Introduction: PC Assembly Manual
Welcome to my PC Assembly Manual. You are probably here because you want to know how to assemble a computer. Well don't worry, I got you covered! In this manual you will not only learn how to assemble a manual, you will learn:
- The main components of a PC and its purpose
- Good price ranges for each component
- Good options for each component
- Cost breakdown for building a PC
- Safety for assembly
- How to wire a PC
- Where each component goes
This will all lead up to you assembling your very own computer while learning various facts about the components of the computer. Good luck on your journey through my guide!
Step 1: Gathering the Parts
The first essential step in building a computer would be to purchase the necessary parts to create one.The parts are divided into tools and components for the computer. The tools you will need to take on this task are:
- Screwdriver (for slotted and Phillips head screws)
- Wire cutters and strippers
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Utility knife
- Small flashlight
- Adjustable wrench
- Small container to hold screws
- Heat sink compound
- Grounding Strap
You may not need all of these tools however, it is beneficial to have these tools "in hand" during the project. You must also use the correct tool for the task, using a tool not suitable for the job can damage the components and equipment. (Using a knife to turn a screw can damage the screw itself).
The components necessary to build the computer are:
- Processor (CPU)
- Computer Case or Tower
- Optical Drive (DVD RW and SATA capable)
- Memory module (RAM)
- Power Supply
- SATA Cables
- Motherboard (SATA Capable)
- Processor Fan
- Case Fan
- Hard Drive (HDD or SSD)
- Ps/2 or USB mouse (Optional)
- Ps/2 or USB keyboard (Optional)
- Computer Monitor (Optional)
- An assortment of screws
Computer monitor, mouse and keyboard are optional; if you already have these components it will not be necessary to purchase these items.
Step 2: Gather Cost Analysis of Parts
When purchasing components for this project, it is best to check out popular websites such as Newegg.ca, CanadaComputers.com or TigerDirect.ca for the best prices and sales. You can often purchase "barebones kit" off of these websites which can give you a financial advantage and save your time from researching and scouring for parts. When picking out specific components you must research whether or not your parts are all compatible. For example, an Intel processor must be compatible with specific motherboards. Purchasing an Intel processor and a motherboard which isn't compatible with the processor will result in the components not working.
- Motherboard: A good budget for the Motherboard would be somewhere in the price range of $80-$150. The motherboard is one of the main components, this will dictate what type of RAM you should purchase and which brand of processor you should purchase. A value Intel compatible motherboard is GIGABYTE GA-B250M-DS3H LGA 1151 Intel B250 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard and a value AMD compatible motherboard is GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-USB3 R2 AM3+/AM3 AMD Micro ATX AMD Motherboard.
- Random Access Memory: A good budget for RAM would be anywhere from $100 to $150. Typically, an average day computer wouldn't need much RAM, 8GB would be enough. Examples of RAM are the G.SKILL Aegis 8GB (2 x 4GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2133 (PC4 17000) Intel Z170 Platform / Intel X99 Platform Desktop Memory Model F4-2133C15D-8GIS and the GeIL EVO POTENZA 8GB (2 x 4GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2400 (PC4 19200) Desktop Memory Model GPR48GB2400C16DC.
- Processor (CPU): The brand of the CPU will depend on which compatible motherboard was chosen (Intel or AMD). A good price for a CPU would be $130-$250. A good Intel processor would be the Intel Core i5-7400 Kaby Lake Quad-Core 3.0 GHz LGA 1151 65W BX80677I57400 Desktop Processor and a good AMD processor would be the AMD RYZEN 3 1200 4-Core 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo) Socket AM4 65W YD1200BBAEBOX Desktop Processor.
- Hard Drive (SSD or HDD): A good price range for a Hard Drive would be $70-$130 depending on how much space would be needed for the user. In 2018, 1-2TB would be sufficient for the average user. A good HDD would be WD Black 1TB Performance Desktop Hard Disk Drive - 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch - WD1003FZEX or the WD Red 1TB NAS Hard Disk Drive - 5400 RPM Class SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch - WD10EFRX.
- Video Card (Graphics Card): For an average day user, the video card won't be a big deal but for gamers, it is one of the most important parts of the PC. Typically an average user would want a graphics card ranged from $100 to $200. The MSI Radeon R7 250 DirectX 12 R7 250 2GD3 OC 2GB 128-Bit DDR3 PCI Express 3.0 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card and the Gigabyte Ultra Durable 2 GV-R523D3-1GL (rev. 2.0) Radeon R5 230 Graphic Card - 625 MHz Core - 1 GB DDR3 SDRAM - PCI Express 2.0 - Low-profile - Single Slot Space Required would be great options.
- Computer Tower/Case: A computer case is generally inexpensive unless the user opts for an RGB case or see-through case.They usually cost anywhere from $50 to $150. A great looking case at a low value is the DIYPC Gamemax-BK-RGB Black Dual USB 3.0 ATX Full Tower Gaming Computer Case with Build-in 3 x RGB LED Fans and RGB Remote Control
In total, the cost of the components can range from $530 on the low end to $1030 on the high end. The tools and other accessories will also cost around $20-$60 depending on what tools you already have.
Step 3: Understand the Components
Just hold on a minute! You can't start building yet, you must first understand what each component purpose before building. By understanding what each component does, it will benefit your building skills and computer knowledge. Now you might know main components such as the Video Card and the CPU however, there are many more components that are often underlooked.
Below are components of the computer which you should know the purpose of:
CPU Cooler: A device that repels heat away from the CPU chip as well as other hot chips such as the GPU which stands for the graphics processor. Heatsink: A cooler which absorbs and blows away heat and is made up of aluminum.
Fans & Heatsinks: This is a combination of a fan and heatsink are widely used. The fans are placed above heat sinks to prevent a hot-running CPU chip. (Used to make sure these chips don’t overheat)
Closed Water Loop: This is used to prevent loud noises from the computer, it is used to directly cool the chips causing the case fan to run very slow. After this, water is pumped from the external radiator to the CPU, to the graphics card GPU, to the flow of the indicator in front of the actual case and back to the radiator (it’s a cycle).
ROM (Read Only Memory): The Read Only Memory is a form of data storage in PCs and other electronic gadgets/applications that cannot be modified. The RAM is referred to as an unstable memory and the memory is automatically deleted once the power has run out.
RAM (Random Access Memory): The Random Access Memory is another form of data storage in PCs. This form of data can be accessed randomly at any time you like, in any order and any physical area. For example, hard drives are where the physical area of the information determines the time taken to recover it. RAM is typically measured in megabytes (MB) and the speed is in nanoseconds.
Motherboard: The motherboard is the “the brain” of the computer and is easily the most important component within the computer. The motherboard has the most crucial components in it to help the computer properly function efficiently.
Hard Drive: The hard drive of the computer stores all the installed software, photos, documents, and more. The hard drive is very important to the computer and to even you! If the hard drive were to be damaged or broken, anything you had stored onto the actual hard drive such as photos, software, programs etc. would be gone. You may be asking “But this sounds exactly the same as the RAM”? This may be true, but, the difference between the Hard drive and the RAM is that the Hard drive memory is permanent, whereas the memory on the RAM is temporary. So, if you were to open your computer with an actual hard drive, all of your saved data would still be stored.
Ports & Connectors: These ports and connectors are used for access external devices such as the printer, where you can print images and documents. These can be found usually at the back of the computer, sometimes on the side.
Northbridge: The northbridge regularly handles communication between the RAM, CPU, BIOS, RAM, and the southbridge. Some northbridges also contain built-in video controllers also can be referred to Graphics and Memory Controller Hub and Intel frameworks. Since many processors and RAM require distinctive signalling, the Northbridge can just work with just a single or two classes of CPUs and as well as a single RAM.
Southbridge: The southbridge can normally be recognized from the northbridge by not being associated with the CPU. The northbridge binds with the southbridge and to the CPU. Using controller incorporate channel hardware, the northbridge can interface signals from the I/O units to the CPU for information control & access.
PCI Express: A standard form of connection for internal components in a computer. They refer to the expansion slots on the motherboard which accept PCIe based expansion cards and to the types of expansion cards themselves.
EEPROM Battery: The EEPROM battery is a type of battery which can be used to power up many of the components in the computer. The EEPROM battery is located on the motherboard and gives supply to the ROM and other components within.
Step 4: Ensuring Safety
Hold your horses! We are almost at the building stage but, there is still one more step before we can begin the building process. We must first ensure we can build the computer safely and without any problems.
The first thing you need to do before assembling your computer is that you need to find a place to work (Well spaced out area. Places like wood desks or plastic covered tablecloths are the best places to work on. Also, keep in mind, you should always handle a computer in a clean and non-metallic workspace (So you can avoid being electrocuted). Before you start working on a computer, make sure all your parts are in a clean area and not covered in dust or rust, also make sure none of your parts are damaged. Also, make sure your hands are dry to avoid damaging any mechanical parts as well as to avoid electrocution.
When removing any cables, wires, or ribbons, make sure to hold onto the wire at the head to keep it from breaking. Work with the wires smoothly instead of roughly to keep them in good condition (the same thing goes with every other hardware because we don’t want anything to get damaged). Before starting, press the power button located at the front of the computer multiple times to discharge the electricity. Always wear an anti-static wristband while building your computer. (you can see the steps below for the anti-static wristband). Keep sensitive components in the antistatic bags that they come with, and only remove them from the bag when you are ready to install that component (avoid damaging or losing your components).
Step 5: Installing the Motherboard
Now you are finally ready to start building! First, open up your computer case/tower to see the insides of your case. To do this, open the side panel of the case by unscrewing the screws. Some computer cases do not require any unscrewing to open the side panel. It is best to follow the individual process of opening the side panel by following the instructions given by the producers.If there is any sort of packaging materials inside the computer case, please remove it before installing any hardware components.
Now that you have opened your case, install the I/O bezel plate to the back of the case using screws. The I/O bezel plate should come with your motherboard when purchased. Now, place your motherboard inside the case and align it with the I/O bezel plate.There are 8 holes for screws to be placed so make sure you have all 8 screws. The picture above gives a more detailed view of where the screws are located. The x's in the image above represent the screws for the heatsink, make sure not to confuse the heatsink screws with the motherboard screws.
Step 6: Installing Hard Drive, Power Supply and Case Fan
Now that you have installed the motherboard, it is time to install other main components that work in unison with the motherboard. First, you will install the Hard Drive (this is one of the easiest steps). To install the Hard Drive, slide the 3.5" HDD into the drive bay. Once you have placed the HDD into the drive bay, install the screws to make sure the HDD doesn't move.
Install the power supply is similar to installing the Hard Drive. Align the mounting holes for the power supply with the power supply itself. From there, insert the screws in the mounting holes and tighten. And as you probably guessed it, installing the case fan is the same as installing the Hard Drive and Power Supply. Find the mount for the case fan, align the case fan with the mount and screw in the screws.
Step 7: Installing CPU, RAM and Heatsink
We are almost done assembling the computer! Now we have to insert hardware components into the motherboard so all parts can work in unison. To install the RAM, it needs to be placed carefully into the designated RAM slots, after this, make sure you lock both sides to connect it to the motherboard. The CPU is then placed carefully right after, also make sure to blow on the CPU before placing it because dust can get into it. It is also recommended to apply thermal paste on the CPU for better performance. Place the CPU in the designated slot and close it using the latch. For your final task for this step, you will need to put the heatsink on top of the CPU and screwed back into the 4 corresponding holes.
Step 8: Wiring the Components
The hardest part for most people is the wiring. The most common mistakes are made when putting the wires back because of all the similar ports. You will find a thick grey wire called SATA which go in the SATA ports (blue). Connect the power bank wires into the white six-wire socket which is located to the right of the SATA ports (green). Above the SATA ports, there is a square shaped four socket port. The optical drive wires are placed in that (yellow). Beside the RAM slots, you will find two colourful ports. Place the two large black wires in the yellow and blue ports (purple). There is a thin bundle of wires that are flat. Connect those into the white pins directly to the right of the white six-wire socket (black). The final thin bundle of wires goes into the lonely four-wire socket located on the far side where the RAM slots and CPU are located (red).
Step 9: Wrap It Up
Once all wires are placed, check to make sure the motherboard is placed in perfectly and all screws are in tight. Pull down all components and make sure they are in tight. Make sure no damage is done to any components and your computer should be assembled. Now all you have to do is screw back in the side panel and then your good to go! Plug in your keyboard, mouse, and monitor to test if any problems occur. If so, consult individual component manuals for specific troubleshooting information if problems persist.