The Best How To Assemble A Computer Tutorial - By Big Joe
How To Assemble A Computer Tutorial - A Simple Step By Step Illustrated Guide
Welcome to the "How To Assemble A Computer" Illustrated Tutorial by Big Joe.
Ever wished that you knew how to build your own computer?
Well, check this out.
I just built myself a really nice gaming computer and I'm about to build my wife's new computer which is an almost identical build (besides the graphics card and hard drive, it is an identical build).
Image by Big Joe
About This Tutorial:
I will explain on this page the simple step by step process I used to assemble my wife's new computer, along with some really good pictures that I will be adding, this should make a really nice illustrated tutorial on "How To Assemble A Computer".
Using this illustrated tutorial, you will start by preparing your case, then this tutorial will guide you as you assemble your computer from the ground up.
While this is just a very basic tutorial, it should apply to many different computer builds.
I have also listed some great information and links to more advance learning, just in case you are interested in taking your knowledge of computers to greater heights.
Many people would never even consider trying to assemble a computer because they lack the needed confidence in themselves, but I believe that they can do it, and by following this tutorial, I believe that you can do it too.
Before You Get Too Far In Building Your Own Computer - Please tell us, why YOU want to assemble a computer?
Take a minute to answer this question about Why you want to learn "how to assemble a computer", as this will be a big help in future design elements of this lens.
I really want to assemble a computer so I can...
How To Make Sure Your Computer Hardware Is Compatible
Whether you are going to assemble a gaming computer, or just a basic computer, you need compatible hardware.
Before you start putting your computer together you need to know that all of your computer parts are going to be compatible.
Actually you need to know this before you ever buy your computer parts.
Fortunately there is a simple way to tell, but unfortunately it means that you are going to have to read a little.
Checking the compatibility for your PC hardware is really not that hard as it is all dictated by one piece... The Motherboard.
Red green yellow figures by Paolo NeoBy reading the Motherboard's specifications that you are planning to use, you will be able to tell what type and how much memory it will hold, whether or not it supports a certain type,size and speed of processor and almost everything else that you will need to know about hardware compatibility.
Why does it work this way?
Because everything in your computer (or anybody else's for that matter) connects to the motherboard...Everything.
Fortunately you don't have to know or even understand everything about your motherboards specifications.
The important things to know before purchasing your new computer hardware is:
A. What form factor motherboard it is.
This is just basically the physical size and mounting hole pattern of your motherboard and you need to know this before deciding on the case that you will be using.
B. What socket type the motherboard has.
This is what determines the type of processor or CPU that you can install in your new computer. Whether you are building a computer that has an AMD or Intel processor and which type of architecture or format it has such AMD Phenom II or Intel i7.
C. How many and what type of DIMM slots it has.
This dictates the type and amount of RAM Memory modules (also known as system memory) you can install.
D. What type and how many expansion slots it has.
This lets you know what type and how many graphics cards you can install.
An older motherboard with just a PCI or AGP slot will only allow you to install those types of graphics cards.
Whereas most newer graphics cards will require a motherboard with a PCIe (also known as PCI Express) expansion slot and these slots can either be a regular PCI Express or a PCI Express 2.0 or even 3.0.
If you are planning on using an SLI (Scaleable LInk Interface) or Crossfire graphics card setup, then you will need a motherboard with at least 2 PCIe Expansion slots.
These are the 4 main things that is needed to know before buying your computer hardware and making sure that each piece of your computer hardware is compatible with your motherboard is essential in having a smooth experience when learning how to build a PC.
Step 1: How To Assemble A Computer The Safe Way - Important Notes On How To Assemble A Computer - So You Don't Screw Up
Image Source: Photo8.OrgSharp Edges:
When you build a PC and are working around your computer case, be careful of any sharp edges. While many brands of cases are made with the edges rounded or smoothed, even these types of a cases may still have areas on them where the edges are sharp.
Never work on your computer without unplugging the power cord from the power supply first, some of the components in your computer have electricity running through them even when the computer is not turned on.
Changing out hardware with the power plugged in could cause you to be
shocked or it could also damage the hardware.
Static electricity can ruin certain computer hardware, always discharge any static electricity in your body by touching the frame of your computer with both hands every time before you reach in the case or begin handling any of your hardware components.
You can also wear an anti-static wrist band (like the one featured below) while you build a PC, this will also help to discharge the static electricity from your body.
When inserting any type of pci, pci express, agp cards or memory modules or any other cards into slots on the motherboard, double check to make sure that the alignment is correct and do not use any more force to seat the card than what is needed. If pressing the card in is making the motherboard bow downward very much at all, you are taking a chance of cracking the motherboard and possibly ruining it.
If memory modules are giving too much resistance to get them to snap in, make sure the offset middle slot is in the correct position, press one end down till the tab almost snaps into place, then press the other end all the way down until it does snap into place, then press on both ends at the same time to ensure the module is fully seated.
Disclaimer: By following any of the suggestions or instructions on this lens you agree that neither the lensmaster of this lens nor squidoo will be held responsible for any bodily or property damages for any reason and that you are aware that you are using this information at your own risk.
Step 2: How To Choose Your Work Area And How To Prepare Your Computer Case
Starting off on the right foot and taking your computer building Step-By-Step.
Your work area should have adequate lighting and consist of a good sized hard surface such as a dining room table, workbench or even the floor, a place where you will not be disturbed or in anyone's way for at least a couple of hours .
Some cases have one access panel that can be removed by either taking out 2 to 4 screws on the back edge of the computer and sliding the panel backwards toward the rear of the case, this unhooks the latches that are located on the inside of the front, top and bottom of the panel.
Some cases have only a thumbscrew on the back edge that can be loosened with your thumb and forefinger and the panel is pulled backward and removed in the same manner as above and some newer cases have a handle latch that you only pull the handle back and it opens like a door, but the panel comes all the way off to give access to the inside.
Whichever type of case you have, you will need to remove the access panel and prepare to indulge yourself in all the glory of building your own computer.
Placing a thick towel under your new computer case will keep the case from scratching your table, bench or floor and it will make it easier to spin and turn the case around when needed.
Now, you will need to prepare your case by removing any (knock-outs in older style cases and panel covers in newer cases) where any expansion slots will be used in the back of the case and where any extra drive(s) such as a DVD player will be in the front of the case.
With many of the older style cases you can do this by using a pair of pliers to rotate the knock-outs end-over-end a few times until they break off (making sure you only remove the ones that you need to remove), and with many newer cases like the one in this tutorial you may only have to remove a screw.
Newer and bigger graphics cards may require 2 expansion slots and setting your motherboard down in your case will help you determine which expansion slot covers it is that you will need to remove.
The case used in this tutorial (and many of the newer cases), comes with very simple to remove covers for the rear expansion slots (remove a screw) and the front bays that simply have a tab to squeeze.
The standoffs should be included with the motherboard accessories and they look like a long brass, hex shaped nut that is male on one end and female on the other (it screws into something and something else screw into it).
Once you remove the motherboard, screw a standoff at each hole. Snug the standoffs up when screwing them in, but do not over tighten them.
A full sized ATX motherboard will require 8 to 12 standoffs and every place your motherboard requires one, you should have a standoff screwed into the mounting plate.
This not only secures your motherboard into your case properly, but also helps give more support to the motherboard, which is needed when inserting memory modules and cards.
How To Install A I/O Shield
The I/O (input/output) shield is a small rectangle shield that fills in all the little gaps around the inputs and outputs of the motherboard such as the video, audio outputs, mouse and keyboard inputs etc.
Different motherboards I/O configurations are different so most motherboards come with their own shield which is easily pressed into the back of the case from the inside pressing out (just make sure you have it aligned in the correct position for your motherboard).
If there is a shield already in the case, you may need to remove it by carefully pressing it in from the outside of the case as this shield may not be configured for your motherboard.
How To Install Case Fans
If your case does not have the fans included and installed (most do and this one does), then it will be easiest to install them now before going any further.
Mounting is achieved with four screws which should be included with your fans.
Before mounting your fans, test each one to see if it is a "intake" fan or an "exhaust" fan by quickly plugging up and unplugging one of the 4 pin molex connectors to it (being careful not to let the fan blade strike anything) and check wind direction.
If the fan blows out the same side that the screw holes are on on the fans frame, then is an exhaust fan and will blow air out of your case when mounted, if the fans blows away from the side the screw holes are on then it is an intake fan and will blow air into your case.
Different cases have different fan configurations but typically you will have at least two or more intake fans mounted in the front part of the case ( front bottom, side, and or maybe on top ) and usually the exhaust fans are mounted in the rear of the case.
Once your case fans are mounted then you're done, the case is prepped and you are ready to start assembling your computer.
It may seem like you haven't got much done yet, but the assembly is a lot farther along than you may think at this point.
Azza Hurrican 2000 Full Tower Case - The Computer Case Used In This Tutorial
Never heard much of this computer hardware brand before, but after reading some of the reviews, I had to give it a try. So far, I like this case very much. The Azza Hurrican 2000 case is a very roomy case that is easy to work in. It also has a great "quick hard disk change" feature and you don't even have to take the side cover off. I have this case except it's blue.
I have the blue version of this case.
Step 3: How To Install A Motherboard And Power Supply
Installing the motherboard and power supply
Most motherboards have the processor's heat sink and fan mounting bracket already installed on the motherboard around the processor socket.
If yours does not, you will have to install it.
The flat part will mount on the underside of the motherboard, while the taller piece will mount to it from the top side of the motherboard using two or four screws that should be included.
Image by Big Joe
When installing the motherboard it is best to lay it on the standoffs and look at the back of the computer to verify that the I/O shield is aligned properly before screwing the motherboard to the standoffs. If it is not remove the motherboard and re-align the shield.
If the shield and motherboard are aligned correctly, begin mounting the motherboard by placing screws (snug only, do not over tighten as you may crack the motherboard) everywhere that you have a standoff for it.
Note: (the I/O shield has small tabs that press against the motherboard and you may need to hold the motherboard toward the back of the case to get the holes to line up properly).
Once you are done installing all the screws for the motherboard... That's it, the motherboard is mounted.
The Power Supply:
Some cases have the power supply included and already installed, if your case does, then you can skip this step.
The power supply is usually mounted at the top or bottom of the back of the case and sometimes has it's own little cubbyhole. Most power supplies mount with only 3 or 4 screws from the outside of the case and all you have to do is just make sure the power supply is not upside down (actually I don't think you can mount one upside down), anyway once the 3 or 4 screws are in... the power supply is mounted.
Asrock 990fx Motherboard And Corsair 850 Watt Enthusiast Power Supply - As Seen In This Tutorial
Check it out, this board has on/off and reset switches on the board,
I have 2 of these and they are powering 2 computers in my house and doing a great job at it too.
Step 4: How To Install A Processor, Heat Sink And Fan
Installing the processor, heatsink and fan.
The processor is very fragile "Handle With Care".
If you've taken a look at the processor by now (and I'm sure you have), you will see about a billion little gold pins sticking out of one side of it like a bed of nails.
They bend very easy...do not drop it like I did or else you will be like I was, trying to straighten the pins out with a steak knife for about an hour.
On the motherboard, around the center of it, you will see your processor socket, a small square plastic piece with about a billion holes in it and a small silver lever next to it.
The lever is a locking lever if you unhook it and rotate it up all the way, you may notice the top portion of the socket shift to one side, that means it's open.
Image by Big Joe
You never should have to press the processor into the holes, it should always fall all the way down flat by gravity alone.
Normally on an AMD processor one corner of the socket will have an arrow and one corner of the processor will have an arrow, line these up by placing the processor pin side down on the open socket, if the processor falls all the way down through the holes you've done good, just lock the lever back down and you're done.
If the processor will not fall all the way down by itself "do not force it", instead double check that the lever is fully up and re-check alignment by comparing corners of the pins to corners of the holes. If it still does not fall all the way down by itself check all your documentation on the processor and the motherboard and verify that they are compatible.
With the processor seated all the way into the socket and the lever locked, it's time to get sticky. Even with a great heat sink and a great fan, processors get hot, thermal paste is the magic ingredient that helps keep your processor cool.
Apply a small amount of thermal paste on the top of the processor and spread it with one finger across the entire surface of the processor, if you need to add more then do it, but just make sure there is a medium thickness coat across the entire top of the processor.
Do the same with the bottom of the heat sink, where it will be touching the processor.
The Heat Sink:
The heat sink will usually have a bracket with a lever mounted on it, when setting it on the processor make sure the bracket's holes are lined up with the tabs hanging off of the plastic heat sink mount that is attached to the motherboard.
Image by Big Joe
Make sure the lever on the heat sink bracket is in the unlock position and then hook the tabs on the side away from the lever,
next hook the tabs on the same side as the lever, (depending on the mounting bracket, sometimes you may have to apply a little downward pressure to get them to hook, being careful not to apply too much pressure) once tabs on both sides are hooked by the holes in the bracket, flip the lever(this may be a little tight) to lock the heat sink on.
Image by Big Joe
Amd 8350 4.0Ghz 8 Core Processor
Remember, when buying a retail processor like this one, it comes with the heatsink and fan included, but if you buy an oem processor, then the processor is usually all that you get.
It may be an 8 core processor but there is only one word for it, - Awesome!
Step 5: How To Install Computer Memory, Hard Drives And Optical Drives
Installing your computer memory, hard drives and optical drives.
Installing The Memory:
Note: check the documentation that came with the motherboard about which slots to use if you are using which types of memory.
This can make a big difference in the performance of your computer, it can go from not working, to working ok, to working great, just by having the right type of memory in the right slots.
Image by Big JoeAs you can see by the images, I use and recommend Corsair Memory but there are many other good brands to choose from such as Patriot and Kingston.
Which ever brand you choose, I highly recommend using memory modules with heat spreaders. This will not only reduce heat and heat related problems, but it will also increase the lifespan of your modules.
Installing memory modules is usually easy, just make sure the notches on the bottom (next to the gold connectors) are lined up correctly with the slot breaks in the slots on the motherboard.
Image by Big Joe
Pressing both ends of the module down until the tab locks on both ends snap into place, holding the module there secure.
Image by Big Joe
Installing Hard Drives:
Installing a hard drive in this computer case is very easy too.
The AZZA Hurrican 2000 is equipped with quick and easy hard drive changing bays that is very intuitive and works very well, just make sure you read the documentation that comes with this case about these quick change bays as there are certain restrictions involved, such as SSDs in the bottom 2 bays only.
To install your Sata hard drive simply open the case's front door and remove one of the hard drive bay shuttles by pressing one of the levers towards the center of the case, the shuttles door is spring loaded and the shuttle will start to eject once the door is opened, then gently pull the shuttle all the way out of the case.
With the shuttle all the way out of the case, snap the shuttle onto your hard drive keeping the door part of the shuttle at the front of your drive.
With the shuttle properly snapped onto the hard drive, insert the shuttle and hard drive back into the bay and close and latch the shuttle door.
Once the shuttle door is closed and latched, the hard drive is actually already plugged into the hard drive bay interface card located at the back of the hard drive bay.
Images by Big Joe
If your computer case does not have these quick change hard drive bays, then you may need to install your hard drive using the following steps.
Most all hard drives now a days are 3-1/2" and get mounted in a 3-1/2" bay, the 5-1/4" bays are for your optical drives.
Looking in the front of your case(usually in the front), you should see 2 or more bays that the hard drive will just slide into from the rear.
Slide the hard drive into one of them with the connecting ports pointing to the back of the computer case. Using 4 screws, mount the hard drive using 2 screws on each side ( at this point, you will need to stand the case up and remove the other side panel of the case to access that side).
Installing The Optical Drives (BD/DVD/CD):
Another thing I really like about the AZZA Hurrican 2000 case is the locking mechanism for the optical drive bays... Simple yet effective.
To install your optical drive just insert the drive in the bay where you previously removed the cover while you were preparing your case, once you have the face of the drive flush with the face of the computer case, slide the drive locks in opposite directions of each other until they are snug and the optical drive will not slide in either direction.
Corsair Vengeance Memory - Western Digital Hard Drive - Pioneer Electronics Blu-ray
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Step 6: Wiring Up Your Computer
How to wire up a computer.
Now this is the fun part, getting everything connected and keeping our sanity at the same time.
The good news is, you won't have to solder anything, everything just plugs in...
Once you have learned how to assemble a computer for the first time, everything gets a lot easier.
Let's start by connecting the front panel connections first.
Image by Big JoeThe wires and connectors coming from the front panel should consist of :
The power switch,
The reset switch,
The hard drive led,
The internal speaker, and possibly any external usb, temperature gauges, fan speed control, audio or video inputs.
Note: You may need the diagram of your motherboard for this one.
Most motherboards front panel wiring connections are located somewhere on the bottom front corner of the board and are labeled with abbreviations for what connections they are(but they are hard to see, you may need a flashlight and a magnifying glass).
The front panel wires are already ran behind the motherboard mounting plate and harnessed together so they are easy to find.
Image by Big Joe
Most case front panel connectors are labeled with abbreviations of what that connector is for, as in RESET SW is the reset switch and POWER SW is the power button.
Image by Big Joe
Using your diagram, flashlight and magnifying glass, connect each of the front panel connectors to it's corresponding motherboard connectors until they are all connected.
The abbreviated letters on the wires shown below are facing down, but this may not always be the case, as you may have to turn one over if something is not working properly and you know you have it on the right connector.
Image by Big Joe
I've also connected the front panels USB 3.0 connection as shown below and the external sata connection.
Image by Big Joe
Now this is all done, let's move on.
More good news: The front panel connectors are the only ones that can easily be turned over and connected the wrong way.
I know you have a wad of spaghetti hanging in your case from the power supply, but let's connect some of the small important internal connections first.
Image by Big Joe
You should have a 3 or 4 wire connection coming from the processor fan, look on the motherboard for a CPU1 connector and plug that up there.
Image by Big Joe
You may have a wire that is included with your DVD/CD drive and you need to connect it from the back of the drive to a connector on the motherboard labeled Audio-1.
Image by Big Joe
Next if you have any external USB ports, there should be some wires to connect them, just look on the motherboard for USB1,USB2 and so on.
The type of hard drive and optical drive you have will determine the wire you use to connect it to the motherboard.
If you have a sata drive the wire will be smaller and connect to a sata connection on the motherboard.
If your drive is an ide then the wire will be a lot wider also known as a ribbon and it will connect to the ide connector on the motherboard.
Note: Sata drives are newer and faster and the ide drives are slowly but surely getting obsolete or at least outdated.
Sata and Ide connections can only be connected one way, sata connectors have an "L" shape on one end and Ide connectors have a slot in the middle of them to keep them from being connected upside down.
Let's move on to the power supply.
Depending on your power supply, you may have a different number of connection types and what you use will be determined by the motherboard and devices that you have installed.
On your motherboard you have a great big connection that has either 20 or 24 pins, your power supply will have either a 24 pin connector a 20 pin connector with a square 4 pin connector that may or may not clip on to the side of it, or you may only have a 20 pin connector without a square 4 pin connector.
(The following images are from a previous computer build, but they are a good example of how the 20 to 24 pin connectors work. More updated pictures coming soon.)
Image by Big JoeNote: Notice the shapes of the holes and the locking tab. The connector can only be inserted one way.
If your motherboard has a 24 pin connector and the power supply don't then your power supply will not work.
If your motherboard has a 20 pin connector and your power supply has a solid 24 pin connector, then your power supply will not work.
But hopefully you've done your homework before ordering your hardware and all is well.
Make your 20 or 24 pin connection to the motherboard, you may have to press down kind of hard to get it to latch, but be gentle.
Most newer motherboards and power supplies (like the ones used in this tutorial) will have a 8 wire connector and a 8 wire connector slot for it on the motherboard, while older motherboards use less voltage, many of them have 4 wire connectors and slots (this 4 wire connector will not work with the 20 pin connector to make the 24 pin connection).
Now all that is left is connecting the drives and case fans using the rectangle 4 pin Molex connectors, some fans have an in and out so you can daisy chain connecting them.
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This How To Assemble A Computer page is "Blessed" to have visitors from all over the world and from many different countries.
Visitors come here from around the globe and take advantage of this great tutorial.
Please take a second and select the country that you are from, or just click the "see the results" link to see which country has the most visitors to this page.
(These results are only a sample of the actual amount of visitors here.)
Image by Big Joe
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Step 7: Installing A Graphics Card - If You Want To Build A Gaming PC
How to install your graphics card.
I have saved the graphics card for last as a lot of newer cards have not only grown in speed and muscle, but also in size.
If you want to build a gaming PC, then a separate video card / graphics card is a must. Even though a good gaming video card can be very expensive, if you know where to shop you can still find a good graphics card for cheap that will play many of the newer games without lagging or ghosting issues.
While some newer motherboards have pretty good integrated graphics, if you want to build a gaming PC it will require a dedicated card just for the graphics when playing any of the latest video games.
If you don't have onboard or integrated video then install your computer's video card now by inserting it into the appropriate slot Pcie into a Pcie slot, Agp into a Agp slot.
The video card installation is similar to installing the memory, just make sure the slot in the bottom of the card lines up properly with the slot break in the motherboard.
Image by Big JoeAlso, make sure the tab at the bottom of the video card frame , goes behind the edge of the motherboard when seating your video card.
Image by Big JoeYou should have a knock out removed for whichever slot the card is installed in and all you need to make sure of is that the card is seated all the way into the slot and then install 1 screw into the card frame and into the case frame to help hold it in.
(you may have to plug in a power connection, depending on the card).
Step 8: Powering Up Your New Computer
Turning on your new computer for the first time.
Now for safety sake, double check all connections, put all access panels back on, connect the monitor, keyboard and mouse to the back of the computer.
After everything is done, double check that the voltage shown on the back of the power supply is set correctly, and the power switch on the back of the power supply is turned off ( o = off and I = on).
Plug the power cord up to the power supply and turn the power switch on the back of the power supply to on ( o=off and I = on), then smell for smoke...
(nothing should happen until you press the power switch on the front of your computer).
If all is clear, turn the monitor on and push the power button on the front of the computer.
If you do not get a series of beeps and it looks like it's powering up (it will stop because the hard drive is not formatted and there is no operating system) quickly open the dvd and insert the operating system disc and close it, then press the reset button on the front of the computer.
If any of the front panel buttons or lights do not work right, then you may have to open it back up and flip the connectors over at the motherboard, but remember to power it down, unplug the power cord and discharge the static electricity by touching on the frame first.
As for what to do when the Operating System CD starts installing ....
That will come into play on my next lens...
Also if the operating system does start installing then...
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