Building Your PC

In our a previous How to guide, we talked about identifying components that are compatible for PC instillation. In this guide we are going to give you the step by step guide how to building your own desktop PC. Lets get started.

A list of items you are going to need for your build:

  • Phillips head screwdriver.
  • Chassis form factor mATX / ATX.
  • PSU (Power supply unit) with sufficient power rating.
  • Motherboard form factor mATX / ATX.
  • CPU that is compatible socket for your motherboard with fan / heat sink.
  • Memory(RAM) proper Pin and Frequency for your motherboard.
  • Video Card proper socket for your motherboard. (PCI/AGP/PCI-E)
  • Internal Hard Drive (IDE/SATA/SSD)
  • CD/DVD Disk Drive (IDE/SATA)

(**Warning** before we start, computer components are highly susceptible to damage from static discharge. For this reason I highly recommend an Anti-Static wrist guard, they are inexpensive and can easily save you time and money by protecting your components during instillation.)


Step 1 – Prepare the Chassis.

Chassis
Chassis

Remove both sides of the Chassis with your Phillips head screw driver. (Note – most Chassis Include the foot mounts for the motherboard but not all.) It is important to install the foot mounts in a proper alignment with the motherboard for proper mounting inside the Chassis. Take the motherboard and gently align it with the mounting bracket holes prior to installation so you can see where the foot mounts belong, then remove the motherboard and install the foot mounts. Some slide in as these do, others are brass and screw in with your fingers. (Note – All screws on a computer should only be finger tight, do not over torque.) Here you can see the foot mounts for the mATX motherboard I am installing, already mounted.


Step 2 – Installing the motherboard

Now that the foot mounts are in position its time to put the motherboard in the Chassis and tighten it down. Gently seat the motherboard on the foot mounts, making sure the CPU socket is at the top and the rear port connections of the motherboard are facing the back of the Chassis and begin tightening the screws into the foot mounts.


Step 3 – Installing the CPU

CPU Hammer Open
CPU Hammer Open

(**Warning** NEVER force a CPU into a socket as it will cause DAMAGE to the PINS!!!)

First step here is to make sure the slide commonly referred to as the hammer is lifted, a gentle push upwards will release it. (Picture right.) Make sure you clean or inspect the surface of the socket for dust or obstruction prior to instillation. Use a can of compressed air

CPU Closed Hammer
CPU Closed Hammer

to clean the surface if necessary. Now inspect the CPU Chip as the corners reveal the orientation. You will notice that 1 or 2 of the corners are diagonal usually with gold plating on the corners. Holding the CPU by the corners between your fingers align it and release on the socket. You will know it is mounted correctly when it slips directly into the socket and is seated flush with the socket. Do not attempt to push the CPU downwards or drop the hammer until it is seated flush.


Step 4 – Installing CPU Fan & Heat Sink

CPU Fan
CPU Fan

Begin with orientating the heat sink and fan, you will notice there are two clips attached to the mounting bracket on the motherboard. One at the top and one at the bottom.

(Note – New CPU fan and heat sinks often come with a layer of heat sink resin. I highly recommend if your using refurbished or second hand components adding a layer of it. Heat sink resin is fairly cheap and will help increase the cooling power of the heat sink.)

Start by hooking the top side of the mounting bracket with side #1 of the fan and heat sink. Then attach side #2 with the slide facing the rear of the case, this will provide you with the slack to easily mount side #2. When side #2 is mounted to the bracket push the slide to the right. This will lock down the fan and heat sink, and prevent it from shifting while on top of the CPU. After mounting attach the power cable to the 3 pin outlet on the motherboard labeled CPUFan1.


System Fan
System Fan

Next attach the system fan for the Chassis cooling you can find the system fan cable by checking the inside of the Chassis near the front. Find the outlet on the motherboard labeled SysFan and attach the cable. This will allow the Chassis additional cooling.


Step 5 – Installing memory(RAM)

Motherboard
Motherboard

(**WARNING** Never force a stick of memory by forcing it into a slot.) Start by checking the RAM modules, the PINS at the bottom have a notch in them. This notch aligns with the memory ports near the center of the port, on the motherboard and denotes the orientation. Gently align the memory stick with the slots provided, and firmly press on the top until you hear the click, then push the bottom of the memory stick until you hear the second click. If you get one side of the memory in and the other refuses to go down STOP and check the alignment making sure the notch is properly aligned to the port destination.


Step 6 – Installing Video Card

Video Adapter
Video Adapter

Begin by aligning the video card with the proper port, the video card port is always the top port closest the CPU. Slide the card into the port and firmly push until it clicks into place, then use your Phillips head screw driver and fasten down the card to the Chassis with a screw.

PCI-E16X Power
PCI-E16X Power

Installing a PCI-E16x video card requires additional power the motherboard cannot supply. Thus you must connect a PCI-E16X power cord from the power supply unit.


Step 7 – Hooking up external USB / Firewire

External USB / Firewire
External USB / Firewire

On most Motherboards / Chassis you will find external ports for the USB and Firewire as well as eSata. Here I will show you how to connect the Chassis cables to the motherboard. Start by locating the ports on the motherboard (Check the manual or with your manufactures website), If you look at the ports on the motherboard you will notice the pinouts differ, as do the cables. They can only be installed one direction, gently slide them on the pins and push down.


Step 8 – Installing the Switches and LED’s

Motherboard Pinout
Motherboard Pinout

The pinouts for every motherboard differ and you may have to consult your manual or the manufactures website to find the correct pinout for your motherboard. Alternatively most manufacturers label the pins and include a legend on the motherboard. Be aware all these LED’s and Switches have a + / – label to indicate the positive and negative. When attaching them make sure the Red ( + Positive ) and Black ( – Ground ) are on the correct pins, the pins are labeled on the motherboard.


Step 9 – Installing Disk Drives

Begin by examining the hard disk or CD/DVD Drive your installing, if you are using an IDE drive make sure to check the back of the drive for the pinout. There is a two pin selector on the back that configures the drive to Master, Slave, or Cable Select. For our purposes it should be set on Master, labeled as MS. (Note – most IDE drives have a legend on the top or on the back of the drive, if you are using a Sata drive this does not apply.)

IDE Cable
IDE Cable

Slide the Internal Hard Drive into the drive bay, and secure it with 2 screws on each side of the drive. After the drive is secure then connect one end of the IDE ribbon cable to the motherboard, and the other to the back of the disk drive. (Note – Ribbon cables can only by connected in one direction, so look for the missing pin and orientate the cable correctly.)

SATA
SATA

As you can see here Sata ports are far smaller, they have an L shape and can only be installed in one direction. They also require Sata power cables which will be featured in the power supply install.


Step 10 – Installing Power Supply Unit

Onwards to the Power Supply Unit, its a very

Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Power Supply Unit (PSU)

straight forward installation. Screw in the four mounting screws pictured here. In older Chassis they are in the top of Chassis, newer Chassis are in the bottom, either of which requires the same amount of screws.


20PIN Motherboard Power
20PIN Motherboard Power

Now that the PSU has been mounted we can get to work connecting the power for your new PC. First of all we need to connect the power to the motherboard it only slips on one way so just orientate correctly and push down, will click right on.


4pin12v Motherboard Power
4pin12v Motherboard Power

Next we need to connect the 12vDC 4 Pin power cable to the motherboard, will be located near by the CPU. It only connects one direction so orientated properly and it will click on.


Disk Drive Power
Disk Drive Power

Okay now go ahead and connect both of the disk drives power, again the power connection can only be one connected in one direction so orientate and firmly slide it into place.


Sata Power
Sata Power

Sata drive power looks and connects different as such i thought it helpful to include a picture of the sata connections on the power cable. As stated above they are L shaped and only connect in one direction just slip them and and you are good to go.


Now that all of our connections have been made we are ready to close the Chassis up. Put the sides back on one at a time and add the two screws at the back for each side. All that is left to do is connect your mouse, keyboard, monitor, speakers and power.

Voila!! Congratulations on building your first PC.