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Learn How to Build a Computer, Precise List of Recommended Parts Included

Updated on October 28, 2009

Get a better computer and save money.

I will show you exactly how to build a blazing fast computer quickly and easily. I will even give you a list of the exact parts you need to order. When you are finished reading this page you will have all the knowledge and confidence you need to build a cutting-edge workhorse computer.

If you have ever assembled a piece of furniture or some shelving you can certainly assemble a computer. All the pieces plug nicely into the case. It will only take about an hour. You won't need any special tools.

The hardest part of building your own computer is figuring out what parts to buy. You need to find the best parts, make sure they are compatible with each other, and then find them for the lowest price. I have done all that for you!

Just order the parts below, wait for them to arrive, then follow the easy assembly instructions. That's all. It is that simple.

Your friends will be impressed that you were able to build a computer that is better than the one they paid big bucks for at the store.

Order the Parts

This section will explain the function of each part and exactly which brand and model number to purchase. To the right of each description you will see a photo of the component. You can click on the picture to be taken directly to a webpage where you can order the part.

I have carefully chosen the components to give you maximum performance and quality for a good price. These recommended parts are all name-brand premium-quality components that will make your computer much better than anything you can buy at the local electronics store or shopping center.

Your computer is going to be fast and reliable without costing you an arm and a leg. OK, let's get started...

1. Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo

The processor (or CPU) is your computer's brain and determines how fast your computer will be. It is the component that interprets the instructions, performs the calculations and processes the data required to run your software programs. The Core 2 Duo chip is made by Intel and will fit into the LGA775 socket on your motherboard.

2. Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45T Socket 775

The motherboard is key component that has a large impact on the reliability and performance of your entire computer. It is a large circuit board loaded with microchips performing many vital functions. Most of your computer's components attach directly on the motherboard or are at least connected to it by a cable. The one I have selected is loaded with features, provides excellent sound quality and includes many ports for connecting your peripherals such as a printer, digital camera, MP3 player etc..

3. Computer Case: Cooler Master Centurion 590

The computer case is the ventilated protective chassis that all your other components will be installed within. This attractive case is designed for maximum airflow to minimize heat buildup, which can damage computer parts. They come in different sizes so make sure you get one that is ATX mid-tower or larger to make sure it is big enough to hold your motherboard and video card. This model has many advanced features, convenient devices to make installation easy and abundant drive bays to ensure you can upgrade your computer in the future if you wish.

4. Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar 500

The Hard Drive is the long-term memory and file storage device. The one I recommend is quiet and fast while storing a massive amount of files including documents, pictures, music and games. Buying a good quality hard drive is very important because you don't want it to fail or you may lose your priceless information and files. You can install more than one hard drive if you plan on storing large numbers of programs, movies, songs and photos.

5. Optical Drive: DVD Burner w/Lightscribe

The optical drive (also known as a DVD-ROM or CD-ROM) allows you to install software and transfer files. It is also for playing and recording both music and movies on your computer. The Lightscribe technology allows you to burn a label directly onto the DVD instead of using a Sharpie marker or applying a sticker. The model I selected is fast, quiet and reliable.

6. RAM Memory: Kingston DDR3 1333MHz - 4GB

The RAM is the short-term memory of your computer and it is very fast. Your computer will store frequently-used information in the RAM for quick access rather than having to utilize the slower hard drive. I recommend this set of 2 chips, each of these RAM chips is 2GB (2048MB) so you will have a total of 4GB. If you want to save some money you can get by with 2GB, which is the minimum amount your computer will need to maintain it's full speed and power. Buying quality memory is essential because off-brand chips frequently malfunction and cause your computer not to work until you replace them.

7. Video Card: GeForce GTS 250

The video card (also known as a graphics card or GPU) is the component that allows visual media to be displayed on your monitor. It has it's own memory and processor, so the video card is actually a mini-computer itself. Video cards can sometimes be the most expensive component of your computer and are usually the first part to go obsolete -- especially if you like to play the latest graphics-intensive action games. If your video card is outdated you will experience choppy, grainy graphics when watching movies or playing games.

One key advantage to building your own computer is the ease of upgrading your video card when necessary. Store-bought computers usually have the video functionality built directly onto the motherboard, which makes it much harder to upgrade those computers in the future.

8. Power Supply: Cooler Master eXtreme 550

The power supply is the device that plugs into your home's power outlet, divides the electricity into smaller voltages and distributes it to the rest of the computer. Almost all of your computer's components will plug into the power supply to receive the proper flow of power. Getting a high quality power supply is essential to the long-term health of your computer. A cheap or under-powered unit will fail to deliver the correct amount of power to the other components, which will harm their performance and shorten their lifespans.

9. Keyboard and Mouse: Logitech Desktop Combo

Pretty much any keyboard and optical mouse will do the trick and will have all the standard features you are familiar with. You may want to select a wireless set so you can move it around easily without wires cluttering up your desktop.

10. Speakers: Logitech Stereo 2.1

The speakers I chose will provide full, rich sound to enhance your enjoyment of movies, games, videos and music because your computer is also an awesome high-tech entertainment center. You can spend a lot of money on speakers but these will be more than adequate for most users.

11. Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium

The Windows operating system is the software that runs your computer and allows you to manipulate all the programs in a user friendly, intuitive way. You can choose Windows Vista or Windows 7.

12. Monitor: Acer 22" LCD Widescreen

Get yourself a beautiful new widescreen LCD monitor. You deserve it. After all, your monitor is the part of your computer you will use the most. I think it is the most important piece of your computing experience. You will be glad you spent the money for a nice screen. The prices on these have dropped amazingly low. Your new computer is capable of displaying crisp, colorful, high definition images so make sure you get a monitor that can take advantage. This one will.

Optional Components

Now that we have ordered all the essential, required components you will need to build your awesome new computer. While we wait for those to arrive at your home we can spend some time discussing some optional or extra components that will enhance the functionality or enjoyment of your computer. You may want to go ahead and order these so they will be ready when you finish building your new machine.

You will need to print out documents and photos so you might want to get a color laser printer.

A flatbed scanner would be great for use as a copier or to input photographs into your computer for editing or emailing.

A surge suppressor or Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) would help protect your new computer from power surges and lightning strikes.

Headphones would be great for playing games or listening to music without disturbing your family.

You might need a new computer desk to house your new computer and monitor in style.

When all your components have arrived it is time to start building...

A Note About Static Electricity

Static discharges can harm your electronic components. Be careful to avoid any static by taking the following precautions.

Chose a well-lit location in a room without carpet. Where shoes with rubber soles. Don't rub your clothing or shuffle your feet. Leave your parts in their protective sleeves until you are ready to install them.

Always touch the unpainted metal area of the computer case before handling your components and frequently while handling them. This will even out the static potential and greatly reduce the risk of static discharge.

Let's Build Your Computer!

These instructions will explain everything you need to do to assemble the computer. If you would like extra help and more detailed instructions and tips visit this site: How to Build A Computer.

Start by removing the side panel of the case. Then lay the case on it’s side so the opening faces up.

Remove the I/O shield from the back of the case and replace it with the new I/O shield from the motherboard box. The I/O shield is the Input/Output shield. This is where your keyboard, mouse, USB cables, speakers and other external devices will plug into the motherboard.

The Motherboard

How to Install a Motherboard: Refer back to this photo as you read the instructions below.
How to Install a Motherboard: Refer back to this photo as you read the instructions below.

Install the Motherboard

Find the brass spacers that came with the case. They are screws with tall hexagonal heads with holes so you can fasten screws into the top. These hold the motherboard up off the case preventing a short-circuit. Notice the screw holes in your motherboard and find the corresponding holes on the bottom of the case. Put a brass spacer in each of these holes on the tray and position the motherboard so that you can see the holes in the top of the standoffs through the screw holes in the motherboard.

Once you have a spacer in each of the corresponding holes, align the motherboard’s screw holes over the spacers and fasten a screw through each hole into the spacers underneath. These screws should be snug but do not over tighten them.

Install the CPU

Installing the CPU is very easy, but be sure to handle the chip carefully because it can be damaged. Remember the static precautions!

The following CPU installation procedure is for Intel Socket 775 processors like the one I recommended in this guide for you to buy. If you bought a different Intel processor or an AMD brand processor the steps will be similar but you should refer to for more precise instructions.

The manual that came with your motherboard will help show you how to install the CPU and the heat sink. I suggest you read that in addition to this guide.

You will be installing the Core 2 Duo CPU in the Socket 775.  To open the socket, unclip the lever on the side of the socket then raise it up. Lift up the metal plate to expose the socket. Remove the plastic socket cover if one is present. Avoid touching the pins!

Align the processor over the socket to make the notches line up. There is an arrow on the processor that correlates with the corner of the socket having diagonal pins. When the CPU chip is lined up correctly you can lower it into place, replace the plate and clip the retaining lever down. This will take only slight force. If you feel any resistance make sure you inserted the processor chip correctly.

Install the Heat Sink

The heat sink is like a radiator for your computer. It pulls heat away from the CPU and dissipates it into the air. You CPU will die very quickly if it overheats. Without a heat sink installed the CPU will overheat within a few seconds!

The heat sink that came packaged with the Intel Core 2 Duo already has thermal compound pre-applied. Remove the heat sink from the packaging, and then place it onto the LGA775 socket with the fan cables on the side closest to the fan header. The fan header is the socket on the motherboard into which you plug the heat sink’s fan cables. Align the heat sink’s fasteners with the motherboard’s through-holes. Make sure the fasteners are flush with the motherboard and make certain there are no cables trapped underneath or interfering with the fasteners. Press down on the fasteners until they click and lock into place.

Connect the fan cable to the CPU_FAN header on the motherboard so the fan will get electricity. If you don’t plug in the fan cable then the heat sink will not work properly and your CPU could overheat.

DDR3 RAM Memory

Install the RAM Memory

RAM is easy to install, but be careful to avoid static discharges.

If you bought two RAM chips, install them in socket slots 1 and 3, which should both be the same color. Locate the white retaining clips on either end of the socket. Push outward and down on the clips to spread them apart and open the socket. The DDR3 chip has a notch in the middle of the gold pins. Align that notch at the bottom facing the corresponding notch in the socket and lower the chip vertically into the socket. With your fingers on top of the chip press down until the white retaining clips come up and snap into place.

Install the Power Supply

The Power supply is usually installed in the upper rear of the case, but some newer cases have you install the power supply in the lower rear section. Just position the power supply unit into the box with the power switch facing the back. Insert the screws to hold it in place.

Now you can plug the main power 24 pin plug into the ATX socket on the motherboard. There is also a four pin ATX_12V power lead on the motherboard that needs to be plugged in to the power supply.

Install the Video Card

The video card will be installed into the PCI Express x16 slot. Remove the corresponding metal slot cover from the back of the case so the I/O panel on the video card can be reached from outside the case. Align the video card with the slot and press down until the card is fully seated. Secure the card’s metal bracket to the case with a screw. Attach the power cord from the card to the power supply.

Install the Hard Drive

Insert the hard drive into one of the small drive bays on the front of the case. Secure it in place with some screws or using the bracket supplied with some computer cases.

Plug the L-shaped end of the SATA cable into the back of the hard drive and the other end of the cable into one of the SATA2_ sockets on the motherboard. Then attach one of the cables from the power supply into the back of the hard drive.

Install the Optical Drive

Remove one of the faceplates on the front of the case to expose a large drive bay. Insert the DVD burner drive into the bay and secure it either with screws or a bracket if one is present.

Plug the L-shaped end of the SATA cable into the back of the DVD burner and the other end of the cable into one of the SATA2_ sockets on the motherboard. Then attach one of the cables from the power supply into the back of the drive.

Internal Cable Connections

Now let’s connect the buttons and LEDs on the case to the motherboard. The most important of these is the power button, but there are also sometimes reset buttons, lights and USB ports, firewire ports and headphone jacks.

For each cable that came attached to the case there is a corresponding socket on the motherboard. These sockets will be in the lower front area of the motherboard.  There will be a diagram in your motherboard manual that will show you exactly where to plug everything in. I can’t show you here because every motherboard is different.

Attach the Peripherals

Now you can plug in your keyboard, mouse, printer and speakers into the I/O panel on the external portion of the motherboard. Then plug your monitor into the I/O put on the external portion of the video card. Put the side panel back on the case and you are ready to start computing.

Install the Windows Operating System

Once everything is assembled and working properly you can insert your Windows disk into the DVD drive, start up the computer and start enjoying  your blazing fast new computer!


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I want a Complete information of the cpu unit.

    • AtomicDumpling profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hello Peter,

      The fans are included with the case and usually come pre-installed. You can always buy extra fans if you like but they are not necessary. There is also a heat sink that comes with the processor chip. The heat sink prevents the CPU from overheating. Some people choose to buy a beefed-up heat sink, but that is also unnecessary unless you plan to overclock your processor, which is not recommended for beginners.

    • profile image

      Peter Enmore 

      10 years ago

      You didn't mention resistors or fans for overheating.


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