DIY Computer Build

Before you start:

So before you go buying random computer parts to build your own desktop computer, you need to know if each computer part is compatible with each other.  The first part you're going to want to look for is the processor.  After you look for the processor you want, remember what socket type it is.  Then you can look for the motherboard with the same socket type and make sure it's compatible with that processor.  But be careful when buying the motherboard because there's some things you need to keep in mind.  For example, you need to make sure you get a SATA3 motherboard if you want to use a SATA3 hard drive or solid state drive; or also make sure to get a PCIe x 3.0 if you are planning on using a PCIe X 3.0 graphics card.  Also remember to get the correct RAM for your computer.  Make sure that you get the correct type, amount, and speed  of RAM that the motherboard can handle.  There's a few more things you need to know, but if you have any questions, just ask it in the comment section.

Tools and parts needed:

Computer case




Graphics card (optional)

Hard drive or Solid State Drive

Power supply

Extra case fans (optional)

Screwdriver (depending on your computer case)




Operating system installation disc (Ex: Windows 7)

Anti-static wrist strap (If you don't own one, keep one hand on the unpainted metal part of you computer case to discharge the static buildup in your body.)


Step 1:

Put on your antistatic wrist strap if you have one, and connect the end to an unpainted metal part of the case.  Install your power supply into the case.  If your case came with a power supply pre-installed, then skip this step.  Look at your case's manual for correct installation because some power supplies are located in different areas.  Make sure to install the power supply to where the cables are inside the case and the fan is facing outside the case.  Then you need to screw in the power supply to the case  to fasten it.  

Step 2:

Install your motherboard into the computer case by first screwing in the risers to the case.  Make sure you know what form factor your motherboard is before screwing them in, because some cases have holes for ATX and microATX motherboards.  Then put the I/O panel into the case if it came with your motherboard.  Now carefully insert the motherboard  by lining up the holes with the risers.  Make sure that your motherboard's ports go into the holes of the I/O panel.  Now get your screws and screw the motherboard  into the risers. 

Step 3:

You can insert the hard drive and optical drive into the case now because it will be harder to install later on.  Look at the manual for your case for this because you will either have to use screws or some type of latch provided by the case manufacturer.  It's best not to connect any cables to these drives until later, because if you do it wrong, your computer won't start up and it can make you think that something else wasn't installed correctly.

Step 4:

Open the processor slot on the motherboard.  It is usually a lever that you need to pull back slightly, then upwards to open it.  Then hold the processor carefully by its edges and insert it into the processor slot on the motherboard.  Make sure you install it correclty and without any force.  There should be a triangle on one corner of the processor and one on the motherboard's processor slot.  You just need to match both triangles.

Step 5:

Now connect the heatsink to the processor.  If your heatsink didn't come with thermal paste pre-installed, you need to apply thermal paste to the processor.  You only need to put a little bit of thermal paste on the processor.  There's different ways to do this, but I prefer to put the size of a grain of rice in the middle of the processor and spread it evenly with the thermal paste syringe.  Then connect the heatsink to the motherboard.  If you don't know how to do this, look at the instruction manual for that heatsink because not all heatsinks connect the same way.  Now connect the fan wire from the processor the correct area on the motherboard.  If you can't find it, look at the motherboard manual to see where it's located.

Step 6:

Insert the RAM into the RAM slots of the motherboard.  You need to open the little tabs on both ends of the RAM slot and insert the RAM stick correctly.  Match the gap on the slot with the gap on the RAM stick.  Now push down on the RAM until the little tabs snap back into place.  Make sure you inserted it correctly before pushing down on it because you can mess up the RAM and the motherboard if inserted incorrectly.

Step 7: 

If you are not going to install a graphics card, skip this step.  First take off the bracket that is blocking your graphics card's ports from exiting the case.  Look at your case manual if you can't find it.  Then insert the graphics card into the correct slot.  You just need to match it correctly like the way stated in step 4.  You might need to pull the little tab back from the motherboard's slot if it doesn't go in easily.  The tab should lock into place with the graphics card.  Then fasten the graphics card to the case with the thumb screw or latch that came with the case.

Step 8:

Connect any cables that come from your case into the areas on your motherboard.  You need your manual for this because it can get confusing.  While you are doing this, make sure you use good cable management so the computer doesn't look poorly built.  This means you usually need to run those cables from the other side of the case and bring it back out to connect to the motherboard.  This prevents most of the cables from showing. 

Step 9:

Connect the case fan to the motherboard.  Again, look at your motherboard manual if you don't see where it's located.  Install any optional case fans at this point, if your motherboard has extra fan ports.  If not you can buy an adapter that'll connect to the Molex (big 4 pin) power cable.  The bad part about this is that your fan is always on full speed.  If you are going to install a lot of fans, it's a good idea to look into buying a fan controller, unless your case already came with one.  

Step 10:

Now you test to see if everything's working.  Make sure that your power supply is not plugged in to the wall outlet yet.  Plug in the main power connector to the motherboard.  It's going to be the biggest plug that your power supply has.  Match it by looking at the tab from the connector and the tab on the motherboard's port.  Then plug in the 4 or 8 pin processor power cable to the port on the motherboard.  If your graphics card needs power from your power supply, make sure to plug it in.  It will usually be 1 or 2 6-pin cables.  Now connect your monitor to the motherboard using the required video cable.  This will be either a VGA, HDMI, or DVI cable.  If you are using a graphics card, plug in the cable to the graphics card, otherwise plug it into the motherboards video port.  You can also plug in your mouse or keyboard if you want.  Now plug in your power supply and turn on your monitor and computer.  The main goal right now is to see the logo come out on the screen.  If you see this, then you are almost done.  If you don't, this means that you did something wrong.  Make sure that the voltage on the back of the power supply is set to 115V if you live in America.  If you live in another country, you might need to switch it to 230V.  Now make sure you installed the graphics card, RAM, and wires correctly.  Reinstall if necessary and see if it works.  Reinstall the processor as a last option because you need to re-do the thermal paste if you take it off.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment stating your question.

Step 11:

If your computer turned on correctly, turn it off and unplug the power supply from the outlet.  Now you can connect the wires to the hard drive and optical drive.  You need one from the power supply (IDE or SATA) that goes to your drive.  Then you need to connect a data cable from the drive to the motherboard.  You'll either need an IDE or SATA cable for each drive.  It'll most likely be SATA because they are the standard for drives now due to the fact that they are faster than IDE drives.  If they are SATA, connect the data cable from the hard drive to the SATA0 port on your motherboard.  Then connect any extra optional hard drive data cables to the next numbered SATA port (Ex: SATA1).  Connect your optical drive last because it is less important than the hard drive.

Step 12:    

Turn the computer back on and see if it still works.  If it does, open your optical drive and insert the installation disc to install your operating system.  You need to boot into the disc drive by pressing the button that shows on startup.  It'll usually say Boot Options (It's usually the Del key or F8).  Then follow the instructions to install your operatings system and you are done. 


Once again, if you have any questions,  please feel free to leave a comment.