After using our last guide (Building Your Own PC: Part Picking) to pick out the components for your next PC, it’s finally time to put it all together. Make sure you have a large workspace and nonmagnetic tools to work with. Follow along with the steps below, and make sure to take all the precautions outlined as well!
Install the CPU in the Motherboard
- Take the motherboard out of its package and place it on top of the cardboard box that it came in. Never place it on a surface prone for gathering static electricity, such as a carpet.
- Locate the CPU latch and open it.
- Remove the plastic cap covering the CPU socket. Hold onto this, in case you have to return the motherboard to the manufacturer.
- Place the CPU into the socket, aligning the notch and indicators appropriately.
- Close the CPU latch. A mild amount of pressure will be required. On Intel chips, a slight “crunch” may be felt.
Install the CPU Cooler
- Remove the cooler from its packaging. Read the manual that comes with the cooler to if a layer of thermal paste has already been applied to the cooler, or if one will need to be added.
- If thermal paste needs to be applied, place a small, pea-sized amount on the CPU, place the cooler over the CPU, and secure it with the screws provided.
- Take your RAM out of its packaging. The pins are on the underside of each component and should be handled with care.
- Check the motherboard manual for reference of which RAM slots should be used depending on how many sticks you are installing.
- Once you have found the appropriate slot(s), unclip the RAM locks on the side of the sockets.
- Match the notches in the RAM with the notches on the socket.
- Apply an equally distributed force across the stick to push the RAM into place. A click should be heard as the RAM locks are secured.
Install the Power Supply Unit
- Take the PSU out of the packaging. Follow the computer case’s instructions to determine whether to install the PSU fan facing upwards or downwards.
- Slide the PSU into the mounting area.
- Screw in the PSU screws, using the four holes available at the back of the case.
- Ensure that the PSU is in the OFF position by checking the switch.
- Plug the PSU into a power socket, grounding the PC.
Install the Motherboard
- Now that the CPU, cooler, and memory have been installed in the motherboard, it is time for the motherboard to be installed in the case.
- First, the I/O shield must be placed in the rear cutout of the computer case. It should click into place.
- Next, find where the standoffs must be installed into the case by holding the motherboard up to the case to find where the screw holes line up.
- Install the standoffs for the motherboard on the computer case.
- Secure the motherboard to the standoffs on the case by tightening the screws. Do not overtighten the screws. Only tighten them enough to make sure the motherboard is secure.
Depending on the storage device you have purchased, the steps to install it will differ. Always consult the manual to confirm installation should be done.
- Remove the M.2 SSD plate by unscrewing it.
- Install a standoff for the M.2 drive, if not already pre-installed.
- Place the M.2 drive along the slot.
- Secure M.2 drive with a screw and reinstall the M.2 plate.
- Put the SSD bracket around the 2.5-inch drive.
- If required, screw the drive to the SSD bracket.
- Secure the drive into the case.
- Put the HDD bracket around the 3.5-inch drive.
- Slide the HDD into the bracket.
- If required, screw the drive into the HDD bracket.
- Secure the drive into the case.
Providing Power and Plugging it all in
The power supply unit has many different cables that need to be hooked up to the components that have been installed so far.
- The motherboard needs two cables from the PSU. First, it needs the 24-pin ATX and 8-pin CPU cables. These can differ depending on the type of motherboard and form factor, but these are the most common types.
- Route the cables in the cutouts that the computer case has, then plug them in.
- Find the SATA power cable from the PSU and plug it into the appropriate slot of the drive.
- Find the SATA data cables and connect the storage drive to the motherboard at the appropriate SATA port.
Front Panel I/O cables
- Read the case manual and the motherboard manual to locate the pins that the case front panel I/O cables will plug into.
- Find the Power, HD audio, USB, power LEDs, and any other cables. Plug them into the appropriate pins marked on the motherboard.
If you have a modular power supply, you can unplug all the cables you are not using. If you have a standard power supply, use Velcro or zip ties to secure the loose cabling.
- Case fans may have already been installed in the case. If so, find the power pins located on the motherboard, and plug in these fans.
- If you install your own fans, first ensure you align them correctly and ensure that the fans will be directing airflow properly throughout the case. Generally, the front should intake, and the air should be directed out the back. More fans should be set to intake as opposed to exhaust, ensuring that static pressure remains higher inside than out, which helps with dust.
Install Graphics Card
If you have chosen to purchase a dedicated graphics card for your computer, follow the steps below to install it.
- Locate the rear PCI case bracket that is aligned with the PCI slot that the graphics card will be plugged into.
- Ensure that the motherboard graphics card latch is open.
- Carefully apply equal pressure across the graphics card to insert it into the PCI slot. A click should be heard, confirming the latch has been secured.
- Use the bracket screws or place the support arm in place on the graphics card.
- Connect all necessary power cables.
Author: Quinn Johnson, Tech Assistant