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How to Put A Computer Together

Updated on January 5, 2009
A basic computer
A basic computer

So, you want to put a computer together? Well, first you need to make sure you have all the correct parts:

1x Motherboard

1x CPU/Processor

1x Memory/RAM

1x Power Supply

1x CD/DVD Drive

1x Hard Drive

1x Computer Case

1x Monitor

1x Keyboard/Mouse

These are just the minimum you'll need. Other parts, such as sound cards and speakers, are optional, although quite useful. Additionally, you'll need:

1x Phillips head screwdriver

1x ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) Bracelet

Step 1: Set Up

Don't take any parts outside of their cases yet, although you may take screws out. There are three things that are absolutely necessary when building a computer: Compatible parts, an ESD Bracelet, and organization. Without these in place, disaster can easily occur in the creation of your computer. Without compatible parts, you might overheat some of your computer parts when connected. Without an ESD Bracelet, you might unintentionally electrocute parts in the computer. And without proper organization, you'll certainly lose screws and the smaller necessary parts, thus making the computer unstable.

Step 2: Attach ESD Bracelet

SAFETY FIRST!! Nothing is more important than keeping this on and connected at all times. Make sure it is attached to your wrist and the other side to something metallic that's not associated with the computer. This will create a circuit, and prevent any static from your body getting onto the computer parts. Once it's firmly connected, we're ready to start putting our computer together.

Step 3: Open Case + Secure Motherboard

First thing to do is open your computer case. Generally it's pretty easy. Newer cases just have latches that you can undo and open. Even older ones only require a few screws to be taken out before it opens nicely. Once opened, it should look something like the case on the right.

Lay the case on the floor. Now, if you look inside the motherboard box, you should find a piece of silver plating. This is called the "I/O Front Panel", and is extremely important for building the computer correctly. If you look at the back of the computer, you'll see a default I/O Front Panel already inserted. This, unfortunately, will unlikely have the same ports as your motherboard. So, simply push against it and the old one will pop out, and replace it with the new one.

After this is accomplished, place the motherboard inside the computer case and align it with the I/O Front Panel so all the ports line up correctly. You should find that, coneveniently, it lines up with 4 screw holes on the motherboard. Use the screwdriver to make sure that motherboard is extremely secure; a loose motherboard can cause heavy damage to other parts if the computer is jolted.

Step 4: Power Supply + Memory

Now that the motherboard is firmly in place, it's time to attach the power supply. Some computer cases already come with a power supply already installed. If that's the case, ignore this part. If not, continue reading.

The power supply is pretty intuitive to put it in. Simply place it where it fits up top, and screw it in to secure it. Make sure that all the wires going out from the power supply aren't trapped under it.

Once that is accomplished, it's time to install memory. It can be a bit difficult, depending on if you have multiple sticks or not. If you do have multiple sticks, read the motherboard manual for which slots to place them in. If you set them up incorrectly, the computer may not recognize one or more of them. If you only have a single stick, no worries. You can place it in any slot and be fine. It's really a simple thing to do. push down the clasps at each end, and as you insert the memory the clasps come down to lock it in.

For a video guide with more instructions on RAM installation, please check out the video below.

Step 5: Hard Drive + CD/DVD Drive

It's now time to put in your hard drive. It's pretty simply really. There should be a slot along the right side of the computer case that's perfectly sized to fit your hard drive. Simply slide it in, and put in screws to make it secure, simple as that.

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As for the CD/DVD drive, that's a bit more work. First, you'll need to push out the piece of plastic in the way where the CD/DVD drive is to go. Once you've taken out the plastic, slide in the CD/DVD drive from the outside, and push it inward. Once it's properly aligned, screw it in, and voalla!

Installing the Hard Drive and RAM

Step 6: The CPU

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The CPU gets its own step, because it's installation is extremely important. Take out the CPU, and then look at the slot for it on the motherboard. There should be a tiny lever that you can bring up or down. You'll need to bring it up, place the CPU so that it fits properly (look at the pins on the bottom of it for proper alignment0. Once it's on the motherboard, bring the lever back down. If all goes well, the CPU should be solidly attached to the motherboard now.

Now you need to attach the CPU fan. This is a vital part of any computer. CPU's today produce so much heat that they need their own fan to keep them from overheating. Make sure any and all plastic is taken off of the fan, like what is shown on the right. If you see an odd white square on the bottom of the fan, don't worry. That's just thermal paste, designed to help out with the heat the CPU gives off.

Definitely look at your CPU and motherboard guides for this one. Different fans and motherboards attach differently. Also, MAKE SURE your ESD bracelet is still on. A fair bit of physical strength is needed for this part, but make sure you're not incorrectly putting the fan on, because that may damage the CPU or motherboard.

Installing the CPU and Memory/RAM

Step 7: Additional PCI Cards

If you bought any additional PCI cards, like video cards, sound cards, or wireless internet cards, install them now. The installation is generally pretty simple. First, make sure that you're installing it into the correct slot; don't try to mix up AGP and PCI cards or it won't fit.

Thankfully, these slots are designed to not allow any other cards than the proper fit into them. Take off the casing just like you did for the I/O Front Panel at the beginning so your PCI card will fit, as shown to the right. Simply place your PCI card in, screw it into the computer case at the top, and there you go. Rinse and repeat with the other cards.

Step 8: Installing Additional Fans

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You might have bought additional fans, or your computer might have come with some that you need to install. To find out which way the fan is supposed to go in, check out the motherboard/case manual if it came with those. If it came by itself, check the fan manual. Once you put it in the correct direction, screw it in and all is well. We'll deal with connecting it to the motherboard a bit later.

Step 9: All Those Wires!!!

Well, by now you will have found countless wires inside your computer, coming in and out from every crevice imaginable. This is the toughest part of building the computer, but if you follow some simple tips it shouldn't take too long.

First thing to do is attach the CD/DVD drive and the Hard Drive to the motherboard. This will require two cords coming out from each of them: one is a power cord attached to the power supply, the other is a data transfer cord attached to the motherboard. Attaching the power cord is simple: just plug it in :)

For the data transfer cord, it will either be SATA or IDE (both shown to the right) that connects it to the computer. The bigger one is IDE and the smaler SATA. Just find the right cord, and plug it in where it fits easily. There is nothing that looks similar to either of them, so you won't have any problems with making sure it's plugged in correctly.

The next step is all of the fans. Most likely, your computer has at least some smaller fans inside of it. Also, if you have a video card, the newer ones can oftentimes have their own fan that you need to attach. The connection is pretty simple and is shown the right. Keep in mind that this connection is extremely important for computer cooling purposes. If you don't plug in your fans it can cause your computer to overheat, and potentially damage all of the parts inside.

The next part can be the trickiest: those little tiny cords. Generally, the place for them will be in the bottom right corner of the motherboard. Connecting them correctly can be confusing even for veteren computer builders. If your computer won't turn on right after you build it, or no sound comes out, this is a likely culprit. Once again, each motherboard is different, so you'll need to consult your motherboard manual. Generally speaking, it should look like so on the right.

The final cords we attach are the big boys: the primary power connector. It's pretty easy to figure out where the big guy goes. Sometimes, the motherboard will also require an additional, second smaller power connection, as shown to the right. Just about all power supplies have it, but you need to see if your motherboard does. If it does, make sure to plug it in too. If it doesn't, just ignore the smaller power connection cord.

Installation of the Power Supply and Wires

Step 10: Outside Connections

Well, congratulations!! Everything on the inside of the computer should now be properly set up. Now, attach the power cable into the power supply, plug in a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and boot it up!! Keep in mind, you'll need to install an Operating System (like Windows) if your hard drive doesn't have one already. If your computer works, fantastic!! If not, recheck Step 9 again to make sure everything is properly connected.

I hope this guide was an effective one in showing you how to put your computer together. If so, please write some comments back to me, as I really like to hear feedback on what I write.

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    • plaw profile image

      plaw 9 years ago from Trinidad and Tobago

      great hub. keep up the good work, Maybe one day I will build a computer

    • profile image

      munroenet 9 years ago

      Just as a suggestion you might want to install the power supply first so you don't have to slip it by any mother board components.

    • shotgunbanjo profile image

      shotgunbanjo 9 years ago

      For people that have a less budget, try this thing...maybe this can help you!!!!

    • Stooge profile image

      Stooge 9 years ago

      Wow masterman... you are a living god for computer hardware illiterates.. keep on adding more stuff on hardware, specially on laptops. I don't want to build a laptop but any other useful tricks are surely gonna get a thumbs up from me. :-)

    • profile image

      pam from Nigeria 8 years ago

      wow, this is extremely outrageous, i cant believe what i'm seeing in this site, its just a miracle, it was a perfect work from the start line to the finish line, more kudos to you guys working here. but you need to put more effort to the insertions of propers abbreviation of words such as SATA, i don't know what u mean by this, but you have to give more meanings and explanations to stuff like this. thanks and GOd bless you.

    • profile image

      ed max 8 years ago

      this is great!!! will help people who want to assemble their own computers.

    • profile image

      Tony Dimo 8 years ago

      I am about to built from scratch my first computer (bought all the parts, read the parts' manuals, visited quite a few sites etc) and I have to say, this is one of the most complete and easy to understand guide I've seen! Gongratulations for the effort!!

    • leeroper profile image

      leeroper 8 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the comprehensive write up. For quick repairs or to install new hardware you do not always need to attach an ESD Bracelet. This advice can be useful after you have built your first PC, because often friends and family will start asking for your help!

      A quick way to ensure you have removed the static from your body is to leave the PC plugged in to the power but turned off. Touching the metal chassis of the case with your hands will earth you and the static is removed from your body. If you stay still and install the hardware you will have no problems. If you start to jump around and rub your feet on the floor - you will need to re-earth yourself again.

      But if possible always use a ESD Bracelet.

    • profile image

      NC93 8 years ago

      Used this to help me with a hardware acquistion proposal thanks guys/

    • profile image

      Tom 8 years ago

      Thank you very much for this. Very useful and easy to follow.

    • profile image

      bassam 8 years ago

      wow how can beat u ???????????????????????????????????????????

    • profile image

      beso 8 years ago

      great effort great stuff what to do?????????

    • profile image

      Dr. Pradeep 8 years ago

      Great work! I am inspired by your demonsrations and will opt for do-it-yourself job rather than buying one off the shelf. I would be a facinating experience I sure. Shall write to you on the outcome.

      Ps; let us how to buy the components so as to satisfy our needs as well. Also a demo on software installation would be nice. Thanks.

    • profile image

      just curious 8 years ago

      iim about to build my first ever home built desktop system and i was wondering.. im looking to fit 6x 2GB RAM will my mother board be capable of taking these or will i have to buy and install extra addapters for this job and secondly how do you work out how high a power source you need

      (750-900w)????????

      oh yeh and last question. i am a game freak could you recommend the best video card for the job...

      or will a 'gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTS 250 1GB PCI-E 2.0 Ret' suffice???

      could you please reply to aaron.causeway@yahoo.co.uk

    • profile image

      Ed 7 years ago

      im about to build mine Ill be using ur guide as i think is very easy to follow>ur a master!!!

    • profile image

      Edmond 7 years ago

      you should probably include cpu fan/heatsink onto the top list, it could help out those people looking for what they need in a computer on your list. :)

    • profile image

      Thomas C. 7 years ago

      I was building my computer and got stuck (my first build, doing it alone) and I decided to google some stuff. Your video came up, very informative! Really, thanks! I can finally put it all together, hopefully it runs right :D

    • profile image

      computerman1 7 years ago

      check this website if you need help in the future.

      http://www.computerstar.ca/

    • gramsmith profile image

      gramsmith 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these great tips.You gave nice instructions for building our own computer, a much cheaper way to make a much better computer then buying one.Really appreciate your work.

    • profile image

      Jerry 7 years ago

      I want to build my own gameing computer from the ground up .But where or how do you find out just what mother board works with what cpu and operating platform..I'm looking into a e8500 intel cpu , a gigabite mobo GA-EP45-UD3P , POWER SUPPLY OCZ GAMERXSTREAM OCZ700GXSSLI-B , ram ocz n800sr4gk 4gb 800mhz ddr2 and a geforce 9800gt video card also want windows 7. Is there a site where you can list you motherboard and see what it will work with or what it needs? Jedclampit42000@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      mani 6 years ago

      good

      good

    • profile image

      Paul 6 years ago

      Great stuff, i'm going to put together my very first desktop and this seems to be very informative and helpful, ill write as to what comes of my experience shortly.

    • profile image

      Hansel 6 years ago

      im also about to build my 1st rig. thanks for this guide and ill see how it goes :)

    • profile image

      OUTLAW 6 years ago

      ITS NO EXCEPTION WITH MEI, ITS VERY INFORMATIVE N HELPING. U ARE THE MAN

    • profile image

      JED 6 years ago

      Great guide installing the hardware is the easy part for those that are about to build your first computer. Check out https://sites.google.com/site/freecomputerinfo I just launched it Dec. 1 and I am updating it daily. I'll have the Step of installing the OS and configuring the BIOS. Very soon.

    • profile image

      Chris 6 years ago

      Very nice article

    • profile image

      mahinahrangii 6 years ago

      i found that your method was both easy and not complicated as i am doing a tafe course in computers and our task was to put a computer together and your method helped me pass with flying thanks (:

    • profile image

      TechieGuy 5 years ago

      Very nice post but in reality no one puts computer together today unless s/he requires very special specs that are not available in the pre-built main streams from the big manufacturer as the competition increase and the prices are cheaper than if you were to build your own computer.

      Computer Repair Mississauga

    • profile image

      Allie 5 years ago

      I'm doing a project for school and this helps

    • profile image

      TechieGuyisaMoron 5 years ago

      Wonder if he will see this 5 months later

    • mybestreviews profile image

      mybestreviews 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Great graphics and pictures. Good information even if you never plan on building a computer together but just looking to learn more about PC's.

    • profile image

      James 4 years ago

      Nice! I'm building a computer for my birthday :D So this will sure come in handy.

      James

      13

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