Many users simply buy computer equipment already assembled by technicians from certain stores, others use the online configurators that certain stores have, and others also buy them complete from brands such as Dell, HP, Acer, etc., but this type of computer is not always the best option for all users, but they are designed to work for most cases, without being optimized for any particular case.
But you may be looking for a very specific computer, optimizing for what you really use it for, saving money and enhancing those parts that you really need to squeeze more. This is not possible in the previous cases, so with this guide we will teach you how to assemble your own desktop PC step by step and piece by piece . This way it will adapt to what you really need and you can be proud that you have assembled it with your own hands.
Brand PC vs Clone:
I would like you to reconsider when buying a brand-name desktop PC, because if the equipment you are going to buy from a brand is an AIO or a laptop, you have no alternative but to buy brand-name equipment. But when you are going to opt for a desktop PC, I would strongly recommend that you seriously consider the option of assembling it yourself piece by piece, since the result obtained will be much better.
Keep in mind that manufacturers of brand equipment select elements that are profitable for them, because they make agreements with the brands of the components
Precautions and necessary tools
Although it is not a complicated process if you follow this guide, it is true that you must take into account a series of precautions so that the computer works properly and does not damage any component, especially microelectronics that are usually very vulnerable to static electricity discharges . To avoid that, I recommend that you purchase an antistatic wrist strap .
For the rest, with very traditional tools such as Philips type screwdrivers and your own hands you will have more than enough to assemble the equipment. You don’t need really expensive equipment or tools. If you already have the screwdriver, the bracelet will only cost you around €8-11. And you just have to put it on your wrist and make contact with the clamp with something metallic or ground, such as the structure of the casing/box or tower itself.
Make sure the equipment you buy comes with the necessary screws , otherwise you will have to put in the necessary screws yourself. Especially for holding motherboard to tower stand and for holding drives to case bays as well. They usually sell cheap screw kits of all kinds, so you don’t miss them.
You should also ask if the heatsink or cooling that you have purchased for the CPU has thermal paste or silicone . If it is the fan / heatsink that comes in the microprocessor box, they usually already have the putty attached to the heatsink and we will not have to do anything. But if we want to replace it with a better quality paste or if we buy other refrigeration equipment that is not the one that comes with it by default, then we will also have to buy the paste or thermal silicone (see next section).
Another mistake when assembling a computer, especially if you do not have enough practice or knowledge, is to purchase the components separately and then we find that they are not compatible . For this there are only two solutions, one is simply to inform you about the compatibility, but there is a much easier alternative for the most novice.
And one last piece of advice, if you have enough space, don’t stack the components on each other. Let me explain, if for example your box has 3 hard drive bays and you are only going to install two, leave the one in the center empty, instead of mounting them together. This will improve cooling, since if we crowd it all together, the heat from one will affect the other and no air will flow between them.
The same goes for expansion cards . If you have 4 PCI, do not glue the cards to each other, separate them. It doesn’t matter where you insert them as long as they’re in the right slot, so don’t worry about that. But if you separate them, the air will circulate better between them and the hot spots will be further apart, so cooling will be more efficient.
Choosing the best thermal silicone
Thermal paste, putty or silicone , whatever you want to call it, is essential to create a thermal interface between the heatsink and the CPU, thus improving heat transfer so that the cooling equipment does its job more properly. As I said, if you use the heatsinks that come in the CPU box, it will not be necessary, but if you use different ones, you must buy it.
To buy a suitable thermal paste, you must look at the brands. Refrigeration brands usually have thermal pastes for sale on the market, so it will be easy for you to choose a good thermal paste if you know these brands. Some good brands are Arctic, Cooler Master, Noctua, Thermal Grizzly, etc. I would recommend the Artic, because it is an option that does not usually fail.
The pastes are based on different components, since they have particles in suspension that will be the ones that really do the job of conducting heat. These materials are usually ceramics of different types, metals (zinc, silver, aluminum, copper,…), or carbon-based.
For example, the Arctic Silver 5 and the Arctic MX-4 are very different. The first is based on ceramic material, has good performance and is considered non-capacitive (does not contain metal). On the other hand, the second one is carbon based, it is very easy to apply but it is not suitable for OC (overclocking). On the other hand, we can have a Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut which is metal based and capacitive/conductive, so it could conduct electricity to the chip and damage it, but it performs extremely well in dissipating heat.
Most come in a single dose, easy to apply syringe . Others may come in larger canisters for technicians engaged in this. But if you are going to set up a single team, I recommend the first format.
Adjust the budget
It is vital that you know how much money you have to invest in your new equipment. Based on this, you can optimize the equipment by selecting the necessary components following the advice in the following section. For example, it is not the same if you are looking for a team of $800, one of $1600 or one of $3000.
Depending on how much you want to spend, you can then go choosing more expensive or cheaper parts until you get to assemble a team that fits the final price. Once again, I recommend the configurations of the websites mentioned above, since you can see how the price increases as you add pieces. Thus, not only do you guarantee that they are compatible as I said, but you will also get an idea of the final price, even if you later choose to assemble it yourself and save assembly costs.
Choosing the right components
In order not to generate redundant content, you can use our PCs for different purposes guides to select the right parts. Think that you must first be clear about what you are going to use the equipment for, and only then will you know which one you need. This is important for two reasons, one is to choose the most optimized parts to achieve the performance, functionalities or characteristics necessary for the use that you are going to give it.
The other interesting reason to know very well the use that you are going to give it is not to invest another dollar in buying components that you are not going to take advantage of later or that have a performance well above what you need.
For example, if you want a PC to perform online tasks (read or send mail, visit websites), you don’t need large-capacity storage, on the other hand, if you dedicate yourself to video editing, you probably need a large capacity for space occupied by high-resolution videos.
For example, we are going to present the following table with different components and a number from 1 to 3 to designate the influence of each component in the use that we are giving it, so if you see a higher number, it means that you should invest a little more in that element if you are going to give it that use:
|General||Navigation||office automation||Developing||Media Design||Gaming|
With this table, you can more or less orient yourself to know in which components you should invest a little more depending on the use. Then there are particular cases. For example, if you are a gamer , I have given a value of 2 (medium) to optical drives, since optical media (CD/DVD) are increasingly used for video games, since they are usually downloaded from online stores such as Valve’s Steam . And also a value of 2 for other peripherals, but it could be that you are interested in acquiring controls, steering wheels, joysticks, etc., and investing a little more in that part.
Or maybe you like modding and want to invest a bit more in a tower or case design, even though it doesn’t really impact the actual performance or experience of any of the exposed fields. What I mean is that this table is generic, and according to your needs you could optimize it a bit more knowing exactly what you are looking for.
Preparing the environment
Now that we have decided how much to spend, and we already have the parts selected and in our possession, along with the tools, wrist strap, thermal paste, and previous considerations, the next thing to do is to prepare the environment to assemble our own desktop PC.
I advise you to do it in a large place , with a large work table where you can have all the components and assemble them. Also, you should have good ambient or artificial light to see properly. There you can unpack all the components of computer and leave them ready to assemble them, although I do not advise you to take the CPU, RAM, motherboard and GPU out of the anti-scratch bags until just when we are going to need them.
But we can extract the rest of the components to leave them ready. It is important that you take the manual of the motherboard , since it will be the guide that you can use to know how to assemble everything. Although here we are going to teach you step by step how to do it, keep in mind that each motherboard or each model is different, and there may be differences or different action protocols.
So put it out there! If you are a geek, you will already know the term RTFM (Read The Fucking Manual), or “Read the fucking manual”, that phrase that they tell you in many forums when you ask questions about questions that come in the manual or problems that you could have avoided simply by reading.
How To Build Your Own Computer? Let’s do it
Now it is time to get down to work to assemble our PC . Well, now that we are settled and with everything at our disposal, we are going to describe the process step by step and piece by piece using a current computer as a base (remember that there may be small variations depending on the model).
Step by step assembly
These are all the basic pieces of hardware you will need for your PC:
- CPU (Processor)
- GPU (graphics card)
- Storage device: SSD or HDD
- PSU (power supply)
- Operating system
- Input devices: mouse, keyboard, headphones
Step 1: open the box or tower
The first thing we must do is open the box by removing the rear screws or handles that some boxes have in order to remove the casing or external panels and access the metal panel that will serve as support for the motherboard. Not all models have screws, you can consult the instructions or quick guide that comes in your particular case to be able to open it, but it is not a major complication.
Once open, flip the tower onto the side where the motherboard mount is. So we can accommodate the motherboard properly in the next step.
Step 2 – Attach the Motherboard
Now, we put on our antistatic wrist strap and connect it to the plate support itself or to the ground. Then we can manipulate the circuitry. Take the motherboard out of its packaging and place it on the metal panel of the box to match the holes or brackets of the support with the holes that the motherboard has to be screwed. Usually putting a screw in each corner will suffice.
By the way, if the support does not have it, there are some spacers that are placed behind the motherboard, between it and the support, like the ones you can see in the following image, in order to leave a separation between the rear area of the motherboard and the metallic support and avoid electrical contacts.
It may be a little more difficult for you to work inside the space of the box , but I usually put the motherboard in the box first to avoid pressing it against the table or work surface, and that there may be a break. But in general, many tower supports are removed or folded down, so we can work much more comfortably. You just have to remove the screws to place the support panel together with the plate already anchored where it suits us best to work more comfortably.
The motherboard will also bring a kind of metal mold or protector that fits perfectly with the ports on the back, you can insert this plate into the ports and then adjust it on the back of the case or tower until it fits well.
Step 3: Install the CPU
Now we are going to take the CPU or microprocessor out of its packaging and insert it into the socket on the board. Specifically, the one in our example is an AM4. As you can see in the motherboard manual, it is very simple, you just have to slightly move the lever next to the socket outward to release it from the tab and be able to lift it.
The lever must be at 90ºC with respect to the surface of the socket, or it will not be open correctly and it will not allow us to insert the microprocessor. Once open, we just have to gently place the microprocessor on top of the socket so that the pins are inserted through the holes. You must not apply pressure, it must fall under its own weight, and you will see that it can only be inserted one way (note that there is a triangular or chamfer mark on one of the corners of the microprocessor and it must coincide with the one on the socket).
Once in place, we move the lever downwards to close it so that it stays attached and the contacts press to have a proper electrical connection. Once that is done, the microprocessor will be ready.
*Note: if it is an LGA-type socket, like the one some Intel and AMD chips have, you will see that it has a plate or frame that will also rise as we have seen with the lever. This is because in this type of socket there are no pins, but rather pads that must make contact. Not being inserted, they must be held with that frame that will close and press the microprocessor against the socket contacts. By the way, some bring some plastic protectors that we must remove.
Step 4: Mount the Heatsink
Now is the time to mount the heatsink with its fan that came with our CPU or another if we have opted for a different solution than the one preset by the manufacturer. In the case of being the one that comes in the box, it will already bring the paste properly distributed over the surface of the heatsink (do not touch the surface of the thermal paste with your fingers, since the oil from the skin can reduce efficiency), so that we will only have to put it on the microprocessor.
*Note: If you have opted for a different cooling, you will need to apply the thermal paste yourself. To do this, you can place a small amount, such as a chickpea, in the center of the IHS and then, with the help of an expired credit card or ID, distribute it in a uniform and thin layer over the entire surface. I take care not to leave anything uncovered or excesses, neither one nor the other is adequate.
Then we will adjust the metal supports that the heatsink brings with the moorings or supports that the motherboard brings. It is easy to do, also, in the CPU guide, there are usually drawings of how to do it if you have difficulties looking at it. But it’s just a matter of holding it down properly and closing a tab that leaves it attached permanently.
Finally, don’t forget to connect the three-pin power cable to the motherboard jack near the socket. There are three pins or spikes that you will see with the writing FAN or something like that inscribed on the motherboard. If you do not know how to identify it, we talk about them in the guide on the connections of the power supply. You just have to insert it, since the polarity will be correct since it cannot be inserted in any other way.
Step 5: Insert the RAM
If we have chosen only 1 module, we insert the DIMM in the first slot of the motherboard. Normally they are numbered, so we will not have a problem. Note that there is a notch on the module, so you can’t get confused when inserting it because it can only be inserted one way.
To prick the memory, retract the plastic tabs on the sides of the slots or slots on the motherboard, and then insert the module with a little pressure until you see a click sound and the plastic tabs close to prevent the module from coming loose.
If you are going to use more than one RAM module for your configuration and you see that the motherboard has more than one channel, that is, you see that there are 2 and 2 separate slots or 3 and 3, to make better use of the channel capabilities, insert one of the modules in slot 1 and the other in the first of the other tandem of slots.
Step 6 – Put in the PSU
Now we put the PSU or power supply. To do this, insert the fountain in the place prepared for it in the tower and hold it with four screws. It has no more mystery than that.
Once this is done, if you had removed the motherboard bracket from the case to work better, you can remount it and connect the power connection to the motherboard. And if you had not removed it, you can still connect the said cable from the PSU to the motherboard, it is unmistakable because it is the connector that has the most cables and contacts. You will also see that it can only be inserted one way, to avoid polarization problems.
Step 7 – Insert the Cards
Now is the time to insert the cards we have, in our case the graphics card and the sound card. To do this, make sure where exactly they are going to go, and once you have located the slot where it is going to be inserted. It is important since we will have to remove the protective plate from the rear area of the tower so that we can properly screw it to the tower and that the card ports can be seen from the rear.
The procedure to insert it is very simple, just put it in the PCIe x16 slot in the case of the graphics and in the PCIe x1 or PCI in the case of the sound slot, and press until it has been fully inserted. As you can see, there is no confusion either, because the direction of the ports goes backward and they have a notch that prevents them from being connected in any other way.
If it’s a high-end graphics card, it will have an additional 4-pin or 6-pin power connector like the one we saw in our guide to PSU connectors. In such a case, you will have to connect this cable from the source to the graphics card to power it.
Step 8 – Mounting the Devices in the Bays
If you have one or more hard drives, optical drives, etc., it will be time to screw them with 4 screws to the appropriate bays of the tower. You already know there are 3.5″, 2.5″ and 5.5″ drive bays, but you won’t have much loss as they will only fit properly in the right type. Once the drives are inserted, put two screws on each side in each of them to prevent them from moving.
Remember to remove the metal protectors (if any) and the external plastic ones that cover the holes that are not going to be used for external drives such as optical ones, otherwise, you would not be able to open or close the CD/DVD/BD tray… Make sure that those that have an outlet to the outside, such as optical drives, are well aligned with the front and that they do not protrude or are too far inward.
After being well installed, I recommend that you connect them to the motherboard with the respective connections or cables. Like the SATA3 to connectors, you’ll see on the motherboard marked with these designations. And we will also connect the Molex or SATA connections of the power supply to power each of the installed units.
In the case of an SSD that does not go in a SATA3, the assembly will be somewhat different, since it will go in a slot on the motherboard. We will only have to insert it properly as is the case with PCI Express.
Step 9 – Auxiliary Connections
To finish our assembly, we are going to connect all those auxiliary elements, that is, those cables that the boxes or towers have for the speaker or speaker that they have integrated, for the USB or sound ports on the front, for the additional fans that the box, for the RGB LED lights if you have them, etc.
It is important that you do it correctly since these connectors are not only used for the ports, lights, and so on but are also responsible for sending the Reset or PowerOn signal when we press the power or reset buttons on the box so that if we do not connect them properly it will not work.
For this step, I can’t help you too much, since each motherboard has them in a different way, but if you read the motherboard manual you won’t have much of a problem. Of course, all the plates usually have it in the same place. On one side you will see many pins with inscriptions on the PCB indicating what each one is, and with that and the manual, you will be able to connect them properly.
For case fans, you’ll see several 3-pin connectors along the length of the motherboard. There are usually 2 or 3 of them, and some power supplies even come with connectors for them or you can buy adapters. But with those of the motherboard, they are usually enough. Look at the pins on the board and you’ll see a few that are labeled CHA_FAN1, CHA_FAN2, etc. There we can connect with the fans.
Step 10: Close the box
Now everything is done, check that you have not forgotten to connect any device to its power cable and data cable. It is worth giving one last review. If everything is OK, we could move on to the next step before closing the box, although if you want to do it now, you can.
I say about closing the box, because it may be better not to do it right now and connect the rest of the elements in the next step (monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.), and perform a first test boot before closing it, just in case. something is wrong, to be able to have quick access to the interior. But be careful with the downloads or with manipulating the interior without having turned off the equipment and completely disconnected the PSU.
The rest of the elements that you have bought, such as monitors, multifunction, keyboard, mouse, etc., will be a matter of connecting them to the appropriate port, without further mystery. In fact, the ports only fit one way, so you don’t have to be afraid to connect them. The worst that can happen is that we connect the audio or screen to output instead of input and it doesn’t work, but changing it will be enough.
Once everything is assembled correctly, we move on to the next and last step.
First boot and installation of the operating system:
Now we start the system, if everything has gone well, we do not hear any beeps or we will see any error messages on the screen. In case it happens, we must know the type of UEFI we have and identify what the sound code we hear corresponds to or check what the error message corresponds to, to verify that the part to which it refers is correctly placed.
Since we do not have the OS installed, we can access the BIOS/UEFI Setup Utility Menu and see that everything is fine in that first boot.
As you can see, it’s quite a long process, but quite rewarding when you do it for the first time, and nothing complicated once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
Read more about All in One Computer: Advantages and Disadvantages
Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.