Instruction to Put Together a Personal Computer fromScratchThis weekend, I received a strange telephone call from my forme...
The motherboard is now securely mounted to the case. You can now attach the ATX powerconnector to the motherboard. Your AT...
If you buy retail-boxed CPU, it would include a heat sink + fan. If you buy an OEM CPU, makesure you got a fan that is cor...
The next step is installing the hard disk drive. Please choose the type of hard drive you will beusing to build the system...
Figure 1 - ATA 66 Cable                                    Figure 2 - Power cablePlace your hard drive into the HDD mounti...
Insert the ATA 66 cable into the ATA connector of the HDD. Make sure pin 1 on the cable isconnected to pin 1 on the HDD co...
Connect the other end of the ATA 66 cable to the primary ATA socket of your motherboard asshown. Make sure pin 1 on the ca...
Figure 1 - SATA Hard driveThe SATA cable connector is on the left-hand side which consists of few pins. Next to the SATAco...
Figure 2 - SATA Cable The image below is a SATA power connector. This needs to be connected to the power socketof the SATA...
Figure 4 - Molex to SATA Power cable converterFinally you need to fit the other end of the SATA data cable to a SATA socke...
drive and another device like a DVD-ROM on the same IDE cable, it will be fine, providing thatyou make an image of your so...
Finally the other end of the IDE cable should be connected to an IDE socket of the motherboard.The next step is installing...
All you need to do now is to screw the metal plate on the front of the card to the ATX case. Usethe screws supplied with c...
Place your sound card on top of a chosen slot. Gently push down the card so it sits in position.Once the card is seated co...
The next step is installing your modem. Find a free PCI slot on your motherboard (assumingyour modem is a PCI modem). Plac...
When the card is correctly in position, screw the card securely on to the case.Note that a TV card uses two IRQ’s (Interru...
Switch and LED connectorsEvery cable is normally labeled; they are normally named as follows, but could be slightlydiffere...
ATX power supply might have a main power switch at the back so make sure that is switchedon. Now switch the PC on by press...
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Instruction to put together a personal computer from scratch

  1. 1. Instruction to Put Together a Personal Computer fromScratchThis weekend, I received a strange telephone call from my former Electrical Engineeringclassmate. She wanted know how to put together a personal computer from scratch. I wassurprised by her question at first, but then I realized that the instructions on how to install apersonal computer are not written clearly enough for non-experience computer customers. Somecustomers don’t consider this issue. Also building a personal computer takes time and all theinstructions must be followed very closely. They think that building their own custom homecomputer is easy and getting exactly what they need is easy. Therefore, they order parts throughsellers companies’ website such as HP, DELL, and Compact. When the parts arrive, they openthe box and try to follow the step-by-step instructions to install them. However, the technicalsteps and circuit diagrams are not easy for them to follow. They don’t know where and how tostart. They panicked and called some friends for help. Sometime, the circuit is damaged orshorted out because it has been installed in a wrong way. As a result, these parts get thrown inthe corner of the study room and become trash. As a result, they waste a lot of money instead ofsaving it. If you would like to have a custom computer and want to build it by yourself, but you do notknow how to do it, then I will share with you some basic steps. One of the most importantdecisions you have to make before you order parts is what kind of processor or CPU that youneed for your computer. Your processor could be either Intel Core-2 or AMD-86x. Once youmother board, CPU, memory-SDRAM, IDE-Hard disk drive, SATA-hard disk drive, floppy disk,CD/DVD ROM, CD/DVD writer, graphics card, sound card, TV card, and modem. When theparts arrive, let the fun begin.First, unpack your case and take off the cover so that you can access the inside. Place the caseon a desk so that you are looking down towards the open case. Your case should come withmotherboard mounting screws. If your ATX back plate it not already fitted you can fit it byplacing your plate near the ATX back plate cut out and pushing the plate outwards, it should clipon. Now place your motherboard on top of the mounting screw holes. Make sure that your ATXdevices on the motherboard, such as PS/2 and parallel port are facing towards the ATX backplate cut out. Gently push your motherboard towards the cut out; every device should fit easilyinto its corresponding cut out. Below is a picture of motherboard cut out.The screw holes on your motherboard should align with the screw holes on your Place the screwsthat came with the case into the appropriate holes and gently screw the in using a screw driver. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 1
  2. 2. The motherboard is now securely mounted to the case. You can now attach the ATX powerconnector to the motherboard. Your ATX case should come with a power supply unit (PSU) andshould already be mounted to the case. The ATX power connector is shown on the image below.Place the ATX power connector on top of the power socket on the motherboard. Push down thepower connector down and it should clip onto the socket. If you try to fit the power connector thewrong way round, it wont fit. It will only fit one way. So, if the power connector does not go in,it should go in the other way round.The next step is installing the processor-CPU. Locate the processor socket on your motherboard.I am installing an Intel PIII 866 processor on a socket 370 as shown on the following image. Theinstallation would be slightly different if you have a different processor, i.e, Slot1 PIII CPU, P4Socket 478, Core 2 Duo Socket 775, AMD Slot A / Socket A, Socket AM2 CPU, etc.Raise the brown lever on the socket and slowly put the processor in place. You have to makesure the pin 1 of your CPU goes into the pin 1 of your CPU socket otherwise the CPU would notfit into the socket, so dont try to force it in. It will go in gently if you fit it correctly. Now closethe brown lever which will securely hold the CPU in place. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 2
  3. 3. If you buy retail-boxed CPU, it would include a heat sink + fan. If you buy an OEM CPU, makesure you got a fan that is correct for the speed of your CPU, otherwise your CPU will overheatand behave abnormally or it could be damaged. Take off the plastic cover that covers the heattransfer pad from the bottom of the CPU fan that covers the heat transfer pad. Now place theCPU fan on top the CPU and push down the metal clips on the fan so that it clips onto the CPUsocket.The CPU fan has a power connector which needs to be connected to the CPU fan power socketon your motherboard as shown on the image above. You have to specify at what frequency(speed) your CPU is running. This can be done using jumper settings, or, on some modernmotherboards, it can be done in the BIOS, or your motherboard may have automatic detectionfor your CPU frequency. Please refer to your motherboard manual for more details. Themotherboard I am using (Abit BX133) has a dip-stick jumper setting and it can be setup in theBIOS. I have left the jumper setting to default as I will use the BIOS to specify the CPUfrequency. The CPU runs at the bus speed of 133 MHz therefore I will use the settings 133 *6.5(multiplier) under the BIOS, which will the run the CPU at 866 MHz.The next step is installing Memory-SDRAM and it is quite simple. Find the SDRAM banks onyour motherboard; they should look similar to the banks below. Notice the memory bank has awhite clip on each side. Make sure you release the clips so they bend to each side. Hold eachcorner of the SDRAM, placing it on top of the bank 1. You will notice that the SDRAM has a cutat the bottom side; it is there to prevent the memory going in the wrong way round. If you areholding the SDRAM the incorrect way you will not be able insert it. Gently push down theSDRAM and it should clip on to the memory bank. The two white clips will now becomestraight holding each corner of the memory. If you have more than one SDRAM perform thesame steps as above but place the SDRAM in memory bank 2 and so on. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 3
  4. 4. The next step is installing the hard disk drive. Please choose the type of hard drive you will beusing to build the system. If you have an IDE hard drive (also known as ATA or PATA) thenchoose IDE. If you have an SATA (Serial ATA) hard drives then choose SATA.If you have IDE hard disk drives then please use the following process to install it. TheIDE/ATA connector, which consists of many pins, is on the left hand side which consists ofmany pins. Next to the IDE connector is the jumper setting for the drive. The jumper should beset to Master, which the default is setting for a new HDD. Any other device sharing the sameIDE cable should be set to Slave. Different HDD’s have different jumper settings; please refer toyour HDD manual for more information. On the right hand side, next to the jumpers is the powerconnector. Every device except the FDD uses this type of power connector.Figure 1 and 2 below show what an ATA 66 and power cable looks like. The ATA 66 cablewhich is also known as UDMA 66 cable is an advance IDE cable, which offers higherperformance and data integrity than the standard IDE cable. The ATA 66 cable consists of an 80conductor cable where as the standard IDE cable consists of a 40 conductor cable. I am using anATA 66 cable because the above HDD is an ATA 100 drive which requires an ATA 66 cable. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 4
  5. 5. Figure 1 - ATA 66 Cable Figure 2 - Power cablePlace your hard drive into the HDD mounting slot of your case, making sure that the IDE/ATAconnector is facing outwards. Screw the HDD to the case using the screws provided with theHDD or the ATX case. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 5
  6. 6. Insert the ATA 66 cable into the ATA connector of the HDD. Make sure pin 1 on the cable isconnected to pin 1 on the HDD connector. Pin 1 is the red or pink strip on the edge of an ATAcable. Most new IDE/ATA cables are designed so that they will only go in one way which willcorrespond to pin 1.Push the power cable into the power connector as shown. The power cable is designed to go inone way, so you shouldnt have any problems. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 6
  7. 7. Connect the other end of the ATA 66 cable to the primary ATA socket of your motherboard asshown. Make sure pin 1 on the cable connects to pin 1 on the ATA socket.Thats it. You have successfully installed a HDD.If you have SATA Hard disk drive, then please follow these steps to install it. Below is a pictureof SATA hard disk drive to help you understand it better. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 7
  8. 8. Figure 1 - SATA Hard driveThe SATA cable connector is on the left-hand side which consists of few pins. Next to the SATAconnector on the right side is the SATA power connector which consists of many pins. You willnotice that SATA hard drives do not have any jumper settings for slave or master as each drivewill connect to a dedicated SATA port on the motherboard.Place your hard drive into the HDD mounting slot of your case; make sure the SATA connectoris facing outwards. Screw the HDD to the case using the screws provided with the HDD or theATX case.Now have a look at the SATA data cable as shown on the image below. You need to connect oneend of the SATA data cable to the SATA connector of the hard drive. Look at the top of thecable to see which way it should go. It will only fit one way so you can not fit it the wrong wayround. Gently push the cable into place. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 8
  9. 9. Figure 2 - SATA Cable The image below is a SATA power connector. This needs to be connected to the power socketof the SATA hard drive. Gently push it into place. It will only fit one way so there is no dangerof fitting it wrong way round. Figure 3 - SATA Power cableIf you have an old ATX power supply you will not have a SATA power connector as they onlyhave 12V Molex connector. In this case, if you do not want to replace your power supply unitthen you can get a Molex to SATA power cable converter as shown on figure 4. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 9
  10. 10. Figure 4 - Molex to SATA Power cable converterFinally you need to fit the other end of the SATA data cable to a SATA socket / port on themotherboard. Again it will only fit one way so gently fit it into position. It does not matter whichsocket you plug it into as it will work on any SATA socket. But it is better to plug it into SATAsocket 1 if you only have one hard drive. If you add another SATA device you can connect it toSATA socket 2 and so on. Figure 5 - SATA Socket (port) on motherboardThe next step is installing CD/DVD writer. It contains all the usual connectors such as an IDEconnector, a power connector, audio connector, and a place to set the jumpers. Set the jumpers sothe drive is configured to run as a Master device. It is best to connect your CD-RW to a separateIDE cable. This will avoid problems when you copy CDs on-the-fly. This means copying asource CD from a CD/DVD-ROM drive to a blank destination CD in your CD-RW drive withoutthe source CD being copied to the hard disk first. Copying on-the-fly is less time consuming thancopying the source CD to the hard disk first. However, if you decide to connect your CD-RW Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 10
  11. 11. drive and another device like a DVD-ROM on the same IDE cable, it will be fine, providing thatyou make an image of your source CD on a HDD first before copying to your blank CD. Youmay have problems such as "buffer under run" errors if you try to copy on-the-fly. The picturesof CD/DVD drive below should help you understand it more easily.Place your CD-RW drive into a mounting slot as shown. Position the drive correctly and screw itonto the case.Connect the IDE and the power cable to the drive. If you want to use the CD-RW drive forplaying Audio CDs, then you also need to connect an audio cable to the Audio-out socket of thedrive. If you have a CD/DVD-ROM, then the audio cable is usually connected to that driveinstead of the CD-RW, but there is no reason why you cant have both. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 11
  12. 12. Finally the other end of the IDE cable should be connected to an IDE socket of the motherboard.The next step is installing graphic card. Most modern graphics cards are AGP based and connectto the AGP bus of the motherboard. An AGP bus (slot) looks like the following image. Thebrown slot is where you connect your AGP graphics card.Place your AGP card on top of the slot and gently push it down. The card should sit firmly inposition. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 12
  13. 13. All you need to do now is to screw the metal plate on the front of the card to the ATX case. Usethe screws supplied with case and screw the card to the case.The next step is installing the sound card. Most modern sound cards are designed with a PCIinterface and connect to the PCI slot of your motherboard. A PCI slot looks like the slots in thefollowing image. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 13
  14. 14. Place your sound card on top of a chosen slot. Gently push down the card so it sits in position.Once the card is seated correctly in position, screw the card on to the case.Finally insert the audio cable into the CD-IN socket. The other end of the cable should beconnected to Audio-out socket on your CD/DVD-ROM drive. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 14
  15. 15. The next step is installing your modem. Find a free PCI slot on your motherboard (assumingyour modem is a PCI modem). Place your modem card on top of the slot and gently push it downinto position.Once the card has seated correctly in position, screw the card to the case using the screwssupplied with the case.The next step is installing a TV card and it is no more difficult than installing any other PCIcards. Locate an unused PCI slot and place the card on top. Gently push card down into the slot. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 15
  16. 16. When the card is correctly in position, screw the card securely on to the case.Note that a TV card uses two IRQ’s (Interrupt Request) one for video and one for audio. It is bestto place your TV card into a slot which does not conflict with an IRQ of another device.Although IRQ sharing is possible, some TV cards may behave abnormally if you are sharingIRQs.Now that you have installed all the necessary hardware there are still a few more things you needto do before switching on your PC for the first time. Your ATX case has a power switch whichturns the PC on, a reset switch for resetting the system, a power LED which comes on when thePC is switched on and a hard drive LED which flashes when data is being written to or read fromyour hard drive. You also have an internal speaker. The switches and LED’s need to beconnected to their corresponding connectors on the motherboard. Now you need to check yourmotherboard manual to locate where the connectors are. Different motherboards place theconnectors in different locations. The connectors for the switches and LEDs are normallygrouped together. Below is a picture help you understand it better. Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 16
  17. 17. Switch and LED connectorsEvery cable is normally labeled; they are normally named as follows, but could be slightlydifferent on your system. Power switch Power / PWR-SW Reset switch Reset Power LED Power LED / PWR-LED Hard drive LED HDD-LED / IDE LED Speaker SPK / SpeakerThe connectors on the motherboard are also labeled but may be too small to see. Instead refer toyour motherboard manual which will provide details on to which pins you should connect thecables. The image below shows how the pins may be organized on your motherboard.Once you have connected all the cables to the correct pins on the motherboard, you are ready toswitch the PC on. At this point you can close the cover of your ATX case but dont screw it onjust yet as you might have possible problems that need rectifying. Connect all the cables to theback of the ATX case. This includes the main power cable that connects to the power supply, thePS/2 mouse and keyboard that connect to the PS/2 ports, and the monitor cable that connects tothe graphics card port, etc. Finally the moment has arrived. Switch on your monitor first. Your Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 17
  18. 18. ATX power supply might have a main power switch at the back so make sure that is switchedon. Now switch the PC on by pressing the power switch on the front of the ATX case. If youhave performed all the tasks without any mistakes and providing that none of the maincomponents are faulty, the PC should boot. When the PC boots you should see the name of theBIOS manufacturer, such as AWARD BIOS displayed on your monitor. Your CPU type, speedand the amount of memory should also be displayed as shown on the image below.If your motherboard has a plug and play BIOS and is set to automatic device detection bydefault, then you should see your IDE devices being detected followed by a prompt complainingabout a missing operating system. If your motherboard does not detect the hardware, then youneed to proceed to the BIOS setup screen by pressing DEL or F1 or F2 depending on yourmotherboard. Congratulations you have completed building your own PC. You now need toproceed to the software section which explains how to setup the BIOS, and hard disk and toinstall an operating system.If things did not go smoothly and your PC does not switch on then go to the troubleshootingsection for possible solutions. I hope these instructions will help you to build your own computereasier. All the pictures in this paper were published on http://www.buildeasypc.com/ Created by: Minh Anh Thi Nguyen Email: minhanhnguyen@q.com 18

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