Building your own PC is a great way to get a powerful computer for significantly less money than buying one. Plus if you add in the fact that you can upgrade a personal computer much more easily and cheaper than an "off the shelf," model the savings can be even greater! In terms of the price to performance ratio, you could easily save upwards of $500 or more over time just by building it yourself. If you've never built a computer before it can seem very intimidating but with this guide, I will show you just how easy it can be.
There are a lot of steps here but be sure to do them in this order and it will save you a great deal of time and make your build really easy.
Step 1: What you will need:
- CPU/Processor (Intel or AMD)
- Thermal Paste (this should come with CPU/Processor)
- CPU Fan (CPU/Processor typically comes with a fan)
- Video Card
- Power Supply
- Hard Drive and/or Solid State Drive
- CD/DVD or Blu-Ray Reader (or writer if you really need it, most won't need that function)
- Case or PC Tower
- Case Fans (If the case doesn't already have it)
- Keyboard and Mouse
- Anti-Static Band – Grounding (not necessary but recommended to protect equipment as you build)
If you need help in buying these parts, check out my two guides.
PC BUILDS THAT WORK FOR YOUR BUDGET
- Specific combination of parts I have already done the research on, just pick your budget and go.
QUICK GUIDE TO BUYING PC PARTS
- A reference guide on some of the best sites to do your own research and buying your own parts.
Step 2: Install the Motherboard
The first thing you will need to do is open up your case and there will be a long rectangular opening where the Motherboard USB, audio ports etc will go. In your Motherboard box, there will be a cover that will snap into that rectangular slot. Install this now, you don't want to get the PC together and realize you forgot this! Now depending on the case you get, install the screws on the side of the case that will allow you to attach your Motherboard to the case. Ensure that those screws line up with the holes on the Motherboard. At this point put on your Anti-Static Band if you have one. Insert the Motherboard and screw it down to the case.
Step 3: Install the CPU
Lift the latch and remove the protective plastic on the motherboard were the CPU goes. Place the CPU onto the motherboard. IMPORTANT: Ensure the CPU is seated in the correct direction. There is a tiny arrow to show you and the pins on the bottom of the CPU will match up with the pins on the motherboard. Once it's seated correctly pull the latched cover down and lock it into the motherboard to secure the CPU.
Step 4: Install the CPU Fan
Before you put the fan on be sure to put a thin layer of Thermal Paste on the top part of the CPU. Note: Most fans now have the paste on them already. Now install the CPU Fan. This can vary heavily based on the CPU Fan you purchased so please read the instructions to make sure you have the fan facing the correct direction. Now for the hardest part, lock down the CPU Fan to the motherboard. This part can be challenging but the new fans have made this process a simple push down with your screwdriver then turn the screw one turn to lock all four in place. It is critical to ensure the fan is secured to the motherboard. Now take the small wire from the CPU fan and plug it into the Motherboard. You will see the 3 pins sticking up on the motherboard that says CPU nearby.
Step 5: Install the Power Supply
Depending on your case the Power Supply will either be installed in the top or the bottom of the case and screwed in through the back of the case. Once secured, take the largest plug with about 24 pins and plug it directly into the Motherboard. There should only one pin set on the motherboard long enough for this.
Step 6: Connect Lights and Power Buttons to your Motherboard
Because every Motherboard is different, you will need to open your Motherboard manual and connect the small wires from your case to the bottom of your motherboard and in the correct order. New Motherboards have made this process easier by making it one simple plug into the Motherboard but its best to confirm the pins are in the right place.
Step 7: Install the Hard Drive/SSD and CD/DVD drive.
If you are lucky enough to have a screw-less case just snap in the Hard Drive and CD/DVD drive, if not just attach them with screws. Now connect the SATA power and data cables. The power cable will come from the Power Supply, fortunately, only one wire will fit. The SATA data cable will be separate just plug one it into Hard Drive and the other into the CD/DVD drive. These will then connect to the Motherboard. Generally located on the side closest to the Hard Drive and CD/DVD drives
Step 8: Install Video Card
Locate the PCI-E slot on your Motherboard, typically the top and the longest slot on the motherboard. Connect the Video Card to the Motherboard. Depending on your Video Card it may require additional power. You will know if it has 6 pin connection in the back of the Video Card. If so connect those from the Power Supply the Video Card. This is common for the higher-end video cards.
Step 9: Install RAM
If you have dual channel memory and not using all of the RAM slots be sure to fill the slots that are matching colors. You may need to check your Motherboard manual to know which set to use. After that just ensure you have the RAM facing the correct direction and push the RAM into the slot until it clicks into place. Don't force it, if you have to apply a lot of pressure you may break the RAM.
Step 10: Install Case Fans
Either use screws or snap the fans into the slots of your case. Then connect the 3 pin wires just like the CPU fan from earlier and attach them to the Motherboard. You will see these 3 pins on the Motherboard and generally will say "Fan" next to them.
Step 11: The End
Close up your case and connect your power, keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. Congratulations you have assembled your first computer. The remaining step is to install Windows and configure your brand new PC.
I hope you found this guide useful and congratulations on your build!