• Posted on March 18, 2013

How To Build a Computer

Building a computer might seem like a large task that is difficult, but it isn’t. It is actually really easy and after you have all the parts only takes an hour or two. So how can you build your own computer and save a ton of money doing so?

In the following text I will pick out parts for a computer. I may or may not be picking the best option at the time, but rather picking the first result that fits the requirements. I neither encourage or discourage you from ordering the following parts. Do your research and you will make the correct choice.

Picking The Parts

You first need to pick out all the parts, you will need Memory (RAM), Hard Drive, Processor (CPU), Video Card (GPU), Power Supply (PSU), Motherboard (mobo), Computer Case. Optional additions will be CD/DVD Drive, BluRay Drive and Sound Card (most motherboards have this built in).

When picking parts, you need to be very careful to make sure all the parts work together, check socket types, sizes, pin counts and interfaces. For instance you will want a ATX 24pin PSU if your motherboard is ATX and has a power pin of 24. It is just a matching game.

First, pick the part you know you want. If you know you want 32GB of DDR3 1333 RAM, you will have specific requirements on all the other hardware you want, so you will be limited, this goes the same with CPU, Case Size, and other components. Personally I usually start with the CPU and RAM, this will then give me a good idea on the motherboards I will be allowed to pick. CPU and RAM are not dependant of each other, but the motherboard is. The motherboard then affects the PSU, Case, and Video Card. The case also affects the video card.

Let’s say I want an “AMD FX-6200 Zambezi 3.8GHz (4.1GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor”. We are now limited to motherboard that allow for 125W, AM3+ and the CPU type of FX.

Now if I want at least 8GB of DDR3 RAM, this requires a motherboard that supports that, which now most of them do. I will also require at least 1 RAM socket since they make 8GB RAM chips, but if I want 2x 4GB chips I will need at least 2 sockets. Personally I like when they have at least 4 RAM sockets on the motherboard so in the future I can easily add more RAM without having to replace all of it.

I also want the motherboard to have USB, On-Board LAN, PS2 Port, and ATX Size. I prefer ATX sized motherboards because they are large enough to allow for adding on additional hardware in the future. If you get a micro motherboard you may have to replace it in the future if you want to add another wireless card, capture card, etc.

Now we perform a Motherboard search. We enter our requirements into a site (for instance NewEgg). Head over to the Motherboard page, add your requirements or “restrictions” using the sidebar.

Our Current Requirements are 4 RAM Slots, 8GB RAM minimum, AM3+, FX, 125W CPU, OnBoard LAN, ATX Size, USB.

After our search I am still left with around 30 motherboards. I can search through all of these based on ratings, price rage, and additional features they have that might concern me such as PCI, number of SATA ports, has IDE etc. Everyone will have specific requirements that they want their computers to meet.

I found the motherboard “MSI 970A-G46 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS” that seems to fit all my requirements. Now to pick out the RAM. If we look on the motherboard specifications, we see it has a memory standard of multiple DDR3 types, has 4 memory slots, and supports up to 32GB.

On the memory page I limit my results and pick the memory I find fit, and in this case I went with “Patriot Intel Extreme Master, Limited Edition 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory”. It uses 2 Memory Slots, as the 8GB’s I require, and is DDR3.

We now need a PSU. You will want a Power Supply that has enough watts to support everything you are running. If you have 2 high end video cards, 32GB of ram, an 8 core processor at 4GHz you will need over 1000watts easy. There are calculators online that will assist you with how much you need, and most products will tell you how much they consume. Also buying a PSU with higher watts then you need isn’t a bad thing, but it may consume more electrical usage and cause for higher electric bills. Also look for PSU’s with Energy Efficient certificates to save money in the long run.

Computer Cases is what holds all your components in it. You will want to make sure it can hold your Video Card nicely without bumping into anything, all of your hard drives and CD Drives, has enough room for your motherboard and PSU. Mid-Tower cases usually are fine if you are not going high-end with the graphics. Otherwise a Full Tower case or larger is required to fit the video cards full length in the case.

Picking out a video card is mostly based on what you are going to run. You will need to do research into what you are going to be running such as games or 3D software and do your research based on that. Then make sure the interface is also on the Motherboard, and your PSU has the proper watts and connections.

Pick out your Hard Drive, and additional hardware, software and peripherals you want. Don’t’ forget monitors, operating system, keyboard, mouse, speakers, mousepad and headphones. You may not need all of those or any of those depending on what you already have. Keep in mind, you may also need thermal compound, a better heatsink for the CPU, fans and other additional accessories to the existing main hardware.

Piecing it Together

Now assembling your computer is really simple. Go to a place you don’t have a chance of static shock (tile or wood floors), and layout all the hardware.

Cases usually come fairly complete with the additional of a few additional things you need to add such as covers, fans, lights, and a few brackets. Assemble the case so when you are ready we can move the hardware into it.

On your motherboard, insert the Memory into the memory slots. This is easy, and they should click into place using the side “brackets”. Make sure they are fully inserted along with all the following hardware.

Open the CPU “clamp” using the metal arm. Insert your CPU, looking for the “arrow” identify the corners that need to line up (between CPU and Motherboard). Lock the CPU into place using the metal “clamp” arm. Apply thermal compound and the heatsink to the CPU to prevent the CPU from overheating. Most heatsinks now require fans to keep them cool enough.

Place the motherboard inside the case and secure it into place with screws. Make sure the risers inside the case are only positioned where there are screw holes. I made this mistake before and had extra risers under my motherboard that caused it to not work.

Insert the video card to the case and motherboard securing it to both. Most PCI ports for video cards have a plastic “lock” that will keep it secure to the motherboard. You will also need to screw the video card to the case.

Add all your hard drives, cd drives, and additional inputs and wire them up to the motherboard.

Insert your PSU into the case, and secure it in place with multiple screws. Now wire up the PSU to all of the components correctly. Most connections only fit 1 way (similar to how most of the hardware fits together). Sometimes connections are a little “sloppy” so check the wires to make sure they line up correctly. If you buy a good PSU you probably won’t have this issue.

Once you make sure everything is secure, no additional screws laying in the case or on components, and all the power cables are connected properly you are ready to power on the computer. After doing a boot without an installation medium and making sure everything in the BIOs looks correct, such as all the hardware appearing you can restart the computer and install your operating system.

NOTICE:

Before building your computer make sure all your components work with each other, nothing is damaged in the mail, and that you got the correct products shipped to you. Be careful when assembling the components since they can be fragile. Don’t force components to fit. If they don’t fit easily you either have the wrong hardware or are inserting it incorrectly. If you have questions please contact us or post in the comments.