Some people believe that you need a degree in mechanical engineering to build a PC. But this is absolutely not the case! As the saying goes, “the devil is not so terrible as he is painted.” Assembling a PC is a simple process that requires a certain level of attention from a person and just … a screwdriver. In today’s article, we’ll show you how to properly build your own PC in 2021!
Choosing the right hardware
The most important point when assembling a PC is the selection of components. Components need to be chosen not just like, but wisely. You must be sure that the processor you like will work on the motherboard you like (motherboard or MP), and so on. By choosing the wrong hardware, your PC will at least not work normally, but at the most, it will completely fail. Simply put, careless selection of components can cost you a pretty penny. Be careful!
So, here’s what you need:
- Housing. The cases have different form factors that must be considered when choosing other components, in particular the motherboard and video card. The case is not so important when assembling a PC, especially in the budget segment, but choosing it incorrectly can still lead to some inconvenience and difficulties.
- Power Supply. As the name implies, the power supply (or PSU) will “power” all sorts of components of your computer. When choosing a power supply unit, in no case should you save! We choose a model with the required power reserve from a reliable manufacturer. In terms of power, 500W is adequate for most average PCs.
- CPU. Here you have to choose between AMD and Intel – the only manufacturers of “normal” processors (CPUs) in the electronics market. For the most part, the choice will depend on the motherboard socket, preference, and the money in your wallet.
- RAM. As a rule, the higher the frequency and the lower the timings, the better the RAM (RAM or RAM). However, when choosing RAM, you always need to look at what the motherboard and CPU support, otherwise the memory will work in a limited mode. Most modern MPs support DDR4. The best choice is DDR4-3200.
- Storage. You can choose from either a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD). However, we recommend that you do not bother with outdated HDDs and immediately purchase an SSD for your computer.
- Video card. Optional choice. A video card is only important if you want to use your computer for video games or rendering. The cost of a video card is entirely up to you.
PC Assembly Tools
To assemble your computer at home, you need the following tools:
- screwdriver (cross);
- work surface protected from static (do not work on carpet!);
- capacity for bolts (believe me, they are lost very quickly);
- flashlight or other light source.
Actually, that’s all you need. In truth, the list can be reduced to just one screwdriver. The main thing is not to assemble the PC on carpets (and other similar) coverings in order to protect the iron from static electricity.
PC assembly process
Installing the processor
The assembly of the PC begins with the installation of the “stone” (processor) into the socket of the motherboard. Believe me, you don’t want to do such painstaking work when the case is full of all the other components. Okay, we take the motherboard out of its packaging, put the packaging on the table (or any other anti-static surface), and on top of it the motherboard itself.
As for the processor, be extremely careful with its contacts! Do not place the processor with the contacts facing down, otherwise they may bend. Of course, in this case, the processor is unlikely to work normally. Keep track of where you put the CPU and which side. In general, it is better not to take it out of the package until you start assembling. By the way …
Move aside the socket retainer clip on the motherboard, lift the cover and insert the processor into the socket in accordance with the markings. There is no need to press, move or adjust anything – the processor will lie in the right position by itself. As soon as the CPU is in the socket, lower the cover and slide the clamp. That’s it, the processor installation is complete.
Installing a CPU cooler
This may surprise some of you, but installing a cooler (cooler) for a processor is much more difficult than installing the processor itself. First of all, you should carefully read the instructions for installing the purchased cooler model. Retaining brackets, spring screws – there are a variety of fastening mechanisms. We read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly.
It is also very important to understand whether the thermal paste is applied to the cooler heatsink or not. As a rule, the coolers that come with the CPU itself have thermal paste already applied. Coolers from third-party manufacturers may not have such a paste. We look at our cooler – is there any thermal paste? If not, then you need to apply it yourself, but not on the heatsink of the cooler, but on the processor itself.
Some online users prefer to spread a thin layer of thermal paste over the entire CPU area, but there is a much simpler way: squeeze a small pea onto the center and press it down with a radiator. Physics in action, so to speak. We prepare the fasteners for the cooler, put in thermal grease and connect the cooler with a heatsink to the motherboard – that’s all that is required of you.
We repeat once again: carefully read the instructions that come with the cooler itself. And please don’t forget to connect the cooler power (3 or 4-pin cable) to the MP. Look for the connector labeled CPU_FAN on the board.
Random access memory is one of the most important components of a personal computer. Remember, your PC will never start without RAM. In addition, when installing the RAM into the motherboard, you need to remember some nuances. First, the keys (notches in the contacts) on the RAM strips and the corresponding connectors on the motherboard must match, otherwise you simply won’t be able to insert the strips into the connectors. Secondly, if you have two strips of RAM, then they must be put in two-channel mode.
Dual channel mode allows you to double the bandwidth of the RAM. Simply put, your PC will become more powerful. The gain is insignificant, but you will undoubtedly feel it in certain tasks. The dual-channel mode is created by placing the RAM strips in a specific order. Here’s a good example:
It is pointless and stupid not to put RAM in dual-channel mode when there is such an opportunity.
Installing an SSD or HDD
If you bought a brand new high-speed M.2 SSD for your computer, then you definitely need to install it in the motherboard at this stage. Installing an SSD in this form factor is done as follows:
- find the M.2 slot on your motherboard;
- unscrew the small bolt at its end (it should also come with the MP itself);
- at an angle, insert the SSD contacts into the M.2 slot and align it parallel to the MP;
- screw the bolt into the end of the SSD.
That’s it, the SSD is connected to the motherboard and securely attached. Now, as for SSDs and HDDs connected with SATA cables, you will have to wait a bit. It is better to first put the MP in the case and only then deal with these cables. However, connecting SSD (2.5 ″) and HDD (3.5 ″) is also not a difficult task. We insert the disk into a special tray of the case (for an SSD, a tray may have to be purchased) and add r ytve power from the PSU and a SATA cable from the MP.
CPU and RAM installed – motherboard is ready to start. If you are using an AMD or Intel processor without integrated graphics, then you will also need to connect a discrete graphics card to the motherboard.
Unpack the purchased video card from the package and plug it into the PCIe x16 slot of your motherboard. Do not overdo it! As in the case of RAM, insert in the direction of the key in the contacts of the video card. Well, we have collected the required minimum – it’s time to power up the components!
- Connect a 24-pin ATX cable from the PSU to the motherboard (this is the largest connector).
- Plug one (or two!) ATX 4-pin cables into the CPU power connector.
- Power the graphics card according to the manufacturer’s specifications (one 6-pin, one 8-pin, and so on).
- Insert HDMI or DisplayPort cable to your graphics card and monitor.
- Connect the power supply to the mains.
Now you just have to press the power button and start your unassembled PC. The question is: how to do this if there is no power button? After all, this button connects directly to the motherboard itself. The answer is to close the + and – (POWER_SW) of the power supply with a simple screwdriver. Here’s a good example of how this is done:
If you did everything correctly, then you will see the PC boot process. Press the Del (or other) button on the connected keyboard to open the motherboard BIOS in front of you. Here you need to see if the RAM is displayed, if the CPU is working at the correct frequencies and voltage, etc. Is it okay? Okay, turn off the motherboard and disconnect all wires from it. Also, does not forget to remove the video card from the PCIe x16 slot.
It’s time to put everything together in the system unit!
Installing the power supply and motherboard in the system unit
The power supply is the most important component of any personal computer. At the current stage, you are faced with the following task: install the power supply unit in the case. This task can be performed in different ways depending on the manufacturer. For example, in some cases the power supply unit is installed in the upper part, in others – in the lower part. Here are a couple of installation examples:
It is enough to set the power supply unit in the desired position and fasten it with bolts to the case (as a rule, only four). Ok, the PSU is fixed – what’s next? It’s time to start installing the motherboard. Do not worry, the matter is quite simple, it will require the same elementary cross from you. So, first of all, open the case and look inside. There you should see several holes with special posts that do not allow the MP to come into contact with the body. If there are no racks, then you can probably find them in the MP packaging.
Bring the motherboard under these holes to figure out which ones you need. Place the MP on a suitable stand (or screw it in there first) and screw it in with four or six bolts (depending on the form factor). Do not forget to insert a shield into the I / O case in order to secure the ports of your motherboard!
Completing PC assembly
At this stage, you just need to insert a discrete video card into the motherboard and connect all the necessary wires from the power supply to the MP. The process is painstaking and takes a lot of time, especially if you want to do some serious cable management (that is, run the cables behind the motherboard and tie them neatly), but there is nothing complicated about it. In the end, all the connectors on the motherboard must be mapped out.
The most important thing:
- motherboard – 24-pin cable;
- processor – 4-pin cable (or two 4-pins, if required by the CPU);
- video card – 6 or 8-pin cable (depending on power requirements);
- SSD / HDD – power cable from the PSU and SATA cable from the MP;
- USB, HD Audio, power and reset buttons, etc. – flat cables for 4, 2 and 1-pin.
“Why are the tips for connecting cables so vague ?!” – you might think. The fact is that motherboards from different manufacturers differ from each other, and therefore it is very difficult to advise something specific. We take the instruction manual, which comes with the MP, and read it well. You can also find a bunch of helpful guides for specific MT models on the Internet.
Building a PC can be tough and scary, but only for the first time. In the future, you will be able to do this almost with your eyes closed – and this has been proven in practice by more than one person!