While buying a factory-built computer is quick and easy, there are a lot of advantages to building your own machine. For one thing, you are sure to get exactly the components, software, and functionality you need, versus what the manufacturer wants to give you. Another issue is that pre-made computers often have proprietary parts and cases, making them difficult to alter and upgrade; home-made machines are a lot more flexible in that area. Finally, home-made computers can be significantly less expensive.
Be sure to work in an area that’s free of dust and on a non-conductive surface, like a wooden table. You should also avoid working on carpeting, which can generate static electricity, and ground yourself by touching the metal part of the computer case before touching the components. You can also wear an antistatic wrist strap to prevent static electricity.
Step 1: Set up the Motherboard
· Remove the motherboard from its packaging and set it on a steady surface. Do not sit it on top of the antistatic bag that it came in.
· Fit the processor into the designated slot or socket on the motherboard. If it has a heat sink, it should come with a thermal adhesive for you to attach it to the processor. If has a fan, it will fit over the processor and have a small cable that plugs into one of the slots on the mother board.
· Fit the RAM it into the corresponding slots on the motherboard. It should have a notch on the side with the metal contacts that corresponds with the slot, and will tell you which way to insert the RAM. Start with Slot 1, and fill each slot in order, depending on how many sticks of ram you have.
Step 2: Preparing the Case
· Some cases come with a built-in power supply. If not, attach the power supply to the rear of the case using the mounting screws included with the product. Make sure the power cables are trailing inside the case.
Step 3: Adding the Motherboard
· Lay the case on its side, and gently insert the motherboard. There should be some metal risers inside the case on which to mount the board. Line up the holes in the motherboard with the holes in the risers and make sure the connectors for the mouse, keyboard, and other components, show through the rear of the case. Use the screws that came with the mother board to secure it in place.
Step 4: Component cards
· If your motherboard has built-in graphics, Wi-Fi and/or modem, skip to step 5. If not, insert the cards into the dedicated slots in the mother board, making sure the ports show through the rear of the case.
Step 5: Drives
· Install the hard drive into the dedicated drive slot on the case, and make sure the holes line up. Use the screws that came with the drive to hold it in place.
· Install any other drives in their dedicated slots – usually above the hard drive – and use the corresponding screws to secure them.
Step 6: Cables
Each component, including the hard drive, should come with its own cable
· Connect the motherboard and all of the components to the power supply.
· Connect the hard drive to the mother board.
· Connect all of the other components, to the mother board.
Step 7: First Boot
· Plug the computer in, connect a monitor and keyboard, and turn on your computer. It should go through the initial boot process where it reads the bios and has you set up the boot priority and performs other functions.
· If it does not work, turn it off, recheck all of your connections, and try again.
· If it does work, you are now ready to install your operating system, drivers, and software.
Step 8: Installing Software
· At this point you can install any operating system (OS) that is compatible with your hardware. If you are using a Windows OS, you should install Trend Micro antivirus software, or something similar.
· Once you have installed the OS, it will auto-detect the components, and install the drivers, or you can manually install the drivers from the CDs that came with the products.
· After installing the drivers, you can install whatever software you like.
· Make sure that you keep all of the software you install in a safe place, and make copies if you can. That way, you’ll have everything if you need to reimage your machine.
· You should also register your components and turn in all of your warranty information.
Building your own computer can leave you with a machine that’s quite a bit more powerful, but at a fraction of the cost of an off-the-shelf model. In addition, the computer you build has infinite options for customability and future upgrades. Give it a try!