How to Build Your Own Computer, Part Two: Putting It Together

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So that you’ve chosen your elements, double- and triple-checked their compatibility, and waited for financial system transport to carry all of them to your door. It’s time to get to the enjoyable half: placing all of them collectively.

Earlier than you begin, you’ll need to arrange a very good work space. Get some type of desk with loads of room and lightweight, ideally someplace that isn’t carpeted. And also you’ll want a while: a few hours, perhaps extra if that is your first time or in case you have a variety of extras.

The Instruments You’ll Want

All you must actually need for the meeting course of is a Philips-head screwdriver. A pleasant set of bits is useful for bigger or smaller screws, however all the pieces else you want must be offered along with your case and numerous elements.

If your property or your workspace is especially susceptible to static discharges, you may want an anti-static bracelet. This doohicky clips to a bit of steel (just like the PC case) to electrically floor your arms when you’re working, defending your elements from a discharge. To be sincere, it’s very uncommon static shock will truly injury a PC half, and also you’ll in all probability be okay simply utilizing the anit-static baggage that include your motherboard and graphics card. However if you would like to be additional cautious, it couldn’t damage.

Lastly, you may want to add a few cups or bowls out of your kitchen, only for a spot to put unfastened screws. (Or, in case you have one, a magnetic elements tray is great.)

First: Study Your Case

First, check out your case. You’ll have the opportunity to spot the principle compartment that holds the motherboard, the drive bays for onerous drives and SSDs, the openings within the again for the motherboard’s ports and the enlargement bays for graphics playing cards, and many others. It’s best to have a fairly good thought the place all the pieces’s going to go already—if you happen to’re undecided, examine the guide that got here with it (or obtain it off the help net web page in your telephone. Take away each aspect panels when you’re at it, since you’ll want entry to the within from either side as you construct.

You may discover that the PC case we’re utilizing in these photographs seems slightly unusual. It’s a Thermaltake P3 enclosure, an open-air design with an acrylic cowl, designed to showcase all of the elements and never require any case followers. We selected it particularly so you may see the elements clearly in these photographs, nevertheless it doesn’t have precisely the identical configuration as most box-style enclosure. Simply think about it with partitions on an additional 5 sides.

Step One: Set up the CPU

We’re going to set up the CPU and the RAM onto the motherboard earlier than putting in the motherboard itself, as a result of it’s simpler than putting in them as soon as the board is fastened in place. Take your motherboard out, put it on prime of the field it got here in, and also you’ll have a pleasant little static-free take a look at bench to carry out these steps.

Putting in the CPU used to be a little bit of a nerve-wracking course of, nevertheless it’s develop into a lot simpler because the designs have streamlined. Simply strive not to contact contacts on the underside of the chip, and also you’ll do high quality.

The CPU can be in a plastic case or another protector whenever you take it out of its field. Maintain it in there for the second, and try the CPU socket in your motherboard—it’s that open space within the upper-left nook on nearly all motherboard designs. There must be a plate that swivels up and down on a hinge (on Intel  boards), and a lever that may be pressed down and clipped into the motherboard for security (on Intel and AMD boards). Take a second to see how this mechanism works in your particular mannequin—they differ a bit between processors and producers.

Elevate the plate up, then take the CPU out of its protector. Look intently on the prime and backside (with out touching contacts) and see how they line up within the socket. Most CPUs even have a small arrow within the nook—within the picture beneath, it’s on the underside left of the chip. It will correspond to an identical arrow within the socket, so simply line them up.

While you’re certain you understand which method the CPU suits into its socket, gently slip it in. You need to be ready to let it go and it’ll merely fall the final millimeter or two. It must be flush with the partitions of the socket. Now drop the plate, if there may be one—if you happen to can’t push it down all the best way, cease, your CPU isn’t inserted accurately. Return to the beginning of this part and begin over.

For those who can decrease the plate all the best way, nice. Press the lever down beneath the security tab. You’re prepared to go on.

Step Two: Set up the RAM

Subsequent, it’s time to set up the reminiscence modules. You’ll need to do that earlier than putting in the CPU cooler, since some aftermarket ones will grasp over the sting of the RAM, making it tough or not possible to put them in after the very fact.

The RAM slots are the lengthy, shallow slots with clips on either side, often to the best of the processor out of your present perspective. Smaller boards may need solely two, bigger and costlier boards can have as many as eight. We’re going to be inserting 4 RAM sticks (DIMMs) in our construct.

Check out your personal DIMM and its corresponding slot. As soon as once more, you must discover that there’s just one method it would match—take a look at the notch in the midst of the gold contacts, and line it up with the plastic bump within the slot. This could work it doesn’t matter what era of RAM you’re utilizing: DDR3, DDR4, or one thing even newer. If for some purpose your RAM gained’t match, it’s in all probability incompatible along with your motherboard.

For those who’re prepared to set up the RAM, fold the clips on the highest and backside of the slot down. Put the RAM in, contact-first, and press down firmly. The clips ought to snap again into place to safe the DIMM. Press down on the RAM on the prime and backside to make certain.

Repeat the method for all of the RAM modules you may have. If all of them aren’t parallel, push down till they’re.

When you’ve got fewer RAM modules than you do RAM slots, concentrate to which of them you refill. Discover how the slots within the photographs above alternate colours, black and gray? That’s due to the best way they’re designed to work with reminiscence channels going to the processor. Briefly, use ONLY the black or ONLY the gray slots if you happen to’re not filling them up—substituting the colours for no matter your motherboard truly makes use of, after all.

Step Three: Set up the Motherboard

Set your case down on the desk, with the entrance panel in your proper aspect. Take away the case’s entry door and look down. That giant slab of metal or aluminum is the place you’re going to set up your motherboard, and by affiliation, a big portion of the items you’ve purchased.

The very first thing you’ll need to do is set up the motherboard risers, small brackets that separate the motherboard from the case itself. Our ATX-standard motherboard makes use of six. They need to be included within the field your motherboard got here with or the field your case got here with—if it’s not clear from taking a look at it, take a fast take a look at the guide. You need to be ready to screw the risers into their mounting holes with simply your fingers; they’ll tighten in additional whenever you screw the motherboard in place.

NOTE: Some instances don’t have an enormous cutout close to the highest of the place the motherboard goes, just like the one within the image above. For those who’re putting in an aftermarket cooler, and your case doesn’t have this cutout, you’ll need to set up the cooler earlier than placing the motherboard in—so skip down to that part now, after which come again right here. Inventory coolers don’t require this.

Earlier than you place the motherboard itself within the case, set up the I/O plate. This can be a little piece of aluminum that matches at the back of the case, with cutouts for the entire ports on the again of the motherboard (to the left, from the place you’re wanting now). You need to be ready to slip it in and click on it into place with none instruments, although it could take slightly drive. Our open-air case doesn’t have a spot for the rear I/O plate, so right here’s what it seems like more often than not:

Now, take the screws that got here along with your motherboard and tighten them down into the risers along with your screwdriver. Make them good and tight, however not so tight that they crack the circuit board. Be sure that to use each screw for each riser: these are the one issues that can maintain up the motherboard, and all of the elements linked to it.

While you’re completed, your motherboard can be sitting on the risers a couple of quarter-inch above the body of the case.

Be sure that the I/O plate suits flush with the case and the assorted ports on the motherboard, bending again the steel prongs if essential.

Step 4: Set up the Case Followers (If Relevant)

Subsequent, set up the case followers within the entrance, rear, and/or sides of the pc. (In the event that they’re already pre-installed in your case, you’ll be able to skip this step.) Set up them now so that you don’t have to fear in regards to the elements getting in the best way later. More often than not you’ll simply screw the followers straight into the case, however some gaming-branded instances might have caddies or sleds in your followers, for simple elimination and cleansing. Your case guide might have extra info.

Understand that the place you place your followers—and which course they face—issues. For those who’re undecided how you must configure the followers for the perfect airflow, take a look at this information.

Step 5: Set up the CPU Cooler

For those who’re going to use the cooler that got here along with your processor (most of them embody one within the field), this can be simple. The coolers that include CPUs embody thermal paste pre-applied to the contact, as do some aftermarket ones, making the method even less complicated. Aftermarket coolers can vary from simple to oh-god-why tough, however we’ll stroll you thru what we are able to in that realm too.

The Inventory Intel Cooler

There are 4 mounting holes just a few millimeters on all 4 corners of the CPU socket. Simply push down on the cooler and screw them in place—on the inventory Intel cooler, the screws are plastic and mounted on springs, you shouldn’t even want any instruments.

On the inventory cooler, stick the 4 plastic screws into these holes and switch the handles. That’s it!

One the cooler is in place and safe, you’ll want to plug its energy cable in. There’s a small three- or four-pin energy port on the motherboard, very shut to the CPU socket. Plug it in with the brief cable to energy the cooler’s fan.

The Inventory AMD Cooler (and Some Aftermarket Ones)

AMD motherboards include two plastic items on both aspect of the CPU, and the AMD inventory cooler will hook onto these (as will some aftermarket ones). Line up the sq. steel hooks on the heatsink with the plastic notches on the motherboard, then press the lever down to lock it in place.

Some heatsinks might require you to screw down the hooks as an alternative of urgent down a lever, however all of them will lock on with some form of variation on this methodology.

Massive Aftermarket Coolers (for Each Intel and AMD)

For those who’re putting in an aftermarket cooler on an Intel chip (or some AMD chips, relying on the cooler), the method is significantly extra sophisticated. This last kind of cooler accommodates a backplate and requires you to screw the cooler on utilizing 4 mounting holes on the motherboard. (For those who’re utilizing an AMD board, you’ll have to take away the plastic items so as to acquire entry to these holes.)

To connect the backplate, stand the case up vertically and take away the rear panel to get entry to the underside of the motherboard.

Assemble the backplate for the bigger cooler. That is required due to the bigger measurement and weight of those coolers: they want to have a safer footing to keep away from warping the motherboard.

Most aftermarket coolers have separate directions and elements for numerous Intel and AMD sockets; this one required me to put screws into particular tabs and set them up for the LGA 1151-series CPU socket.

With the backplate in place, transfer the case round so that you’re as soon as once more dealing with the “prime” of the motherboard. Set up the risers on the screws developing from the cooler mounting plate. You might want to “hug” the case to maintain the mounting plate regular when you screw down the risers along with your different hand.

With the plate securely in place and the risers set, lay your case down as soon as once more in its unique work place, with the entrance panel in your proper aspect. Go away the rear panel eliminated, it would prevent time later.

Proceed to observe the directions to set up your particular cooler. In our case, that included screwing down these metal brackets and securing them with nuts and the included wrench, then putting in a retention screw for the cooler itself.

Earlier than you set the cooler in place, you’ll want to apply thermal paste to the highest of the CPU. There are a variety of totally different opinions in regards to the correct method right here, however the best and most dependable method to go about it’s “simply put a pea-sized drop within the center.”

With the paste in place, set the cooler down and safe it to the mounting bracket; with our mannequin which means clipping it in on one aspect and screwing it down on the opposite.

Lastly, connect the fan onto the cooling fins (this will likely already be executed for some coolers).

While you’re executed, plug the fan into the motherboard, utilizing the identical three- or four-pin energy port utilized by the inventory cooler.

Step Six: Set up the Storage and Optical Drives

Our fundamental machine has just one small SSD for storage, however no matter type of storage you’re utilizing, it’s fairly easy to get it put in. Your case may have both everlasting mounting places (like ours, proper on the aspect) or sliding caddies that allow you to screw within the drive after which slide it right into a slot for simple elimination and alternative. Both your case or your drive itself ought to embody screws to safe it in place. Verify your case’s instruction guide if it’s not instantly apparent the place your storage drives ought to go.

Our SSD drive goes in slightly groove on the aspect of the case. I raised the case to the vertical place once more, then inserted and tightened the screws from the again. Simple peasy. (The case additionally has bigger brackets for elective three.5-inch onerous drives, which we’re not utilizing.)

As soon as your storage drive is in place, join the SATA information cable to the SATA port on each the drive. There’s just one method the cable can match, and it’s the identical connection on either side.

Then, plug that very same cable into the SATA port on the motherboard. Repeat this course of for as many SSDs or onerous drives as you’re planning to use.

Putting in a DVD drive, in case you have one, can also be fairly easy. On cheaper, less complicated instances, simply slide it into place within the massive 5.25″ bay on the entrance and screw it down with the included screws. Extra elaborate instances have just one extra step: screw within the runners on the aspect of the drive, then slide the drive into place. Just like the caddies for SSDs and onerous drives, this simply makes it simpler to take change the drive.

In both case, plug the SATA information cable into the drive and the motherboard, identical to you probably did for the onerous drive, and also you’re prepared to go.

Step Seven: Set up the Graphics Card (and different PCI-e Equipment)

For those who’re utilizing a discrete graphics card for gaming, you’ll need to set up it now. It makes use of a PCI-Categorical (abbreviated PCI-e, PCIe, or typically simply PCI) slot, which opens to the skin of the case for enlargement ports and is nearly at all times discovered beneath the CPU socket on the motherboard.

First, decide which of your PCI-e ports makes use of the x16 velocity lanes. It ought to have PCIEX1_16 or an identical designation: it will likely be the slot closest to the CPU and the longest (or tied for the longest). If these items is complicated, take a look at this text on utilizing the best PCI-E equipment in the best slots.

Now take away the rear cowl for that slot (or slots, in case your card is large enough that it wants to have two of them eliminated). These little steel or plastic items are simply there to defend your laptop’s insides for PCI-E slots that aren’t getting used. Now decrease the plastic tab on the finish of the slot—this works loads just like the RAM modules, however just one one aspect. Slide the graphics card in, beginning with the aspect closest to the skin of the case. Press firmly down till the tab locks into place.

Then, put the thumbscrews again in the place they got here from, securing the cardboard in place.

Step Eight: Set up the Energy Provide

You’re getting shut to the tip right here. Slide the facility provide into its bay or bracket. The half that accepts the three-prong energy cable (the one which plugs into the wall) must be flush with the again of the case, and accessible from the skin.

Relying on the design of your case, it’s your decision to mount it so the fan is dealing with both up or down. Most individuals like to have the followers dealing with exterior the case (fan up if the facility provide is on the prime of the case, fan down if it’s on the backside), as this can let your energy provide soak up cooler air. However to be sincere, it doesn’t make an enormous quantity of distinction—your energy provide gained’t overheat except you selected one which’s inadequate in your laptop. If it’s simpler to entry elements the opposite method, that’s high quality, so long as there’s a little bit of clearance between the fan and the closest non-mesh floor.

Totally different instances have totally different spots to safe the facility provide in place, however usually you’re going to be utilizing a minimum of 4 screws. Typically you might want to screw the provision in place through the holes on the skin of the case.

When the facility provide is firmly in place, it’s time to plug it in to the entire elements that want energy from it. Keep in mind which you can run the cables by roughly any gap, and it is likely to be finest to use the again of the case to maintain issues from getting tangled or catching on the followers.

From greatest to smallest:

  • Motherboard: 24-pin cable (typically extra). That is often on the right-hand aspect of the motherboard in its mounted place. take a look at the sample of the plastic molding across the pins: there’s just one method it would match.

  • CPU: four, 6, or Eight-pin cable (typically extra). This port can also be on the motherboard, nevertheless it’s someplace close to the CPU socket, usually on the prime left. Once more, there ought to solely be a technique to plug this in.

  • Storage drives and DVD drives: SATA energy cables (those with the L-shaped connectors). Most fashionable energy provides will embody a minimum of one SATA energy cable, usually with sockets for a number of drives that you should use on the identical time.

  • Graphics card: 6, Eight, 12, or 14-pin cable, relying on how highly effective the cardboard is. (Ours is a low-power mannequin that will get all of its electrical energy from the motherboard, and it doesn’t want a direct connection to the facility provide). For very highly effective playing cards, you might want to use a number of energy cables for a break up connection, however once more, every particular person cable ought to solely have the opportunity to match a technique.

  • Case followers, coolers, and radiators: Join the cooling gear to the facility provide with no matter it wants. Some followers with a four-pin connector can connect straight to the motherboard, however others want to be plugged into an influence provide rail. You might want molex adapters or SATA adapters in case you have greater than two or three followers, however usually the facility provide comes with sufficient additional cables for most simple builds.

The rest you’re possible to set up ought to have the opportunity to draw its energy straight from its connection to the motherboard.

Step 9: Plug within the Case Controls, Audio, and USB cables

The very last thing you’ll want to plug in are the cables in your case—these join the facility and reset buttons, the front-mounted headphone and microphone jacks, and any USB ports on the entrance of the case to the motherboard.

The facility buttons and lights are the trickiest right here, as a result of they’re actually tiny electrical cables which have to plug into very particular pins on the motherboard’s I/O panel. This panel is often on the bottom-right of the board. Relying on how your case is laid out, you’ll undoubtedly have a two-pin energy cable, a two-pin cable for the sunshine that exhibits you the pc’s on, and presumably a two-pin reset cable and a two-pin “HD,” “IDE LED,” or “Drive” cable (for the little mild that blinks each time your laptop is accessing its storage drive). Some or all of those is likely to be damaged into optimistic and detrimental connectors.

That is the connection diagram for the I/O panel on our motherboard, from the guide. Yours can be totally different.

These get irritating as a result of they’re tiny and onerous to learn. It’s finest to get away your motherboard’s guide and search for particular directions on the I/O panel. Our motherboard got here with a useful little plastic piece that was pre-labelled, and our case has good vivid white labels on the cable itself, making the entire course of pretty apparent. Double-check these connections with the motherboard guide if you happen to’re undecided about them: you want the facility button to be proper on the very least if you would like your PC to activate!

The USB and audio connections are extra apparent: they’ll plug into particular sockets on the motherboard, often labelled as such. Our case has one for the USB ports, one other and one other similar-looking one for the audio jacks, each of which plug into the underside of the motherboard.

The larger plastic cable for the USB jacks goes within the aspect. Once more, if you happen to can’t discover the particular plugs in your motherboard, seek the advice of the guide—it ought to have a diagram both of the elements of the entire board or the particular places of the connections for the case’s entrance buttons and inputs.

Wrap It All Up!

You’re practically executed. Earlier than you shut up your case, double-check to ensure not one of the energy or information cables are too shut to one of many case or cooler followers, and that all the pieces is firmly in place and locked down. Seems to be good? Then put the entrance and rear covers on and safe them in place with the thumbscrews.

You should use the realm behind the motherboard to disguise extra cable lengths, conserving them from tangling or touching the case followers.

Plug within the energy cable to the facility provide, then your monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Press the facility swap. For those who can see the facility indicator mild on the case, hear the case followers, and see the motherboard emblem (often known as the POST display screen), you’re all prepared to set up your working system. Congratulations, you’ve efficiently assembled your PC!

If for some purpose the facility didn’t come on, unplug the PC and the equipment, then double-check these frequent issues:

  • Did you may have the facility swap on the facility provide in the best place? That is the swap accessible from the skin of the case; the “I” must be down and the “O” must be up.
  • Did you plug the facility cable from the facility provide into the CPU energy socket on the motherboard? That is the smaller of the 2 cables going from the facility provide to the motherboard, often someplace close to the CPU socket on the prime of the board.
  • Are all of the RAM sticks securely in place, with the plastic clips clamped down?
  • Is the CPU cooler linked to the motherboard for energy?
  • For those who’re utilizing a graphics card, did you plug the monitor cable into the cardboard as an alternative of the video-out port on the motherboard?
  • For those who’re utilizing a graphics card, did you plug it into the PCI-E slot on the motherboard firmly, with the plastic clip clamped down? Did you utilize the proper energy cable to join it to the facility provide (if it wants one)?
  • Did you may have the case’s energy swap cable in the best pins on the motherboard’s I/O panel?

As soon as your system POSTs correctly, it’s time to put together your BIOS and set up your working system. Proceed to the following article for extra info.

Or, if you would like to leap to one other half within the information, right here’s the entire thing:

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