Build Your Own PC - Part 4

Now that you’ve grabbed all the components you need, here’s how to turn this pile of kit into a desktop demon. Windows Middle East brings you the grand finale of our four-part PC building guide.

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By  Chris Fernando Published  August 1, 2005

Now that you’ve grabbed all the components you need, here’s how to turn this pile of kit into a desktop demon. Windows Middle East brings you the grand finale of our four-part PC building guide.|~|grounding.jpg|~||~|1: Ground yourself ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) or static electricity is produced by your body rubbing against another material. It’s essential to discharge this before you touch any PC component, as most components - from mainboards to memory chips - are sensitive to ESD. Some PC assemblers use anti-static straps to discharge static electricity, but you can also do this by simply touching a metal object such as a screw on your PC cabinet before you get started.||**|||~|open-cabinet.jpg|~||~|2: Open the cabinet Most cabinets today feature easily removeable side panels that are simply slid back, while the front panel (called the bezel) remains in place. You’ll probably need to remove one or two screws that secure the side panel first though. Indeed it’s a good idea to invest in a quality toolkit that contains different types of screwdrivers, such as ‘Philips’ and flat head versions. You can buy these from technology stores such as Radioshack and CompuMe.||**|||~|IO-Panel.jpg|~||~|3: Place the I/O panel The I/O (Input/Output) panel is a metal sheet that contains cutouts for the external connectors on your motherboard (PS/2 mouse, PS/2 keyboard, and parallel port etc). Your PC case might already have this panel in place. However, if the one installed in your cabinet doesn't line up with your mainboard’s connectors, use the one that came with your motherboard. Insert the I/O panel as shown on the right and apply gentle pressure to pop it in place.||**|||~|Motherboard.jpg|~||~|4: Insert the motherboard Locate the holes on the cabinet that will hold the motherboard and screw in the brass/metal standoffs that came with the cabinet. Now, carefully place the motherboard. You'll know it is correctly seated when the mounting holes line up with the holes on the motherboard. Now use the screws that came with the cabinet to secure it in place. Be careful not to overtighten the screws however, or you may damage the motherboard.||**|||~|lift-the-lock-off-CPU.jpg|~||~|5: Lift processor lock Sockets for both Intel and AMD processors contain locks to secure the brain of your PC in place. Unlocking the processor socket is simple: just push the lever on the socket gently to slide it away from the lock and then lift. Although the purpose of AMD and Intel’s locks is similar, they do work a little differently. Intel’s LGA775 sockets for instance (right) feature a metal frame that sits on top of the CPU to keep it in place.||**|||~|Insert-CPU.jpg|~||~|6: Insert the processor To install the processor correctly, look for a small cut on the edge of the processor and a similar cut on the socket itself. Next, line these up. Then insert the processor carefully into the socket. Be sure not to touch the pins below the processor or you might unintenionally damage them. Also, while inserting the processor into the socket, be careful not to exert too much force, or else you might bend the processor’s contacts.||**|||~|Apply-Thermal-Paste.jpg|~||~|7: Apply thermal paste Applying thermal paste is a must before you install a cooling solution on the processor. If you don’t, any misalignment of the cooler or the presence of dust will prevent heat from being efficiently transferred away from the CPU. Some cooling solution manufacturers supply thermal paste with their products. If yours did not however, this paste is available from most computer and electronic stores for anywhere between $2 and $10.||**|||~|Attach-CPU-Fan.jpg|~||~|8: Attach the processor fan Make sure that the cooling unit you’ve purchased is designed to be used with the make and model of processor you’ve bought. With some Intel processors you need to line up the pins on the heatsink with the holes on the motherboard around the CPU socket and then push down. For Socket 754, 939 AMD CPUs and older Intel Socket 478 processors, the heatsink has a clip that must be locked onto the CPU socket itself.||**|||~|Insert-RAM.jpg|~||~|9: Insert memory (RAM) Open the locks of the memory socket and line up the RAM and the notch on the socket. Use your thumbs to push the memory module into place. The locking levers will then close by themselves. Check whether the memory chip is fully seated in the memory bank. Sometimes, one end of a chip might seat fully, but the other end not. If so, just push the non-seated end in with a little more force to lock it.||**|||~|Insert-PCI-Exp-graphics-car.jpg|~||~|10: Insert graphics card Most graphics cards - be they AGP or PCI Express based - connect to your motherboard in a similar way. To install your card, first identify the correct slot. PCI express X16 slots are longer and thinner than AGP slots. Now remove the relevant backplate cover in the PC cabinet, install the graphics card in its slot, and then secure the card to the cabinet with a screw. Do not use too much force when inserting your card into its slot. The image on the right shows a PCI Express graphics card inserted into its slot.||**|||~|Connect-Power-to-PCI-Exp.jpg|~||~|11: Connect power cable to graphics card Some high-end graphics cards require dedicated power from your PC's power supply. AGP graphics cards connect using the standard 4-pin molex power plugs, as used by IDE drives. However, PCI Express graphics cards (right) use a 6-pin connector to draw power. Most graphics card vendors usually supply a converter cable as most older power supplies lack this type of connecter.||**|||~|Sound-Card.jpg|~||~|12: Insert sound card Sound cards are inserted into white PCI slots. When installing a sound card, never force it into place. Also, always consider the spacing of your PC’s components. For example, if you have installed a graphics card that has its own cooling system, don’t then go on to install a sound card in the very next PCI slot. By leaving space, you will give the graphics card enough room to expel all the heat it generates.||**|||~|IDE-Cable-to-HDD.jpg|~||~|13: Connect IDE cable to HDD Find the IDE connector on the motherboard. Connect the hard disk to this port using an IDE cable. These cables are thin and have a red strip down one side (to identify pin one). Most IDE connectors will only work the correct way round, so don’t worry. You'll also need to set the master/slave settings for the drive. These are shown on a sticker on top of the hard disk. Designate your hard disk master by using the correct jumper settings.||**|||~|Power-to-IDE-HDD.jpg|~||~|14: Connect power cable to IDE HDD After connecting the hard disk to your motherboard, it’s time to feed it some power. Use a standard four-pin molex power connector. When connecting the power cable to the hard disk, the red strip on the IDE cable and the red wire in the power cable should face each other. This ensures that the power connection has been made correctly. This cable also goes only one way round. ||**|||~|Sata-cable-to-HDD.jpg|~||~|15: Connect SATA cable to HDD Serial ATA (SATA) drives use thinner cables that can only connect to a single drive. This means that you don't need to set master/slave settings for a SATA hard disk. Instead, simply connect the serial cable supplied with the drive to the hard drive and slot the other end into the relevant port on your motherboard. You can connect up to 16 devices on a single SCSI controller (or channel).||**|||~|Power-to-Sata-HDD.jpg|~||~|16: Connect power cable to SATA HDD SATA drives use a new type of power connector that many power supplies don't come issued with as standard. Fortunately, many motherboards ship with adapters for converting a standard four-pin power connector to a SATA power connector. Some drives ship with both the older connector and the SATA power connector. In this case, use one power connector or the other, but not both.||**|||~|HDD-to-drive-bay.jpg|~||~|17: Insert HDD in drive bay Once power and data cables have been connected, the next step is to insert the hard disk drive into the drive bay. First, make sure that the interface cable and power cable will reach the drive in its intended location. Also make sure that you don't mount the drive upside-down or backwards. The connectors should face into the middle of the case, so that the interface and power cables can easily reach them.||**|||~|IDE-cable-to-FDD.jpg|~||~|18: Connect cable to FDD One end of a floppy disk drive cable is solid ribbon, while the other has a small section of the ribbon cut and twisted around. Ensure you only attach the floppy cable as shown in the picture on the right (the cut portion of the ribbon attaches to the FDD and not the motherboard). The floppy's power cable is directional, so don't plug it upside-down or you risk turning your PC into a smoking pile of components.||**|||~|Floppy-to-Drive-bay.jpg|~||~|19: Insert FDD in drive bay Remove the faceplate of the floppy disk drive from the bezel of your PC's cabinet. Slide the floppy disk drive into the drive bay and screw it in place. Usually, the floppy drive will fit below the hard disk and will portrude a little at the front of the cabinet, helping you to insert floppy disks easily. Should you run out of 3.5-inch bays for your floppy drive, it’s no hassle to get 3.5-inch to 5.25-inch drive bay converters.||**|||~|Optical-in-drive-bay.jpg|~||~|20: Insert optical drive in drive bay Choose an empty drive bay and remove the front cover first. Slide the optical drive into the drive bay through the front panel of the PC cabinet. This will make it easier to connect the data and power cables around the back. Secure the optical drive in place by using the screws that came with it. Beware: using long screws can penetrate deep inside the mechanism of the optical drive and damage it.||**|||~|IDE-to-CDROM.jpg|~||~|21: Connect IDE cable to optical drive Optical drives connect to your PC in the same way as hard drives. Find a four-pin molex power plug and insert it into the power connector on the drive. Next, attach the IDE ribbon cable by connecting one end to the optical drive and the other to an IDE slot on the motherboard. The above image on the right shows the IDE cable connector connected to the optical drive. You can also see the 4-pin molex connector.||**|||~|Reset-Switch-etc.jpg|~||~|22: Connect LEDs and switches Connect other small, thin-wire connectors such as power and reset switches, power and HDD LEDs, and speaker connectors. Front panel connectors, such as the hard drive LED that lights up to signal hard drive activity, won’t damage your system if they are hooked up backwards. But do still make sure you follow the fine print on the motherboard to connect them correctly.||**|||~|ATX-power-supply-from-SMPS.jpg|~||~|23: Connect ATX power connector to motherboard It’s finally time to connect the ATX power cable to your motherboard. This will power the smaller components inside your PC. There are two types of ATX connectors - 20-pin and 24-pin. 24-pin connector and cables are found on newer motherboards and power supplies. Most power supply units also feature an auxiliary power connector. These are needed to cover the power needs of faster processors.||**|||~|boot-screen.jpg|~||~|24: Boot-up your new PC Once you've confirmed that everything is in place and connected correctly, switch on the power. Your system will beep and boot to the BIOS POST (Power On Self Test) screen. Following this there should be a series of errors such as missing keyboards. This is to be expected as you haven’t connected them yet! If your monitor screen shows the BIOS screen saying settings need to be configured, it means everything’s working fine.||**||

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