How to Build Your Own Computer

By Techwalla Computers Editor

Building your own personal computer (PC) gives you full control over the specifications. You can customize your computer for your gaming, multimedia, designing or general needs. Building a PC on your own may also save you money. You can shop for parts individually to get the best deals. Building a computer will require an investment of your time and patience.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Screw extractor
  • Flashlight
  • Computer case
  • Power supply
  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • Cooling unit
  • Memory sticks
  • Disk drives
  • Sound card
  • Video card
  • Network card
  • Operating system
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Speakers

Prepare the Computer Case

Step 1

Remove the cover from your computer case. Depending on the case design you may need to remove two or more screws from the back edge of the case cover before the cover can slide off. Some cases offer a screwless design and can be unlatched.

Step 2

Clean the inside of the case. Use compressed air or a moistened rag to remove any dust from a used PC case.

Step 3

Get rid of any metal or plastic plates preventing access to drive bays that you are planning to use.

Step 4

Take away the input/output shield if your computer case did not come with a motherboard installed. The I/O shield contains the connections for your keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. You will replace the I/O shield with the one designed for your chosen motherboard later in the building process.

Step 5

Install the power supply if your case did not come with a pre-installed power supply. Make sure the fan lines up at the rear of the case and the wires point out towards the front. Screw the power supply in place. Set the power supply to the correct voltage.

Installing the Motherboard

Step 1

Remove the motherboard from the protective packaging. If your motherboard did not some with a central processing unit installed you will need to install your CPU.

Step 2

Insert the processor at the correct orientation. Open the socket to a vertical lay out and position the processor by lining up the pin 1 locations of the processor and motherboard. Close the socket.

Step 3

Attach a heat sink and CPU fan combination cooling unit to your processor using heat sink compound. Attach the cooling unit to the power connection on your motherboard.

Step 4

Install memory sticks. Use the notch in the random access memory sticks and the plastic bridge on the motherboard socket to line the sticks up for insertion. Lock the RAM memory sticks in place.

Step 5

Turn your computer case on its side. Connect the motherboard to the case using the mounting plate and screws provided.

Step 6

Connect the motherboard and fan to your power supply. Make sure to connect the motherboard to the power and reset switches. Replace the I/O shield if needed.

Installing Drives and other components

Step 1

Attach any hard drives, floppy drives or compact disc drives that you will be using to the drive bays in the computer case. Use the screws provided.

Step 2

Connect the drives to the motherboard using the IDE cables provided and to the power supply.

Step 3

Insert your video card, sound card, network interface card (NIC) and other components into their respective slots on the motherboard. Connect these devices to the motherboard. The sound card may need to be connected to the CD drive as well.

Step 4

Check all of your connections.

Step 5

Close the computer case.

Testing your PC

Step 1

Connect your computer to your monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers. Plug in your computer and turn it on.

Step 2

Set up the bios. Make sure your video settings are correct as displayed and confirm your boot order. If you do not have an operating system installed on your hard drive you will need to make sure that the CD drive is the first boot device.

Step 3

Reboot your computer with the CD provided by your operating system. Follow the operating system installation directions.

Step 4

Test your computer. Make sure the correct device drivers are installed. Use the CDs provided with your components to install any needed drivers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your computer components in the protective packaging until you need them for installation.
  • Ground yourself before handling computer components to eliminate the risk of burning out a component with built up static shock.
  • Use a screw extractor to retrieve any screws dropped in the computer case.
  • Use a flashlight to get a better look at the wiring of your computer.