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How do I actually put my computer together???

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July 5, 2009 8:26:56 PM

QUESTION: Can you direct me to a site or tell me some things that are important while physically putting my computer together.


ok so i planned out all of the parts i wanna get. But im not sure how to properly put my comp together. I know the basic stuff. But im sure there are special techniques or careful things that i have to pay attention to.

I have checked various sites for how to build...but it seems like they are too general and are overlooking some things. I just wanna know what experienced people think is the best way to put together a computer :) 

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July 5, 2009 10:41:39 PM

First off, I dunno why, but it seems you triple-posted this thread. :??: 

As for special "techniques", there isn't much in the way of super-awesome-secret knowledge to putting a computer together. Assuming you have all compatible parts, it should fit together pretty simply. But I do have some tips for piecing it together without damaging any of the sensitive components.

1. "Why, this looks like the perfect spot to build!" :D  Find a clean, sturdy work surface free of clutter to put it all together. It should be relatively well lit, and you might want to have a flashlight and/or articulated desk lamp to direct light into hard-to-see places. Make sure you have all necessary tools for the build (re: flathead and phillips-head screwdrivers, a small pair of tweezers for small screws and jumpers, if necessary).

2. "You're grounded!" :non:  Or, more to the point, make sure you are grounded (electrically). Avoid working on a static-y carpet or table. It's best to keep components in/on top of the static-free bags they come in (where applicable). Some places sell wrist-straps that ground your hand to the computer case. This isn't strictly necessary, but it is a reasonable precaution to take if you are unsure of your environment, especially in a dry climate. That said, if you're really skiddish about the risk of damaging components, then you should install the power supply in the case as the very first thing. However, this may make it more difficult (or impossible in some cases) to install other components. You would then attach a power chord to the PSU (power supply unit) and plug it into a surge protecter plugged into a wall outlet. Sound counter-intuitive? The surge protector should be switched OFF during the entire build, but doing so will mean that the entire case and everything touching it will be fully connected to an electrical ground, quickly ridding itself of any damaging static or excess electricity. Even though the surge protector is not supplying electricity, it will still conduct excess electricity away to the ground. Mind you, last time I did a build, I took almost none of these precautions, but I did firmly ground myself and I removed anything that might cause static from the build environment. The other precautions are for those who are still skiddish after taking these steps.

3. "Magnets & Electronics are not friends." :non:  Well, not necessarily. It is commonly held that you should not use a magnetized screwdriver (a common feature to help keep screws from falling out of position when placing them to be screwed in) to assemble or fasten electronic components. There are also many people who say that it doesn't matter if your screwdriver is magnetized as it will not do any harm to the components, despite common belief. I have put together a computer with a magnetized screwdriver, and it worked (and still works) just fine. While that doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have to worry about magnets near your computer, it does mean that the magnetism of a common magnetic screwdriver is so weak that it is not likely to cause any harm short of being lain upon a bare magnetic harddrive. It may corrupt a few bits, but if it's brand new you should be formatting it anyway, which should solve that before it even becomes an issue.

4. "Be gentle, it's my first time." :sweat:  When actually putting in the CPU, RAM, and expansion cards, you should be gentle. Never force anything into place. This is especially important for the CPU as bending any of the pins will destroy the processor as a whole. I know that the LGA sockets used by Intel chips have some protection against this, but you should still be careful to prevent it. If something doesn't drop right into place, some pressure may be necessary. But no more than the amount of force needed to put a game cartridge into an old Nintendo. However, unlike a Nintendo cartridge, these components were not intended to be repeatedly put in and taken out. Be very careful to insert any expansion card or stick of RAM keeping applied pressure as close to perpendicular as you can. It's not as easy to bend and break silicon by accident as it may seem, but it is still relatively delicate. Any excess sideways force may break the silicone, damage the contacts, or damage the connection of the socket or slot to the motherboard. Also bare in mind that applying excess force onto the motherboard can also damage it by causing it to flex enough to break a connection to something like a soldered-on microchip. Hopefully, this should all be common sense and you should have already figured this part out.

5. "That's funny. The owner's manual never said anything about pan-dimensional beings tearing open a rift in space-time to reign down death and destruction on all I hold dear." :heink:  Sometimes something will come up that is not in the instruction manual (which you should always read through before doing anything else, even before you start building!). Search around online and on forums to see if other people have encountered this situation and how they dealt with it. Always use the "forum search" before posting a new thread looking for help. Also, read the user reviews of your components (if any are available) and see if anyone has some special suggestions for installing them. A particular component may require you to assemble other components in a particular order so as to accommodate its configuration/layout/size/peculiar dimensions. It's not uncommon to have to install harddrives before installing an oversized graphics card that restricts access to the SATA ports. Similarly, large heatsinks can be difficult to install onto your CPU due to size and/or weight, and may have odd mounting brackets. Larger heatsinks frequently have back-plates to help support the weight of the heatsink without flexing the motherboard too much, but this requires that either you install the heatsink onto the motherboard before putting the whole thing into the case, or that you have a case with a cut-out in the motherboard tray that allows you to access the back-side of the CPU socket for just such an occurrence.

6. "Don't go all in 'til you know you're gonna win." :sol:  Depending on your intended hardware configuration, you may want to exclude certain components from the system for its very first boot. This applies if you are going to install more than one graphics card in CrossfireX or SLi, and sometimes other components as well. In such a case, you should install only one card before you install Windows and all necessary graphics drivers, after which you can install the other one (or two or three, if you're going crazy with this rig). I have also encountered on build that refused to POST with both sticks of a dual-channel RAM kit in at the same time, but was fine with just one stick until after I installed Windows, after which it would boot up fine with both sticks. Generally, you should only install the system boot drive to install Windows, and then install additional storage drives afterward. I haven't done RAID with the boot drive before, so I don't know how that goes down, but for storage drives, you should install the RAID drivers after installing Windows but before installing the drives.

7. "Thin is in." :sarcastic:  When formatting the main system drive for the first time, do not format in FAT32. It may be OK to use FAT32 for a small recovery partition, but for the most part, you want your drive formatted as NTFS. Not only is it generally faster/more secure than FAT32, but when formatting FAT32 on most recent Windows systems, it will limit available disk space to approximately 32GB regardless of the disk's physical capacity.

8. "Out of sight, out of mind." :sarcastic:  Try and route your cables as out-of-the-way as possible to improve chassis airflow. Don't always go for the most direct path; if it can reach and you have the space, try routing beneath the motherboard or motherboard tray, or tuck excess cable or extra connectors behind the disk drives. Use zip-ties to bunch cables together to help keep cable clutter under control. If you can get it out of the way, then get it out of the way.

9. "You'll never know how high you'll reach if you don't at least try." ;)  After everything is up and running, run stress tests, such as Prime95 for the CPU. Just because your rig seems to run fine when you first boot it up doesn't mean it's stable. You need to push as many components to the limit as you can and for as long as you can to determine how reliable your rig is. You should run some of these tests at least over night to be sure that nothing will fail on you later on after the warranty has expired. Because if it is going to fail, it will fail fairly early when pushed to and beyond its limits. It's better to find out now when you are still within the "30-day money-back guarantee" or "90-day exchange policy" or whatever, than later when you'll have to pay more out of pocket to replace a faulty component when the company that made it doesn't care enough anymore to take responsibility for what may or may not have been their fault.

I don't know how much of this you already knew, so I just put together everything I could think of that wasn't the basics of "Insert tab A into slot B". Something a lot of first-time builders do is post what components they are planning to get on these very forums to get some feedback on compatibility and how balanced the performance of a system will be overall, and where to look for potential performance bottlenecks, because you could have 8 GB of RAM and quad-CrossfieX and it still wouldn't perform well when you're only running an Athlon X2 3200+ (somehow). And all the computing power in the world is useless if the power supply isn't up to the task of feeding it all the power it needs. Not to mention the importance of airflow in cooling the whole system.

I hope this obscenely long post can be of some help, and if anyone else has something to add or argue, please feel free to chime in!
July 5, 2009 11:17:31 PM

Youtube has a ton of build videos/info, depending on how popular/common your selected components are. Do a simplified hardware search (i.e. i did "i7 p6t build"). Found about 15-20 videos of different builds, a couple of which were similar, if not identical, to the build i have going. Just my two cents.
Related resources
July 6, 2009 3:05:34 AM

Building a computer is easier than you think. PC Bible has instructions for building a computer. Use that, along with any instructions given with your case/mb, and you should be fine. Have any questions, post them here:) 
July 6, 2009 3:05:46 AM

Building a computer is easier than you think. PC Bible has instructions for building a computer. Use that, along with any instructions given with your case/mb, and you should be fine. Have any questions, post them here:) 
!