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How to Build a Computer

Branded computers can offer both value and performance. Their parts are often powerful, efficient, and not very expensive. And best of all, the user experience is generally intuitive - you can simply power up and start working. Yet there's a downside to these computerstoo. Parts are often short-spec in one place or another, you'll often get a performance "bottleneck" such as a slow graphics card, only a basic amount of memory, or a slimline motherboard with too few upgrade slots. Luckily, for those of you looking for an alternative, computers are surprisingly easy to build. If you can afford the time to plan and build your own machine, you can design a system more targeted toward your own use.
Steps Tips and Warnings
Decide What Type of Computer Suits You Best
Choose Components for Building a Computer . The more preparation, research and careful selection of parts, the lesstime you will spend trying to make the thing work .
1
Select your componentsbased on how you planto be using your computer . What type of computer is best for you? If you plan to playhigh-end games all the time, for example, you'll probably need:
A good graphics card
A high-end central processing unit (CPU)
And a lot of random access memory (RAM)
2
Don't waste money on expensive parts you may not need . If your PC will be performing only basic functions, such as Internet and office tasks, you can save money by getting cheaper, more affordable components. Things to consider:
Screen size. Unless you're a graphic designer, you probably don't need a huge monitor.
What hardware will you be connecting?
Aesthetics. Do you care about a flashy case, or can you get by with something more utilitarian?
3
Do research . Read magazines and online consumer review sites for more information. Remember, this is one of the most important steps, because everything will dependon your hardware. There are many guides and reviews available from online magazines and consumer review websites. Samples include:
PC World
PC Magazine
Maximum PC
Custom PC
Open the Case and Look Inside
1
Open the case . You might want to wear gloves or some sort of hand protection, as the inside of the case does not have grinded downmetal and could be very sharp in some cases.
2
Attach the PSU (power supply unit) to the inside of the case, following the instructions included with the case (some cases might have this step completed) .
3
Use an antistatic wrist-strap cable so you don'tshock the motherboardand to prevent Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) which can be deadly to computer electronics . If you can't get an antistatic wrist-strap cable, plug your grounded power supply unit to an outlet(but don't turn it on), and keep your hand on the grounded unit whenever you touch any ESD-sensitive items.
4
Identify the power leads .
5
Identify the front panelleads .
The Motherboard
1
Locate the motherboard . Place it on top of its box. DO NOT place it on top of the anti-static bag as the outside is conductive.
2
Observe the missing pins in the processor and match these with the socket on the motherboard . On many processors there will bea little gold arrow in the corner that you can use to orient the processor properly.
3
Insert the processor into the motherboard . Carefully open the CPU socket and carefully insert the processor (noforce needed). If it doesn't slip right in, or it feels like you have topush, it is probably misaligned. Close the socket and ensure the CPU is secure. Some sockets have small arms while others havecomplex assemblies to open and close the socket.
4
Apply good thermal paste to the CPU . Use no more than a pea sized amount and spread it in a thin layer over the entire processor surface (or if this is an older Athlon series without the protective cover, only apply to the chip in the center of the processor board). Adding too much thermal paste will slow the transfer of heat, making it moredifficult to cool the CPU quickly. In some cases (like when assembling Supermicro servers) you must skip this step as the required amountof the grease has been already applied by the manufacturer. Check the assembly manuals for this note. Some processors that come with heatsinks do not need thermal paste as it is already on the heatsink.
The Heat Sink
1
Attach the heat sink . This varies from heat sink to heat sink, so read the instructions. Here is the procedure for the cooling device in this example:
Push the fixing clip through the cooler and clip on the short end onto the processor socket.
Use the tool to push the other end of the clip to the other side of the processor socket.
If you have an adjustable speed fan for the CPU cooler then the fan should be fitted to the case after the motherboard has been installed.
The RAM
1
Insert the RAM in the proper slots by openingthe slots and pushing the RAM in until the little handles can lock itinto position. Note howthe RAM and slots are keyed--line them up so they will fit in properly.When pushing, press both sides of the RAM module with equal force. If RAM sockets have two colours, this may indicate the priority slots in case if you are not using all available slots.
The I/O Backplate
1
Remove the I/O backplate (former) which accompanies themotherboard . Your motherboard should come with its own backplate. It is unlikely that your case will havean appropriate backplate for your motherboard. Note: removing the existing backplate may take a bit of force. Sometimes they have screws to hold them in place, but most are held in only by friction. Pop it out by pressing on the bracket from the rear side of the case.
2
Knock out any tabs covering I/O components up on the motherboard's former .
Standoffs
1
Insert the motherboardformer into the case .
2
Find some standoffs (e .g. metal jack screw standoffs #4-40) that raise the motherboard just off the case surface, also some screws (e.g. #4-40 x 3/16" long) that fit in the spacers to screw the motherboard to thecase.
The number of spacers required will be determined by the number of shielded holes in the motherboard. Position the motherboard to discover where to screw in the standoffs.
3
Screw the standoffs in the case at the relevantpositions and place the motherboard on top ensuring that the ports fit snugly into the former .
4
Screw the motherboardon to the standoffs . It helps to hold on to the heatsink.
The Video Card
1
Attach the video card (if you have one) and any other PCI, PCI Express, AGP, or ISA cards into the motherboard . Be sure to secure them into place with the proper screws.
Case Connectors
1
At this point it is a good idea to plug in the case connectors . These tend to be located together on themotherboard near the front of the case. The order in which these are connected will depend on which is easiest. Normally top left to right is easiest.
~ The soft power switch (motherboard power switch). It does not matter which way around this is connected
~ Reset switch, again it does not matter which way around this is connected
~ LED hard disk indicator (sometimes called the power LED)
~ Sleep message indicator (if the case supports this)
~ Internal speaker connection
2
If you have a front audio panel then remove any jumpers that are installed on the motherboard connector and connect the front audio panel lead . Normally there will be a blank pin so that there is only one way of connecting the lead. Make sure you match up the right connectors, as they willbe either AC97 or HDAudio. Assume AC97 when in doubt.
3
Similarly, locate the front panel USB connectors (these are additions to the rear USB connectors) and connect the USB leads . There is usually only one way in which thesecan be connected.
Decide Where to Put the Drives
At this point you'll need to determine where you want to install the various drives, such as floppy drive, DVD drive, or hard disk.
1
Remove the front cover . There are normally cleats that can be squeezed by hand to release the front cover from the chassis.
2
Remove any metal barriers that are in the way between the driveand the front cover . Normally these are loosely moulded to the metal interior and can be removed by judicious wiggling untilthe barrier snaps off.
3
Configure the jumpers on the CD/DVD/hard drives . If you are using IDE drives and putting them on the same channel, then you should configure the hard drive as master and the CD/DVD drive as slave; this will make boot-ups faster and prevent issues in the future. Otherwise, check the jumper on the DVD drive to ensurethat it is set as Master ifthis will be the first drive on one of the Extended IDE (E-IDE) channels.
The DVD Drive
1
Insert the DVD drive and floppy drive in through the front of the case . Some cases will have their own fascias that sit in front of the drives.
2
Install the front cover back on to the chassis .
A button on the fascia impinges on the drive button to transfer the action when operating the drive. Use suitable fixing screws for each drive, normally 4 per drive to fix the drive into the cages built into the case. Ensure that the drives are flushed up against the front of the case so that thereis good positive action when using the buttons on the front of the case.
The Hard Drive
1
Install the hard disk . For IDE drives, check the jumper. If this driveis the master (first harddisk with the bootable operating system) thenthe jumper should be set to master or Cable Select (CS). If the jumper is set to CS thenthe first connector on the IDE ribbon cable must be used for this drive. For SATA drives, it doesn't matter whichend of the cable you use for the drive, and there are no jumpers toset. When installing thedrive ensure that two screw holes can be used on each side to attach the drive to the chassis.
The DVD ROM Drive
1
Connect the IDE or SATAcable to the DVD ROM drive . For IDE, the blue end connects to the motherboard and the red strip connects to the right handside at the back of the drive. Blips in the plastic surround help you get the cable connected theright way around. Check the jumper of thedrive. This should be set to master if it is the first drive on the IDE bus. When installing the IDE cable to the motherboard you may need to support the motherboard with yourfingers to avoid bending it too much. It is simple for SATA: simply connect the drive to the motherboard.
2
Untangle the power leads with the various connectors and select the leads which do not contain the small floppy disk ...


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