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TACKtech Corp. > Articles > Hardware > Guides

How-To Build a Computer [Page: 2 of 2] (TTID #309)

Author:   Views: 6,004 /  Created: August 2, 2003
* republished with permission from

Author: Michael Larabel
Editor: Adam Kadzban

Preparing for construction:

You will want a clear well light environment with lots of space to build your computer in. The tools you will need is a Phillips-head screwdriver, needle-nosed pliers, and an antistatic wrist strap which is used to ground yourself to prevent a build up of static electricity when handling your electronic components, so you do not damage them. After you have all that, lay out your computer case on its side (flat) and unpack all of the parts.

Beginning the Installation:

First, you will want to read your motherboard manual so you can become more familiar with where things are located on the motherboard. First pop out the I/O panel on the back of your case if there is one there and then put in the one that came included with your motherboard. If your case has a removable motherboard tray remove that from the case and lay it on a flat surface. If your case has no removable motherboard tray make sure the entire stand offs are installed in your case and then screw your motherboard into the stand offs. Now you will want to install the RAM you bought into the RAM sockets beginning with the socket marked “Bank 0” or “0”. Slide the RAM module firmly into the socket. A bracket on each side will snap into place when the module is correctly inserted. If you have more than 1 piece of RAM insert the other pieces of RAM into the next available slot the same way as you inserted your first piece of RAM. Now you will move onto installing your CPU (Processor). Work very carefully with your processor. Lift the level located on the side of the CPU socket and carefully insert the processor. As you insert the processor make sure that pin 1 of the processor matches pin 1 on the socket. After you have inserted the processor lock the level down. Now install the CPU heatsink (installation procedures vary from heatsink to heatsink so read the heatsink instructions). Now if you installed all of your parts on your removable motherboard tray you may insert the tray with the components on back into the case. Insert the Power Supply Unit into the top of the back of your computer, where a large hole should be, and fasten it securely into place. Leave all the power supply unit cables where they are and you will hook those up later when all the other components are installed.

Drive Installation:

Look on the front of the case where there is a 3.5-inch drive bay and use a screw driver to pop off the front cover of that bay. Using the screws that came with your case or your floppy drive install the floppy drive. Now we will move onto your CD, DVD, and hard drive installation. On the back of the drives you will probably see some jumpers. Make sure the jumpers are set up properly by looking in your drives manual for more information or set the jumpers to cable select. If you need to move your jumpers use your needle nose pliers to remove the jumper and then just insert it in the new spot. Insert the drives into the case and make sure all the data and power connections are facing the inside of your case. Install all of your drives and secure them properly.

Installing AGP and PCI cards:

Remove the back plate covering the open PCI and AGP slots on your case. Line up the card with the slot, and press firmly and evenly until the card is installed. Use the screws that came with your case to screw in the cards.

Connecting the Cables:

Now its time to wire everything in your computer up. Connect the IDE cable (the wide ribbon cable or could be a rounded IDE cable) to all of your devices. Most cables will only fit in the device one way if they have a keyed connector so that should be fairly easy to connect. If you have 2 hard drives or 2 CD drives connect the primary connector on the IDE cable to the first drive and then with the secondary or slave connector connect that to the second drive. Then connect all the power connectors from the power supply unit to the drives (one side is usually beveled so it only fits one way). Now from the rear of your CD drive there should be a thin audio cable connect that to an open connector on your sound card or motherboard (if you’re audio is integrated on the motherboard). If you run out of power connectors on your power supply unit you may buy Y connectors to add a Molex connector. Also at this time if you have any additional fans or cooling devices to install this is the time to install it. Just secure it onto the case or device to be cooled and connect it to the power supply unit if it’s a 4-pin connector or the motherboard if it’s a 3-pin connector.

Connecting the front USB ports and the power button:

Now, if your case and motherboard offers you the ability to have some front USB ports and possibly a fire wire port to the front of your case now its time to connect that. Just connect the cables coming from the front of the case to your motherboard (the place you connect the cables to is different on all motherboards, so please read your motherboard manual for the correct place and to make sure its compatible). It’s also time now to hook up the power button to your motherboard so that you can turn on your computer. To connect the power button, just connect the wires from the button to the motherboard.

Connecting External Peripherals:

Plug the keyboard and mouse into the appropriate connectors on the back of the case. Also hook up your monitor, speakers, printer, and other devices (connecting all of it should be fairly easy since most is color coded). Finally, plug the AC cord from the power supply into the wall.

Installing your Operating System:

Turn on the power button and insert your operating systems set up disk. You will need to tell your computer to boot from that disk (procedures vary but often the delete key or one of the F keys) and select boot from CD-ROM (of from Floppy, depending on how old the OS is). Follow the directions on screen to install. After your operating system is installed all your devices should be installed automatically (if you are using Windows XP), if not insert the devices set up disk or go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the latest drivers. After everything is working you can install all of your other programs. I would also recommend visiting Microsoft’s web site to get the latest security updates and program updates for your computer.

Final Words:

After you have done all this, enjoy! If you happen to experience any problems and don’t know how to solve it feel free to post the question you have in our eXtreme Reviews forums and it shall be answered. I would also recommend that you read all of your manuals you receive with your computer components before installation.

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