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Wondering how to build your own computer?

Building your first computer can be intimidating, but at the same time it's straight forward. That said, this is not for the faint of heart, and you must know that you run the risk of building a completely useless hunk of scrap metal. But for those willing to take the risk, the payoff has its own emotional satisfaction.

Follow boxed instructions carefully. When you initially embark on this sort of quest it's generally a good idea to enlist a little technical help from a trusted associate or an experienced computer builder. A knowledgeable sales person at a computer store can work in a pinch. The following is not a detailed list of instructions but merely a guide to give you an idea as to the processes involved in building your own computer. Do this at your own risk, and I cannot be held responsible for any loss you may incur.

Aside from the workspace, tools (computer screwdrivers, flashlight, etc.), and basic electrostatic protection you'll want to decide on the components. A personal computer has the following components:

  • Case
  • Power Supply
  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • RAM (memory)
  • Drive Storage (hard drive or solid state drive)
  • Optical Drive (CD or DVD drive)
  • Video Card
  • Operating System (i.e. Windows or Linux).
  • Computer monitor.


A computer case can run you from the very cheap to the over-the-top expensive, but it's where you'll house all the computer components. If the case is flimsy it might be a little too noisy when it's all done.

Power supplies are needed to pass power along to all the parts of the computer. It's very important you have enough power. So, read the box recommendation on the motherboard and video card to see what each recommends. If it says you should have a 450w then get a 500w to be safe. The cables in the power supply are varied to fit different components. Some components require specific power cables. Make sure you get a power supply that has enough of the right types of connectors. Not to worry too much though, as you can often get adapters to change connectors from one type to the next.

Motherboards and Processors go hand-in-hand, but are sold separately. There is a wide array of motherboards, and making sense of them all can be a overwhelming. So, breathe easy and start with the basics. What kind of processor will you be getting? AMD or Intel? If you said "Intel" then choose your processor and only look for the motherboards that are compatible with Intel.

Once you know your motherboard you can pick your RAM (memory) chip(s) as motherboards only accept specific kinds of RAM. The amount of RAM you want is determined by the minimum and maximum amount of RAM your Operating System and Motherboard can handle.

Drive storage is where you store your files, documents, and even installed programs. It's where you can put your computer files for later retrieval. Pick a hard drive or a solid state drive for the size and speed you need. Hard drives have moving parts that spin at a specific rate. These generally create extra heat for your computer and have to spin up to be read. Solid state drives have no moving parts and produce very little heat. The big difference between Hard Drives and Solid State Drives are the prices and sizes of each.

Optical Drives are CD or DVD drives that let you install programs and watch videos on your computer. You can install your Operating System with this drive.

Video Cards come in a wide variety, and you'll want to pick a video card that will fit into your motherboard. Some motherboards already have a built-in video card for simplicity and convenience. As far as I know, built-in motherboard video cards are not designed for gaming computer. Gaming computers benefit from a fast GPU on the video card, which generally have fans on them to help keep them cool.

The Operating System is your interface with your computer when you turn it on. Examples are Windows 7, Windows 8, and Ubuntu Linux.

The Computer Monitor is your computer screen.

The process of putting these things together is not always the same, but generally you can do it in this order:

  1. Insert Motherboard into Case.
  2. Insert Power Supply into Case.
  3. Insert Hard Drive or Solid State Drive to Case.
  4. Insert Video Card into video card slot on Motherboard.
  5. Insert RAM chips into memory slots on the Motherboard.
  6. Plug power connectors from the Power Supply to the components and Motherboard.
  7. Plug data cables from the Motherboard to their respective components data ports.
  8. Plug a monitor cable into the back of the computer to your computer monitor.
  9. Close up your Case.
  10. Plug in your new computer into the power outlet.
  11. Power on your computer.
  12. Troubleshoot if nothing happens by checking all the wiring.
  13. Insert your Operating System CD or DVD into the Optical Drive.
  14. Install your Operating System with the instruction that show on the screen.


Poof! You have a new computer.