How to Build a Computer From Scratch Easily and Save Money

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When you purchase a computer at a retail store, you are paying marked up prices not only from that retail store, but from the manufacturers as well. So, take a moment to learn how you can do it yourself.

1The first thing you need to do is decide on the type of machine you want to build. By type, I’m referring to the purpose of the machine. Will you be using it for Gaming? Office Use? General Desktop use, etc. Determining the type of machine you are going to build helps facilitate which types of parts you should order to build your machine. Let’s take for example, a gaming machine. If you are building a gaming machine you will want to put additional focus(and money) into a powerful video card.

2Next, after you have determined the type of machine you want to build, it’s time to order the parts. Here is a general overview of everything you will need to build a functional machine:

1. Motherboard (this holds all of the components together)
2. CPU (this is the brain of the machine, it processes all the instructions)
3. Memory
4. Hard Drive/CD-DVD Drive
4. Video Card
5. Monitor
6. Case
7. Keyboard/Mouse
8. Power Supply

These are the main components we will need, but there may be additional ones depending. I also recommend purchasing a anti-static wrist strap. This will protect the machine from static electricity(which can ruin components) during the building process.

3To order these parts you will want to go to a reputable company, I personally use TigerDirect.com, another good site is NewEgg.com, both offer a vast range of hardware at a decent price. In this example, I will be building a computer that uses an Intel Processor on a Socket Type 775. What’s a socket type? Depending on the motherboard you choose, it’ll come with a certain type of socket, this is the area where you insert your CPU. It is very important to match the CPU with the motherboards socket type, else they will be incompatible together. Socket 775 is a very popular type for Intel-based processors. So, let’s purchase the parts and get on with it.

I chose the Intel DP45SG Motherboard, it supports a vast range of powerful Intel processors, and a good deal of memory. Pay attention to expandability, it should be a big selling point. You want this machine to be able to adapt to the future demands of new operating systems and applications. Technology evolves very rapidly, and it’s important that your machine can evolve with it. You can take a look at the motherboard I chose: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4008497&Sku=I69-2172

There are a few things we should pay close attention to when we buy a motherboard:

1. The type of processors supported
2. The type of and amount of memory supported
3. The type of connectors and interfaces supported

Connectors and interfaces are important.. because it dictates what kind of devices you can have attached to the motherboard. For instance, if you buy a hard drive that utilizes the SATA interface, but your motherboard contains no SATA interface, you’d have to resort to less favorable means of getting it to work(a sata card, for use in a PCI slot).

Now let’s a choose a processor(remember to make sure it’s supported by your motherboard). I chose the Intel Pentium Dual Core processor. It is cheap, and I’m just building a basic(but powerful) system. You can see it here: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3301655&CatId=2851
You’ll also want to make sure that it includes a fan, else you will have to purchase your own.

You can choose any Hard Drive you like as long as the interface works with your motherboard. Most modern motherboards support SATA/IDE, but again, if you are building an older motherboard it may not support SATA.
CD/DVD Drive is also relatively open, you can pretty much choose any you want and be assured that it’ll work with the motherboard you use.

Now, we need to purchase memory. We need to match it to the memory type supported by our motherboard. The Intel DP45SG supports DDR3 memory,
I chose Corsair XMS3 Memory. 2GB’s of it, It’s actually two sticks of 1024MB memory: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3163026&CatId=3361

Time to purchase a Video card, tailor this to your needs. If you are building a gaming machine, you’ll want to purchase a more powerful video card. I chose the XFX GeForce 9800GT. Pay attention to the slot it uses, most cards use the PCI-E slot nowadays, but if you are building with an older motherboard, it may use an AGP slot. The card can be seen here:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4209965&Sku=P450-9830

Next is the Monitor, this is a personal preference, you can use any monitor you like. You just have pay attention to the type of connector it uses. If you have a monitor with a VGA connector, you will need to buy a cheap converter for most modern video cards(which use DVI).

For a case I chose the Xion Solaris ATX Mid Tower. It also includes a power supply, which is nice, but keep in mind that often cases that you purchase that include a power supply are cheap. So you may want to purchase a better power supply if your machine will be very power hungry. You also want to pay attention to what form factors the case supports, when you buy a motherboard, it’ll list what form factor it is.

Purchase any Keyboard/Mouse of your choice.

Alright, now that we’ve hopefully ordered all of our parts, and received them we can get to constructing our new machine. People think building a computer is really complicated, but it’s actually not too bad. Before we get into this, make sure you take the proper safety precautions, hopefully you’ve purchased an anti-static wrist strap, or a ground mat, or both. Also, the power should never be plugged into the machine until you are 100% finished with the build. Additionally, if you get stuck on any of the steps, by all means, research. Search google for simple terms, like installing memory, installing CPU. A wealth of good results will show up. Let’s get to it.

Unwrap your motherboard and CPU, we’ll put the CPU in before we attach the motherboard inside the case. Installing a CPU is relatively simple, it varies on the type of socket you have in the motherboard. We are using a socket 775, but if you have a different motherboard with a different socket, simply search google for installing socket xxx cpu. Find the area where the CPU is to be inserted, it’ll be a square and will have a metal lever. Pull the metal lever down and away from the socket, then pull it back until it hangs loosely. There is a small plate covering where the CPU needs to be inserted. Use the small tab on the right edge, push down to flip up the plastic cover, and also the load plate. DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THE PINS once exposed. Now take the CPU, notice the two notches on the side, these correlate to two plastic extensions on the socket. Hold the processor by its sides, orient it so the socket extensions fit in with the processor’s latches that we discussed. It should all align and not need any force to do so. Now, close the load plate, and also the protective plastic cover. Press a finger down on the load plate then rotate the metal lever towards the closed position.

I hope the CPU installation went okay, next we’ll want to place the motherboard into the case, and install the heatsink. The case should have came with what are called spacers, it lifts the motherboard off the surface a bit so it does not touch the case. They may already be installed in the case, if not, simply screw them in the holes that are available. Then, align the holes of the motherboard with the spacer’s holes, and begin screwing them in. Don’t tighten the screws with any force, just make sure they are firmly screwed in.

Installing the heatsink is relatively straight-forward. Place the case so the motherboard and CPU is facing you. Take the heatsink(you may want to check the bottom of it to make sure the thermal grease is applied and is not damaged), you need to align the heatsink’s screws with the 4 holes around the socket, once aligned, screw them in until it sits on top of the CPU casing firmly. Also, connect the heatsink’s power-cord to the nearby power connector, it’s usually 4 pins, sometimes 3.

Memory is very easy to install, simply find the memory slots on the board(they will naturally be about as long as the memory itself, pull the levers back on each side of the memory slot, and line the memory with the slot correctly and push down firmly, it should click and both sides of the levers should snap back into their closed position.

Now it’s time to put the Hard-Drive and CD-ROM in, let’s assume you are using the SATA Interface for your Hard-Drive. Insert the hard drive into its bay and align it with the holes on the side of the bay, and screw them in until the hard drive is firmly set. Connect the SATA cable into the back of the Hard-Drive and into the SATA port on the motherboard. Connect the power connector that runs from the power supply into the back of the hard drive. For the CD/DVD drive, insert it into its bay and align it with the holes on the side, firmly screw in as done with the Hard Drive. I’m using the IDE interface, connect the ribbon to the back of the CD/Drive and into the motherboard’s IDE connector. If you are adding more than one IDE interface, make sure you pay attention to the jumper settings on the back of each device, one will need to be set to Master, and the other to slave. After the ribbon cable is connected, connect the power into the drive.

Now, the final step. We must connect the power to the motherboard. There should be a 20 or 24 pin cable from the power supply that will need to be put into a 20 or 24 pin connector on the motherboard. Find the match between the two, and insert it until it clicks. Close the case back up, and plug in the power to your computer, boot up, and hopefully encounter no problems, and install your OS of choice, and congratulations if you made it this far.

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