How do I build a computer from scratch? Tips for Beginners

I've built a couple desktop computers so I do know what I am doing. Building a computer can be rewarding, but on the other side of the coin, it can be frustrating. Everything can work like you expect, but there is always a chance that it will not work. Anything can go wrong, but that should not deter you from building a computer.

Have You Ever Built A Computer?

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

What Do You Need To Build a Computer

The first thing I will tell you is to make sure that you have everything you need before building your computer. You do not need to be halfway through building your and are missing something to finish it up.

Here is what you need:

  • Tool kit
  • Computer Case
  • Power Supply
  • Cooling Fans
  • Motherboard
  • Sound card (if its not built into the motherboard)
  • Video Card (If its not built into the motherboard)
  • Processor
  • Hard drive
  • Memory
  • Modem (If you are going through dial up)
  • Ethernet (So that you can go on high speed internet if you are in the area that has high speed internet)
  • DVD Drive or Blue Ray Drive
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Computer Monitor
  • Operating Systems 

 

Why Would You Want To Build A Computer?

There are different reasons why people would want to build a computer. Building a computer is not a piece of cake. It can take anything from a couple hours to a couple of minutes depending on how well you move along and your skills. Some people may think that it is cheaper and others it may because they like to be able to choose their own parts. 

The Toolkits

First thing, you cannot go without a toolkit. If you do not have one, you cannot build your computer. You have to make sure that you have the right toolkit before even starting.  Certain pieces that I think that are important to have are Anti-Static Wrist Band and screw drivers.  When it comes to the screw drivers, i'd make sure you have one that has the bits.  The reason I'd say you need that particular screw driver is because the screws can be of different sizes and you will definately need that particular one because you can change it to the size you need without a problem.  That particualar screw drivers, I have used quite often. 

Computer Cases, Power Supplies and Case Cooling Fans

Now this is one of the best part about building your own computer. You can pick out the perfect case for you. When you buy a computer you have no choice of what the case looks like typically.

Some cases come with power supplies and others do not. You do want to find one that has enough room for everything you need. I'd at least get a mid tower case. You want one with a good air supply.That is why you do not want a small case as the insides of the computer can get hot even with cooling fans. Cooling fans in the computer do help though as it will keep the computer cool. If a computer gets to hot, it will shut down and if keeps doing that, the insides go bad. More namely, motherboard and processor would be effected by this.

As for the power supplies, you want a case that has at least 450 watts if they come with one. If not, you want to find a power supply with 450 watts but when you get one, make sure that it is compatible with your case and motherboard.

Motherboards and CPUs

Now this is the heart of the computer and if something goes wrong, you will be in trouble.Sometimes these pieces are the most expensive.

There are at least a couple different kinds of motherboards. You have AT and ATX and the variety of variations of this. When you buy one, you have to make sure you get one that is going to be compatible with the cpu you are going to be using.

There are 2 companies who make CPUs. They are Intel and AMD. There are five different sockets of the CPUs are made for so the motherboards are made to those specs in order for them to be compatible with each other.Currently there is sockets A,754, 939, 478 and 775. 

Sound and Video Cards

Some Motherboards have them built in, but yet others do not so you would have to buy them if they are not included. Most motherboards today do have built in sound but usually you do have to buy the video cards.Personal perference, I go with the ATi brand as that in my book is the most compatible video card as there are some video cards that are not compatible with some of the software or games you play.  Depending on what you are trying to do with them, depends on which one you get as there are different number of video memory.   

Memory

Here is another important item in order for the computer to be able to run.For current type of ag, you need to have at least two GB worth of memory. More is better. I currenty run on 4GB of memory.Before buying memory, make sure that it is compatble with your motherboard.  That information is usually available with your motherboard user manual. 

Hard Drives

For the most part, you cannot run a computer without a hard drive because in order to run a computer this is where the operation system is put. When you look into putting a hard drive in, you want to find one that has enough space for your current and future needs. Now these days, you can find a decent size hard drive.Years ago, I had a 13GB hard drive and spent $150 dollars and today that is not even a bargain to todays standards because you can get a hard drive of 300GB for about that price. 

Modem and Ethernet

Depending on what is available you will need either a modem or ethernet.  Mostly everyone uses ethernet today even if you are using dsl.  Ethernet is also great if you are going to network your computers together in the house if you have more than one computer. 

DVD Or Blue Ray?

You may ask me where is the CD-Rom? You want to have at minimum a DVD-ROM as many programs today and that includes Microsoft office or Microsoft works that in order to install the program, you need a dvd-rom.  Blue Ray is the newest technology and right now its rather expensive.  Its all up to you if you want to go with it or not and they are in fact backwards compatible from what I have read about them.

Keyboard and Mouse

You cannot do anything without a keyboard and mouse.  Both you have options to go wired or wireless.  The downside of going wireless is that you have to buy the batteries 

Monitors

You cannot see anything unless you have a monitor so you need to pick out just the right one.  I'd suggest to you to go with a flat panel as its the way to go. 

Operating System

Well, we cannot forget the operating system can we? No we can't. Its how we run the computer, but we do have a choice of what operating system we run.  You got microsoft windows, Linux and even Apple's operating system.

So How Do I Build A Computer?

There really is no good answer to that question. The one thing that I would advise you is to look at a book for the information in case you get stuck. Even though I know how, I still have a book in case I get stuck, but I will try to answer some of what you may be looking for here.

The first thing I would start with is put the motherboard, video, sound, cpu and memory together before putting the motherboard into the case. The hardest part really is putting in the motherboard. Some of the cases may have it where all you have to do is pull the side off the case and then you can place your motherboard on it. Just to let you know when you do and in case you not sure what all the pieces that you got with your motherboard and case are for. There are little small pieces that you may call washers or something simular. You must place them on the bottom of the case in their whole or the piece that you pulled out of the case that constitutes as the bottom of the case. Once you do that they you can put the motherboard on it.

If you have a case without a power supply put the power supply in first before doing the motherboard or the rest that I had mentioned above.

Once that is all done, then hook up the case front cords to the motherboard.  The user manual that came with the motherboard will tell you where the cords belong on the motherboard.  They are also usually written in very small on the motherboard. 

After that is done, then add the rest of the items in that you have not touched yet.  If everything works out just right, it will be running once you plug everything in.  Like I said earlier, even if you did everything right, there is still a chance that something could go wrong.  Be particularly careful about the cpu as if you get one pin out of place, its not going to work.  When you do put the cpu in, make sure that you have a cooling fan with it as its very important that you have it.  You do not want to overheat the computer after all. 

 

More by this Author


Do You Have Any Comments For Me? 18 comments

Fixxxer profile image

Fixxxer 7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

"There are five different sockets of the CPUs are made for so the motherboards are made to those specs in order for them to be compatible with each other.Currently there is sockets A,754, 939, 478 and 775. "

Just to clarify: Socket A is Pentium II (Intel).

AMD: Socket 754 and 939

Intel: Socket 478 = First generation P4

Intel: Socket 775 is actually called LGA775. LGA stands for Land Grid Array, due to the fact that the chip doesn't have any pins, but only contactors. The pins are part of the motherboard. The new Intel "socket" is called LGA1366, or Core i7, and has 1366 'pins' where LGA775 has 775.

Nice tutorial though, Melissa.


Trekkiemelissa profile image

Trekkiemelissa 7 years ago from Illinois Author

Processors and motherboards can be complicated at times. Its a lot more choices now than there was ten years ago. The whole idea of it all is that you need to make sure that what items you choose to make sure its all compatible with each other but the first thing to make sure that is compatible is motherboards and cpus. That is usually why you would buy both at the same time.


Fixxxer profile image

Fixxxer 7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I totally agree. It's best to buy them at the same time, and have the sales person ensure that they are compatible. Same goes for the RAM.

PS: If you're using a second-hand power supply, one way to test if it is working, without mounting it in the case first, is to take a paperclip and short out pin 16 (Green wire) with any of the Earth (black wire) pins on the power socket that plugs into the motherboard. If the power supply is still working, the fan will start spinning.


Trekkiemelissa profile image

Trekkiemelissa 7 years ago from Illinois Author

Its best to be knowledgable before buying your items. There are some sales people whom will tell you that they are compatible but in reality they are not. When I am buying any computer equipment, I usually know what I am looking for before I buy so that I don't have any surprises.


Fixxxer profile image

Fixxxer 7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

Jip. Some sales people are just that: Sales people, and don't know what the hell they are selling. It's best to do your research beforehand. Like you, I also know what I am looking for when I go out to buy something. It also helps if you are a qualified computer techie though ;)


xshadowfusionx profile image

xshadowfusionx 7 years ago

Corrections:

For the vast majority of people a true static strap is not necessary or practical. Simply don't be standing on a carpet, and touch the exposed metal of the chassis; this will put you at the same static potential so you won't zap anything.

Socket A is not Intel. Socket A = Socket 462 = Out of date AMD (the predecessor to 754 / 939 / AM2).

In terms of an operating system, for the purposes of this article, Windows XP or Vista are by far and away the most likely options. Linux is viable but it would have to be a popular distro so it is likely to support the hardware... this is extremely important! Mac OS will run on Intel CPU's but it is not the least bit simple, so I would all but rule it out.


Trekkiemelissa profile image

Trekkiemelissa 7 years ago from Illinois Author

A static strap is needed if you want to protect your computer. Its far safer to mess your computer without one than with one and if you are working for some companies, you are required to use them. I had an instructor who was reqired to wear them. If you don't have one, there is always a chance that you are not grounded or for some odd reason it never grounded you even though you had touched metal like you are supposed to.

As for the sockets, I wrote is out there. 754, 939, AM2 are still out there but its the matter of actually able to find the motherboard which is relatively hard to find, but can be found. The downside is if you do find it, its up there in price.


Fixxxer profile image

Fixxxer 7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I will also have to go with the static strap. Just because you're not standing on a carpet, doesn't mean you're free from static electricity. Remember - you are wearing clothes, aren't you? And as Melissa pointed out - if you had training as a computer techie, it's drilled into you that you HAVE to wear it, as computer components (specifically RAM) are static-sensitive.

SOCKET A:

My apologies for this - I was referring to the Intel Slot 1. You are correct, Socket A was the AMD version.


jabyrd82 profile image

jabyrd82 7 years ago from Farmington,New Mexico

Great hub with lots of good info thanks!!


bloggerad1970 profile image

bloggerad1970 6 years ago

Wow, I really wanted to build a computer myself. I mean, I often open the case and peek into the insides and change a couple of graphics cards or modems. Unfortunately, I am too scared to start fiddling around with the connections and wires and that's where my skills in hardware vaporize. Nice hub though!


Trekkiemelissa profile image

Trekkiemelissa 6 years ago from Illinois Author

bloggerad1970, It sounds worse than it really is. If you too scared at first, get someone whom has experience to help you if you have anyone. My first computer I built, I had help and then after that for the most part, didn't have to many problems. It really is not as hard as you think it is. If you know your way around the inside of the computer, you really should not have to much problems putting one together.


Huw  6 years ago

Thanks for all the great help on this page i am going to start building mine after new year.


borge_009 profile image

borge_009 6 years ago from Philippines

Very informative hub.....thanks......


tpe 5 years ago

Very good information, thanks for the help i will make mine in the next weeks.


Lydia Tian 5 years ago

Hi Melissa,

Thnx for the help! :D


bolt1951 5 years ago

This is just as fantastic as the dreamweaver forum, I love experimenting and have lots of parts to build and perhaps make a PC to my needs and liking, and even make some money on the side. Thank you so very much for your time and effort on this most important subject.


Johnjfernando profile image

Johnjfernando 4 years ago

Great to see that you've taken the time to really work with this article. I also think that the intel processor is more sufficient for business type work and the AMD is obviously better off with the gaming area for a pc. Thanks.


Trekkiemelissa profile image

Trekkiemelissa 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Intell is fine for gaming too. I game with a intel processor and it works perfectly fine with one.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working