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Building A PC System

Anyone needing a new computer faces a tough choice: you can either go for a complete system, or you can build your own PC. As most complete systems are cheaper than the sum of their parts, when is it really worth it to build your own?

Under the hood of a midrange PC

Imagine you want to build a new PC and want to use a few remnants from your old system. If you were satisfied with the performance of your CD-ROM drive, hard drive, printer or monitor, then it could be worth it to simply buy the remaining components you might not even need a new case. Hope that this article will reach the individualists among you, i.e., users who know exactly which processor, motherboard and graphics card they want to install, but who just don't know how to fit it all together. The third group of users we want to reach are those people who only want to swap out a component, whether a graphics card or a CPU. Many are intimidated by hardware. Some people won't even put in a new card on their own if they can help it. Yet the computer is now a mass-market product that, thankfully, has also brought about broad standardization. This article will guide you unerringly through each step of successfully building your own PC. Of course, this article assumes that you know how to properly handle electronic components, that you know how to use tools, and, perhaps most importantly, that you take pleasure in this kind of tinkering. As we are going to introduce a large spectrum of PC components, users who only want to upgrade individual parts can skip certain sections in this guide.

Standard Components Of A PC System
In our enthusiasm and eagerness to offer a complete do-it-yourself guide, we picked up the price list at the computer store on the corner, only to feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of parts on offer. If you aren't yet used to buying a PC in individual components, it can't do any harm to draw up a list of everything you need before doing anything else. That said, a complete PC system requires the following items:

PC case

Motherboard

Processor

CPU cooler RAM .

Hard Drive Graphics card .

CD-ROM or DVD drive Floppy disk drive. if needed The following items shouldn't be forgotten:    Monitor Keyboard Mouse .

take a very close look at the builtin power supply.g. archiving Network Digital camera Video Editing & Camcorder Required components Modem. Windows. or network card (if using DSL) Sound card and loudspeakers CD recorder. Linux). that this list is by no means complete: Application Internet access Gaming and Music CD recording. including its operating system (e. When buying a case. though. if possible Case And Power Supply Power Supply The advent of processors breaking the gigahertz barrier has made one thing clear: their thirst for power is hard to rein in. The only time you won't need it is if you're operating a CPU at 1400 MHz or less. In addition to the classic ATX power supply. it should also feature an auxiliary power connector.. Extra Options For Special Applications Depending on what you'll be using your PC for. ISDN card. More and more motherboards require this plug to cover the power needs of a Pentium 4 or an Athlon XP. .These components are necessary to run the new computer. please note. you might need the following components as well. or separate USB card Video capture card with IEEE1394/FireWire (i-Link) interface. ZIP drive Network card (Ethernet) Either a motherboard with integrated USB.

the classic ATX plug. Extra current for power-hungry CPUs: ATX12 (left) and P6 connector. the P6 (AUX). and on the right. . (right) An increasingly familiar sight on motherboards: on the left.Classic ATX power supply plug.

This cable also comes with small plugs for connecting floppy drives and the like to a power supply. you'll have to use a Y junction to turn one plug into two.An ATX12 socket on the motherboard. Power Connectors For Drives Your power supply will depend on how many drives you plan to install. Small cases only offer three or four connectors. Once you've used up all the available connectors. One into two: a typical Y junction with large plugs. .

you're better off with a separate connector. The screws for mounting drives (hard drive.the high surge at power-up is a frequent source of booting problems. as they are generally also used to anchor plug-in boards. spacers and other accessories included with the case? A small bag of assembly materials is usually stuck to the inside of the case. If possible. A few screws for the case won't hurt either. you'd be well-advised not to use it for screens larger than 19 inches .) have a finer thread. avoid plugging the monitor directly into the PC power supply . Always make sure you have spacers and mounts to secure the motherboard. etc.they won't have to look far for the screws you need. CD-ROM. You need at least four for each drive. . By the way. you're barking up the wrong tree if you start looking for these screws at the hardware store. and they're bound to be the right size. Go to your local computer store . While some power supplies offer an additional plug for a monitor. Always be wary of cheap offers! A bag of screws should be inside the empty PC case. but it's always a good idea to have a handful of replacements.Cases: More Questions For The Salesman Always make a point of asking about assembly materials: are all the screws.

A modern ATX motherboard can be identified by the fact that all the jacks for the keyboard. We'll document this in the section on the motherboard. your case will have to be ATX compatible. Since almost all new motherboards conform to the ATX form factor. You can still scrounge up AT cases for AT motherboards.Ask about the form factor. parallel printer. This And That: Screws. and serial COM port are soldered directly onto the motherboard. mouse. . Spacers & Jumpers Typical case screws are used to screw on the case covers and anchor plug-in cards to the case. This depends on the motherboard.

What Are Jumpers? .A drive screw's thread is finer and thinner than screws used for the case. and to screw the motherboard to the case. too. Spacers are screwed into the backplate for the motherboard. This kind of screw is generally used to affix the drives in the drive bays. The head is smaller.

For instance. We don't see the metal. though. you can use them to set the processor speed or change a drive from a "master" to a "slave." Pictured above is a classic jumper. because it's covered with plastic.Jumpers are short and sweet. Motherboard Overview . as used on drives and boards just about everywhere. A jumper is nothing more than a metal bridge that connects two contacts. Jumpers are often used to configure the PC.

We'll describe the cables and drive configurations on the next page. the reset switch. and the operating LED.Main components of a motherboard. Socket A. At the bottom left are the panel connectors for the on/ off button. Onboard Components . while the connector for the floppy drive (34-pin FDD connector) is in the left side of the image. The PCI slots will hold network cards. ISDN. At the top on the right-hand side are the interfaces and connectors that stick out of the case at the back of an assembled computer. is labeled "CPU socket" in the picture. The two IDE connectors (40-pin) are below in the middle. The AGP slot is used exclusively for the graphics card. By the way. Take time to familiarize yourself with where they're located. This board is designed for AMD Athlon and Duron processors. The image shows an ASUS motherboard. as it's called. sound or video-editing boards. The expansion slots are to its left. LEDs that don't light up can generally be fixed by simply turning the plug around. the hard drive LED.

Most of the time. System Clock (FSB) 66. Typical physical frequencies for system clocks are 100. 100. Intel Pentium MMX Intel Pentium III. Here's an example of such marketing figures. Basic Motherboard Configuration Many modern motherboards with integrated software configuration no longer require you to do anything prior to assembly. Some motherboards. two serial connectors. but you'll have to deactivate the onboard chip if you plan to replace these cheap onboard modules with a higher-quality expansion card.00 and 133. a parallel port and two USB ports are on the ATX port panel. For example. AMD K6-III. F2 or F10. or system clock. It's generally impossible to run both chips at the same time.33MHz. feature optional sound and joystick jacks. a Front Side Bus of 133. 133 MHz 66. Some manufacturers provide "marketing" figures when Double Data Rate (DDR) or quad pumping raises effective bandwidth. 100. 133 MHz . There are also models that have a monitor connection. you access the BIOS menu by pressing the DEL key.33MHz and multiplier of 13 results in a physical CPU clock speed of 1733MHz. it can either be done in BIOS or with a jumper. But making settings manually is still a must for anyone who wants to fine-tune his or her system. That saves a slot and some money. a feature that is particularly useful for beginners. Check your handbook to find out which method to use.ATX connector panel Keyboard. That means that you type your processor parameters directly in BIOS (Basic Input Output System). shortly after switching on the PC. Once again. The latest technology even recognizes the CPU automatically. like the one here. mouse. Check your handbook to find out which key to use. which have been placed in quotes: Socket/ Slot Socket 7 Slot 1 Processors AMD K6-2. Processor Settings: FSB And Multiplier The external clock speed is usually referred to as the Front Side Bus (FSB). The actual processor clock is calculated by multiplying the system clock with the multiplier.

the frequency table is right next to the jumper block. 100 MHz (400 MHz quad-pumped). "2100+" is merely a way of comparing the processor to an equivalent Intel Pentium 4. AMD Athlon XP (Palomino). (Socket 462) AMD Athlon XP (Thoroughbred). Socket 478 Intel Celeron (Willamette) 133 MHz / (533 MHz quad-pumped) AMD also lists a so-called P-Rating. Morgan) Intel Pentium 4 (Willamette). Socket A 100 MHz (200 MHz DDR). an AMD Athlon XP 2100+ is about as fast as a Pentium 4 2100.Intel Celeron Slot A AMD Athlon (K7) 100 MHz (200 MHz DDR) Intel Pentium III. Socket 370 Intel Celeron. or Number Modeling. That's why it can't hurt to know the three principles of manual configuration. . Here are the different ways to set clock speed: Obsolete: using jumpers. overclockers will be more likely to make settings by hand. Socket 423 100 MHz (400 MHz quad-pumped) Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood) Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood). for marketing purposes. 133 MHz VIA C3 AMD Athlon (Thunderbird). 133 MHz (266 MHz DDR) AMD Duron (Spitfire. In other words. an AMD Athlon XP 2100+ actually only runs at a physical speed of 1733MHz. Setting The Clock Speed There is no automatic software configuration on older boards. Put plainly. 100. By the same token.

Occasionally found: setting by DIP switch. .Multiplier table for older models.

. at least for AMD processors. The BIOS screenshot shows this clearly. on the other hand. As the motherboard manufacturers are aware of this. They wanted to prevent people from overclocking. CD burners are very popular for archiving data. Connecting The Floppy Drives Floppy drives are in danger of extinction because floppies generally don't hold much data. For the tinkerers among us. All the same. a floppy drive can still pay off if you work with old programs or data from time to time. Most software is generally installed from CD-ROMs now. anyway. say. you'll still come across a DIP switch block now and again. in fact. That kind of overclocking would boost performance significantly without costing a dime. Determining which of the three methods applies to you will depend on your motherboard. is entirely obsolete. The jumper method. a superfluous multiplier. While the general tendency seems to favor BIOS. Intel and AMD officially abolished the variable multiplier for their processors some time ago.Modern: convenient configuration in BIOS. 1300MHz models to 1500MHz. Plastic Surgery: Releasing The Athlon XP To Hit 2000+ . More information on this can be found in the article. all that's left for us when trying to eke more performance out of a processor is a gentle increase of the FSB. they attract more buyers by offering what is. there are a few tricks for removing the fixed multiplier. Nevertheless.

The number at the end describes its bandwidth. for example. The red dotted line at the other end of the cable should always point in the direction of the power supply. . as you can see in the upper corner of the image. which accounts for its higher popularity. In comparison to SCSI. one must be labeled "Master. it is configured as a "Master" (Single). so that a maximum of four devices can be connected.one for the motherboard. and UltraDMA/133. On modern motherboards. which is mostly used for servers or workstations. If. Modern motherboards with an additional controller can even offer four IDE connectors. As a rule of thumb. IDE is extremely cheap to produce. Connecting Hard Drives And CD-ROM/DVD The vast majority of hard drives and CD/DVD drives are based on the IDE (Integrated Device Electronics) standard. thus configuring the drive. They usually have a "twist" of individual wires. notches and/ or a missing pin in the middle (see picture blow) prevent the cable from being inserted the wrong way.Floppy connector (34-pin) above. too." and the other "Slave. UltraDMA/100. and the other two for the two drives. stands for the maximum data transfer rate of 133 megaBytes per second. there is a reverseconnection protection to keep it from being improperly configured. You still need to watch out when hooking up older drives or motherboards. It's easy to spot floppy cables. Here. Pin 1 is also printed on the motherboard. UltraDMA/66. A beginner doesn't necessarily have to know how DMA works in order to obtain good results. If you want to connect an IDE to a drive. It has three plugs . There's also the SCSI standard. Two drives can be run on each IDE connector block. DMA is short for Direct Memory Access. 133. the higher. IDE connector(40-pin) for hard drives and CD-ROM below. The connection to the motherboard is made by way of a 40-pin ribbon cable. Motherboards usually have two IDE connectors (Primary and Secondary IDE). the better. There are four subgroups within the IDE class: UltraDMA/33. two drives need to be connected. This is frequently a red line that marks pin 1." The jumpers are used to connect the contacts. The image shows a color marking on a cable. on the other hand.

Connecting the CD and/ or DVD drives is basically the same as with hard drives. CD-ROM burners are also a type of CD-ROM drive. you can also find a description in the hard drive manual. The following configuration is recommended for IDE drives:   Primary IDE: hard drive as Master (Single) Primary IDE: Secondary IDE: CD/DVD drive as Master (Single) Users who want the full allotment of IDE components should connect the drives as follows:     Primary IDE: hard drive 1 as Master (Dual) Primary IDE: hard drive 2 as Slave (Dual) Secondary IDE: CD/DVD drive 1 as Master (Dual) Secondary IDE: CD/DVD drive 2 as Slave (Dual) There's usually a sticker on top of the drive explaining the necessary jumper settings. IDE ribbon cable (from left to right). IDE jumper table for a Maxtor hard drive. Or. . The same rules apply. jumper blocks.Most PC systems have one hard drive and one CD-ROM/DVD drive. Port panel on the hard drive: power supply.

analog audio. Ultra2 or Ultra 160 SCSIs are typical standards. 0 or 1 is usually used for the hard drive(s). In the following example. It is important to know how it works. The rest of the configuration is up to you. jumper blocks. A SCSI ribbon cable has 68 pins. The position of the individual devices on the SCSI cable.The Exception Although the SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) bus system offers greater flexibility. the bus must be closed with a terminal resistor at each end. so that the signals don't reflect. power supply (from left to right). "Wide" models even allow 14 devices to be operated. the manufacturer has named its SCSI address IDs DAS0 to DAS3. . The drives are distinguished by way of so-called SCSI Ids that run from 0 to 7 or 0 to 15. SCSI is only used for workstations and servers. ID7 is usually the host adapter. IDE cable. LVD cables have their terminator as a plug-on module. it's also much more expensive. Termination can mostly be activated by a jumper on the last device. SCSI is an open bus system and allows cable lengths of well over a meter. by the way. is up to you. Jumpers are used to define the ID address from 0 to 7. However. SCSI Drives .CD-ROM port panel: digital audio. All SCSI standards have one thing in common: you can run at least seven drives on one adapter.

Connector blocks on an SCSI hard drive: power supply. termination can be activated by bridging pins 9 and 10. Jumper table for setting addresses. safety Notice: The Destructive Potential Of Electrostatic . jumper blocks (auxiliary connector). DAS0 to DAS3 are the SCSI address bits. This is called "Enable SE SCSI Terminator" in the picture. SCSI ribbon cable (from left to right).Description of the SCSI jumper block for auxiliary connectors. In this example.

Always check to make sure that the ribbon cable is long enough. Finally. Some components get warm or even hot when operating. leading to a shortened life span and instability. Unpack all the parts and keep them nearby.Walking across a floor dragging your feet will create friction. That much voltage can easily destroy sensitive components such as memory chips. which is particularly common with plastic floors and thick. consider where you want to put each drive. If you're intending to put in two hard drives. as used in industry. the soles of your shoes insulate you. rubber-soled shoes. This will ground you properly. But unless you're a real electronics whiz. Drawing Up A Plan Before you start the actual assembly. The ceiling light in your workroom is usually not bright enough. . All cables must be run so that no air vents or openings are completely blocked. they may overheat. which charges us with energy. the voltage difference may briefly peak at tens of thousands of volts. familiarize yourself with the case and components. Get yourself a proper lamp before starting. let's take a look at the various steps to putting together a PC. The most important thing to do before getting down to work is to ground yourself. Most cases don't come with instructions. So. That's especially important for modern graphics cards and hard drives. Everyone's felt the sudden shock from a static spark. Once you stop moving. Otherwise. you're unlikely to have one. An Overview Of Steps Involved First. but not so close that they interfere. the protective contact on a plug or the PC case). it makes sense to place the CD-ROM and/or DVD drive as high up as possible so that you don't have to bend down so far. try this instead: before you come into contact any of your PC's components. Ideally. Always make sure that there's enough air circulating for the heat to dissipate. simply touch something metal (a radiator. but valuable ones to follow when in doubt:       If the PC is under your desk. but you're still carrying around a different voltage potential than your environment. make sure that there's enough room between them. you'll have an antistatic armband. Make sure that neither cables nor other components can get caught in a fan. Preparing to fit the components.   Opening the empty case. so you should first check which screws and parts go where. This electromagnetic phenomenon can have dangerous consequences for electronic components. There are only a few rules for drive placement. especially if you work at night. and what each is for .and whether you may have to remove anything from the case before you can install the drives. Although the current from a static discharge isn't very high.

you can normally gain access to the interior of the PC-to-be from both sides. and we've discussed this in depth in an earlier article. Connecting the ribbon cables. Powering the drives and motherboard. Fitting the RAM. entitled How To Select The Right Case .         Fitting the motherboard. The above list is intended to be used as a general guide. Installing the graphics card and sound card. . The case we use has a slide-out tray for the motherboard and the expansion cards. There are a variety of case designs on the market. Connecting the cables for the case front panel. and cooler. Take time to familiarize yourself with the case before installing any components in order to avoid having to remove some of them later! Opening The Empty Case Empty case with motherboard tray withdrawn. We use a tower case in our demonstration because it makes for clearer illustrations. Fitting the hard disk and floppy drive. Final check. Some other cases have a one-piece outer cover in the shape of an upside down 'U. Installing the floppy and CD-ROM drives. In practice. processor. The same assembly principles apply for midi and mini cases.' No matter how the case is constructed. you can vary the actual order of assembly to some degree. Two side panels can be individually removed after undoing the screws. Our tower case is built to ATX specification and includes a 300-watt power supply.

Let's take another look at the photo. A power cord and screws should always be included. motherboard. When you have opened the case by removing the side panels. are made of softer and/ or thinner metal. ribbon cable. Fitting The Motherboard . You can always find reviews of the latest products on the Tom's Hardware site. and may contain sharp edges. Cheaper cases often force you to assemble the PC in a specific order. CD-ROM drive. better finish. Expensive cases provide clever design features.The price of a case is a good indicator of its modularity and build quality. floppy disk drive. together with articles on the latest developments and product recommendations. CPU cooler. and are often fitted with more capable power supplies. We use them to illustrate the installation procedure of similar components. graphics card. Preparing To Fit The Components Overview of all components (from left to right and top to bottom): network adapter card. sound card. The inclusion of a component from a particular manufacturer does not imply a recommendation on our part. The choice of components is entirely up to you. hard disk. a more solid construction. RAM. and. and you will also often find a set of case feet. you will see what accessories the case manufacture has supplied.

There are standard locations for these holes on the mounting plate. you should first lay the case on its side. screw in the spacer mounts for fixing the motherboard. Cases are normally designed to accept any motherboard. which provides a very elegant way to install the motherboard and all of its components. There are usually more holes drilled in the mounting plate than you actually need. How many of these are actually used depends on the board manufacturer. which correspond to the holes on the motherboard. Next. Spaced well away from the metal .Empty tray with six motherboard spacers. Cheaper cases will have a mounting plate fixed permanently to the case. Compare the available holes with the ones on your motherboard to determine where to fit the threaded spacers. . If you have this type. Our case has a slide-out tray.the motherboard on the mounting plate. The photo shows six spacers already fitted to the mounting plate.

.Installing The CPU And Cooler Lift the lever on the CPU socket.

Once you have installed the processor. Don't Forget To Use Thermal Paste Or A Thermal Pad . insert the CPU in its socket. Match this corner with the corner on the socket where there is a hole missing. If you are sure that you have positioned the CPU correctly (using the missing pin as reference). Please bear in mind that you should not force the CPU when inserting it! All pins should slide smoothly into the socket. First. raise the small lever at the side of the socket. lock the lever back down.When the processor is in its socket. you will notice that there is a pin missing at one corner. it is likely that one of its pins is bent. If you examine the CPU from underneath. The processor is keyed in this way to make sure it is inserted correctly. straighten the pin using tweezers or a screwdriver. If this has happened. To do this. push the lever back down. yet are unable to insert the CPU.

Failure to apply a thermally conductive medium to the processor can cause it to fail! Unless you use thermal paste. .Applying thermal paste to the processor. If yours did not. any slight misalignment of the contact surface of the cooler. since this material is a very efficient heat conductor. Mounting The Cooler A cooler made of copper is recommended. will prevent heat from being efficiently transferred away from the processor. or one just for Socket 423 (Pentium 4). You must apply thermal paste or a thermal pad to the top of the CPU. You should know your processor's socket type when buying a cooler. You have a choice of two types of cooler . or even the presence of tiny specks of dust.one suitable for both Socket A/462 and Socket 370. Some cooler manufacturers supply thermal paste with their products. This will help to transfer heat from the processor to the cooler. it is available from most good computer or electronics stores and costs around two to three dollars. Thermal paste also fills the microscopic valleys in the contact surface of the CPU (known as the die).

.Make sure that the cooler is in the correct position. Here is the cooler about to be connected with the socket.

Minor Differences With The Pentium 4 System . Two of these carry the power. You may have wondered why the connector lead for the fan has three wires. the third is used for monitoring the speed of the fan.Clips fix the cooler to the socket. the BIOS is always aware of the speed at which the fan is running. Fan Power Connection Plenty of air flow. Therefore. Here is the power connection for the cooler's fan. This applies to Socket A/462 (AMD) and Socket 370 (Pentium III and C3).

Intel specifies that motherboard manufacturers should provide a plastic guide rail to ensure that the cooler is always mounted flat to the surface of the processor. and Socket 7 all use the same method of mounting the cooler. Socket 478-based Pentium 4 systems are slightly different. . Pentium 4 motherboards have a socket with 478 pins and a guide for the CPU cooler. However. Also. as shown in the following pictures. the cooler is not locked down with clips but with a snap-in system. Socket A/462.Socket 370 (Intel Pentium III or Via C3).

The motherboard's chipset determines which type of RAM may be used. You will find the specification on the motherboard's box or in the motherboard manual. There are currently three types of RAM available: SDRAM. .Attaching a Pentium 4 cooler Installing The RAM The RAM must be suitable for the motherboard. DDR SDRAM and RDRAM.

Then. A notch at the bottom of the memory module ensures that the RAM is fitted correctly. Passed the first hurdle. To make sure it is seated correctly. DDR SDRAM and RDRAM. Sound And Network . The notch will snap into its key as soon as one side is seated correctly. It is best to push one side down first. carefully press the module into the slot. Motherboard with processor. Caution is recommended.Installing RAM. and then the other. as too much pressure may damage certain tracks on the motherboard. cooler and memory. DIMM memory modules have a notch underneath that lines up with a key on the memory slots. The notch is located in different places on SDRAM. you should line up the RAM with its slot before installing it. you can just lift it out. Graphics. Releasing the clips will pop the module out of its socket. Although it is not possible to insert the modules the wrong way. you can always take the memory module out again. Then.

Nowadays. This can often be solved by moving the offending PCI card to another slot or by manually reassigning IRQs. As a rule. For example. including the sound card.sound card (left) and graphics card (center) in white PCI slots. Now. in contrast to the PCI slots.In place . The insert may also form part of the back panel. IRQs can be reserved twice or even three times over. Choosing a location for a PCI card will not usually be a problem on a simple system. Installing The Hard Disk And Floppy We assume that you have already configured your hard disk the way you want it . master. . Resource conflicts can make it difficult for the operating system and motherboard to work together properly. There is room for a network card. selecting an appropriate PCI slot can sometimes be problematic with some brands of motherboard. and are generally located in the center of the motherboard. There is only one reason we did not fit the sound card next to the graphics card: we wanted to keep some space between the cards in order to prevent heat buildup. or slave. The other reason is more practical. PCI graphics cards are rarely used. If we had slid the motherboard tray back into position. the chip underneath will be producing a lot of heat that has to be removed. perhaps even with a fan on top. select a PCI slot for each of your other plug-in cards. If you see a large heat sink on a plug-in card. although sometimes convenient plastic clips are used. Before fitting an expansion card.single. you need to undo a screw to do this. In our experience. it would have been impossible to screw the hard disk in from the left. remove the appropriate slot insert from the back panel of the case (or of the motherboard tray). As you can see. if required. These are brown in color. The photo below shows the hard disk already fitted. we can look right through the case here. graphics cards are usually fitted in the AGP slots provided specifically for this purpose. however.

We would like to touch briefly on the topic of drive cooling. You should. Hard disks running at 7. therefore. First. we still have good access to the hard disk (bottom) and the floppy drive (top). always leave some space above them to prevent heat buildup. . You can see the screws for the drive on the side. check that the jumper configuration is correct.200 rpm can quickly reach temperatures in excess of 50°C. Installing The CD-ROM Drive Installing a CD-ROM drive is similar to installing a hard disk. The power supply fan is normally powerful enough to provide adequate air circulation inside the case.200 rpm drives. as it is quite important with the current 7.At the moment. Use two screws per side on each drive.

you can remove and replace these metal panels whenever you like. processor. If the metal knockouts are pre-stamped. as only metal can reduce electromagnetic emissions . If you have a high quality computer case. All key components. the case metal is actually hidden by plastic panels. RAM. have been installed. When we have opened up the hole. . such as the motherboard. Now it is time to connect the cables.the processor usually being the worst offender in this area. Heat is a consideration with CD-ROM drives. You only get to see the metal below the decorative plastic front panel when installing your system. the more serious the effect. sound card. the CE norm for cases has specified this kind of metal panel. is manufactured from a single. In practice. hard disk. as excess pressure can put a strain on the case that could lead to twisting. For some years now. CD-ROM and floppy. or knock them out using force. You will need the fine-threaded type screws. The entire front section. as it is with disk drives. there are two options. large piece of metal. you have to either take them out using metal cutters. in which the drive holes are then punched. The faster a drive's rotational speed. Tighten the screws only enough to ensure that the drive is secure.CD Drive In Drive Cage. we can feed the CD-ROM drive in and screw it into place. or at least the part where the drives will be installed. Be careful not to over-tighten the screws. graphics card. Connecting The Ribbon Cables Your PC should now look similar to the one in our photograph. Check carefully to see if there is an easy way to remove these panels that will reduce the chances of your accidentally damaging one or more of them. Always use four screws.

.PC still without the cables As you will be aware after reading Part 1. Cables are always color-coded to show pin 1. If you find that this is not the case. just remember that pin 1 is the one next to the power plug. Most drives also provide some kind of identification for pin 1. there are two main cable types: the 34-pin cable for the floppy drive and the 40-pin IDE cable (with 80 wires) for the hard disk and CD-ROM.

Ribbon cable. Bottom: 80-pin for hard disk. The markings show the direction in which the power flows. Drive Power Connectors . Top: 34-pin for floppy.

there is the large ATX plug that plugs into the power socket on the motherboard. RS. Disk drive power connector on the right next to the ribbon cable. A splitter cable provides two connectors from a single one. HD. consider buying one or more splitter cables. PW LED. It has four pins. PS or Power SW: power switch. Floppy drives have smaller plugs. The Reset and On/ Off switch will work no matter how they are connected. simply reverse the plug.Four-pole for 5 and 12 volts. or SPEAK: the loudspeaker output. RE. You should find these described in the handbook that came with your motherboard. Don't worry about polarity. as you already learned in Part 1 . Front Panel Connections Front panel connections: HDD LED (hard disk light). HDD LED: these two pins connect to the cable for the hard disk activity LED. the PC's on/ off switch. PWR LED or Power LED: the light-emitting diode on the front panel of the case illuminates when the computer is switched on. If you can hear disk activity but the LED does not light. If you need more than this. power (on/ off) switch and RESET switch in the top row. Power supplies are fitted with at least five plugs for delivering power to the drives. Below: mini speaker.      SP. which are easily recognized among the cables coming from the power supply. The abbreviations printed on the board itself are not particularly helpful for beginners. PW. It is a two-pin cable. ATX12 or P6 should be connected where required. Finally. SPK. but the LEDs will not light up if they are connected in reverse polarity. PWR. The latter provides extra power for power-hungry processors. PW SW. who may find the following short explanation of the abbreviations useful. . RST or RESET: connect the two-pin Reset cable here. The corners of the plugs and sockets are keyed to ensure correct polarity. The plug is two-pin. All motherboards group the pins that provide front panel functions at the bottom right of the board.

recheck everything.you've done it! You have fitted and connected all components. you can start your PC and install your operating system. Consider the following:        Motherboard jumper configuration: are the settings for the processor correct? Drive jumper settings: master/ slave correct? Are the processor.Final Check Congratulations . RAM modules and plug-in cards firmly seated in their sockets? Did you plug all the cables in? Do they all fit snugly? Have you tightened all the screws on the plug-in cards or fitted the clips? Are the drives secure? Have you connected the power cables to all drives? Once you have checked all of the above. Before you boot your new computer for the first time. . It is very easy to overlook something obvious.