case. Remove the front panel by squeezing the 6 black pins that attach the front of the case to the frame of the case.
  8. Repeat steps 4 - 6 for the front of the case, making it so that the fan will pull air in from the front of the case, & push air in to the case.

Step 11: Case

  1. Remove the graphics card & the power supply connections (VGA & ATX) from the motherboard.
  2. Set the case on its side, so that the open space where the motherboard should be installed is facing upwards.
  3. Remove the bags of various screws included with the case, and sort them via the manual that came with the case.
  4. (2nd & 3rd Picture) Install the I/O shield included with the motherboard into the back of the case, orientating it to match the picture. Press firmly on all four corners until they pop into place. Proceed to press on the sides of the I/O shield until it is installed.
  5. (4th Picture) Remove the shield for the top expansion slot in the case by bending it out, and then removing it.
  6. (5th & 6th Picture) Locate the holes for the standoffs in the motherboard, and line them up with the standoff holes found inside the case. Install the standoffs in the designated holes in the picture.
  7. Set the motherboard inside the case, lining the motherboard holes up with the standoffs that you just installed. Make sure the I/O ports line up the the I/O shield.
  8. Screw the motherboard in by loosely screwing in all of the screws, then gradually tightening each one.
  9. (7th - 10th Picture) Install the power supply in the bottom of the case, with the cables facing into the case, while the port for the power cable faces out the back of the case.
  10. Re-plug in all the power connections into the motherboard that you removed in step 1, such as the ATX & VGA power. If the VGA cable doesn't reach, use an extender.
  11. (11th - 15th Picture) Install the headers for the front panel. Make sure the individual headers, such as the PWR & RES headers, are inserted into their right pins as according to the graph on picture 11.
  12. Install the graphics card into the motherboard again.
  13. (1st Picture) (Only do this step if you have an optical drive) On the front of the case, there are expansion bay slots. Remove the cover for top one, and re-install the front of the case onto the case frame.
  14. Do a test boot. Connect a monitor the graphics card, and turn on the power supply. Boot by using the power switch on the case, and see if it can boot successfully. If not, go back and review your build.
  15. Unplug the monitor & power cable for the power supply, and turn them off.

Step 12: Hard Drive/Optical Drive

  1. (2nd & 3rd Picture) Near the front of the case, there should be a hard drive rack at the bottom. Place the hard drive on the bottom rack, and line up the holes on the side of the hard drive with the holes on the side of the rack, as seen in the 3rd picture.
  2. Install the hard drive screws that came with the case. Install them on both sides of the rack.
  3. (4th - 6th Picture) Plug in the SATA cable that came with the motherboard, into the motherboard, until it clicks into place. Make sure to align the header correctly.
  4. (6th & 7th Picture) Plug the other end of the SATA cable into the corresponding port on the hard drive, until it clicks into place.
  5. (7th & 8th Picture) Find & plug in the SATA power cable (on the power supply) into the corresponding port on the hard drive, until it clicks into place.
  6. (2nd Picture) (Only do the following steps if you have an optical drive) There is a rack for larger drives, such as optical drives, above the hard drive rack. Place the optical drive onto the top bay, and line the holes up on the sides of the optical drive with the holes on the side of the rack.
  7. Repeat steps 2 - 5 for the optical drive.

Step 13: Cable Management

  1. (1st Picture) Plug in the power plugs for the case fans that you installed earlier, into the SYS_FAN headers on the motherboard. For the front case fan, you may have to route the power cable through the back of the hard drive rack, so it may reach the motherboard.
  2. (2nd & 3rd Picture) Organize the cables inside the case, using zip ties. Make sure no cables are touching the fans.
  3. Re-install the side panels for the case.

Step 14: Finished!

  1. Plug in the power supply & monitor, turn them on, and do a test boot. If the BIOS shows up on the monitor, you've finished building your computer!