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Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC

Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC - PCSTATS
Abstract: Assembling your own PC is not hard. Modern computer systems are designed to be easy to fit together, and they are.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jul 28 2007   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Handling Components Correctly

When handling computer components like motherboards, videcards, memory, or even a hard drive it is best to hold them by the edges. If you hold that videocard (for example) by the edges the PCB it is less likely that your fingers will even come in contact with any conductors, decreasing the chance of causing any ESD damage further still.

This is not only a good precaution, it is also a good habit as any Electrical Engineer will tell you. Certain electrical components (namely capacitors) can store an electrical charge even after the power has been disconnected for sometime that can deliver a nasty shock, or kill if they are sufficiently powerful enough... Don't worry though, all the components we'll be installing in the computer are more afraid of you, and don't carry enough charge to cause you harm.

Still, grabbing a board of electronics like you would a sandwich puts your fingers in direct contact with the little metal leads from soldered-on electrical components. If for example, your finger came in contact with the leads from a powerful enough charged capacitor you could get a very strong shock. The opposite rings true if you happen to grab a videocard when you're all charged up with static electricity. Instead of receiving a nasty arm-zapping shock, you may just deliver a nasty bolt of static electricity to a sensitive microchip - damaging it in the process.

Obvious precautions: Try not to remove articles of clothing while you work on the computer, for esthetic as well as practical reasons. DO NOT let your cat near the computer parts. Cats are walking static death bombs.

Now that the ESD precautions are out of the way, what do you need to build your computer?


- ATX computer case with at least 350-watt power supply
- Intel or AMD processor with appropriate heatsink
- Computer motherboard compatible with your processor
- 1 or more sticks of RAM (memory) compatible with the motherboard and processor
- 1 or more SATA/IDE hard disk drives
- 1 or more optical (CD) drives
- 1 floppy disk drive
- 1 PS/2 or USB keyboard.
- 1 PS/2 or USB mouse
- at least one video card (ie. PCI Express, 8XAGP, integrated video, etc.) compatible with the motherboard (this may be integrated into the motherboard on some models)
- DVI or VGA monitor (computer screen)
- Sound card (these are generally integrated into the motherboard, though depending on your requirements, this may not be enough)
- 10/100 Ethernet Network Adaptor aka NIC (if you plan to connect the computer to other computers in your household)
- A Phillips-head screwdriver with a long neck, preferably magnetized, because you WILL lose a screw or two during the course of this.
- A flashlight is always a good thing to have. So is a big desk, or table where scratches on the surface aren't a big deal.

Remember, you can also peek at the PCSTATS ShoppingList if you need some current suggestions to this basic list of components.

The system I am going to assemble in the article is a fairly typical Intel processor based midrange system for office use. Nothing too cheap, but nothing too expensive either.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC
 Pg 2.  Where to begin, and ESD worries
 Pg 3.  — Handling Components Correctly
 Pg 4.  Building the computer, first steps
 Pg 5.  Installing the Motherboard, CPU
 Pg 6.  Attaching the Heatsink
 Pg 7.  Installing RAM Memory
 Pg 8.  Mounting the Motherboard
 Pg 9.  Installing a Floppy Drive
 Pg 10.  Adding a Hard Drive
 Pg 11.  Hard Drives and Cables
 Pg 12.  Adding a CDROM
 Pg 13.  Getting Sound from a CDROM
 Pg 14.  Adding an Expansion Card
 Pg 15.  Troubleshooting

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