Welcome to How To Build A Computer From Parts Site!
How To Build A Computer
by Mike D. Matteri
These instructions will show an individual how to build a computer. The steps involved will go up to plugging in the computer.
There are a couple of problems and solutions associated with building a computer. These are as follows:
1) Problem: Static electricity is the number one cause of most problems when it comes to building a computer. Static electricity can damage the system board, Random Access Memory (RAM) chips, hard drive, Central Processing Unit(CPU), and all computer cards such as the video card, sound card, and modem.
Solution: Remove all jewelry. Discharge the electricity by touching the power supply before touching the system board, RAM, hard drive, computer cards, or the CPU. You must also have an Anti-Static mat to keep static electricity away from all parts of the computer. You can also wear an Anti-Static strap on your wrist to discharge the electricity. You can find the Anti-Static mat and the Anti-Static strap at any computer store or an electronic repair store.
2) Problem: Additional problems include such things as: (a) bad connections; (b) wrong jumper settings; (c) improperly seated computer cards, RAM, and CPU.
Solution: Make sure that all computer cards, RAM, and CPU are properly seated by looking in the systemboard manual. You can also find the right jumper settings in the system board manual.
Before you start building the computer, please keep in mind that you must have all parts before assembling the computer. The parts that you need are the following:
1) Computer Case
(See Picture Below)
2) System board
3) CPU(Central Processing Unit) This is the brains of the computer that process information. (See Picture Below) with a cooling fan that sits on the CPU. This fan prevents the CPU from overheating.
4) RAM(Random Access Memory) [This is a bank of chips that allow you to run programs on the computer, and is very easy to remove and install on the system board. Please refer to the system board manual for the proper installation or removal of these chips.] (See Picture Below) CAUTION: Be sure that you have the correct RAM for your type of application. This information can be found in your system board manual.
5) Video Card (This card allows you to view pictures and text on your monitor, and has a plug-in on the card to hookup your monitor.)
6) Color Monitor (This is a miniature television screen that allows you to view pictures and text in front of you. See Picture Below)
7) Sound Card (This card allows you to listen to sound on your speakers. It has plug-ins for your speakers, a microphone, and a joystick. See Picture Below)
8) CD-ROM Drive (This is a drive that allows you to install programs into the computer, and listen to music. See Picture Below)
9) 3 1/2 Floppy Disk Drive (This is a drive that allows you to install programs into the computer, and save files. See Picture Below)
10) Windows 95 Keyboard (This allows you to type information into the computer and looks like a typewriter keyboard with a few more keys. See Picture Below)
11) Hard Drive (This drive allows you to save programs, and is important to have to run any program like Windows 95.)
12) All cables that come with the case
13) Depending on the system board, you can get either a PS-2( round connection plug), or a Serial (square connection plug) mouse.(This is a device that allows you to use a program like Windows 95. It is an input device. See Pictures Below)
PS-2 Serial Connector
14) Color Printer (This is a device that prints out text and pictures. See Picture Below)
15) Operating System Software like DOS (Disk Operating System), Windows 95, or Windows 98.(The computer needs these programs to operate effectively.)
16) All documents, including the following manuals: CD-ROM, Motherboard,CPU, Hard Drive, 3 1/2 Floppy Disk Drive, Color Monitor, Video Card, Sound Card, Color Printer, and operating system. You can often refer to these manuals if you have a question. If there is a question that you have, and it is not covered in the manual, please call the manufacturer of that part, and they will tell you what to do with that part of the computer and how to install it.
17) Computer Case Fan (This hooks up to the front of your case, plugs into the power supply cable, and the CPU fan.)
18) Surge Protector with Telephone receptacles (This is very important. A surge protector will help keep your computer files from being wiped out during a power surge. Please remember to not overload it. This will cause a fire if you do).
The first thing that you do when you are ready to start building the computer is to unpack the computer case, remove all packing material, and set aside all pieces that come with the case.
There are steps to do after unpacking the computer case and setting aside all pieces.(I am referring to an ATX systemboard and case for these instructions.):
1) Please remove the front and side panels on the computer case. This procedure will be different for each computer case. Locate the little plastic bag that has the different variations of Philips screws, plastic round feet with stoppers, red washers, and brass covered connectors. Open up the bag and set aside. (a) Take the different plates from the box that came with the case, and look at them and compare them with the system board outlets such as the printer(LPT1), mouse(PS-2), and keyboard(PS-2) connections. (b) If the plate that is in the case does not match the connections for the mouse, keyboard, and printer, please remove it from the case by being careful of the sharp edges when removing the plate and gently working the plate back and forth until it is removed. (c) Once the old plate is removed, replace it with the new plate that fits around the connections for the mouse, keyboard, and printer by putting it in the empty space then connecting the tabs on the case and sliding the plate into that space.
2) Remove the brass covered connectors from the bag, and screw them into the case in the corresponding holes on the metal sheet inside the case. (See pictures below)
Take the plastic round feet with stoppers and place them in the 4 big holes at the bottom of the computer case.
The following is a picture of the ATX system board. This is taken from the Tyan ATX system board manual for use as an example.
3) After the brass covered connectors are aligned with the holes on the system board, take the raised Philips screws, and install the red washers on the raised screws and screw them into place.
4) Attach the color coated wires to their pins. Please look in the system board manual for the proper way to connect them. If you are still confused on where to put the wires, please call the system board manufacturer's technical support, and they will be happy to tell you where to attach the color coated wires.
5) To set the proper jumper settings for the CPU, please look in the system board manual for the right settings for your CPU. [For example, a Pentium chip that is 200 megahertz(megahertz is how fast the processor will process information), it has a BUS (This is how the processor, memory, and system board communicate with each other.) speed of 66 megahertz. Multiply 66 times 3 and you get approximately 200 megahertz. the way you multiply is by your CPU multipliers (CPU multipliers are listed in the system board manual, and set the jumpers according to them.)] If you are still confused about the proper jumper settings, please call the system board manufacturer, and they will be happy to tell you all about the jumpers and where they go on the system board. Please do the same thing when you are setting the proper jumper settings for the communication ports. remember, if you have any questions on the jumper settings, please call the system board manufacturer and they will tell you the settings for your system board. Please make sure that when you call, that you have the system board manual with you, so they can help you with your system board.
6) To install the CPU, locate the white square with a lot of holes on the system board. These holes are where you put the CPU. To install the CPU, raise the metal or plastic lever by pulling on it horizontally, until it is completely vertical. The top plate will slide back to open up the socket. Align the CPU and socket pin 1 corners of the white square. Insert the CPU into the socket. It should slide in easily. If it does not, adjust the position of the lever a little. Press the lever down. The top plate will slide into its original position. You will feel some resistance as the CPU is secured into the socket. This is normal and will not damage the CPU. The lever should snap into place at the side of the socket. (See Picture Below)
Please install the computer fan to the CPU fan. (See Picture Below)
7) To connect the power supply to the system board, align the plastic guide pins to each other. This should snap into place. Please look at the system board manual for the proper connection procedure. (See Picture Below)
8) Next, install the memory. There are different types of memory, but the 2 main types of memory are SIMM and DIMM. Both these types of memory allow you to run programs on the computer. Without memory, the computer will not run. SIMM (Single Inline Memory Module, this memory chip is a small band of chips that has 72 pins in it, and fit inside the long, skinny white slots with metal tabs on the end and is found on the system board. The DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module, memory chip is slightly bigger than the SIMM chip and has 168 pins. It fits inside the long, skinny black slots with plastic tabs on the end and is also found on the system board.) Please look at the system board manual for the proper seating of the memory and also some details of memory installation. (See Picture Below)
This is a picture of a DIMM This is a picture of a SIMM
9) Next, install the video card. Locate the PCI slot. (PCI stands for Peripheral Component Interface or Interconnect. This is a fat white slot on the system board, and allows the system board to communicate with the monitor to display graphics and text on the monitor.) There is some more of those same slots on the system board. These are used depending on the cards that you get from manufacturers. Most video cards fit in the PCI slot. Remove the metal plate that is next to where you are putting in the video card and set it aside.
Please remember to seat the card properly by pushing the card in gently back and forth, until it snaps into place and secure it with a raised Phillips screw.
10) Next, install the sound card. Locate the ISA slot. (ISA stands for Industry Standard Architecture. This is a fat, long black slot on the system board, and allows the system board to communicate with the speakers to hear games and web sites with music. It also has plugs for you to hook up the speakers to, it also has a plug for you to connect a joystick, as well as a plug for a microphone, so that you can use programs that you can talk to another person in a program like NetMeeting. This saves on the telephone bill. ) There are some more of those same slots on the system board. These are used depending on the cards that you get from manufacturers. Most sound cards fit in the ISA slot. Remove the metal plate that is next to where you are putting in the sound card, and set it aside. Please remember to seat the card properly by pushing the card in gently back and forth, until it snaps into place and secure it with a raised Phillips screw. (See Picture Below)
11) The next thing that you do is to install the internal modem card. Locate the ISA slot. (ISA stands for Industry Standard Architecture. This is a fat, long black slot on the system board, and allows the computer to communicate with another computer by use of a phone line). This is very important when you are building the computer. There is some more of those same slots on the system board. These are used depending on the cards that you get from manufacturers. Most sound cards fit in the ISA slot. Remove the metal plate that is next to where you are putting in the modem card, and set it aside. Please remember to seat the card properly by pushing the card in gently back and forth, until it snaps into place and secure it with a raised Phillips screw. (See Picture Below of what a internal modem looks like)
12) Please install the hard drive, CD-ROM, and floppy disk drive next. The best way to find out how to install these is to look in the manuals of the hard drive, CD-ROM, and floppy drive. These manuals will tell you where you should put the drives, and their connection on the system board. Please make sure that you also look for the proper jumper settings on these drives. If you are confused about where to put them or the instructions are unclear, please call the manufacturers of those drives and talk with their technical support, and they will help you with the installation.
13) Please put on the front and side panels back on the computer case. Screw the raised Phillips screws into the case when the side panels are on, and put on the front panels.
14) Plug the keyboard into the outlet. It should look like a big round oval with a lot of holes in it. This is called the AT adapter (See Picture Below). If it is a small oval, plug the keyboard into it, if the keyboard connection has the same kind of shape. This is called the PS-2 adapter (See Picture Below). If you have any doubt about it, please look in your system board manual.
AT Adapter PS-2
15) Hook up the monitor to the square outlet with a lot of holes in it. That outlet that you are plugging into is your video card, and allows you to view text and pictures on your computer.(See picture below)
16) Hook up the 3 odd shaped plug into the computer case. This is your power supply. Plug the other end into a Surge Protector. The Surge Protector prevents your computer from getting zapped during a thunderstorm, but it is even better to unplug it during a storm. (See picture below)
17) Plug in the mouse to either a square (Serial), or a round outlet (PS-2). This will allow you to use your mouse. If you have any doubt about it, please look in your system board manual. (See picture below)
Serial Connector PS-2 Adapter
18) This step will tell you how to plug in the telephone lines into the modem. Using a modem is important if you want to connect to the internet. The shapes on the modem look like a regular phone jack receptacle. There are 2 receptacles and they are the Line and the Phone receptacle. Plug the one end of the phone line wire leading from your phone jack into your surge protector that has the label "phone". Plug the next telephone wire into the outlet marked "Line" from your surge protector into the computer modem receptacle marked "Line". Plug in another telephone wire from your computer modem marked "Phone" into your phone, and you will be ready to surf the internet. (See Picture Below)
19) This step will tell you how to plug in the printer. Locate the printer cable leading from your printer. It should have a connection that looks something like the picture below. Plug it into the same sized slot on the back of the computer (See Picture below).
Printer Connection (LPT1)
In order to set the computer up to find your hard drive, floppy drive, and CD-ROM, please look in your system board manual.
I hope that you have had fun building a computer by following these instructions.
I would like to mention the following sources that have helped me in putting together these instructions. They are as follows:
Terry Batterton has showed me how to build a computer.
Intel Corporation for their fast and efficient technical support in helping me decide how to set my CPU speed, and for sending me all the technical writing that I needed for the CPU.
Tyan Corporation for their system board and the manual that came with it. I researched a lot of stuff out of that manual, and used their instructions to help write this. This company has helped me in trying to find out where the color coated wires go on the system board.
Ability Computers for their help in trying to find out where the color coated wires go on the system board.
Jeff McClain for his website of computer definitions and terms. His website can be found at: http://jeffshardware.com.computerhardware.net/definitions.html
Computer Renaissance in Fayetteville, Arkansas for their help in researching some computer definitions.
Dixieland Electronics in Bentonville, Arkansas for their help in researching some computer terms.
Without the help of these people, corporations, and businesses, these instructions would not have been made possible.
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