Building your own PC

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I know what you’re saying here, why would I build my own when such and such place is running a special on an already made one!? Now before this gets out of hand, there are great solutions that are ready made to fit a variety of people. Now, let’s say you buy a ready made PC and it’s great at the start, what happens if something fails after the warranty expires? Your out the money that’s what.

Now, most PC part makers have a standard 1 year warranty, some parts have more. I’ve seen parts with a lifetime warranty! Now that is a sweet deal to me. Well let’s get to the details here.

You first have to ask your self, what am i going to be using this computer for? Just word documents and web surfing?  Video editing and capturing? High end video game?  Or using the PC as a DVR. What ever the case may be, we will talk about a variety of solutions for what typical situations we might face.

Alright, next comes about what exactly you will need, A computer case, a processor (CPU) a hard drive or SSD (Solid State Drive), A graphic card (video card, and if your CPU doesn’t have on board graphics or you need a better solution), RAM (Random Access Memory), a power supply and lastly a motherboard to put everything in. Now let’s explain what everything is and does. A computer case is simple, it houses all your parts and have the fancy little power button. The CPU/processor is the brains of this PC, it does calculations and tasks so fast it can make your brain hurt. A hard drive or SSD, This is a touch one to answer, a hard drive has magnetic plates it stores the data on and spins at a certain speed, most users will be fine with this, storage is in a number of different sizes. some small to big to bigger. SSD’s are different, they are a Solid State Drive, which means that it is like very fast and permanent RAM. A video card is what takes the image of what your doing and puts it on the monitor, there are 2 types of video cards, onboard graphics, and dedicated graphics. onboard graphics means that the graphic chip is built into the  mother board and or processor. A dedicated card means that it’s a separate card that you install and add power, these cards are faster then anything. Now RAM, RAM is basically short term memory, things can be stored in RAM while the computer is on, but when it is turned off everything is erased, this is backwards of an SSD. Now a motherboard is the government of the system. it tells everything how fast to go and regulates everything so it’s safe, a power supply speaks for it’s self. it gives power.

Now let’s talk about buying the parts. What should i get? Can this go with this?  well in here i’m going to try and make it as simple as i can. when buying a CPU this will affect your entire build, the tell all questions is Intel or AMD? NOW HOLD ON, let’s not go all fan boy on here.  Intel and AMD have different strengths and weaknesses. Intel is better at video editing, AMD is better at multitasking, AMD also has a broader hardware compatibly and costs less. I prefer AMD because of the low cost for it’s items.  Now a CPU will have what’s called a “Socket” Intel has Socket 775, 1156, 1155, 2011, and 1366. AMD has socket AM2, AM2+, AM3 and AM3+, now all the older AMD CPU’s can fit in their newer AM3 and AM3+ sockets unlike Intel. NOW HOLD ON AGAIN. I WILL TEACH YOU WHAT THE SOCKETS DO.

Every CPU has a set number of “pins” for Intel the number of pins are what the socket number is. For example, the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors are socket 775, which means they both have 775 pins. Now with Intel you can’t fit older CPU’s into new sockets. Intels newer CPUs are it’s Core i3’s, Core i5’s and Core i7’s. These are all socket 1155, 1156, 1366, and 2011. AMD’s newer CPU’s are it’s  FX processors. which are AM3+ socket. AM3+ CAN NOT, i repeat CAN NOT go into a regular AM3 socket. make sure to check for that. Now, Intel has it’s set of new CPU’s which i stated before, the i3, which is a duel core entry level CPU for web surfing and stuff like that. The i5, which can be a duel core of quad core, it has more technology to make things faster and easier. It’s better for mild video editing and some mild games. the i7 is the flagship for Intel, it’s a quad core processor with lots of technology for the best of the best. AMD has their FX processors, which come in the 2 core, 4 core, 6 core, and 8 core (yes i said 8 cores) versions. they all basically have the same levels of technology, just a different number of cores.

Now more cores doesn’t always mean BETTER performance, if you are just surfing the web and editing word documents then a core i3 or i5, or a 2 core AMD processor is good for you. Anything more is over kill. If you do mild video editing and mild games, a core i5 or low i7 or a 4 or 6 core is best for you. now if you do A LOT of high end gaming, and video editing, the core i7 and AMD 6 and 8 core processors are best for you. Now each motherboard and PC needs RAM, RAM comes in a lot of forms and speeds, they have DDR2 and DDR3, 90% of motherboards now days will use DDR3 so don’t worry about that. The speeds that they come in say MHz (megahertz) the most common is 1066, 1333, 1600, yes you will find FASTER but they are more expensive and geared toward Intel more. The next question is how much RAM do i need? Well there is no ONE answer for that. I find that if you run 4 GBs (gigabytes) of RAM that’s more then enough for everyone. however, you can put in more RAM if your motherboard supports it. Video cards are different, they usually have a “series” of product line ups. There is Nvidia geforce, and ATI radeon (now called AMD radeon) Now how much performance your wanting depends on how much your willing to spend, you can get an older series card, like the 400 and 500 series card from Nvidia, or the 5000, 6000 series from AMD/ATI. the older ones are usually cheaper and still provide good performance. Or if your willing to spend the money and you play high end games or do A LOT of video editing then you can get a card from nvidia’s 600 series, or 7000 series from AMD/ATI. A rule of thumb is, the higher number in the series it is, the better it performs, and the more it costs.

Hard drives, motherboards, SSD’s and power supplies. Well let’s cover mother boards first. picking the right motherboard is top notch. you need to be sure it will support your processor, and the speed and amount of ram you want. Remember, the more you spend the better it is. There are many solutions that don’t cost too much an can do everything you want it too. (which is run haha) Hard drives and SSD’s. SSD’s are fairly new to the market. the make a good boot drive (which means your operating system is on it) because it is faster, and more reliable. However it is costly for a storage drive. Hard drives however are pretty inexpensive for it’s upper sizes. Like i said, if you just web surf and  edit documents then i say a 1 TB (terabyte) is more then over kill. If your a heavy video editor then you may need more then 1 TB, they make hard drives in up to 3 TB’s AND you have can multiple hard drives in your system if your computer case supports it! For the high end user/gamer, a mid grade SSD for your boot and games and a regular hard drive for everything else is best. Now about those power supplies… these can be tricky. They need to have the right connectors for everything and can power everything. if you don’t run a dedicated video card then a 500 watt power supply should be good for you. most motherboards use a 20+4 pin (24 pin) for the motherboard power and a 4 pin or 8 pin power connector for the CPU. they will usually come with a few extra molex  power connectors for older things, and a few sata power connectors.  make sure you have enough sata power connectors for the amount of hard drives you will use. If you use a dedicated video card I say you will need about 750 watts and make sure it has the above stated connectors PLUS PCI-E (PCI express) connectors required for your card(s) these come in the 6 pin, or 6+2 pin (8 pin) configurations, most cards will use one to two 6 pin PCI-E power connectors. I didnt really talk about a case, why? because these are usually universal in what they do, it only matters if your a high end gamer or video editor where you will need more fans to cool your PC parts.

 

Now lets get to putting this thing together, lets say you already picked out your parts and you bought them and unboxed everything. lets start with the CPU, motherboard, and RAM. take your motherboard and put it on it’s motherboard box, this keeps all the static away. now touch any metal parts of your computer case a few times. This gets rid of the static. Remember, SAFETY FOR THE PARTS! you will see when you buy a CPU it comes with a CPU fan, do NOT touch the bottom of that fan where you see grey stuff. That is what they call thermal compound. DO NOT touch it. now open up the CPU socket, this can me done with a little lever next to it. and pull up any plates or holder there are. There is usually a black safety plate there to keep the socket protected, remove it gently. DO NOT EVER TOUCH THE PINS ON THE CPU OR SOCKET. This is bad. Don’t do it! now look on the CPU for a little gold arrow, these is always one. Now look for an arrow on the socket it’s self, it may be gold or black. now once you fine it, match the arrows and gently put the CPU into place. Do NOT push it in. These sockets require ZERO force to install it. Now take the hold down plate (if one) and put it in the CPU, and take the lever and put it back to the locked position where you found it. Please note it MAY take some force to do this. Now take your RAM. and set it next t you, the RAM slots are long and usually next to the CPU (to the right) there are some tabs above and below it, open them by taking the above tabs and pressing up and the below tabs by pressing down. take your RAM and match the notches you see in the stick to the notches you see in the board. They will only go in one way, so if it doesn’t go in then flip it around. It will take some force to get them in, but not a lot. you know you have them in because the tabs you pushed out will click into place. now take the CPU fan and set it next to you.  All CUP makers have a different way of putting the fans on, so follow the instructions on that. Usually it is a clip system, get one clip in and then push down on the other one and push/pull a lever to lock it. Now set all that a side. Look inside your case. Answer these questions. Do you see brass stand offs? If yes continue, if no then follow the case’s diagrams to install them. you will need these so the board doesn’t short!

Now let’s get everything into place. FIRST install the power supply into the case. it is held in by three to four screws in the back of the case. Now move ALL the wires out of the way. and install the mother board back plate. Usually the colored side goes out. To test it it will fit gently set your mother board inside the case the all the ports facing the opening in the back of the case. Take your back plate (also known as an I/O shield) and line it up on the out side, if the ports line up to the holes your good to go, now remember that and take the board out of the case. The back plate has to go on from inside the case. once it clicks, your done. now you can put the mother board back on it’s stand offs and screw it in using the given screws.  Install your Hard drive ( or SSD) and CD/DVD drive into the proper bays. and install your video card into the proper mother board slot. (It’s the super long slots at the bottom of the board, use the first super long slot you see) alright you have all that done, now take your front panel connectors and move them toward you, get your motherboard’s manual and find the page where it says front panel connectors (may be called I/O connectors) and connect them in the proper places.

Alright your doing good! the hard parts are done!

Next comes power. plug the 24 pin power to its proper location, and the CPU power connectors to it’s proper location. and if you have a video card take the labels PCI-E connectors and plug them in. Now, your hard drive will no doubt take a sata power connection, route one of them to the hard drive (it will be the longer of the sata connection ports on the drive, same with the CD/DVD) and your done with power, YAY! all you have is the hard drive and DVD drive data connections, which is easy as pie.. Take your sata data connectors, usually red, and plug them into the locations of your hard drive and DVD drive. now look on your motherboard, it will usually have a numbered ports, always put your hard drives or SSD’s first, then your CD/DVD drive.

NOW wait for it! take a HUGE sigh of relief! plug your power cable into an outlet and turn the switch on in the power supply. now press the power button. If it turns on the give your self a pat on the back. if it doesn’t check your connections for power and the front panel connections. they can get messed up easy. Trust me i know. Now you can put your side panels back together and hook up your mice, keyboards and moniters and go to installing windows!

 

Now what did we learn here? Well we learned the hardest part is choosing components. There are SO MANY options to choose from! If you EVER need help with any of the steps I’ve listed, or you don’t understand something, leave a comment. I’ll get back to you. Have a good day everyone.