Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

How to Build a Computer

Have you ever thought about building your own computer? Actually buying a motherboard and a case ­along with all the supporting components and assembling the whole thing yourself?
Here are three reasons why you might want to consider taking the plunge:

  1. You will be able to create a custom machine that exactly matches your needs.
  2. It will be much easier to upgrade your machine in the future because you will understand it completely.
  3. You may be able to save some money.
And, if you have never done it before, you will definitely learn a lot about computers.
­In this article, we'll take you through the entire process of building a computer. You'll learn how to choose the parts you will use, how to buy them and how to put them all together. When you're done, you will have exactly the machine that you need. Let's get started.
The first step in building a computer is deciding what type of machine you want to build. Do you want a really inexpensive computer for the kids to use? A small, quiet machine to use as a media computer in the living room? A high-end gaming computer? Or maybe you need a powerful machine with a lot of disk space for video editing. The possibilities are endless, and the type of machine you want to build will control many of the decisions you make down the line. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what you want the machine to accomplish from the start.­
­ Let's imagine that you want to build a powerful video editing computer. You want it to have a dual-core CPU, lots of RAM and a terabyte of disk space. You also want to have FireWire connectors on the motherboard. These requirements are going to cause you to look for a motherboard that supports:
  • Dual-core CPUs (either Intel or AMD)
  • At least 4GB of high-speed RAM
  • Four (or more) SATA hard drives
  • FireWire connections (possibly in both the front and back of the case)
­ Then it all needs to go in a case with enough space to hold multiple hard disks and enough air ­flow to keep everything cool.
With any computer you build, knowing the type of machine you want to create can really help with decision-making.

Choosing a Motherboard Choosing a motherboard is the most interesting part of any building project. The reason it is so interesting is because there are hundreds of motherboards to choose from and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
One easy way to think about motherboards is to break them up into a few categories. For example:
  • Cheap motherboards: Generally in the $50 range, these are motherboards for older CPUs. They are great for building inexpensive machines.
  • Middle-of-the-road motherboards: Ranging in price from $50 to $100, these are one step up from the cheap motherboards. In many cases you can find motherboard and CPU combos in this price range, which is another great way to build a cheap machine or an inexpensive home/office computer.

  • High-end motherboards: If you are building a powerful gaming machine or video workstation, these motherboards give you the speed you need. They range in price from $100 to $200. They handle the latest CPU chips at their highest speeds.
  • Extreme motherboards: Falling into the over-$200 range, these motherboards have special features that boost the price. For example, they might have multiple CPU sockets, extra memory slots or special cooling features.
You need to decide whether you are building a "cheap machine," a "high-end machine" or a "tricked-out super machine" and then choose your motherboard accordingly. Here are some other decisions that help narrow down your motherboard choices:
  • Do you want to use an Intel or an AMD processor? Making this choice will cut the number of motherboards in half. AMD chips are often cheaper, but lots of people are die-hard Intel fans.
  • What size motherboard do you want to use? If you are trying to build a smaller computer, you may want to look at micro ATX cases. That means you will need to buy a micro ATX motherboard. Otherwise you can use a normal ATX motherboard and case. (There are also smaller motherboard form factors like mini-ITX and even nano-ITX if you want to go really small.)
  • How many USB ports do you want? If you want several, make sure the motherboard can handle it.
  • Do you need FireWire? It's nice if the motherboard handles it (although it is also possible to add a card).
  • Do you want an AGP or PCI Express graphics card? Or do you want to use a graphics card on the motherboard to keep the price and size down? If you want to go the cheapest route, make sure the motherboard includes a video card on-board (easiest way to tell is to see if there is a DVI or VGA connector on the motherboard). PCI Express is the latest/greatest thing, but if you want to re-use an AGP card you already own, that might be a reason to go with AGP.
  • Do you want to use PATA (aka IDE) or SATA hard disks? SATA is the latest thing, and the cables are much smaller.
  • What pin configuration are you using for the CPU? If you want to use the latest CPUs, make sure that your motherboard will accept them.
  • Do you want to try things like dual video cards or special high-speed RAM configurations? If so, make sure the motherboard supports it.
If you don't care about any of this stuff (or if it all sounds like gibberish to you), then you're probably interested in building a cheap machine. In that case, find an inexpensive motherboard/CPU combo kit and don't worry about all of these details.
Installing RAM and the Microprocessor But before we start building, we need to say one thing about static electricity. Most of the parts you will be handling when you assemble your computer are highly sensitive to static shocks. What that means is that if you build up static electricity on your body and a shock passes from your body to something like a CPU chip, that CPU chip is dead. You will have to buy another one.
The way you eliminate static elec­tricity is by grounding yourself. There are lots of ways to ground yourself, but probably the easiest is to wear a grounding bracelet on your wrist. Then you connect the bracelet to something grounded (like a copper pipe or the center screw on a wall outlet's face plate). By connecting yourself to ground, you eliminate the possibility of static shock.
Each combination of parts is unique. But in general, here are the basic steps you will need to follow when you assemble your machine:
­First, you'll need to unwrap the motherboard and the microprocessor chip. The chip will have one marked corner that aligns with another marked corner of its socket on the motherboard. Align the corners and drop the microprocessor into the socket. You don't need to apply any pressure - if it's aligned correctly, it should fall into place. Once you have it in, cinch it down with the lever arm.
Now, you need to install the heat sink. The CPU box will contain a manual that tells you how to do it. The heat sink will contain either a heat sink sticker or heat sink grease to use when mounting the heat sink on the CPU. Follow the instructions closely to install it. To install our heat sink, all we had to do was put it in place, cinch it down with flanges on either side and lock it with a cam. Connect the power lead for the heat sink to the motherboard.
Next, you'll install the RAM. Look on the motherboard for the slot marked "one" and firmly press the RAM module into it. It will probably take more pressure than you'd think to get the RAM into place. Each side of the module should also have a rotating arm that will lock the RAM down.
Now your motherboard is ready to put in the case.

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how to build a or assemble a computer and troubleshoot?

Building a computer will require: a motherboard, a processor, memory, a video card or motherboard with onboard video, a sound card or motherboard with onboard sound, at least one hard drive, a CD or DVD drive, a case for the computer components, a power supply, fans to cool the computer, an operating system, a monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, 2-3 hours to assemble the computer.
You must ensure that all of the components are compatible with one another. After receiving the parts, lay everything out on a large, clean surface. Make sure you are grounded by touching a metal surface; this will prevent the transfer of static electricity to your computer components.
Typically, the steps to install the components are as follows: 1. mount the power supply in the case, 2. mount the motherboard 3. lock the processor in the socket on the motherboard 4. insert the memory sticks into the slots on the motherboard 5. mount the processor fan on the processor 6. insert the video card into the applicable slot on the motherboard 7. insert the hard drive into a hard drive bay in the case, 8. insert the CD drive into a CD drive bay, 9. mount any fans you have to the fan cutouts on the case 10. connect all applicable data cables to the CD and hard drives 11. connect all applicable power cables to the motherboard, video card, processor, hard drive, CD drive, and any other components. 12. connect the front panel USB, power, lights, and reset connectors to the motherboard 13. close the case 14. connect the power, monitor, speakers, keyboard, and mouse to the computer
Because this process is rather involved, I recommend following a guide such as this one: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/how-_build_silent_gaming_pc
It details the process, includes pictures, and even provides a list of compatible parts.

Jun 19, 2011 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

Hi i m pravin from INDIA . i m newly assemble mother bord but p.c. start only 30 sec. then off so what can i do

1) The metal plate that the motherboard mounts to is a Support Plate.
It can be a separate metal plate from the computer case, or part of the computer case itself.

Some Support Plates that are part of the computer case have protrusions, or 'Bumps' formed, that hold the motherboard up off of the Support Plate.

Other designs of Support Plates use metal or plastic supports that space the motherboard away from the Support Plate.

These supports are Spacers, or Standoff's.
A Spacer is made of plastic.
A Standoff is made of metal.

The metal standoff's have a hex shape around the middle, a threaded end on one end, and a threaded hole on the other end.

The Standoff's MUST match the motherboard mounting holes.
There Cannot be a Standoff sitting out on the Support Plate, that does not line up with a motherboard mounting hole.

If there is it can short the solder joints on the bottom of the motherboard, and cause the motherboard to short out.

Sometimes removing the motherboard, and making sure that all metal Standoff's line up with the motherboard mounting holes, will fix the problem.

Other times it is too late, and the motherboard is damaged.

2) Make sure ALL power cables from the Power Supply are attached, and securely attached.

If the motherboard requires a 4-pin ATX +12 Volt power cable, make sure it is plugged into the motherboard,


If the motherboard requires an 8-pin EPS +12 Volt power cable, make sure you are not using just one 4-pin ATX +12 Volt power cable,


3) Be sure you have a KNOWN to be good Power Supply, and it has at least the minimum Wattage needed for your computer build.

4) Make sure the top of the Processor's case is clean, and the bottom of the Heatsink, and that Thermal Paste is applied, and applied properly.

5) Make sure you observed Anti-Static Precautions when you were building, and are building your computer.

Static shock will ruin a computer.


Dec 05, 2010 | Intel Computers & Internet

1 Answer

I had a friend transfer my computer components eg. motherboard, HDD, Ram etc, from a ugly computer case to a nice looking one, she got as far as screwing in the motherboard and hooking the HDD up................now shes gone, coz she thought she knew what she was doing but actually didn't............now im stuck with wires hanging everwhere..........there are seperate connections for the bottom right hand corner.....HDD LED, Reset SW, Power LED -, Power LED +, Power SW. Can anyone help me out on connecting the motherboard to the front of the computer case please????

To solve your puzzle, you need to find the manual for your motherboard. If you don't have it still, almost all of them are available online at the manufacturer's support website. The manual always has the pin out diagram for the motherboard, and from there its just a matter of plugging the small connections together. Remember that connections for LED lights have polarity, meaning that they need hooked up one particular direction for the light to work, but any switch connection doesnt matter.

Hope this helps

Oct 22, 2010 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

I have a Dell Dimension 8300 P4 3.0. We have been having problems so now we have come to the conclusion that it is the motherboard. A friend gave me a Core Dou 2 motherboard, but it doesn't fit in my case. It is too small. What do you have to fit? Since I have to spend money to fix my problem I would rather have a more modern board.

First off, stick to warranty service if you have the option.

While most cases are modular and will accept boards of many standard sizes, Dell cases are made specifically for that model of Dell and are often unusable for other size boards.

Your question doesn't make it clear if the board is too big for the case, or the case is too big for the board. If the board is too big, you need a new case. If you are looking to save money, I recommend geeks.com .

You're venturing into the realm of building an entire new computer - I hope youre ready.

Many of the components from your old dell won't work with a Core1 Duo board. Any of the expansion cards and drives probably will, but you'll need new memory, a processor, a heatsink and fan for the processor, case fans, a new case, and probably a bigger power supply.

If you aren't comfortable with thoroughly educating yourself and investing time and money into building a new computer, you're better off buying a new Dell or other premade computer. If you're brave, look at tomshardware.com for info.

Good luck!

Oct 14, 2009 | Dell (2336V) Motherboard

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