DIY for Grown-ups: How to Build Your Own PC

Building a PC might seem like a daunting task that most would picture only a tech-savvy professional could achieve. However, this is far from the truth. Building a PC at home doesn’t mean that the person doing it needs to create all the components by scratch on their own. It’s more about assembly!

That’s right. Building a PC is similar to working on a LEGO set. Buy the products online, or at a retail store, and assemble them – making sure that the pieces fit together. Now, this sounds extremely simple, but don’t get too relaxed, it still requires work and wits, but it can be done.

For students who want some time to tackle a PC building project, outsourcing some academic assignments to an expert might free up your time. Check out essay pro reviews to save you the hassle of picking a suitable service. They can revise your papers, so there’s time for other tech endeavors. 

Moving on, before we begin with the building steps make sure to obtain these (PC parts):

  • Case
  • CPU: AMD or Intel processors
  • Graphics card: Optional. Good to have if the plan is to make a gaming PC, or the user has a huge workload.
  • Motherboard
  • PSU: converts AC to DC power.
  • RAM
  • Storage: HDD or SSD

Additional essentials include:

  • Workspace (don’t work on a carpet)
  • Bowl or tray.
  • Toolkit
  • LED light source
  • Anti-static mat and an anti-static wristband

If everything’s there, let’s move on to the building process. Follow our steps meticulously: 

1. Strip The Case 

1. First thing – strip the case down

2. Remove all removable panels. Unscrew the screws

3. Place them somewhere safe

4. Put your screws onto a magnetic tray or into a bowl

5. Remove the magnetic dust filters

6. Examine the case’s layout to understand where things should go

2. Install The Fans

This step should be pretty easy. Place the fans on your case. For those who are unsure of where the wind goes, there will usually be an indication of the fans.

The usual setup will require:

  1. Two fans in the front of the case drawing air in.
  2. One fan in the rear of the case blows air out.
  3. Any extra fans can also be set up if the PC case has extra and available mounting points – on the roof of the case, for example.

3.  Install the CPU

For this step, the motherboard needs to be configured before being installed. Side note, the CPU should be handled carefully. Do not touch the bottom, try to hold it by its sides.

For AMD and Intel processors:

1. Slide the retention arm out and up.

2. Lift the bracket. (This step only applies to Intel processors)

3. Carefully place the processor on top of the socket. Don’t forcefully press it down if it doesn’t fit properly. Avoid damage by gentle handling. 

4. Put the bracket back to its original position by sliding it back.

5. Slide the retention arm back down. Lock it back in its original position.

4. Install the RAM/Memory

Next is the RAM installation. It’s important to note what motherboard you have. Some have 2 slots, some have more. Typically, a manual is available that indicates which slots need to be filled first.

So, what needs to be done?

  1. Press the latches of the RAM slots on the motherboard.
  2. The RAM slot and the memory both have notches that need to be lined up together. Line up the notch on the memory with that of the RAM slot. Now, carefully push both sides of the memory into the slot.

5. Mount The CPU Cooler

CPU coolers come in various forms and sizes. Always follow the installation guide. Some coolers come with backplates, which need to be installed as well. The backplate needs to be fixed first, to mount the cooler in place. 

Air CPU Cooler

1. Detach the fans.

2. Install the heatsink onto the pins of the mounting plate. Do this before installing the motherboard.

3. Put the fans back in place and reattach them to the mount. 

4. Next, plug in the 4-pin PWM fan header.

Liquid CPU Cooler

1. Install the mounting plate first. Then, attach the heatsink onto the CPU.

2. Screw the liquid CPU cooler in place at the front of the case.

Refer to the cooler manual if anything remains unclear. 

6. Install The Motherboard

This step will be a bit more challenging than the steps before, so some patience and attention to detail will be necessary. 

  1. Install the I/O shield. Press it into the rectangular slot found at the rear of the case. Be careful and don’t push the middle or it could become permanently damaged. Instead, push on the edges.
  2. Check if there are existing motherboard standoffs and see if it’s in line with the holes on your motherboard. It’s important to remember that some motherboards have pre-installed standoffs for ATX sized boards. Some will not have any. 
  3. Lay the case down. It will be easier to place the motherboard like this. Afterward, place the motherboard on top of the standoff screws. The motherboard must be lined up with the ports and respective holes in the I/O shield.
  4. Use a screwdriver to fix the screws to lock the motherboard in place. Handle this step carefully and do not tighten them excessively. The motherboard might be damaged. 
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

7. Install The Storage

Time to install hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drives (SSD). Make sure to read up on what the difference between the two is. If you are a college student building a studying PC – your best bet would probably be a decently sized HDD.

  1. Typically, PC cases come with SSD bays. If the case doesn’t have any, the 3.5-inch drive caddies for hard drives should have compatible mounting points.
  2. The connection ports must face towards a cable cut-out inside the chassis.

Side note: For those who obtained an M.2 SSD, check the motherboard manual to see where to place it. These usually go directly into the motherboard and are not placed in drive bays.

8. Install The Graphics Card

Important: check the dimensions of the graphics card before buying it. Do this to avoid not being able to fit it in the case. For those who have a gaming PC, this step is very important. 

  1. Take the graphics card out of the anti-static bag.
  2. Find the PCIe slot on the motherboard that is closest to the CPU.
  3. Take off the 2x PCIe slot covers with a screwdriver.
  4. Line up the graphics card with the PCIe slot closest to the CPU. The GPU I/O ports must face out the back of the case.
  5. Press the graphics card in the PCIe slot. It should make a clicking sound, which will let you know that it’s in place. 
  6. Screw the PCIe slot cover back in to secure the rear end of the graphics card. 

9. Hook Up The Buttons And Ports

On the motherboard, there will be many different ports and pins. They’re needed to hook up I/O buttons and ports. 

  1. The front I/O power buttons will work once you’ve plugged in the correct cables. Check so that the orientation is correct, then press it into place on the pins. Refer to the motherboard manual to identify which pins and cables need to be connected.
  2. Any LED lights need to be oriented correctly with the + and – cables with the + and – pins on the board.
  3. Next, plug in the USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 header. Plug in the audio passthrough as well. USB 3.0 cables will usually have blue-colored ends. Install them into available slots on the board. Ensure they line up with the holes in the USB 3.0 cables.

Side note: Plug them in on the bottom left of the motherboard, this is typically where they are.

10. Connect The Cables

This step will again need patience. Here is how you can proceed:

1. Connect the 8-pin EPS from the PSU to the EPS connector on the motherboard. Typically, this is located at the top portion of the motherboard.

2. Take the 24-pin cable from the PSU and connect it to the 24-pin ATX port of the motherboard. This is typically located on the right side of the motherboard.

3. Collect the SATA power and data cables. Connect them to the hard disk drives. Typically, the SATA data pins are located at the lower right of the motherboard, below the 24-pin port.

4. Connect the PCIe 6-pin connector from the PSU to the graphics card through the cable holes.

11. Test It 

For this step, bring in the peripherals (monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.). 

  1. Plug in the power supply to an outlet. 
  2. Turn the computer on.
  3. Granted that it turns on, press the delete key until the BIOS screen comes on.
  4. Check the CPU temperatures. Make sure it operates around 30-40 degrees Celcius/ 86-104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Ensure that the drives are registered.
  6. Ensure that the memory is operating at the right frequencies. 
  7. Connect all of the peripherals.

Congratulations, if the following steps have worked without difficulty, the computer is working and running.

12. OS and Driver Installations

After the process of choosing an Operating System, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the flash drive that has the OS installed on the computer.
  2. Turn the computer on.
  3. Press the delete button repeatedly to enter BIOS.
  4. Find the boot page, which can be named under Boot order or Boot priority.
  5. Prioritize the flash drive that contains the OS. To do this, change the boot order.
  6. Save changes then restart the computer.

Installation of the OS will take a while, so be prepared to wait. Afterward, follow the steps to install the drivers correctly:

  1. Download the right chipset driver for the motherboard and graphics card. To do this, visit a credible source such as the manufacturer’s website. 
  2. For the graphics card, download a NVIDIA graphics card driver or AMD graphics card driver.
  3. Afterward, open the setup file. 
  4. Follow the installation instructions. The screen might flicker when installing the graphics card drivers.
  5. Restart the computer after the installation process, unless the computer automatically does it.

Building a PC will take time and patience, but it’s doable and can teach many people a lot about computers. Besides, it can be less costly than buying a pre-built one. We hope this guide was helpful.

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I have always been a shopaholic. A lot of times my questions went unanswered when it came to retail questions, so I started Talk Radio News. - Caitlyn Johnson

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