How To Assemble a Desktop Computer
STEP 1 : PREPARE YOUR WORKSPACE
ssemble and stage your components carefully. You will be handling sensitive electronics that can be damaged if dropped, or mishandled
STATIC ELECTRICITY CAN HARM THE COMPONENTS:
1. Take Inventory:
Before you start, take inventory of your parts. Do not begin assembling your computer if you don’t have everything you need. Begin the step-by-step process once you have determined you have everything you need.
2. Make Space, Make Time:
Building a PC take space – about a dining room table worth. So make sure you have plenty of working room and a few hours to proceed with minimal interruption. Work on a flat, stable table top surface or bare floor, where you have room to layout all of the items.
3. Prepare Grounding Protection:
Use an inexpensive antistatic wrist strap (they are often priced at less than $6) is the perfect preventive measure if you have no alternative to working on carpet. Remember, a table top or bare floor is always the best place to build your system. Make sure you are wearing your antistatic wrist strap correctly (it does you no good at all if you do not wear it!), and you are ready to proceed. Look Figure 2 for details.
4. Have the Drivers Ready:
Assuming you have another internet connected PC, download the latest drivers from the vendors’ websites for each component you will be installing. Sometimes drivers are updated between the time the component was manufactured and the time you are installing it. It is always best to have the latest. Copy them to a CD for easy access.
STEP 2 : INSTALL THE MOTHERBOARD
- Great care should be taken when installing the motherboard. First, take the board out of its packaging and put it on top of the antistatic bag it came in (see Figure 3). Remember, you always want to safeguard your components from potentially hazardous static electricity (wear your strap).
- Before you secure the motherboard onto the PC case/chassis, inspect it carefully for any visible defects.
- Next, review the motherboard manual, to make sure you are familiar with the motherboard layout and understand which socket is which. Manuals are extremely helpful, usually easy to read, and include illustrations. Following you can find instruction on how to install the processor, the heat sink, and the memory modules on the motherboard. You should not place the motherboard in the computer case until you are told to do so.
STEP 3 : INSTALL THE PROCESSOR (CPU)
- Use the unlocking mechanism to open the CPU socket which is usually a lever.
- Carefully line up the pins and place the chip in its socket; it will fit only when oriented the proper way. An arrow or a missing pin on one corner of the chip will show you how to line things up.
- Allign Triangular CPU and socket key marks as shown in Figure 4.
- Lower the lever to lock the CPU into place.
STEP 4 : INSTALL THE CPU HEAT SINK
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions to install the heat sink and the fan that will cool the processor. If you bought an OEM CPU and a separate heat sink, you may need to spread a thin layer of the thermal grease that came with the heat sink over the chip to ensure proper transfer of heat (some heat sinks come with this grease already applied).
- Attach the clip that holds the heat sink in place keeping in mind that it may require a fair amount of force. Again, follow the instructions that came with the heat sink. They will show you how to fit it correctly. If you are in doubt, you can visit the manufacturer’s website for more information. Figure 6 will also prove to be of great help to you.
- Plug the CPU fan’s power connector into the proper connector on the motherboard.
STEP 5 : INSTALL THE MEMORY MODULES (RAM MEMORY)
In order to install the memory modules, insert them into the proper sockets (Figure 7) and push down firmly but evenly until the clips on both sides of the socket pop into place. If your motherboard supports dual-channel memory, consult the user manual to determine which pairs of RAM sockets you should use. The motherboard and the CPU are the brain and nerve center of your PC, so selecting these components is the most important decision you’ll make.
STEP 6 : PLACE THE MOTHERBOARD INTO THE CASE
Some PC cases have a removable motherboard tray. If yours does, remove the screws holding it in place and pull it out of the case (Figure 8).
- Note the pattern of the holes in your motherboard (Figure 9), and screw brass standoffs into the motherboard tray or into the PC case in the correct locations (ALWAYS check the manual and follow their instructions to the letter).
Check the layout of the sockets on the motherboard, and confirm that the ports on your motherboard’s back panel match the holes on the case’s Input/Output (I/O) shield that is installed in your case. If necessary, remove the old I/O shield (Figure 10) by tapping it firmly a few times with the butt-end of a screwdriver, and then replace it with the shield that came with the new motherboard.
Carefully position the motherboard on top of the brass standoffs (Figure 11), line up all the holes, and use the screws that accompanied the case to fasten down the motherboard. If you are using a removable tray in your system, slide the tray and motherboard back into the case and then secure the tray.
STEP 7 : CONNECT THE POWER SUPPLY
Making the proper connections is crucial to successfully assembling your PC system. Fortunately, manufacturers provide color-coded power cables and unique connector shapes to make the job easy.
First, plug the large ATX power connector (Figure 12a) from your power supply into the matching port on your motherboard. Look Figure X for details.
Locate the smaller, square processor power connector (Figure 13) (you cannot miss it – it is the one sprouting the yellow and black wires) and attach it to the motherboard. Note: your connector is usually located near the processor. As always, refer to your motherboard’s manual for the exact locations.
Use your motherboard user manual and find the description about front-panel connectors.
You are going to be doing work that requires attention to detail and can be quite frustrating if you do not go into it with the right attitude.
Attach each of the tiny leads from the power and reset switches (Figure 14), the hard-disk activity lights, the PC speaker, and any front-panel USB and FireWire ports to the corresponding pin on your motherboard. The needle-nose pliers are useful for manipulating small pieces.
STEP 8 : INSTALL THE GREAPHICS/VIDEO CARD
Begin by removing the backplane cover from the AGP or PCI Express X16 slot (the metal piece where the monitor connector will emerge) (Figure 15).
Install the graphics board in that slot, and then secure the card with a screw (Figure 16).
- Some graphics boards require a dedicated connection to your computer’s power supply. If yours does, you should plug in the correct power connector now. Some video cards allow the insertion of a second video card connected to the first (see CrossFire). If you purchased such a configuration, install and connect the second video card.
STEP 9 : CONNECT THE KEYBOARD, MOUSE, AND MONITER
Connect a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and power cable to your computer and turn it on (Figure 17).
- If the internal fans begin to whir, the system beeps, and you see the machine starting to boot, power down by holding the power button for 5 seconds and continue building.
- If nothing happens, back up a step and recheck all of your connections. Make sure that both the processor and the memory are properly seated, and recheck those minuscule leads connecting the motherboard to the power and reset switches.
If it performs as expected, shut down your PC, unplug it, and open the case.
ENSURE THAT ALL ELECTRICAL POWER TO THE SYSTEM IS TURNED OFF BEFORE APPROACHING, INSPECTING OR TROUBLESHOORTING
STEP 10 : INSTALL THE DRIVES
Now it is time to install your drives. This is an easy process, but it requires attention to detail.
Make any necessary changes to jumpers on the drives before mounting them in the case. A two-drive system (one or two SATA hard drives, plus one parallel ATA optical drive, for example) is easy to set up; the SATA drives are jumper less, and the optical drive can be set as master on its own parallel ATA channel. Many cases have removable drive rails or cages to house drives. Figure 18 will prove to be of great help.
Use the included screws to attach your drives to the rails or cage, and slide them into the case. For externally accessible drives such as a DVD recorder, you can save time by installing one drive rail and sliding the drive in for a test fitting to make sure that its front is flush with the case (Figure 19).
When the drives are installed, connect power and data cables to each one. Parallel ATA drives use wide, flat data cables that can be installed only in the correct way. Floppy drives use a similar but smaller cable; SATA drives use a thin, 1cm-wide data cable. SATA drives use a new type of power connector that many power supplies don’t come with. Fortunately, many motherboards ship with adapters for converting a standard four-pin power connector to a SATA power connector (Figure 20).
The flat, wide ribbon cables that Parallel ATA drives use to carry data can restrict airflow inside your case, robbing your system of valuable cooling; and functionality aside. Rounded data cables available at your local PC store look much nicer, and they don’t impede airflowmble and stage your components carefully.
Some drives ship with both the older connector and the SATA power connector. In that case, use one power connector or the other, but not both. The capacity of hard drives continues to increase: You can now hold over 1TB (Terabyte or 1,000GB) of data on a single drive. But though you don’t have to compromise on the drive’s size, you still have a few choices to make when picking a hard disks.
STEP 11 : INSTALL THE ADD-IN CARDS
- For each add-in card, you must choose a free PCI slot.
- Rremove its backplane cover to allow access from the rear of the case.
- Carefully position the card above the slot, and press down firmly to seat the card (Figure 21).
Secure the card with a screw.
Many motherboards have additional sound connectors or ports housed on small add-in boards. Some of these plug into slots on the motherboard; others screw into the back of the case in place of slot covers. Usually the additional ports are not essential to your PC’s operation. For example, if you install a sound card, you do not need connectors to the motherboard’s built-in sound chip. Check your motherboard manual to determine what each of these boards does.
STEP 12: TURN THE COMPUTER ON
Check your PC Set Up:
It is time to turn on your system and check your PC set up!
Make sure the keyboard, mouse, and monitor are all plugged into the appropriate ports on the back of the PC. Plug the power cord back in, and turn the machine on.
When prompted, enter your PC’s BIOS setup screen by pressing the indicated key (often Delete) as the machine boots. Menu options (Figure 23) will vary from motherboard to motherboard, but they share the same general categories.
- Set the date and time.
Look for a setting that deals with PC health status and monitoring (Figure 24). That choice should bring up a screen showing processor and case temperature. Watch the processor temperature for a few minutes. It should stabilize at a level between 30°C and 50°C. If it keeps increasing, your heat sink probably is not installed properly. Power down and check to see whether the heat sink is securely attached and making good contact with the processor.
Next, find the section of the BIOS setup that determines the order in which your machine checks drives and devices for one it can boot from (Figure 25). Set CD-ROM to the highest priority so that your machine will boot from the Windows installation CD.
STEP 13: INSTALL THE OPERATING SYSTEM (OS)
Before Installing the OS
You may be “cloning” a PC, and want to copy the same configuration. To do this you would use a “ghosting” tool to create an exact copy of the data from the first PC on the new one. Follow the instructions for the software to perform this operation. Some create the clone before the OS is installed, some afterwards.
Installing the OS
You are just a couple of steps away from using your new custom-built personal computer. Now you will install the operating system and then update your drivers, and install the different programs.
- First, place the Operating System installation CD in your optical drive, reboot the PC, and allow the system to boot off the disc (assuming you setup the BIOS to boot from the CD/DVD). The Operating System setup should begin.
- Early in the process, Windows may ask you whether you need to install a third-party SCSI or RAID driver. If you’re using a RAID setup, press F6 when this message appears; then insert the disc containing the appropriate driver when it is requested.
STEP 14: UPDATE DRIVERS
Once Windows is up and running, the last step in this process is to update your hardware drivers. This is not an optional procedure.
Insert the CD with the latest drivers (downloaded from the web, or provided otherwise by the manufacturers) and install them starting with the drivers of the motherboard and graphics card and then moving on to the less critical ones (mouse and sound card drivers). Windows comes with basic drivers to get you up and running, but specific or updated drivers are vital. Several reboots later, you should have a fully updated PC!
STEP 15: INSTALL ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE AND SETUP A NETWORK/INTERNET CONNECTION
- Before you establish an internet connection, you should first install a good antivirus and firewall product for security reasons (CA’s is strongly recommended).
- Download the latest patches of the operating system.
- Make sure that everything runs smoothly, and then back up your system.
- Save the hardware configuration under Windows. That way you will have a clean, current image of Windows to go back to if serious trouble arises in the future.
- Get your network and internet connection up and running. Plug one end of the ethernet cable into the wall jack and the other end of the cable into the ethernet port of your computer. If you are not sure which jack it is, check the motherboard manual. After everything is connected, your setup should resemble Figure 29.
STEP 16: INSTALL OTHER SOFTWARE
After installing the operating system, you will need to install the software you will be using, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, and others. Some software will require registration or validation, so have the original discs with the software registration or license key ready. After installing the software, you may need to validate the software with the manufacturer or published via the web or by phone. Once this is all done, you are ready to use your new PC!
NOW YOUR PC IN READY
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