If you are going to build your own pc, you can save a lot of money because you can buy the components individually for the best price. You are also completely free to what products you can use (be sure to check the compatibility) and create a PC that’s a perfect fit for your use. It is also a lot of fun to assemble your own pc and you will definitely learn a lot. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, we can all remember our first computer. If you don’t have a lot of experience yet, try to ask someone who does, to help you.
To assemble a PC you will need the following
- Power Supply
- Heat sink/fan assembly
- Network Interface Card (NIC)
- Wireless NIC
- Graphics card
- Hard drive
- Optical drive
- Case fan
A lot of the components will be placed on the motherboard. Make sure you ground yourself by wearing an antistatic wrist strap or insulating gloves before you start working on the motherboard because many components in the motherboard can be easily destroyed by electrostatic discharges (ESD). All cables and components are designed to fit in a single way, never force anything in to avoid damaging your computer.
11 Steps to assembling your own computer
- Open the Computer case
The panels of the case are usually held together in different ways. Some are held together by screws, some buttons and some slide into each other. Do not try to open the case forcefully so as not to injure yourself.
- Prepare the Motherboard
Place the motherboard in an open workspace on an antistatic mat if available so that it will be easier for you to attach the various components to it. Components fit into the motherboard in a single way. Be careful not to force any component in, if it doesn’t fit in one way, change the orientation to fit into its slot or socket. The motherboard’s documentation will be of help in connecting the different parts into it.
- Insert the CPU
If you did not purchase your components as a single unit, you should check for the CPUs your motherboard support before purchasing one. Be careful not to insert the processor wrongly into its socket as this may damage your motherboard. There is usually a marking on the processor and socket to indicate the position of pin 1. Your manufacturer’s documentation may help with this. Secure the CPU in the socket by locking it in place.
- Place the heat sink/fan assembly on the CPU
After placing the CPU in its socket, apply a sufficient quantity of thermal compound (according to the manufacturer’s specifications) evenly on it and mount the heat sink/fan assembly on it. Align the assembly properly with the holes on the motherboard and tighten it to the motherboard. Connect the heat sink power cable to the motherboard.
- Insert the RAM in its slot
Before getting a RAM, check your motherboard’s documentation or online to ensure that it is compatible with it. Place the RAM module(s) correctly in their slots ensuring the pins on it align with the pins in the slot and press it down so that the side tabs can lock it in place. Remember not to force the RAM in if the side tabs don’t click into place or you may get your motherboard and RAM damaged. Confirm if the RAM is properly placed by checking if the notch of the RAM is seated on the right side of the slot, if not turn the sides and insert again.
- Place the motherboard in the computer case
Standoffs usually come with the motherboard, install the right standoff into the computer case then mount and secure the motherboard to it with the motherboard screws. Make sure the motherboard is rightly oriented with the I/O devices connectors facing out.
- Install the power supply and Case fan
Insert the Power Supply Unit (PSU) into the case and screw it firmly onto it. The case fan opening is usually located below the power supply, secure it in place by screwing it to the case.
- Insert the NIC, Wireless NIC, and Graphics card into the motherboard
These cards connect to either the PCI or PCIe slots. Graphics cards may also connect to AGP (Advance Graphic Port) slots. PCIe slots come in different lengths and are the most widely used expansion slots currently but the older PCI and AGP slots may still be found in some motherboards. Make sure your motherboard will support your graphics card before getting it.
- Install the Hard Disk Drive and Optical drive
Install the hard disk drive and optical drive in their appropriate locations (opening) in the case and secure them by tightening their screws to the case.
- Connect the power and data cables to the various components
The power cables from the PSU supplies power to the motherboard, drives and other devices that need power. The motherboard is supplied with power by the 20 or 24-pin ATX connector. The 20-pin connector can be used for a motherboard with a 24-pin socket.
The power supply may come with a 4 or 6-pin auxiliary connector to supply additional power which may be needed by the motherboard and connects to the auxiliary socket on the motherboard.
The HDD, optical drive, graphics card, fan and any other device that needs power are connected by different power cables. The 15-pin SATA power connector connects to the HDD and optical drives, those that aren’t are connected by the Molex power cable.
The 3-pin fan power connector connects to the case fan, the PCIe connector connects to the graphics card. Connect the other connectors to their appropriate device sockets.Data cables are used to connect the various components to the motherboard.
The hard drive and optical drive are connected by a 7-pin SATA data cable. Older hard drives may be connected by PATA data cables. PATA data cables are wide ribbon cables usually with three connectors; 1 at one end which connects to the motherboard and the other 2 connectors at the other end to connect to the drives. You may want to connect two hard drives or optical drives.
When PATA cables come with two connectors at one end, one of the drives it connects to is called the master drive, and the other connected by the middle connector (if the 3 connectors are placed together) is called the slave drive.
The pin 1 of the ribbon cable is always colored to guide its connection. The motherboard’s documentation will help in connecting the right power and data cables to the appropriate components.
- Restore the case panels
After all connections and insertions are done, replace the case panels and secure them in place by whichever means they are being held together. Connect the external cables to it and your PC is ready to be powered on.