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How to Build a Computer

Updated on July 31, 2019

How to Build a Computer

First of all, let's start with materials. Most importantly, every one of my readers needs to have a ESD wristband. This wristband if you're not already aware, prevents electrostatic discharge which could seriously damage your PC. If you're a long time reader, you're already aware of this. It does not matter what brand you get, just make sure to be safe. Another set of components that you will need before you start building a computer is a set of screwdrivers, both flatheads and Phillips. I would highly recommend a set of magnetic screwdrivers, because most computer components are screwed down, and you don't want to misplace any screws. Not essential, but zip ties for cable management is always a great help, for internals and externals of your computer.

I'll keep safety techniques brief because there really is not much danger in building a computer, if done properly. When tinkering with a computer, never modify or touch any internals of a computer while it has power. This means remove the power cord if ever touching the insides of a computer. Once again, for the last time, always wear electroshock discharge wristband. It's more for the safety of your computer, but please wear one, I don't want anyone to spend a fortune on computer components and then waste them all because of a stupid mistake.

Now let's get down to business. This how-to guide is assuming you have all of the necessary components and materials needed to build a computer.

  1. Let's start by opening up the PC case. You will need to locate the screws on the front, back, or side panels. Unscrew these, then gently remove the PC case cover. You should now see the inside of your computer case, which should be mostly empty.
  2. Locate your motherboard and take it out of its container. There will be holes in the motherboard for screws. In the case there should be pre-installed standoffs, which prevents the motherboard from touching the case but allows to be screwed in. Line these up, with the holes in your motherboard, and then screw the screws and motherboard into the standoffs. Do not worry about any wiring at this moment, that will come with the installation of the power source.
  3. Time to install the CPU. Locate the spot on the motherboard where your CPU should be, generally it is towards the top-center of the motherboard. If there's protection installed, there should be some sort of cap installed, if not just look for a square slot with a gap in the middle. There's always a lid that protects the CPU, so before you can install your processor, make sure to unlatch the lid with the release mechanism. Gently, lower the CPU chip into the CPU slot, by grabbing the CPU chip by its sides, and lining it up with the ridges inside the CPU slot. When properly installed, replace the lid, and lock in the CPU with the release mechanic.
  4. Unpackage your RAM stick(s) and locate the RAM slots on your computer. Gently place RAM into the slots, make sure to line up the notches of the RAM with the gaps in the slot. You should hear a click, and your RAM will be fully functional. The release mechanisms on both sides of the RAM sticks should be locked into place when the RAM is fully installed.
  5. Next up we'll install the graphics card. Similar to RAM, the majority of this process just involves you putting it into the correct slot on the motherboard. There is an added level of complexity with graphics card installation, because you need to wire it up to the power supply unit. Once again, we will discuss power supply unit wiring at the end of this guide.
  6. Following the installation of the graphics card, we are going to install your hard drive. Simply place it into the designated slot on your case, and screw it into place. You should not be able to move your hard drive at all, because any movement of the hard drive while it's on can cause a corruption of the hard drive, and a loss of all of your precious data. There is a wire that comes with the hard drive, called a SATA cable. You will need to plug it into the motherboard.
  7. Next up, the hardest step of building a computer, the installation of the power supply unit, or PSU for short. The act of installing the power supply unit, is actually pretty simple. Just line it up with where it belongs on your case. In most instances, it will be in an opening on your case, so the fan on the PSU can blow out air. Screw it in, and then the hard part begins. There will be a huge assortment of wires.You will need to consult with the paperwork that comes with your components to see what plugs into where. In total, you will be connecting the PSU to the motherboard, the hard drive, and the graphics card.
  8. Clean up any lose wires with zip ties, then close your computer case and screw it back in. Stand your computer upright, connect all applicable wires, and you should be able to power on your computer!

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    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      7 months ago from North Carolina

      Very informative. I've thought about building myself a computer. Not sure if I could do it, but I love the idea of crafting a computer tailor-made for my needs (rather than buying a pre-built one at the store). Thanks for sharing!

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