How to Build a Computer - Step by Step (With Photos)

Discussion in 'Desktop Computers' started by Geoff, Dec 4, 2007.

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  1. Geoff

    Geoff VIP Member

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    How to Build a Computer: (Currently Editing)

    First a little background here, The case that is used in this build is the Antec Nine Hundred. The other components that I used was the Asus P5K Deluxe (based off the P35 chipset), Intel Core 2 Duo E6400, 2GB of Corsair XMS2, Silverstone 750W power supply, 4x Seagate 320GB SATAII hard drives, ATI 2900XT video card, X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS sound card, and a Cooler Master UFO CPU cooler.

    Before we get started, what you need to know is that installations will differ to some degree based on what case you choose, what platform your building off of, as well as the types of accessories you install. This guide is intended to help you if you get stuck somewhere and/or are interested in building your own and want to read up on how one would build a PC.



    Getting Started:
    Before we begin, it's a good idea to get all of your components out of their packaging and lay them down where you will be working. This way you know exactly what you have, what you need to install, and what you have left after you've started. As you can see in the picture below, I have my case that I will be using during this build.
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    After you have all your parts laid out at your workspace, lets remove the case from the packaging and get ready for installing all the components. Note however that if you are working on a place such as a bed, carpet, or other fabric, you should wear an anti-static wrist strap or be touching the case with your hands while handling any electronic device to prevent a static charge from ruining your equipment.
    [​IMG]

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    Preparing the Case:
    One of the important steps that many new builders forget are the gold extender feet that go between your motherboard and case chassis. These prevent your motherboard from shorting out, and allows air to pass underneath. The ones in the following photos are based off of the ATX design, note that each form factor has their own layout, so be careful to only install them where they will be screwed down. The photo below is a closeup.
    [​IMG]

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    As stated above, only install the extender feet where the motherboard will be screwed down, to prevent the possibility of a short. You will notice that there are many empty holes in the case, which would be used if I was using a motherboard with a different form factor.
    [​IMG]

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    The next step is to remove the rear I/O panel that comes with the case, with the panel designed for your motherboard. To do so simply push outward on the panel from inside the case, and it should pop out towards you.
    [​IMG]

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    The next step is to install the new rear I/O panel. If you purchased an open box / OEM motherboard, chances are you never received a rear I/O panel. If thats the case I would attempt to use the panel that comes with the case, however most likely it will not work, if that happens then you would need to run it without the rear panel or try to find one online.
    [​IMG]

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    Installing the Motherboard:
    Now that we have the case ready for the components, it's time to install the motherboard. This may seem like the most complicated step when it comes to actually building the computer, however it is actually easier then it looks. First make sure the motherboard is lined up properly so the rear I/O panel is in the correct spot, and that the expansion card slots are also lined up with the back of the case. When you are lining it up with the gold extenders, be very careful not to scratch the bottom of the motherboard on the case, as it may cut through the PCB and into the imprinted circuit board.
    [​IMG]

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    In the photo below you can see that the holes in the motherboard line up exactly with the gold feet we had secured to the case. If there are holes that do not line up with any feet, then remove the motherboard and either relocate them to the proper holes in the case, or add additional ones.
    [​IMG]

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    The photo below should help you locate the correct screws to use if you are unsure about what kind to use. These are usually the same screws that are used to secure the expansion cards down as well.
    [​IMG]

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    The screws should screw in fairly easily and do not require much force. If you notice that you need a lot of force or that it's not properly screwing in, then remove it and try another one, as it's very important to have the motherboard securely screwed down to the case. Make sure that you did not forget any, as it can be easy to overlook.
    [​IMG]

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    Installing the Processor:

    Now that you have the motherboard securely connected to the case, it's time to install the processor (CPU). This part does vary slightly with the different sockets that are available, although the same general rules apply. To install the processor, first open up the holder as shown by pulling the lever outwards, then lifting it up. Once it is lifted you can pull back on the holder, now it should look like the photo below.
    [​IMG]

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    Now comes the actual installation of the processor. All current processors can only be installed in one direction. If you attempt to power on the computer with the processor installed incorrectly, it very well may damage/destroy the processor and/or motherboard. Note that on the CPU itself there is a marking, usually an arrow, which indicates the direction in relation to the motherboard marking. It's hard to see the marking on the motherboard in the photo below, however you need to verify that that the arrow on the CPU lines up with the marking on the motherboard to ensure correct operation. You can also judge by looking at the bottom of the processor and making note of irregular pin configurations, as thats usually another way to ensure the CPU only goes in one way.
    [​IMG]

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    Now the processor should be in the socket. It shouldn't require much if any force to drop into place, if you feel that you need to applya strong amount of force, it's most likely installed incorrectly.
    [​IMG]

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    Now that the processor is in place, it's time to secure it to the motherboard by closing the CPU holder and pushing the lever down and under the latch. It should look the same as what is shown in the picture below.
    [​IMG]
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    Now it's time to apply the thermal paste. Please note that usually the heatsink comes pre-applied with a thermal compound, so this step may not be necessary. However if yours didn't include any thermal compound on the heatsink, or you wish to use a higher quality thermal paste, then follow these directions. You only need a small amount of thermal paste for proper conductivity, too much or too little will cause an increase in temperatures and may even cause shorting if too much thermal paste is applied and it falls down onto the motherboard. As shown in the picture below, you only need a small amount in the center of the CPU. I usually apply a small dot between the size of a grain of rice and a small pea, then I gently spread it around for a more even distribution.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  2. Geoff

    Geoff VIP Member

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    The next step is to install and connect the heatsink and fan for the processor. With the LGA775 heatsink you need to snap each corner into place, push down, and then turn the knob on the top of each corner of the heatsink. Once that is done connect the fan to the motherboard:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now comes the memory. Before you attempt to install the memory (RAM), make sure you are using the correct type, such as DDR, DDR2, DDR3, etc, and that it is aligned to the notch properly. Make sure that each DIMM is secured in the slot by the tabs on the left and right:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The next step doesn't need to be performed right after the above step, however I prefer to do this next before the wiring gets too complicated. It's pretty self explanatory, some cases have openings for the power supply on the top, and/or on the bottom. It is secured to the backside of the case via screws:
    [​IMG]


    In order for the case's power and reset buttons, as well as lights for the HDD, Power, etc to work, you need to connect them to the motherboard headers. Each motherboard varies so you will need to refer to your manual to determine the correct order for each header. This also applies to the USB and/or FireWire headers:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The next step is to remove the front panel covers to allow for installation of optical drives, floppy drives, controller cards, etc. To do so you need to remove screws from BOTH sides of the case, such as shown here:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now this step varies based on case, for the Antec Nince Hundred as well as several others, there are removable hard drive carriages. You would remove them the same way you do the front panel covers, by unscrewing them from the case chassis and sliding/pulling it out. The next step is to secure it to the carriages by using the included screws.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The optical drives will now be installed in the drive bays where we removed the covers. Each drive can be slid into the case from the front or rear, and then secured using screws (which are usually included in the case):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now for the wiring. This can go in any particular order, however I prefer to start off with the main power 20/24-Pin power connector, followed by the 4/6/8-Pin power connector. After that you connect all the drives, fans, accessories, video cards, etc.:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  3. Geoff

    Geoff VIP Member

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    37,673

    Before we get any further, I would recommend connecting all the data cables to the hard drives and optical drives:

    [​IMG]


    Now for the optional accessories. I'm sure pretty much everyone on this forum uses a dedicated video card, so not many of us think of this as optional. Before trying to install the card, make sure you have the correct video card for your interface (PCI, AGP, PCI-E). Then line it up with the slot and secure it to the PCI expansion slots on the case using screws. After that, connect the PCI-E power connectors (if applicable):
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now for the sound card. This is how to setup a sound card with an external I/O panel, however most sound cards do not include this. The first step is to install the sound card itself into the expansion slot using the same method listed above. To install the I/O panel, I would make sure any power/data cables are connected to the panel prior to installing it in the case, as it's much easier then trying to connect it afterwards. The install process is nearly identical to that of installing an optical drive:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now I'm sure you're case looks pretty similar to mine, with wires everywhere and no real organization. I highly recommend doing some wire management to improve airflow and make the inside of the case look better overall. The first picture is before, and the second picture is after using some zip-ties:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now the last step is to connect everything to the back of the computer:
    [​IMG]








    Here are some pictures of my setup after everything is complete (excuse the dirty desk :p):
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  4. brian

    brian VIP Member

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    5,327
    :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek: OMG! took like 5 min to load

    jk jk

    WOW GREAT!!!!!!!!! enough hard drives :rolleyes:

    if you dont mind me asking, how much did all that cost you

    also if you want to keep this "clean" just say, i will delete this post if you want
     
  5. Geoff

    Geoff VIP Member

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    37,673
    hehe, I like lots of data storage :D

    Well the case itself was $120 with free shipping, and a $50 mail-in rebate. The parts themselves were about $1800 back in June (minus the monitor).

    And feel free to post, I want to see what people think of it. :)
     
  6. MatrixEVO

    MatrixEVO New Member

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    1,374
    Nice job Geoff. I told you it was a great case, and I guess you listened. This "how-to" should help beginners that already know some basics, but still need help to put it all together without questions.
     
  7. oregon

    oregon Active Member

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    Wow, very nice. I wish I would have had access to that before hand. Great pictures.
     
  8. Motoxrdude

    Motoxrdude Active Member

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    Hhaha, i didnt read the text but the pictures where awesome.
    Hella nice computer omega! Gotta know the specs!

    EDIT: hahha, in your sig; ik that ;)
     
  9. Geoff

    Geoff VIP Member

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    37,673
    Thanks everyone!

    This computer did cost alot, but it does perform great :D
     
  10. spanky

    spanky New Member

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    2,419
    I thought/hope I read through all the correctly. I think you should make mention of the power connector by the cpu fan that many people forget about or about ensuring that all power connectors in general. Good work!
     
  11. Geoff

    Geoff VIP Member

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    One of the photos shows how to connect the CPU fan to the motherboard. I also showed the CPU power connectors which powers the CPU (in this case it was an 8-pin).
     
  12. spanky

    spanky New Member

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    I must have missed it. My bad. I already referred your thread to someone else. :p
     
  13. epidemik

    epidemik Active Member

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    Nice post.
    I really liked the picture of the screw in your fingers. All the pictures turned out nicely.Great tut.
     
  14. porterjw

    porterjw Moderator Staff Member

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    Omega, great job! Excellent pics! I'm sure this will help a lot of folks build their own!

    Kudos :D:)
     
  15. shenry

    shenry New Member

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    925
    Awesome Guide! Oh and how come you have two mice?
     
  16. ghost

    ghost Active Member

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    STICKY!?

    Also nice one OMEGA.
     
  17. nyhk

    nyhk New Member

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    152
    I prefer to install the cpu and heatsink before the board is mounted in the chassis - while the board is laying flat on the desk. That way you don't risk breaking the board in the process
     
  18. daisymtc

    daisymtc Active Member

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    I used to get the CPU and heatsinks fixed on MB before I screw the board to the case....
     
  19. ghost

    ghost Active Member

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    Yup same here.
     
  20. paratwa

    paratwa New Member

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    Ditto! It's much easier to do it that way!

    You did not touch on what a pain, and how much different that case is to assemble over every other case made. Also I ran my wires on the back side of the case so they were not visiable. But otherwise, nice build!


    I would never use that case again for any of my builds in the future.
     
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