This guide is for members that might want to assemble their own computer, but are afraid that it's too complicated a project. Hopefully this will show you that it's not.
EDIT: Link to a PDF file of the guide is at the bottom of this post.This is a simple project to assemble a basic home computer. From start to finish, it took me about 2 hours. This project creates a fairly up to date system. It uses an AMD AM2 CPU and DDR2 memory. Itís an economy computer with on-board video, LAN and USB 2.0 connections, on a Micro-ATX motherboard. If you wanted to use this for video work, I would add a second hard drive and a second optical DVD drive. The 512MB memory is sufficient for most video work. The CPU in this project is a used one. It was replaced in the original motherboard by a dual core CPU, which I would definitely recommend. An Intel CPU and motherboard would use almost exactly the same process to construct. Another easy upgrade would be to install a PCI-E video card in place of the on-board video. This would benefit gaming mostly and would free up a little RAM, but really not change performance that much. For higher performance, use a faster CPU.
If you need a PDF reader, I suggest Foxit Reader instead of the bloated Adobe reader: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/
I will eventually update the guide.
Sorry, it's a bit out of date, but the basics are still the same.
Some photos from the guide:
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Last edited by redwudz; 19th Dec 2014 at 15:17. Reason: Update of link
Nice guide. I like the details of it, especially the pictures for each step. I've been thinking about building my own so I'll definetly be using your guide, along with others, as a reference when i get around to it. Thanks
Thanks. Hopefully it will help some people to see that assembling a computer is not that complicated. The most important advice is to familiarize yourself throughly with the motherboard manual and the parts and their installation before diving in.
Congrats! redwudz on a job well done with your pc building guide.
I got it bookmarked already in my favs.
the first step really should be "Don't buy cheap crap!"
otherwise good job
redbudz, this is a great guide for someone like me, who in the future wants to build his own PC. For me never actually doing it before or actually knowing anyone who has to ask for help (since I'm my neighborhood "tech guy"), always kept me away from attempting. Didn't want to do something wrong and blow all that $$. Thanks again for all your hard work on that guide.....Well Done!What We Do In Life, Echoes In Eternity....
It's like glockjs said "Don't buy cheap crap!". From there, spend lots of time doing your research so you get what you want or need. That's the advantage of building your own machine. You can get exactly what you want.
Good guide ! Go easy on that heat paste. Just a thin layer will do. For the ease of trouble shooting, I will power on the system when I have the motherboard, CPU, RAM and video card installed. Once the system POST ok, when you see the text display on the screen, then I proceed to install the rest. Make sure that the heatsink sits flat on the CPU. I once fried a XP2500+ when there was air gap.
I had a similar problem once when installing a Socket A CPU cooler with the motherboard in the case. I thought I had it seated properly, but the computer shut down and restarted before it even finished the BIOS boot, about 8 seconds. Me, I tried 5 times with the same results.
Then I gave up and took a closer look at the cooler. The Socket A coolers have a stepped heatsink on one side. I had the step of the heatsink sitting up on the ledge of the CPU holder. Only the edge of the heatsink was on the CPU.
I was lucky that time. The CPU and the motherboard was smarter than me and protected the CPU. The thermal shutdown worked like it was supposed to. I pay a lot more attention to the heatsink positioning after I dodged that 'bullet'.
Fortunately, the AM2 and a lot of the newer CPUs have a large heat spreader on top of the actual CPU. That extra surface area helps a lot and it's almost impossible to get the cooler in there wrong. But you still want to double check it. That's a very good reason for attaching the CPU heatsink/cooler with the motherboard out on your desk where you can inspect it before installing in the case. In the case, it's really hard to see if the heatsink is properly positioned against the CPU socket. I also don't like cinching down the heatsink when the MB is in the case and watching the MB flex. Much safer on a hard surface.
Yes, go easy on the thermal compound if used. As mentioned, a magazine cover thickness is plenty. Some types like Arctic Silver may be conductive, so you don't want it down in the CPU socket.
Building computers is alot of fun. Nice guide Redwudz.
First boot tip- keep it simple. Install only cpu, ram, drives and gpu. Then proceed with OS install & mobo drivers and build from there.
A few general updates:
I found a handy program (Drive Tray Manipulator) to close the DVD tray from the desktop: http://www.bargainmonkey.com/dtm.htm There are a lot of other programs that can do the same thing. This will probably save the tray from getting broke by shoving it it by hand each time I want to close it.
I installed a inexpensive fan controller for the two case fans and lowered their noise level considerably. The cooling is still more than sufficient and the drop in noise level was a big improvement. I used one of these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811998129
I installed a PCI-E video card to see if that was worth the cost. No real improvement, though more resolutions and higher refresh rates were available. If I was gaming or needed to playback higher resolution video, maybe worth it. But the onboard video seems to function well enough by itself for everyday tasks.
I tested the computer with a trial version of the Vista OS. It did quite well. Hardware drivers took a little longer to locate and sort out, but they are all working fine at present. I upgraded the memory to 1GB and this helped considerately with Vista and I was able to use all the enhanced graphic functions like the 'Aero' transparency effects.
Redwudz, great how-to guide. I ment to comment on it in this thread but I got
lost in many issues during my pc building frustration and I sort of forgot to swing by here
and comment. Anyway.
Your how-to guide really did come in handy. And, even though I have many experience
in building pc's, it didn't hurt to visit and review my steps. I noticed that some things did
change since my last pc build. So it was helpful after all. And as I may have mentioned
in another place.., I hadn't built a pc in a coupld of years and this guide helped to make
the process easier, sort of -- (you already know my trials of this in another thread)
But, I just wanted to comment on what I found to be a possible help in future other
projects.., mine and others here, looking for that last bit of advice, etc.
1-- You already know about the .PDF request I made. You said that you were working on it.
So, that is good. But, I also found something that is missing from a how-to guide in yours.
2-- an index to all the steps. Example, something like this, maybe:
Photo 01 -- The parts
Photo 02 -- The case
Photo 03 -- parts included in the motherboard
Photo 04 -- the actual motherboard
Photo 05 -- the CPU cooler (fan)
Photo 06 -- Screwdriver (Phillips #2) only tool you'll need
Photo 07 -- The AMD AM2 Athlon 3800+ CPU. It’s sitting on an antistatic pad.
Photo 08 -- The case with the four rear screws and the two side panels removed.
Photo 09 -- The parts included with the case.
Photo 10 -- The case with all the wiring pulled out of the way, laid on its side.
Photo 11 -- Checking the motherboard for fit and seeing where the mounting holes line up with the case.
Photo 12 -- The contents of the case screw package.
Photo 13 -- The motherboard standoff mounts placed in the proper holes in the case. tighten w/fingers.
Photo 14 -- The generic mobo connector panel. Just pop it inwards and use the one included w/ mobo.
Photo 15 -- The proper motherboard connector panel for the ECS motherboard.
Note. It might help to have it listed here, at the top, because many will visit here and come to
this page, and might just want to go directly to a certain page -- (Maybe they were already here,
and are just catching up from a break or something and they are (could be) using this as a check-off
or something) So, adding this list here might help, in addition to adding it on your website ??
The index (above) listing will help in many ways, but one is obvsious. When you are
stuck or just want to review a certain step, (in your browser) you can always just click
on the Home (<--) button and jump straight to the index page. This will eliminate having to
step backwards through all the webpages. On dial-up, it is very slow, plus, some pages have
to re-download, again. So, this feature would help a lot.
I hope this was helpful to you.
Excellent guide, used it to build the computer I'm on now. Two months up now without any hiccups. Thanks.Pull! Bang! Darn!
vhelp, thanks for the comments and the suggestions. I haven't done anything with that site since I posted it.
But I have a friend that wants to put up a website for his art works, and has even less experience with HTML than I do.
I said I would help him, so now I have to go back and study a little more. Hopefully I will be able to clean my site up, add the index and the .pdf file, and make it all look a little better.
And thanks, fritzi93 for the comments.
One other big thing and you may laugh out loud about it - Make sure that the CPU that you buy for the motherboard will work with the motherboard and the motherboard supports that CPU. And yes I know from experience.
Thanks Red;/ l ,[____], Its a Jeep thing,
l---L---o||||||o- you wouldn't understand.
(.)_) (.)_)-----)_) "Only In A Jeep"
whats/wheres the best site/place to buy pc components in the UK please?
Scan, Aria, Ebuyer, Microdirect.He's a liar and a murderer, and I say that with all due respect.
Nice, obviously that guide is really accurate, at least in my case. I actually built a computer, something i thought was impossible! Thanks for helping me impress all the dudes at work!!!!!!LITEON man!
A good start , for basics .
But you may want to add some further reference as to :
A: The reason behind the chosen motherboard ... brand / size (full vs mini)
B: Case differences ... no good if you buy a kit with a full lenght mother board and it dont fit the case .
There's also cheapo case's which flex , no case strength , and crap button design which jam latter .
C: Psu watt recommendations .
Before paying out , do online research for complaints about components by others ... before you get burnt .
E: And OUCH ... what a cable mess .
No where ... lol
I have uk users buying from au , but I warn them about applicable duties and taxs that may need to be payed , and the issues in regards to warrantee returns ... but they still ask me to send the packages out anyway ... of course I test before they go out by express services .
These are people who want very specific components only that they cant seem to get a hold of in the uk .
It is for basics. But the site does need a rewrite. One of these days.
For motherboards, PS and case selections, I'll let someone else cover that.
I don't spend that much time zip tying down the wiring, as long as it's out of the way.
That wasn't a computer for sale, just a quick project. I took it apart a week later and installed the MB in a different case and added a card reader and a second hard drive. I also changed to a 'silent' CPU cooler and case fans. I use it in my office at present with a dual monitor setup for web browsing.
Nicely written guide and, for once, the photos are good. I've probably put together about 40 computers over the years so know what I'm doing. My brother decided to have a go after watching me do one and ran into serious problems. The actual putting it all together is the easy bit, making it run properly is when the fun starts. For the next edition can I suggest you go into greater detail on BIOS settings and loading motherboard drivers.
I appreciate that this is aimed at someone that has never done it before, but the trap my brother fell into was not installing any motherboard drivers. He loaded Windows and it all seemed to be working. Obviously it was not working to anything like it's full capability and this showed up when he tried to actually use it. He had completely ignored the disc that came with the motherboard. This is the bit that can make all the difference.
You might also add an extra piece on the end showing how to add extra plug in PCI cards for those with motherboards without onboard video, Firewire, Wi-Fi, etc.
I was going to add a 'troubleshooting' page, but just had too many other things going. The main purpose of the guide was to show newbies that it's really not that hard to assemble a simple computer.
I'll see what I can do when I have some spare time.
i didn't see it posted , but its best to start with all new parts. i built one for my sons recently and used some old parts and then ended up haveing a hard time to troubleshoot the problem.
I've uploaded my old 'Build a basic computer' guide to Videohelp. Link in the first post. It's a bit old, but the basics are about the same. It's in PDF format and the filesize is about 5.6MB. I will eventually update it. (Yeah, sure. ) Hopefully, you may get a few tips that may make building your own computer a bit easier.
Last edited by redwudz; 13th Jun 2016 at 13:33.