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Old 12-28-2006, 05:05 PM #1
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How to Build a PC Thread

Welcome to the “How to I build a Computer Thread.” Here I took the time to outline the steps needed to build your own computer. Building a desktop is cheaper than buying a pre-built pc, and will give you better performance for the money. Don’t hesitate to pm me or another one of the regulars if you run into any trouble. This thread is designated to be a outline for all of the new pc builders who do not know what they are doing. If you are experienced there is no need to comment as you know this stuff already.

Step 1: To build a computer, you need specific parts. Certain parts you will need are:

- Computer Case - the housing for all of the hardware. Regular tower cases are in the ATX form factor, while smaller cases such as Shuttles are in the m-ATX form factor. Even smaller is the i-ATX form factor. New builders should usually go with an ATX case due to the greater space for upgradability.

- Motherboard - The motherboard acts as the highway system that links all of the components together. You should purchase a motherboard with the same form factor as your case and the same socket as the processor you want to use.

- Processor - The processor is the workhorse of the components.

- Power Supply - The psu gives the computer life. It is important not to skimp on this part as it can mean destruction for the rest of your computer.

- Heat Sink - The heat sink is the best friend of your processor. It keeps him cool while he is working.

- RAM - "Random Access Memory", holds the program code during computing. RAM allows programs to be accessed in any order without significant delay. You should always buy more than 512mb of RAM. 1gb of RAM is reccomended and needed for modern games. RAM has different types and speeds. Buy 240 pin DDR2 ram if that is what your motherboard supports. Buy 184 pin DDR SDRAM if that is what your motherboard supports.

- Hard Drive - The hard drive is where all of your data, folders, and programs are stored. IDE hard drives use the standard flat grey cable while SATA ones do not. Buy SATA to save space.

- CD Rom and DVD Rom drives - Have types such cd/dvd rw. RW means re-writable. If you need the drive to burn a cd, you need cd-rw. Same goes for a dvd.

- Monitor - There are two types of pc moniter. There are LCD panels (liquid crystal display), and CRT moniters. The CRT is the large moniter. CRT moniters have a much better contrast ratio meaning that blacks are blacker, whites are whiter. LCD moniters are closing the gap though. Be sure to look at reviews before buying a moniter. Also take a look at the return policy of the dealer as an lcd display could have backlight bleeding or a stuck pixel or two.

- Video Card -The video card is the pride and joy of the gamer. There are two gpu manufacturers, ATI and NVidia. There are also Direct x 9 cards and DX 10 cards that have recently been released by nvidia. The prices are surrently extremely high though. There are also two slots supported, agp and pci-e. AGP can only be used for video cards while pci-e can be used for a multitude of other add on cards. Find out what your motherboard supports but pci-e is the way to go if building a new computer as agp is being phased out and will lead you to a dead end in the future.

- Sound Card - The sound card does just what it says. This is what gets hooked up to your pc speakers. Many motherboards come with onboard audio which means you will not need a sound card unless you really want it. Onboard audio is usually just fine for the average pc user.

____________________________________

Certain motherboards come with integrated components such as Ethernet ports, sound, and video. You will need to buy an external video card or sound card based on the applications you are planning on running. For gaming, a card with 128mb, 256mb, or higher of memory is recommended because integrated video does not have enough power to run modern games. Integrated sound on the other hand is more acceptable for the everyday user.

Step 2: While installing the motherboard it is important for inexperienced users to look at the included motherboard manual. It will instruct you on screwing the board properly into place inside of your case. If you purchased an ATX case, any motherboard size will fit. If you purchased a micro ATX case, a micro ATX motherboard or smaller will be needed and so on. Before screwing in the motherboard, refer to the manual on installing standoffs to keep the motherboard from touching the case. When installing a motherboard it is very important that you where a grounding strap(a special wristband) that will keep your static electricity from damaging your components. The experienced user can ground themselves by constantly touching the chassis of their case to ground themselves but this is not recommended for new builders.

Step 3: After installing the motherboard, the next component to install is the processor (cpu) in most cases. Again, since you are working on the motherboard you should make sure you are grounded to avoid any accidental damage. Every cpu has a socket type that corresponds to the socket on the motherboard. A socket 939 processor will fit on a socket 939 board and so on. First, Lift the arm up that is covering the processor slot, line up the arrow on the cpu with the slot and push the latch back down. A heat sink is placed on top of the processor. After installing the processor, evenly spread a thin layer of thermal paster on the heat sink and firmly snap it in on top of the cpu. Refer to the manual as this process varies slightly depending on the heat sink. Installing RAM on a motherboard is an extremely easy step. Open the snaps on the RAM slots on the motherboard (parallel slots), line the notches up and push it down into place. No problems there. Most new computers should be built with 1gb of ram. If there is not enough ram in the system, the computer will do what is called paiging (using the hard drive as memory) which greatly slows down the computer.

Step 4: After installing the RAM, you should install the power supply in your case. You should never skimp when purchasing a power supply because a faulty or underpowered power supply can damage the rest of your computer and even set components on fire (yes it has happened.) Screw the power supply into the back of the case. After doing this, plug the power cables into the plugs on the motherboard. The usual power supply has a 20 pin and a 4 pin connector that attach to the motherboard. Do not worry about the other plugs; they will be connected to the cd/dvd ROMs and hard drives later in the build.

Step 5: Installing the hard drive(s) and optical drive(s) is a task that needs to be done exactly as the manual states. In normal circumstances, you screw them in and then hook them up to the power supply and motherboard. There are two types of drives, SATA and IDE. Installation differs slightly based upon your choice(s) of the two. I recommend SATA when possible because it gets rid of the annoying flat cable.

Step 6: After the previous hardware installations, it is time to install and other cards that you may want to include. These cards are such things as a video card, a sound card, or a modem. These cards can be pushed into place in an empty slot. It is important to keep track of the amount and type of slots that remain in your build. A PCI-express video card must be put into a PCI-E slot for example. You should get a PCI-E motherboard if possible for a new build because the previous standard of AGP video card slots is being phased out. A PCI-E motherboard leaves much more room for expansion. Also remember to ground yourself once again.

Step 7: You are almost done your computer build. Now you just need the software to make it run. Close up the computer and screw the case back together. Set the computer how you want it and plug the monitor plug into the motherboard in the back of the computer. You now have to install the operating system. When you are doing this you will simply have to face multiple screens where you have to click “next.” When the operating system is installed, you will need the drivers for your computer. The components that you purchased should come with a cd with the drivers. After the drivers are installed you are done.

You will probably come into some trouble along the lines somewhere. I am more than happy to assist you and so are a couple regulars here at the technology sub-forum. If you have a question please be as specific as you can and we can help you even faster.

Remember one thing! If you want to upgrade or build then do it. There will always be price cuts and new technology around the corner. If you keep waiting for the next best thing you will never upgrade!

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Last edited by MPC : 12-28-2006 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:11 PM #2
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Looks good. It'll help a lot of people who want to save money and build a P.C.

BIG IMPORTANT EDIT: You didn't metion screwing in the standoff's in the case before installing the mobo. (EGO_FREAK)
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Last edited by six foot midget : 12-28-2006 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:13 PM #3
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Good read.
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:14 PM #4
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:19 PM #5
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Pretty good I guess, there may be some unanswered questions during the build process of course, but you covered it pretty well. One thing I noticed, is you never mentioned Anti-Static wristbands, those can help you for being grounded all the time, but can get in the way. I don't use them anymore, but for new builder's, its something they can look into.

By the way, you're not Offical.
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:26 PM #6
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Originally Posted by Michael Barch View Post

By the way, you're not Offical.
CQ can go jump in front of a moving semi.

I also vote for the addition of anti-static wristbands for carpet users.

Good thread. Now if someone could do step by step pictures...
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:29 PM #7
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I googled grounding strap and it just looks like a peice of wire, do i have to buy one or can i make one? or wear surgical gloves?
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:45 PM #8
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Originally Posted by six foot midget View Post

BIG IMPORTANT EDIT: You didn't metion screwing in the standoff's in the case before installing the mobo. (EGO_FREAK)

i forgot to do that when i built myne, i spent 3 dys wondering why it woldnt power up, then someone on here finally told me
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:54 PM #9
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fixed, I did mention grounding straps btw I think

Last edited by MPC : 12-28-2006 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:55 PM #10
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fixed, I did mention grounding straps btw I think
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:59 PM #11
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Could you make a in depth safety precautions section so someone(I) doesn't ruin their Hardware?
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:59 PM #12
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I googled grounding strap and it just looks like a peice of wire, do i have to buy one or can i make one? or wear surgical gloves?
just suck up the five bucks, its cheaper than ruining a $150 mobo, or the like.
also, contary to popular belief, wearing surgical cloves will actually increase you ESD potential, so don't do it
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:08 PM #13
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I am currently working on a safety section
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:11 PM #14
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No you do not need a grounding strap/anti-static wristband, it is just another way for companies to make money off of noobs, just make sure that you are not building on a carpeted surface with or without socks on and just touch something metal before you start, I have never had a problem with frying stuff due to static build up and I highly doubt that you ever will, the only places that really use those are large manufacturers of computers where all the workers do is install parts and it is just an extra precaution for the companies to make sure they dont have a bunch of ****ed up computers due to someone building up a static charge, but im glad you put in there that you MUST remember to install the right amount of standoffs and in the right places because I have heard wayyyyyyyy too many stories of noobs not refering to the manual when installing the mobo and they either didnt install any standoffs or too many standoffs which will ground your motherboard eventually after power up and fry most of you more expensive componants such as the mobo(that one is pretty obvious) ram, processor, and maybe even your graphics card. So please remember to install the standoffs because no one that acctually know stuff about computers and building them is going to have remorse for someone that is so arrogant as to not follow some basic instructions.

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Old 12-28-2006, 06:15 PM #15
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No you do not need a grounding strap/anti-static wristband, it is just another way for companies to make money off of noobs, just make sure that you are not building on a carpeted surface with or without socks on and just touch something metal before you start, I have never had a problem with frying stuff due to static build up and I highly doubt that you ever will, the only places that really use those are large manufacturers of computers where all the workers do is install parts and it is just an extra precaution for the companies to make sure they dont have a bunch of ****ed up computers due to someone building up a static charge
it doesn't hurt for a new builder to pick one up. If you don't have one just make sure to touch the case before you do anything.
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:26 PM #16
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No you do not need a grounding strap/anti-static wristband, it is just another way for companies to make money off of noobs
Conspiracy theories aern't always true. ^^

The following is a quote taken from a HardForum electrical engineer.
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ESD: Truths, Myths, and Flat out lies
I've been seeing a lot of posts about ESD, what it is, and how to control it. Therefore, I am writing this post.

What exactly is ESD anyways?
ESD is Electro-Static Discharge. It is the rapid exchange of electricity from one object to another.

What causes ESD?
Static electricity builds up on the surface of any non-conductive object that rubs against another similar non-conductive object. Wool rubbing against rubber will cause static to build up on BOTH surfaces. One of the objects will become positively charged while the other object will be negatively charged. Even objects you wouldn't expect to hold a charge can be culprits of ESD. This includes wood and wood products (desks, cardboard boxes), styrofoam (packing peanuts, cushioning foam), and other items such as clothing. Even our own skin holds a charge (which is how those touch lamps work).

A static charge can jump from one object to another as well. You can cause ESD damage to a CPU just by waving your hand a few inches from it. Have you ever noticed, the spark that occurs by touching a doorknob actually jumps a few centimeters to your hand BEFORE you touch the doorknob?

ESD damage can occur to static senstive devices with as little as 1 volt of electricity. Most devices need about 100 volts before they are damaged beyond repair. People can't feel the static discharge until about 2,000 volts and higher. So just because you didn't feel the zap, doesn't mean it didn't occur.

So what can we do to prevent ESD?
There is no way to completely prevent it. All we can do is minimize it.

Ok, so how do we minimize it?
There are all sorts of things we can do. Working on an ESD mat, while wearing an ESD wrist strap is the best way. Keep your work area clear of all styrofoam, plastic and even paper, and work on a hardwood floor if possible.

So now on to the truths, myths, and lies.

ESD only occurs in the winter. MYTH. ESD occurs at all times of the year, but humans feel it in the winter because of the drier air.

Even if ESD occurs to a device, it will still work. TRUE and FALSE. If the ESD damage is high enough, the device will completely fail. If the ESD damage is low enough, the device will not function properly. Things like BSoD's, memory errors, and corrupt data are often caused by ESD, but are diagnosed as bad hardware. Often a "bad" stick of RAM was good when it shipped, but then the installer zapped it with ESD unknowingly, and now it doesn't work.

If I work in my barefeet I will lessen the ESD. TRUE. You will still build up a charge, but at a slower rate. Cotton or wool socks are more similar to carpetting than bare skin is to carpetting, so you will build up a charge at a slower rate if you are barefoot.

I can just ground myself to my case instead of using an anti-static mat or wristband. TRUE. However, you must be in contact at ALL times with the case, and the case must be grounded to your home's electrical system. If the case is just sitting on your floor and not plugged in, then grounding yourself to the case does no good at all.

Compressed air can cause ESD. TRUE. Remember, ESD is caused by 2 similar objects rubbing together. The air is rubbing against the air, causing ESD. However, air particles are so small that they lose most of their charge before they hit the surface of whatever you are spraying it on.

I can just lay my motherboard on an ESD bag when I need to work on it. FALSE. An ESD bag will only work if the item is completely enclosed in the bag. The object must be completely surrounded by the bag, and the bag must be sealed for it to do any good.

When I mount my motherboard inside my case, I like to mount the piece of foam that ships in the box in between the case and the motherboard as an insulator. WRONG. While that piece of foam is ESD foam, it is meant to cushion the board while in shipment. The ESD foam is a semi-conductor, and it can conduct just enough electricity to short out your motherboard.

The styrofoam peanuts that Newegg (and other places) ships their products in must be safe then, right? FALSE. There is no such thing as ESD-safe packing peanuts. Ever notice how they want to stick to your arm, and everything else when you pull your items out of the box? Yup, you guessed it. That's static electricity making them stick to your skin.

This guide is not meant to be an end-all on the ESD subject. Please feel free to add anything I may have missed.

Oh, and to make ESD even more clear, let me post some numbers.

Walking across carpet generates 35,000 volts at 10-25% humidity, down to 1,500 volts at 65-90% humidity.

Walking across vinyl tile generates 12,00 volts at 10-25% humidity, down 250 volts at 65-90% humidity.

Simply shifting around in yoru ccushioned chair generates 18,000 volts at 10-25% humidity down to 1,500 volts at 65-90% humidity.

Common computer components and the voltage they can typically withstand:

MOSFETS: 0-2000 volts
Charged Coupled Devices: 0-2000 volts
surface mount resistors: 0-2000 volts
Integrated circuits: 0-2000 volts
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Last edited by six foot midget : 12-28-2006 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:34 PM #17
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I will add to the guide later tonight
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:42 PM #18
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Please do add a description of each of the main parts you listed. That would help a good many out. Just a breif outline of what each part does, and things that make one better than another, etc.
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Old 12-29-2006, 06:06 AM #19
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fixed
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Old 12-29-2006, 08:19 AM #20
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building isnt the problem its getting it to work once its all together...hows about a guide for watercooling
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Old 12-29-2006, 08:20 AM #21
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This guide was meant for new people who keep asking "how o I build a computer"

I am making a watercooling guide now
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