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Many people are afraid to build their computers themselves (buying the components separately and then mounting them into the case). However this is often the best way to buy a computer. The main reason is that it is cheaper and therefore money can be spent on better components rather than on brand names. Secondly it allows you to have a computer which corresponds to your needs. We have created a component finder that should help you find appropriate components on the Internet to build your computer.
This section contains instructions and tips to guide and help you build your own computer. If you think any information has been omitted, please feel free to ask questions using the message board. If you ask a good question, we will add it along with the answer to our FAQ.
If you want to assemble a computer from scratch, we have made instructions available that should lead to a successful assembly of a computer. However, we take no liability in what happens to you or the components (not that anything should).
Normally, you should have gotten a set of screws with either your motherboard or your case. If you did not, you will need to find some in order to attach the motherboard. Next you have to align the holes in the motherboard with the holes in the case and secure the motherboard with the screws (mentioned above). Once the motherboard is mounted, you need to plug the power connectors from the power supply into the motherboard. If a motherboard manual is available, it is a good idea to look in there for special directions in installing the motherboard. The steps after installing the motherboard are putting the CPU(s) in, RAM, expansion cards, hard drive, CDROM drive, floppy drive. Although this order is not compulsory, it is a good idea to follow at least a relatively similar one.
Lift the lever about 90 degrees. Place the CPU into the socket. Make sure that all the pins align, and do not use force while inserting. If it does not work, try rotating the chip 90 degrees, until it fits in. When the chip is fully inserted, lower the lever that you lifted earlier.
This installation is applicable to both slots. Locate the slot, and attach the supporting structure that came with the motherboard or CPU. Then, attach the fan to the CPU. You will definitely need a fan, as the CPU may melt without one. Once the fan is attached, plug the CPU into the slot, following the supports that you put in earlier. Once the CPU is in, plug the CPU fan connector into the motherboard. The location of the CPU fan connector on the motherboard varies depending upon the motherboard.
There are two kinds of memory: SIMM and DIMM. Although the SIMMs come in either 72- or 30-pin variety, we will only discuss the 72-pin variety as the 30-pin has not been in use for quite some time.
You will need to put the RAM in a specific order, starting from Bank 0, which is either the first slot or the last slot. Most motherboards will have "Bank 0" written next to the right slot, but if there are no indicators and there is no RAM in the motherboard, you will have to try both sides. To insert a RAM chip into a slot, you have to put the chip in at a 45 degree angle. Then rotate the chip such that it is vertical to the motherboard.
First, you need to push the latches on the side of the slot apart. Then take the DIMM chip and insert it straight in. When you insert it, make sure that you insert the chip the right way in. When inserting the right way in, apply some force on both sides of the chip and push down. The latches should snap in automatically, although it is sometimes required to snap the latches in yourself.
Expansion cards are cards such as the video card, sound card, and network card. On most new motherboards, there are three types of expansion slots: ISA, PCI, and AGP. These slots are not compatible with one another, thus a card designed for one type will not fit into the slot of another. The picture of the sound card shows an example of an ISA card, while the picture of the network card shows an example of a PCI card. We were not able to obtain a picture of an AGP card, but they look similar to PCI cards. However, they will not fit into the PCI slot. For every card that you install, read the documentation that came with it to see if any additional procedures need to be followed.
The hard drive should have come with a manual. In the manual, jumper configurations should be mentioned. If this is your first hard drive, then it should be the master; if it is the second, it should be the slave. Set up the jumpers accordingly. The next step is to find the primary IDE connector on the motherboard. Some old motherboards do not have an IDE connector, thus you will have to look on one of the expansion cards. For the rest of this section, we will assume that the IDE connectors are located on the motherboard itself. If it is not marked on the motherboard as to which connector is the primary connector, try looking in the manual. You will need to plug the IDE cable into the primary connector on the motherboard and into the hard drive. This cable has 40 holes in it. You need to plug the cable in in a specific direction. On the cable, there should be a red stripe on one of the sides. That side should go into the 1 pin on the motherboard and hard drive. It is usually written on both as to which pin is pin 1. You also need to plug in a power connector from the power supply into the hard drive. It should be obvious as to how this plugs in.
A small number of you may have SCSI hard drives. The installation procedure is basically the same as for the IDE hard drives. However, most commonly, the SCSI connector is not found on the motherboard, but on one of the expansion cards. A SCSI cable has 50 holes. Some SCSI hard drives do not need to be configured through jumpers.
The installation of the CDROM drive is very similar to that of the hard drive. Usually, CDROM drives are set up as slaves, and are connected to the secondary IDE connector on the motherboard. Other than that, all directions for the hard drive should apply.
As opposed to the previous two, the floppy drive does not have any jumpers that need to be set. All you need to do is find the floppy connector on the motherboard, and connect the floppy drive to the connector found on the motherboard. The floppy cable is somewhat thinner than the IDE cable. Then you need to plug a power connector into the floppy drive from the power supply.
When connecting printers, scanners, and other external components, you will need do so by using cables. The two cable types that you are most likely to encounter are Parallel and Serial. Parallel cables are most commonly used to attach printers and scanners to your system, while serial cables are usually used to attach external modems or to connect two computers together. If attaching a modem, the cable will usually be provided with the modem, whereas when attaching two computers you will need to either buy or make the cable.
After you have connected all the cables and plugged all the components in, you will need to configure the BIOS. When you turn the computer on, the instructions for entering the BIOS setup should appear on the screen. However, since all BIOSes are very different, we cannot provide information for correctly setting the BIOS up. You will need to refer to your motherboard manual for specific directions. After you set the BIOS up, you will need to install an operating system. The choice of the operating system is entirely up to you. [an error occurred while processing this directive]