Build a Computer
Step by Step

In the following paragraphs, I'm going to show you, step by step, how to build a computer of your very own. First a few precautions. Before handling any components, ground yourself, by touching the computers frame. This is to discharge any static electricity that may have built up on your body. Next try to only handle the components by the edges, do not touch the gold or copper connectors if possible, and never open the power supply housing, it is labled with warnings, theres no reason to ever open it. Oh, yeah, read the manual from front to back before you do anything.

That said lets begin. First familiarize yourself with the basic building blocks of a computer by reading Computer Training.
Next decide what type of computer you would like to build and purchase the parts, either at your local Computer Store (hopefully its A+ Computers) or at some of our recommended computer hardware suppliers. Once you have all your parts together, your ready to begin.

Now open your case and hold your mainboard up over the top of it, you,ll see some small holes in the mainboard, these are for mounting it to the case, note where they line up to some corresponding holes in the case. You should have found a small bag of hardware with your case, in it are some brass or plastic standoffs, I prefer the brass ones. Screw them into the holes in the case mentioned above.(not in every hole just the six or so that line up with your mainboard.)

Now prepare your drives, optical, hard and floppy. For the optical (DVD/CD, Burner, or CD Rom)drives and harddrives youll find jumpers, pictured below if your eyes are good enough, they are small, usually white or black, plastic pieces with a little piece of copper in it, used to connect two copper pins together, creating a circuit, which tells the computer something. In this case it tells the computer if the drive is master, slave or to use cable select (MA, SL, CS). This is required if two devices are going to share one cable, one must be master and one slave, or cable select means the position on the cable will determine the master slave relationship this setting is commonly used with Compaq computers, but I would recommend master, slave unless its a Compaq. In this case each device will have its own cable so they will both be set as master.

Now install all of your drives. You may have to remove the plastic cover, from in front of the drive bays you are going to use, sometimes theres a metal plate behind that, it too, will need to be removed. Once youve done this, just slip the drives in and screw them down. Same for the harddrive, it will mount insde the case though, usually in any spot beneath the floppy drive.

Now take the mainboard and place it on top of the box that it came in. There is a lever(pictured below) that you will need to lift up to enable you to install the CPU. (I like to install the CPU, CPU Fan, and RAM, before I screw it down to the case, you can screw it down first if you want to, but I find its much easier this way.)

You may now carefully insert the CPU in the socket there is a small triangle like an arrow and it will line up with the corresponding area on the socket. (refer to your mainboard/CPU manual for more detailed instructions.) Next install the CPU fan, if it does not have a thermal pad or thermal paste preapplied, applie some thermal paste just a thin layer on the raised up surface of the CPU. (usually the fan will either have a pad or a plastic strip protecting the peapplied paste that you must remove or the bottom of the fan will look like bare metal and will come with a small pouch of paste.)Make sure the fan is lined up properly, there is a indented area on bottom that lines up wit a raised area on the mainboard. Slip the bracket of the fan over the notches on the mainboard then push the other side down with a small screw driver until it snaps in place over the notches on the mainboard. Now attatch the fan power connector to the mainboard. It is critically important that you do these parts right. if you forget to remove the plastic strip covering the thermal paste on the fan or forget to plug in the fan, you could fry your CPU. Now install the memory by opening the white tabs on either side of the memory slot and lining up the notches on the memory with the nothces on the slot, push down firmly until the tabs snap into place.

You may now install the mainboard into the case. make sure all the brass posts are lined up with the holes of your mainboard and that none are missaligned and rubbing the bottom of your motherboard, this could cause a short. Screw the mainboard down and attach the power, reset, power LED, HD LED, speaker and USB cables if any, according to your manual.

Next install the main power cable to your motherboard. Depending on your mainboard you may have from one to three power cables that attach to the mainboard, this one only has one the others are shown hanging loose.

Attatch the IDE (integrated drive electronics) cables to your mainboard then to your Harddrive, this will be the primary or IDE 1, the other secondary or IDE 2 will go to your Optical drives. The red strip along one side of the cable indicates pin one and will correspond to pin one on your drive, this is usually identified with a small arroy with a 1 next to it. The cable will also have a notch so you cant put it on backwards. Do the same for your floppy cable.

Now you can hook up the power cables to your drives, they to are shaped so you cant put it on backwards.

You may now insert your Graphics Card into the AGP slot. First remove the metal plate covering the back of the case where the card will poke through, then there is a white bar that must be pulled towards the front of the case in order to be able to insert the card, after you insert it you can push the bar back, this locks the card in place. Now futher secure it by putting a screw through the top of the bracket. Do the same for any other add on cards you may have like modems or network cards.(these will not have the lockdown mechanism and will go in PCI slots, not in the AGP slot)

Give your computer a good once over, to make sure everythings connected properly, the moment of truth awaits, cross your fingers and power your computer up for the first time.

If all went well, the computer powered on, hit the DEL button to enter the BIOS (basic input output system)and set date and time set high performance default settings and configure boot options to CD\\\\\\\\DVD ROM first. Save and exit.

Last but not least, install the OS (operating system) of your choice. Congratulations!!! you've just built your own computer. Now, learn how to use it.