Picture Guide to Computer Building and Hardware Installation (56K)

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#1 Posted by General_X (9135 posts) -
This will be a step by step guide to building a custom computer, I will try to be thorough but different hardware configurations may assemble differently, so only use this guide as a starting point or for supplemental information. If you would like another similar resource with short videos showing how to install the components, check out Bozanimal's guide on his user journal RIGHT HERE! First off, if you don't know the first thing about computers and couldn't tell the difference between a motherboard and a graphics card, then read up on THIS GUIDE which will give you a brief overview about the main components of a computer, what they look like, and what they do. Please provide any suggestions or feedback in your posts. Table of Contents (1) Picking out the parts (2) Basic Computer connections (3) Computer Case Overview (4) Drive installation (5) CPU and RAM installation (6) Motherboard installation (7) Graphics Card installation (8 Power-supply installation and power connections (9) SATA or IDE connections (10) Front panel wiring (11) Operating system and driver installation (1) Picking out the parts The first step to building a custom computer is picking out all the parts you will be using. If you are unsure of what you need or are scared of picking out incompatible components, I highly suggest just making a topic right here on the PC Hardware board with a budget in dollars and allow others to pick out the parts for you. The main thing to keep in mind when picking out parts is that the cpu or motherboard you choose will decide the rest of the parts to get. An AMD socket CPU must be paired with an AMD socket motherboard and the same applies to Intel CPUs and Intel socket motherboards. Parts used in this guide Case - NZXT Apollo ORANGE NP Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-MA770-UD3 Graphics Card - XFX Radeon HD 4850 512MB Power Supply - Corsair CMPSU 400CX CPU - AMD Athlon 64 X@ 5200 Brisbane 2.7GHz Hard Drive - Western Digital Cavier Green 750GB RAM - G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 DVD - Sony DVDRW Drive Operating System - Windows 7 64bit Total ~$635 with shipping A really good budget gaming rig that will be able to max most games out right now (Jul 2009) Here they are   (2) Standard Computer connections and slotsOverview of the motherboard Motherboard CPU socket RAM Slots (also known as DIMM slots) SATA Data connection Motherboard SATA ports  Drive SATA Ports (both hard drive and DVD drive)  PCI Express 16x and/or 2.0 slot PCI Express and PCI slots (From top to bottom)  Motheboard Sound header(For hooking up the front headphone and mic jacks on a case)  Motherboard USB header(For hooking up the front USB ports on a case)  Motherboard Front Panel headers(For hooking up the power switch, reset switch, power LED, HDD activity LED, and motherboard speaker)  (3) Computer Case Overview Overview of the different drive bays of an empty case  (4) Drive Installation This particular computer case, like many today, is designed for a nearly tool-less installation of its components. Some people like this and others do not. Personally I like most of the toolless designs I've gotten to work with, and they usually aren't too hard to figure out. For installing the DVD-ROM drive, you have to pop out the drive cover on the front bezel of the case that will line up with the 5.25in drive bay that you will be putting the DVD drive in. Then all you have to do is slide the drive in the bay and either lock it in with the tooless latch or screw the drive in with screws provided with your case. (Sorry, didn't take pics of popping off the bezel and sliding the drive in)  To install the hard drive, this case comes with a tool-less rail system that I've seen on a couple of cases. All you have to do is attach the rails to the hard drive with its drilled in screw holes and slide the hard drive into is position in the hard drive cage. The Rails  Put on the drive  Slide the drive into the hard drive cage  Now you're ready to install the CPU and RAM into the motherboard outside the case. (5) CPU and RAM installation For installing the CPU and RAM, I prefer to do it while the motherboard is outside of the case. This especially makes CPU installation easier. CPU Installation First you need to open up the CPU socket latch, which will allow you to install the CPU  Then you need to grab the CPU, making sure not to touch the top of it or bend any pins. And line up the pins with the proper holes on the socket. Many times there will also be an arrow on one corner of the CPU that should line up with an arrow on CPU socket, this will help you get the correct orientation. The CPU should just drop into place, so if you have to push it in with force you probably have it lined up incorrectly.  Close the CPU socket latch, securing the CPU into place, this may require a bit of force, so be don't be scared if you have to push down on the latch hard in order to secure it.  Now grab the CPU's heat-sink, all retail CPU's come with stock heatsinks.  And remove the plastic cover on the bottom, exposing the thermal paste.  Now depending on your which CPU manufacturer you went with, installing the heatsink may be a little different. The AM2 Socket CPUs use a latching mechanism to attach the heat sink to the motherboard, but Intel's LGA775 socket uses what are known as push pin latches that, in my opinion, are much more difficult to work with and secure. Line up the up the CPU's latches with the motherboards   And lock it into place  The heatsink should be attached very tightly, so if it is loose at all you need to redo the latching mechanisms. Now plug the fan on the CPU's heatsink into the motherboard CPU FAN header   The CPU is now completely installed RAM Installation Installing RAM is one of the easiest parts of building a computer. Open the latches on the RAM slots  Orient the RAM stick so that the gap in the middle is lined up with the ridge in the slot  Push down on the top of the RAM stick until the latches lock into place, and repeat the process until you've installed all of your RAM sticks  If you have 2, 4 or 6 sticks of DDR2 RAM, you can run what is known as Dual Channel mode (theoretically doubling the RAMs bandwidth), in order to do this the RAM sticks must be placed in the same channel. Most motherboards color code the RAM slots, so all you have to do is place the RAM sticks in the slots of the same color. (6) Motherboard Installation Motherboard installation can vary slightly depending on the form factor of motherboard you use. For this build I used a standard ATX size motherboard, by far the most prevelant size. Another popular form factor for motherboards is the Micro-ATX, which is designed for smaller cases. Alright, to get started installing the motherboard you must pop in the correct I/O plate that comes with your motherboard into the back of the case, replacing any generic I/O plate that may have come already installed on the case.   Next you will need to screw in the motherboard stand-offs that should have been supplied with your case, there will be extra holes drilled in the case for different form factor motherboards.   Now all you need to do is screw down the motherboard onto the stand-offs. Stand-offs you screwed in should align with the holes in the motherboard so that it is flush with the I/O panel.   And that's it for installing the motherboard, you're almost done so hang in there. (7) Graphics Card Installation Installing the graphics card, (assuming you aren't going to use integrated graphics) is another very easy step in building a computer. Start off by removing the PCI slot shields on the back of the case that correspond with your graphics card placement.  Now all you have to do is grab your graphics card, preferebly by the heatsink so as to not touch the connection and shock it, and plug it in to the PCI-Express 16x and/or 2.0 slot. The graphics card will only fit in this type of slot so don't force it into any others.  +  And that's it for installing graphics card, you will also need to hook it up to the power supply but I will get to that in the next section. (8 Powersupply installation and power connections This case, as with all other standard mid-tower and full tower size cases, accepts powersupplies that use the ATX form factor. Only smaller cases may use non-standard power supplies. Alright, all you have to do to install the powersupply, or PSU, is to orient it correctly in your case's powersupply slot and screw in the four screws that will attach it to the case.   Now you have to hook everything up that needs a powerconnection. -The motherboard will have a 24pin power connection that will need to be plugged into the PSU  +  -It will also have a 4pin power connection near the CPU (though sometimes the motherboard might have an 8-pin power connector)  +  -All of your peripherals, such as hard drives and DVD drives, will need to be hooked into the PSU  -Most new graphics cards also need to be hooked to the PSU with a 6 or 8 pin PCI power cord (though, some higher end models might need more than one 6 pin or 8 pin connection)   -If your case fans do not have the proper connections to be hooked into your motherboard's 3 pin fan control headers, they will also need to be hooked into the PSU  And now you're almost ready to fire up your new rig, just a couple of steps to go
#2 Posted by General_X (9135 posts) -
(9) SATA data connections Your hard drives and DVD drives need to be able to transfer data to the motherboard, this means we need to hook them up with SATA cables Just attach one end of the SATA cable to the motherboard SATA header, and the other end to the hard drive or DVD drive   Repeat until all drives are connected to the motherboard, most motherboards come with 2 SATA cables, but if you order more than 2 OEM drives you will need to order extra SATA cables (10) Front Panel Wiring The final step of building your rig before powering it up can be a little tricky to a beginner, but well labeled motherboards and front panel wires will help this part along greatly. Now pretty much every case comes with 4 things on the front panel, headphone/mic jacks, USB ports, power switch, and reset switch. I'll start out with wiring the audio jacks in the front, luckily everything is well labeled. HD Audio wire  Plugs into the F(ront)_Audio header on the motherboard, near the audio outputs on the back of the motherboard/case  The USB wire  Plugs into the motherboard's F_USB header, just under the graphics card (but location may vary for you)  Now for the power switch, reset switch, front power LED, and hard drive activity LED cables. This is where a well labeled motherboard comes in handy since it will hopefully tell you which of the front panel pins are for which wire and what the positive and negative alignments are for them. A rule of thumb on the positive and negative configurations of the wires is that the colored wire is pretty much always positive, while the white wire is pretty much always negative.    And that's it! Congratualtions. Now replace the case's side panel and get the computer ready for use by pluggin in the power cord, keyboard/mouse, monitor, speakers, and whatever else you like. Make sure the switch on the back of the powersupply is in the proper position, and hit the powerswitch to fire her up. Now its time to install a buncha stuff.  (11) Operating System and Driver installation Since others have done a better job at describing this than I can, here are some guides: How to Install Windows XP How to Install Windows Vista Your motherboard should have come with a driver CD, as soon as the operating system is installed just run the driver CD and install the components on it that will allow your computer to function properly. I highly recommend getting the most up to date video card drivers from the manufacturor's website: Nvidia or ATi Now that your computer is fully up and running there's only one thing left to do... LAN Party!
#3 Posted by 04dcarraher (20707 posts) -
NOICE!!!! Sticky!!!!
#4 Posted by Duckman5 (18934 posts) -

Amazing thread. Major props to you. Sticky request!

#5 Posted by samuraiguns (11588 posts) -

I will now request a mod for sticky.

#6 Posted by RobboElRobbo (13668 posts) -
This looks excellent
#7 Posted by Gr33nHippo (21605 posts) -

Thanks ^^ *bookmarks for the day I get a job and can afford to make own computer*

#8 Posted by beefdog (9180 posts) -

Very nice! I was thinking of doing an overclocking guide like this but it probably wouldent take off.

This should be stickied for any newbs to pc building.

#9 Posted by V4LENT1NE (12897 posts) -
Good thread, Sticky Please!
#10 Posted by Agent-Zero (6196 posts) -
Cool. I will be sure to look at this when all my parts arrive for my 1st PC build in a couple days.
#11 Posted by TheShadowLord07 (22232 posts) -

I agree too it should be sticky. I'm going to order parts today but i'm a little worry since i never build. and not sure if my setup looks good.

#12 Posted by cs45F (1147 posts) -
this needs to be a sticky NOW!
#13 Posted by Marfoo (5994 posts) -
Nice, good idea of you to put together a guide while you were building a PC. I also agree, this should be stickied.
#14 Posted by Grodus5 (7934 posts) -

Very nice. Sticky please.

#15 Posted by ChocolateCake10 (759 posts) -

wow, this is gonna help lots of people. should be stickied

#16 Posted by markop2003 (29917 posts) -
Nice guide, i've always been too lazy to bother finishing the wiki one.....
#17 Posted by enriK233 (543 posts) -

sticky this plz

#18 Posted by --Anna-- (4498 posts) -

Wow, Really great job!!!. It should be a sticky.

#19 Posted by Daytona_178 (14962 posts) -

Good guide!

Also on a personal note, why did you choose that colour for a case :P

#20 Posted by ttobba07 (2395 posts) -
U should add something about the CPU power. Some use 8pin not a 4 pin even though u can put the 4 pin in there I still prefer to use 8 pin connections. Also put in that some GPUs require a combo of connectors for power then I will say this is sticky worthy.
#21 Posted by Bane_v2 (6104 posts) -
Pretty nice job! I would mention something about using the triangle on the CPU for orientation and explain why the RAM slots are two different colors.
#22 Posted by Deadly_Fatalis (1756 posts) -
A very handy guide for a beginner. This deserves a Sticky.
#23 Posted by MOSSBERG_E-Rock (3049 posts) -

NIce job. Sometimes its easier to Install the PSU before anything in the case.

#24 Posted by Gamartto (1987 posts) -

Amazing thread. Major props to you. Sticky request!


Nicely done!!!

#25 Posted by General_X (9135 posts) -

Good guide!

Also on a personal note, why did you choose that colour for a case :P

Not my case, I don't mind it though, in the light it's a nice copper/penny colored orange. Unfortunately in the dark it tends to look like a sh*t brown. I just brought up the mid-tower cases on newegg and told my friend to pick out the one he liked. Also, the advertised color for the case was more of a Texas Longhorns or Fighting Illini orange, instead of the copper color.
#26 Posted by stereointegrity (10894 posts) -
when i did my build a few weeks ago i did it off just the mobo manual and remembering how i took my others apart....thanks for this ill pass this thread on to everyone
#27 Posted by Wasdie (50821 posts) -

Wow this is an excellent post. Great work.

#29 Posted by ish27 (1003 posts) -

Thank you VERY much for this! I will be building my first computer within the next couple of months, and I was hoping to find a guide like this at some point. I will be using a similar motherboard as well, so that should help a bunch! :D :D

Sticky pl0x! :)

#30 Posted by NSR34GTR (13179 posts) -

Very nice! I was thinking of doing an overclocking guide like this but it probably wouldent take off.

This should be stickied for any newbs to pc building.


well i think it would ghelp alot of people. when you google for this kind of info there are many link which are rubbish

#31 Posted by broken_bass_bin (7514 posts) -

Very nice, very useful post. This should be sticked. Good work!

#32 Posted by Caddy (28709 posts) -
Great thread! Very nice job. I have stickied it. :)
#33 Posted by clyde46 (47816 posts) -

I could of done with this when I was building mine. I spend about 3 hours hunting for some connector on the mobo.

#34 Posted by joshuahaveron (2163 posts) -

Very good. :D

#35 Posted by bcroger2 (848 posts) -
Awesome but of you want a 22`` monitor and 4gb ram mouse and an operating system that lasts more than one year, it should be a little over 800$
#36 Posted by kevgreg (67 posts) -

Nice!!!! I might be building my first comp soon and this is AWESOME!!!

#37 Posted by GTR2addict (11863 posts) -
Good guide, very good, i'd say, now all it's left is for me and markop to finish the hardware wikia... IF HE EVER FREAKIN SHOWS UP
#38 Posted by imprezawrx500 (19187 posts) -
nice guide, I'd recommend installing the power supply before the motherboard and putting in the front panel connectors before installing any cards.
#39 Posted by TheShadowLord07 (22232 posts) -

what the purpose of a sound card?

#40 Posted by PolskaKing (39592 posts) -
Awesome Guide man. Thx. I'm gonna see if I have the cash and build myself a PC.
#41 Posted by General_X (9135 posts) -

what the purpose of a sound card?

The sound card is a dedicated chip for decoding sound from your computer. It takes some of the load off of the motherboard and many sound cards offer much higher quality sound than the motherboards onboard sound. Often times though, sound cards are only worth the extra money if you have a high quality (meaning expensive) sound system hooked up to your computer.
#42 Posted by FPS_Gamer123 (4363 posts) -
Great guide!
#43 Posted by markop2003 (29917 posts) -
Good guide, very good, i'd say, now all it's left is for me and markop to finish the hardware wikia... IF HE EVER FREAKIN SHOWS UPGTR2addict
I am here and i have written a bit more, i have been on GS a bit less cause it's started to bore me also my grandad died on the first day of the summer holidays so i've been helping with the funeral and clearing out the house ect....you disappeared after a couple of days though... Go1M (sp?) said he may help out too when he had the time.
#44 Posted by markop2003 (29917 posts) -

what the purpose of a sound card?

The sound card acts as a DAC. It converts a digital music file into an analogue signal which can be used to drive headphones or speakers. Some can also add effects such as EAX, DTS, ProLogic ect and others can help decode surround sound signals. The ASUS Xonar ST and STX also include a headphone amp which increases the volume and quality of high impedance and low sensitivity headphones ie AKGs, high end Senn, Beyerdynamics.
#45 Posted by RobboElRobbo (13668 posts) -
I like the look of that orange case. Looks awesome :P
#46 Posted by nightqueen123 (25 posts) -
I was registered at your forum. I have printed the test message. Do not delete, please.
#47 Posted by blogcology (25 posts) -
That orange case is quite sexy actually.
#48 Posted by strider_ATI (735 posts) -
Great guide!:)
#49 Posted by jakeonator (131 posts) -

Nice One dude, I'll Be working on my new build soon so This will be a great help. WICKED

#50 Posted by bleedingsouls (250 posts) -

Excellent guide :) Many thanks in advance as Iam planning a gaming build in septemeber :) Cheers and Please do not remove this! :)