So you want to build a computer but don’t know where to start?

Well you have come to the right place!

Essentially there are three main steps to building a computer.

Step 1: Establish a budget.
Most people can get carried away with their credit cards, especially when shopping for computer parts. Decide a budget and stick with it! Take into consideration what you will be using the computer for. A purpose, such as work, gaming, rendering, graphics and/or whatever else.

Step 2: Make a parts list and order from reputable online vendors

A typical computer consists of…
Display monitor
Computer Case
CPU chip
CPU Cooler (can be stock or aftermarket)
Thermal Paste (can be stock or aftermarket)
Video Card
Hard Drive or Solid State Drives (SSD)
Power Supply
Optical drives (such as DVD Burners or Bluray Drives)
Keyboard and Mouse

Typically, I order my parts from Newegg or Amazon. Their return policies are usually fair and their customer service will take care of any issues that may arise from problematic parts.

Step 3: Assemble the Computer
My suggestion is to find a local nerd to put your new computer together for you. If you can’t find one then you will have to do it yourself.

Listed below is a rough step by step guide.

Please note that I am not going to be held accountable for anything you screw up in your build, take these instructions at your own risk. Make sure to read your manual and instructions for any parts you are installing prior to a build. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Prepare the Case
Remove any plastic or covering inside the case. You can leave the outside plastic on until you’re completely finished. Locate where the power supply unit can be placed

Put the Power Supply Into The Case
Usually there are four mounting screws that will attach your power supply to your case. Most modular power supplies will allow you to just use the cables you need, but if you opted for a non-modular then you will have to figure out which ones you plan to use, then bunch up the rest of the cables using a twist tie.

Prep the Motherboard / CPU
It is important to do this outside of the case. It will offer you stability as well as a clear view of the top and bottom part of your board. Clean the top of your CPU and the CPU Heatsink off with regular isophoric alcohol (use a cotton ball, q-tips or microfiber cloth). Next apply thermal paste on the top of the cpu. Some people use an old credit card to spread the paste across, others (like me) will use a plastic sandwich bag. I find the bag to have a little bit more control, but it’s up to you. Rub any excess thermal paste over the top of your CPU cooler. Make sure to rub it in pretty good, in fact you don’t need a lot just enough to leave a slight haze. This will fill any micro holes with thermal paste. Put the CPU into the motherboard and follow your CPU Heatsink instructions on attaching the heatsink to the motherboard.

Place the Motherboard into the Case
With the CPU and Heatsink mounted, gently place the motherboard into the case. Make sure to take note of where the standoff screws are inside the case. Standoff screws prevents the motherboard from touching the bare plate of the case. Look at your motherboard, it will have holes, just lay out the standoffs in the same layout so each hole has a standoff to put a screw in.

Put the Hard Drives and Optical Drives into the Case
Now you can mount the drives into the 5.25″ and 3.5″ bays. This is pretty self explanatory. Most of the drives can be installed using 4 screws. Some cases are tool-less and will allow you to install it without the use of screws.

Install the Graphics Card and Memory Modules
Install the graphics card into a PCI-e lane. There will typically be slots on the lower left portion of your board use the top most PCI-e slot for your graphics card. The memory is usually to the right of the CPU. Consult your manual for the proper dual channel or triple channel setup. Every board is different and some may require the first two lanes, or every other lane, or the second set of lanes. You may be robbing your computer of power if you put this into the wrong slots, so make sure you check!

Attach the Power and Data Cables
Each drive will usually have a power cable that will need to be attached. Sometimes it’s a 4 pin, sometimes its a flat, L-shaped cord (SATA). The data cord is typically an IDE cord or SATA. The motherboard will have a 24-pin power cable that will need to be attached. Some boards will also require an additional 8-pin power cable (usually above and to the left of the CPU). Modern graphics cards will usually require a 6-pin PCI-e power cable.

Attach Any Front Plate and Switches
A case will most likely have a part on the front that you can plug in USB or Firewire cables to, sometimes it may also have a spot to plug in headphones or a mic. There are cables running into the computer that you will need to plug into the motherboard to provide power to the front bay. You will also need to look at your motherboard manual for the pin layout for your switches. These switches control the Power Button, Reset Switch, Hard Drive LED’s so forth…

Turn the Computer ON!
At this point you want to plug your monitor, keyboard and mouse. Turn the computer on to see if everything works. If everything is plugged in correctly your computer should boot and will eventually require you to install an OS or you can go into the BIOS and make sure the temperature on your CPU is normal.

Tidy Up
If all goes well then you are almost done! Lastly, you want to clean up your wires. Cable management is an artform in some regard. You can have a beastly computer but if the cables look like it’s been haphazardly placed then it will not garner any respect from other computer builders.

Install an OS
Last thing to pretty much do is set up your OS, like Windows or Linux. That’s pretty much it! Only other thing left to do after that point is just to install games, grab a beer and enjoy your new rig!

There are of course hundreds of variations to how you build a computer, but the above is a typical build for a standard computer. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.