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Determining what type of machine you want to build is the first step in building a computer. See morecomputer hardware pictures. Have you ever thought about building your own computer? Actually buying a motherboard and a case along with all the supporting components and assembling the whole thing yourself? Here are three reasons why you might want to consider taking the plunge: 1. You will be able to create a custom machine that exactly matches your needs. 2. It will be much easier to upgrade your machine in the future because you will understand it completely. 3. You may be able to save some money. And, if you have never done it before, you will definitely learn a lot about computers. In this article, we'll take you through the entire process of building a computer. You'll learn how to choose the parts you will use, how to buy them and how to put them all together. When you're done, you will have exactly the machine that you need. Let's get started.
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The first step in building a computer is deciding what type of machine you want to build. Do you want a really inexpensive computer for the kids to use? A small, quiet machine to use as a media computer in the living room? A high-end gaming computer? Or maybe you need a powerful machine with a lot of disk space for video editing. The possibilities are endless, and the type of machine you want to build will control many of the decisions you make down the line. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what you want the machine to accomplish from the start. Let's imagine that you want to build a powerful video editing computer. You want it to have a dual-core CPU, lots of RAM and a terabyte of disk space. You also want to have FireWire connectors on the motherboard. These requirements are going to cause you to look for a motherboard that supports: Dual-core CPUs (either Intel or AMD) At least 4GB of high-speed RAM Four (or more) SATA hard drives FireWire connections (possibly in both the front and back of the case) Then it all needs to go in a case with enough space to hold multiple hard disks and enough air flow to keep everything cool. With any computer you build, knowing the type of machine you want to create can really help with decision-making.
they might have multiple CPU sockets. these are motherboards for older CPUs. They handle the latest CPU chips at their highest speeds. which is another great way to build a cheap machine or an inexpensive home/office computer." a "high-end machine" or a "tricked-out super machine" and then choose your motherboard accordingly. The reason it is so interesting is because there are hundreds of motherboards to choose from and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example: Cheap motherboards: Generally in the $50 range. Extreme motherboards: Falling into the over-$200 range. A middle-of-the-road motherboard High-end motherboards: If you are building a powerful gaming machine or video workstation. One easy way to think about motherboards is to break them up into a few categories. these are one step up from the cheap motherboards. In many cases you can find motherboard and CPU combos in this price range. You need to decide whether you are building a "cheap machine. extra memory slots or special cooling features. For example. these motherboards have special features that boost the price. They are great for building inexpensive machines. Here are some other decisions that help narrow down your motherboard choices: . Middle-of-the-road motherboards: Ranging in price from $50 to $100. these motherboards give you the speed you need.Choosing a motherboard is the most interesting part of any building project. They range in price from $100 to $200.
Make sure the card's connector is appropriate for the motherboard (AGP or PCI Express). If your motherboard is using a specialty RAM configuration (normally to improve performance). If the case does not come with a power supply. (If you purchase a motherboard/CPU combo. That means you will need to buy a micro ATX motherboard. Do you want to try things like dual video cards or special high-speed RAM configurations? If so. make sure the motherboard includes a video card on-board (easiest way to tell is to see if there is a DVI or VGA connector on the motherboard). If you don't care about any of this stuff (or if it all sounds like gibberish to you). What size motherboard do you want to use? If you are trying to build a smaller computer. find an inexpensive motherboard/CPU combo kit and don't worry about all of these details. make sure the motherboard can handle it. . that might be a reason to go with AGP. Buying Computer Parts Once you have chosen your motherboard. PCI Express is the latest/greatest thing. AMD chips are often cheaper. (There are also smaller motherboard form factors like mini-ITX and even nano-ITX if you want to go really small. Otherwise you can use a normal ATX motherboard and case. you may want to look at micro ATX cases. Pick whichever CPU clock speed fits your budget and intentions. make sure the RAM you buy matches its requirements.) The RAM with the correct pin configuration that will match your motherboard. you are ready to choose everything else. make sure the motherboard supports it. Do you need FireWire? It's nice if the motherboard handles it (although it is also possible to add a card).Image courtesy Intel Corporation Do you want to use an Intel or an AMD processor? Making this choice will cut the number of motherboards in half. Here's what you need to get: The CPU that's the right brand and the right pin configuration to fit your motherboard. Make sure its connectors match the motherboard. In that case. but if you want to re-use an AGP card you already own. you can skip this step. Do you want an AGP or PCI Express graphics card? Or do you want to use a graphics card on the motherboard to keep the price and size down? If you want to go the cheapest route. but lots of people are die-hard Intel fans. you'll need to choose one. What pin configuration are you using for the CPU? If you want to use the latest CPUs. Do you want to use PATA (aka IDE) or SATA hard disks? SATA is the latest thing. Choose a video card if you are not using the onboard video on the motherboard. you may want to consider something bigger. Three hundred watts are enough for most machines. but if you are building a gaming machine with multiple video cards or a machine with lots of disks. and the cables are much smaller.) How many USB ports do you want? If you want several. then you're probably interested in building a cheap machine. make sure that your motherboard will accept them.
This is the fun part. . Choose an operating system: Windows XP (which comes in home. Visit a place likeHowStuffWorks Shopper to compare prices. and CompUSA have stores in most large cities that will sell you parts. but probably the easiest is to wear a grounding bracelet on your wrist.Any big city will have a number of smaller. make sure the drive can handle it. The people working at a shop like this can often answer lots of questions.. Installing RAM and the Microprocessor But before we start building. Don't forget about eBay. You have three options: Mail order on the Internet . local shops selling parts. Fry's. I live in Raleigh. you eliminate the possibility of static shock. Choose a hard disk. A big national chain . Now that you have your parts. If you are building a cheap machine. You will have to buy another one. Buying Now that you have picked everything out. Look in the Yellow Pages or online. and a typical shop of this genre in Raleigh is called Intrex. get the cheapest CD-ROM drive you can find. Then you connect the bracelet to something grounded (like a copper pipe or the center screw on a wall outlet's face plate). making sure that it matches the PATA/SATA status of your motherboard.All kinds of stores sell computer parts on the Web. and they may also be willing to help you if your machine does not work after you assemble it. it is time to purchase your parts. By connecting yourself to ground. The way you eliminate static electricity is by grounding yourself. If you want to burn DVDs and CDs. that CPU chip is dead. What that means is that if you build up static electricity on your body and a shock passes from your body to something like a CPU chip. professional and media center editions) or Linux in its hundreds of different forms. N. local parts retailer . Most of the parts you will be handling when you assemble your computer are highly sensitive to static shocks.A basic AGP-based graphics card Choose an optical drive. we need to say one thing about static electricity.C.Places like Tiger Direct. it is time to build. They also have people on staff who may be able to answer questions. There are lots of ways to ground yourself.
which are also included with the motherboard. cinch it down with the lever arm. To install our heat sink. you'll install the RAM. Now. Align the corners and drop the microprocessor into the socket. You'll accomplish this by placing spacers. it should fall into place. so you just need to put in the plate and press it until it clicks into place. The heat sink will contain either a heat sink sticker or heat sink grease to use when mounting the heat sink on the CPU. Make sure that the motherboard lines up with the faceplate and the holes line up with the spacers. You'll need to install the power supply. . you'll have to set it into the case first to see which screw holes on the motherboard match up with the pre-drilled holes in the case. Once you have it in. Don't screw them in too tightly -. The CPU box will contain a manual that tells you how to do it. all we had to do was put it in place. Then you can take the motherboard back out. Now your motherboard is ready to put in the case. Your motherboard should have come with a face plate for its back connectors. Follow the instructions closely to install it. you'll need to unwrap the motherboard and the microprocessor chip. Look on the motherboard for the slot marked "one" and firmly press the RAM module into it. The case already has a hole cut in it for the plate. You'll also need to connect some wires to the motherboard. If you drop them into the case. Now you can put in in the motherboard. a faceplate and standoffs to hold the motherboard in place.if it's aligned correctly. But in general. cinch it down with flanges on either side and lock it with a cam. The chip will have one marked corner that aligns with another marked corner of its socket on the motherboard. Next. you need to install the heat sink. Each side of the module should also have a rotating arm that will lock the RAM down.they just need to be in snugly. Because each motherboard is different. the motherboard. It will probably take more pressure than you'd think to get the RAM into place. and put the motherboard in on top of them. It needs to sit about a quarter of an inch away from the case's surface so that none of its connectors touch the case. Assembling the Case Next. they could damage the fine wires on the motherboard. here are the basic steps you will need to follow when you assemble your machine: First. Be very careful when putting in the screws. you'll assemble the case.Each combination of parts is unique. Connect the power lead for the heat sink to the motherboard. place the spacers. Find the screws that fit (these should have come with the case) the spacers and screw down the motherboard. You don't need to apply any pressure .
The fan side faces outside the case and the wire side faces inside. which makes it " pin 1. . Now you can install the power supply in the case if it's not already installed." Look on the motherboard and hook the cable into the IDE connector marked "1. If you are using IDE/PATA drives. If it fits.Installing the power supply. There should be a large one and a small one. then put the bracket back into its slot in the case. Now the drive is ready to go. Then connect the hard disk to the power using one of the connectors coming off of the power supply. One side of the cable has a red stripe on it. Connect the power leads to the motherboard. The case has a removable bracket with four rubber grommets on it. It also came with four screws made just to punch through those grommets. Now install the cables. Installing the Hard Drive The last steps are installing the hard drive and the CD-ROM drive. Screw the hard drive into the bracket.the manual has a page to tell you exactly where each one goes. which line up with four holes on the hard drive. Each of them has a label that corresponds to a label on the correct port. be sure to set the jumpers correctly. The power supply has two sides. and it will be obvious as to where each one goes. Slide the power supply onto its brackets and secure it with screws (the case or the power supply should have come with them)." Insert the other end of the cable on the back of the drive. Don't worry -. You'll be left with about 15 more wires. then it's a match.
Placing the hard drive into its bracket. Our motherboard has an AGP video slot so we have an AGP video card. making sure that it's aligned with the front of the case. The drive fits in the front of the case. If you are using IDE/PATA drives. If the case has extra fans. Again. Install the CD-ROM drive next. In the next section." Look on the motherboard and hook the cable into the IDE connector marked "1. One side of the cable has a red stripe on it. Again. and you may have to pop out a faceplate to make room for it. If the video card has its own power connector. Now you can close up the case and add a monitor. If it fits. you can use any available connector from the power supply. It also came with four screws made just to punch through those grommets. Now the drive is ready to go. Connect the audio for the CD drive. The motherboard only has one video card slot. so you should be able to find it easily (you can also use the manual). Line up the card with the slot and push it into place. Now install the cables. Then connect the hard disk to the power using one of the connectors coming off of the power supply. make sure they have power too. mouse and speakers. which line up with four holes on the hard drive. we'll cover what to do after powering up the computer and what steps to follow if it doesn't work. then it's a match. You'll also use the cable that came with the CD-ROM drive to connect it to the motherboard (align the red stripe for "pin 1") and plug the other end into the drive. now you'll install it as well. keyboard. connect it to the power supply. then put the bracket back into its slot in the case. be sure to set the jumpers correctly. Screw the hard drive into the bracket. which makes it " pin 1. The case has a removable bracket with four rubber grommets on it. Slide it in and screw it into place. there's an obvious place for it to plug in on the motherboard and on the drive itself. set the jumpers correctly. . If you're using a video card. Just as with the hard drive. Installing the Hard Drive The last steps are installing the hard drive and the CD-ROM drive." Insert the other end of the cable on the back of the drive.
Placing the hard drive into its bracket. save it for a scanner. connect it to the power supply. you will want to make sure that the ATX board matches the ATX tower. 1) What is an MGP Slot? 2) What connects to an ATX connector? 3) What connects to a FDD header? 4) What connects to a IDE header? And. How to Build a Computer: Questions and Answers Q: I am trying to build a computer and need some help with some terms that are being used. this will be the smaller ribbon connector on the motherboard. You have AT/ATX towers. If you're using a video card. we'll cover what to do after powering up the computer and what steps to follow if it doesn't work. If the video card has its own power connector. keyboard. As far as the connectors. set the jumpers correctly. It is faster then a PCI card. Our motherboard has an AGP video slot so we have an AGP video card. Slide it in and screw it into place. there's an obvious place for it to plug in on the motherboard and on the drive itself. Again. an AT is a dual connection to the motherboard. making sure that it's aligned with the front of the case. Install the CD-ROM drive next. Unless you plan to be a gamer. Now you can close up the case and add a monitor. The motherboard only has one video card slot. you can use any available connector from the power supply. 3) FDD connection is for your Floppy drive. 2) ATX connector: ATX is a type of board. In the next section. 5) do I need a 56K hookup? A: 1) This is correctly a AGP graphics card as described above. so you should be able to find it easily (you can also use the manual). and this . Just as with the hard drive. make sure they have power too. Again. The drive fits in the front of the case. Line up the card with the slot and push it into place. ATX is a solid connection. Connect the audio for the CD drive. don't waste your money on a AGP card. You'll also use the cable that came with the CD-ROM drive to connect it to the motherboard (align the red stripe for "pin 1") and plug the other end into the drive. and you may have to pop out a faceplate to make room for it. now you'll install it as well. but if you are building your own ATX computer. it is most likely that the Graphic will be on the board. mouse and speakers. If the case has extra fans.
you should have software that comes with that card. these are the thicker ribbons. Make sure that the red line of the ribbon is inline with pin 1 on both of these. 4) IDE connection: There is a primary and secondary. . secondary goes to your CDROM. 5) 56K hookup: This is a PCI Modem that you will install into the white PCI Block for Internet. they also plug in the back. Primary goes to your hard drive.ribbon then goes to the back of the Floppy drive.
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