Illustrated Guide to Putting Your Homebuilt Computer Together
Now comes the fun part: putting your homebuilt computer together! Here's my step-by-step, illustrated guide to how to assemble a computer.
After days, weeks, or months of planning your homebuilt computer project, it all comes down to the next few hours when you will be assembling that pile of parts that's been sitting on the table (but hopefully not collecting dust) into your very own homebuilt computer.
The pages that follow describe the major steps in assembling a "typical" home built PC. It's a bit dated, but the basic principles are still the same.
Still, every computer building project is a little different. Take a few moments to look at your particular computer and plan for yourself what is the best sequence to use. For example, the design of your particular motherboard and case may make it easier to install the components in a different order than the order that appears here. That's fine.
Also take a moment to review the safety and anti-static precautions before going any further. Few things feel quite so bad as ruining a part of your homebuilt PC because of failure to protect it against static discharge.
But first, some words from my lawyer...
It should go without saying that ALL COMPUTER ASSEMBLY MUST BE PERFORMED WITH THE COMPUTER UNPLUGGED FROM THE AC POWER. But my lawyer insisted that I say it anyway. So there. It's been said.
And if you're a kid, please read this.
Our site statistics (as well the spelling in much of the email I receive -- some of you guys really need to work on that) suggest that a lot of people who visit this site are children or teens. That's great. Planning and building a computer is is a great (and fun) way for young people like yourself to learn about technology, math, electronics, and physics. (Hint: Those are good things to tell your parents so they give you the money for the computer parts.)
But it's also important that young people be supervised by an adult when attempting a computer-building project. So if you're a kid, make sure you have an adult review your plans and help you assemble your new PC. And have fun!
Explanation of This Computer-Building Project
The computer assembly project illustrated here is a few years old. I've built other computers since then and I always say that I'm going to photograph and document "the next one." Alas, what usually happens is that "the next one" is a rush job, and there's no time to find a photographer. But truthfully, the process really hasn't changed all that much, so maybe next time...
This computer was designed by my brother to enable him to work remotely from home and run standard desktop applications. He didn't need blazing power or high-end audio, so he chose an affordably priced barebones computer kit with integrated audio.
But because he occasionally manipulated graphics, he wanted a decent video card. He chose an ATI Radeon card with 128 MB of onboard video RAM, which was pretty high-end at the time. Nowadays, not so much: In fact, it wouldn't even be able to run a lot of the applications we use today.
And because he needed to connect to his office domain to work from home, he chose Windows XP Professional as the Operating System. Back then, XP was the newest version of Windows, and XP Professional was the only version of XP that could connect to a Windows server domain.
Take a swig of whatever beverage you're drinking, and put the cup down far away from where you are working. Liquids and computers don't mix. And if you have any questions, please feel free to post them on the Computer Assembly page of our Home-built Computer Forum.
Now take a deep breath, stretch a little, and let's start assembling your homebuilt computer.
- Assembling your New Computer (This Page)