Putting it all together

Building it is simpler then deciding what bits to get! If you have got this far you’ve done the hard bit. One tip I would always advice is to get yourself an antistatic wrist strap. Now that your spent all that money on the components for your new computer you don’t want to damage them from the static shocks that you can generate by walking on carpets and from your clothing, the thousands of volts that you can generate can make a quick job of blowing your motherboard or processor and for the price of an antistatic strap it’s a no brainer for me.

Once you’ve got that the only other things you’ll need are some decent screwdrivers. Again if you haven’t got something decent already buy a good set, they won’t set you back much and again after spending all that cash on your computer do you really be want to be damaging the fixing screws with that old screwdriver that you have had for the last thirty years to open paint tins with.

Your motherboard will come with a bag of various types and sizes of screws to fix it to the required space in your case. I take the side off the case and lay it down sideways so the motherboard can lie flat where it fits so you can see where the holes to put the fixing screws line up with the case and then put them in loosely till there all in then tighten them up, don’t over tighten them your only holding the board in not fixing a 50 inch plasma to the wall!

Then connect up the little connectors from the case to the motherboard. The essential ones are the case power button to the motherboard and the reset button and the power and hard drive activity LED indicators. You will need the motherboard manual to see exactly where they are on the board then you can connect the other various bits that will depend on your case and motherboard. These will usually include front panel USB sockets card readers and front panel connections for your computers sound capabilities.

Next I put the CPU in place, there is usually a little lever that you lift which opens up the socket, you can usually see it happening, it reveals the holes where the CPU will drop into. Make sure it’s the correct way round its very hard if not impossible to get it to go in the wrong way round. The way they are designed, if it doesn’t easily drop in your doing something wrong, don’t force it. After you have gently dropped it in, lift the lever and press it down back in its original place and the CPU will now be tightly gripped in by the socket.

Next I fit the cooler for the CPU, you either apply the heat sink compound on top of the CPU or pull of a self-adhesive strip on the bottom of the cooler, the cooler assemble then usually clips onto the motherboard and over the CPU to the other side of the socket. Be very careful not to damage the motherboard while you are doing this as there are lots of small surface mounted deceives around this area. The fan on the cooler then needs to be plugged into the relevant socket on the board, it’s usually marked and if not will be indicated in the motherboard manual, it will be near to the socket and have a couple of gold pins sticking up from it.

Next insert your memory modules onto the motherboard, again these will only fit in one way, open the ends of the clips on the board and push them it, when fully inserted the clips click into place so the memory can’t be removed without unclipping them

Next fix in your hard drive and optical or DVD drive, these will usually fit at the top of your case and you might need to take off the other side panel of the case of your case to get to the two fixing screws on the other side there are usually two screws on one side and two on the other and both drives will fit in, in pretty much the same manner. In some of the better cases the drives will fit into bays that click into place. Once they are properly fixed in again don’t overtighten! The amount of people that damage these tiny screws, the fact that they are small should give away the fact that you don’t need to apply the same amount of force as when you tighten the wheel holding bolts on your car!

Next plug in the SATA data cables to the drives and the motherboards. If the cables have a right angled plug at one end that’s the one the connects to the drive, it won’t stop anything working if you plug it in the wrong way but it’s a lot easier to plug the flat plug into the board and the right angled one into the drive, also some hard drives fit sideways and not putting the right angle connector on the drive means it will stick out too much to be able to get the case side panel back on properly!

Next plug in the power supply to the motherboard, there may be up to three connections to plug in depending on your system, with one big twenty or twenty four way plug, again this can only fit one way and a couple of four way plugs depending on your motherboard, then plug in the SATA power cables to the drives, and then either to the motherboard or the power supply if it has SATA power cables in its array.

Finally plug in any PCI cards that you have such as a graphics card, sound card or network card and fix them properly in place. Usually with a posidrive screw though the fixing bracket and into the case. I usually leave the side panel off so I can check the CPU fan is going round and other fans that I’ve fitted in the case.

Plug in your keyboard, mouse and monitor, not forgetting your power lead making sure the power supply is in its zero off position. Then press the front panel power button and your new PC should whir and beep into life, the cooler and case fans should be spinning along with the more difficult to see fan in the back of the power supply and various LEDs should be lit on the case and on the motherboard. Your monitor should be displaying various splash screens before booting to the BIOS on your motherboard. Then depending on your BIOS most of the screen will clear and you will be left with a message along the lines off your system is unable to boot or a DLL cannot be found. Don’t worry this is what should happen as you haven’t got an operating system installed yet but you can be assured that if you have got this far, the hardware you have built and connected up will be functioning.