Learn to Build Your Own Computer with
my tips and pictures
You have to know how to open a
computer case before you can build your
Although it is relatively simple to open a computer case, if you've never had the
need to, then you probably don't know how. If you're don't have a computer case
yet, check out my tutorial on choosing computer cases.
Or you can click here for some good deals on computer cases. Although no
computer case is like another, here is a relatively simple and universal way to
open a computer case.
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• If your computer has hardware installed, be sure to disconnect the power
• Locate the screws on the rear of the computer (mine are labeled A), there
should be a couple on the top and a couple on each side. Remove them.
• Now to open a computer case, you need to pull up and towards the front
of the computer. It should come off easily. If your computer case is not
coming of, look for any screws that you might have missed and remove
• Replacing the computer case is just the opposite of when you open a
Although this process of opening your computer case is relatively simple, if you
tweak your computer often it becomes a time consuming chore. That is why I
decided to purchase a computer case with a removable clear side. If you're
interested in this style of computer case, then click here to buy one. I can see all
of my computer's components and I can remove just that side of my computer to
give me room to work on my PC. This also makes it easier to clean your computer
with a can of pressurized air more often.
How to install PCI cards on your
One of the easiest installs on your computer is to install PCI cards. There
are about a million different types of PCI cards.
If you're looking for some, I recommend that you go here to buy video cards
and/or check out this site to buy some good TV tuner cards. The good thing is
that they all are installed on your motherboard just the same!
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To install PCI cards, you need to:
• Unplug your computer from the wall and remove your computer's case
cover so that you have plenty of room to work. More on this here. Also
have your antistatic wristband on because PCI cards are VERY sensitive to
• Locate your PCI card slots (labeled A) on your motherboard. Then use a
screwdriver to remove the screw (labeled B) holding the PCI slot cover.
Once removed, set aside the screw, you'll need that later!
• Align your PCI card with the slots on the motherboard and make sure the
hole in the face of the PCI card lines up over the hole which you removed
• Now to install the PCI slot card, firmly press down on it until it is in
position. Finally, replace the screw that you removed before to secure the
PCI card into place.
• Plug your computer back in and turn it on. Your computer should detect
the new card and be prepared to install any new drivers.
Troubleshooting when you install PCI
Here are a couple tips if you have trouble when you install your PCI card.
• If your computer doesn't turn on make sure the power cable is plugged
into the wall and plugged into the computer's power supply.
• After installing your PCI card, if your computer turns on but beeps a
couple times and the operating system does not load, repeat the install
process but try the PCI card in different slots on the motherboard, it is
possible that you have a bad slot.
• If all else fails when you install your PCI card, contact its manufacturer for
My guide to installing a motherboard in
Although it may appear to be challenging, installing a motherboard is one of the
easiest steps of building a computer.
Like any good effort, the results will be the best if there is plenty of preparation.
This is no different for installing any computer part, including motherboards.
Click here if you are looking for good deals to buy motherboards. I've divided this
"prep" work into the four following steps (feel free to skip these steps if you
already have your motherboard together and go straight down to installing a
1. Selecting a motherboard and a processor with my computer motherboard
2. Installing a CPU.
3. Installing a CPU fan.
4. And how to install RAM.
Installing a Motherboard
Here I'll outline for you the actual mounting of your motherboard in your
computer case. I'm assuming that you've completed the above steps and are
ready to install a motherboard in the computer case.
• If your computer is plugged in, unplug it. Make sure you have your
antistatic wrist band on and open the computer's case.
• Next, screw in the spacers that should have came with
you case into the holes that you selected above. Some
computers may also have snap-in spacers instead of the
screw in spacers. The spacers look like this:
• Hold the motherboard just above the case to find which holes of the case
line up with the holes in the mother board.
• Once the spacers are securely in it's time to install your motherboard by
gently laying it in the case onto the spacers. When the holes of the
motherboard line up with the holes of the spacers, screw the motherboard
in place with the screws provided with the case. Do not over tighten these
screws as they can crack and ruin your motherboard. If the screw's head
looks too wide and it may disrupt the motherboards circuitry you can place
a rubber buffer between the screw and the board.
• Finally, the last step for installing a motherboard is to make some of the
basic connections. Which include the case's on/off switch, case indicator
lights, reset button, and speakers. The location of these connections are
different in every computer, so check your motherboard's user manual.
Also connect the computer power supply to the motherboard, usually two
to three connections depending on your motherboard, and you are ready
to do a preliminary test.
Testing a Motherboard
Got everything completed above? Good! The finally step of installing a
motherboard is to test it.
• Insert your video graphics card into the AGP slot of your mother board
(more on this here(link)) and secure it to the computer case with a screw.
• Hook up your monitor, keyboard, and mouse; and plug the computer into
a power outlet.
• Your computer should beep and display the basic BIOS information on the
screen. If this doesn't happened or your computer doesn't turn on, check
all of the connections you made while installing your motherboard.
If you've completed installing a motherboard, congratulations. But if you don't
have one yet, I recommend that you go here for a good deal to buy one.
We don't have time to wait, on to install your drives.
How to install a floppy drive into your
So you're ready to install a floppy drive onto that computer.
It's not difficult at all!
Just follow my easy steps and you'll have your floppy disk drive installed in no
BTW, Don't have a floppy drive yet or are you looking for a better one? Then click
here for some good deals on floppy disk drives.
• As always, unplug your computer and open the computer's case so you
can work on it. Also make sure your grounded with a antistatic wrist band
so you don't fry your PC's components.
• If you already have a floppy drive installed, you'll have to remove it first,
just follow these directions in reverse.
• Mount your floppy disk drive in the case. For most computers cases, you
slide the floppy drive into the empty drive bay from the front. Use the
screws provided to install a floppy drive into the drive bay. If your drive
bay does not slide out you may have to screw in the rear screw by hand
like how I did.
• Once you've installed your floppy drive in the case, connect a power
source to the floppy drive. Then you must connect the ribbon cable to the
back of the floppy drive. Now you must note the where the floppy drive
connects to the motherboard, use the other end of the ribbon cable to
make this connection.
• Plug in your computer and power it on. Your computer should
automatically recognize the new floppy disk drive.
Keep that processor cool:
CPU fan installation
The final step to preparing your motherboard and processor for use is the
CPU fan installation.
This step in building your own computer is as simple as the rest.
If your looking for a CPU fan that is compatible for your motherboard, I
recommend that you buy one here.
o Select a CPU fan that is adequate to cooling your CPU. These fans
are made specifically for processors and certain speeds, so take
care when selecting a CPU fan.
o Once your computer's CPU is properly installed, it is now time to
tackle the most critical cooling system in your computer: heatsink
and CPU fan installation.
o If your CPU fan and heatsink came with a thermal pad or thermal
paste, be sure to apply a very small amount to the center of the
CPU. More on this paste is below.
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o Now it's time to do the CPU fan installation. Place the CPU fan on
the processor. Each CPU fan has specific mounting techniques and
instructions, so be sure to follow them. Most CPU fans either use a
mounting clip and/or combination of screws.
o After tightening the CPU fan down, remove it to make sure that the
thermal paste spread on all portions of the CPU that will be in-
contact with the CPU fan. Make sure there is an even coat; this is
essential to allowing the transfer of heat from the CPU to the
o Finally, locate on your motherboard the power lead for the CPU fan
and plug the fan in.
Now that you've completed your CPU fan installation, it's time to
mount your motherboard in the computer's case.
How to install a hard drive on your
By now you shouldn't be surprised that to install a hard drive is not "hard"
at all. If you don't have a hard drive yet, check out my computer hard
Or you can click here for some good deals on hard drives that I've found.
It's relatively simple to install one, which I'll walk you through the process
of installing one hard drive in your computer.
If you're interested in learning how to add a second hard drive, check out
this page (Coming soon!)
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So lets get started and install a hard drive:
o Unplug the power cable and open up your computer case. Make
sure you have your antistatic wrist band on.
o Pick the drive bay that you are going to install the hard drive in.
You'll want to install it in the farthest drive bay down.
o Before you install a hard drive, make sure you set the proper
jumper settings. Since we are only installing a single hard drive, set
the jumpers as MASTER. The jumper settings are different for each
hard drive, so consult your owner's manual so you know which pins
to cover up.
o Now that you have the jumpers set, it's time to install your hard
drive in the computer's case. Secure the hard drive in the drive bay
that you selected above with some screws.
o First, connect the power cable to the back of the hard drive. Next,
connect the ribbon cable to the back of the hard drive. Note that
the ribbon cable has 3 connectors, one on each end and one in the
middle. Connect your hard drive to one of the end connectors, and
then connect the other end connector to the motherboard. There
are two slots on a motherboard that will connect to a ribbon cable.
Select the one that is red (like mine) or the one that is labeled with
the lowest number. The unused middle connector on the ribbon
cable is a "SLAVE" connector that is used when you install a
second hard drive.
o Plug in your computer and power it on. Your computer should
recognize the new hard drive. If it doesn't, go into your
motherboards BIOS and search around for the IDE channels, they
need to be set to AUTO.
That's all there is to install a hard drive. You can buy a hard drive here
now that you know how to install one.
Now you should be ready to format the disk with software provided by
your hard drives manufacturer and install an operating system.
It's easy to install a CD-ROM drive or
To install a CD-ROM drive isn't much different than installing a hard drive. The
install process I've outlined below will work for a CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW,
you get the idea. It will work for pretty much an optical disk ready you have to
If you're looking to purchase one of these drives, click here for some great deals.
(click any image to zoom in)
I'm assuming that you're installing a new CD-ROM drive, but if you need to
remove your old one, simply follow these steps in reverse.
• Unplug the power cable from your power supply and open up your
computer case. Don't forget to wear your antistatic wrist band.
• Determine which drive bay you are going to install a CD-ROM into. You
should pick on of the uppermost drive bays.
• Before you install a CD-ROM, make sure you have the proper jumper
settings. Since we are only installing a single CD-ROM, set the jumpers as
MASTER. The jumper settings are different for each CD-ROM drive, so
consult your owner's manual so you know which pins to cover up.
• Once you have the jumpers set, install your CD-ROM in the computer's
case. How you secure the CD-ROM in one of the uppermost drive bays
depends on your case. Some CD-ROM drives have to be screwed into the
drive bay, like how you install a floppy drive, while other cases come with
brackets (like mine) to attach to the CD-ROM drive so that it slides into
the drive bay and locks in place.
• Connect the power to the back of the CD-ROM drive, then connect the
ribbon cable to the back of the CD-ROM drive. Your ribbon cable has three
connectors, one in the middle and one on each end. The middle connector
is a "SLAVE" connector that is used if you would install an additional CD-
ROM or DVD-ROM drive. Connect one of the end connectors to the CD-
ROM drive, and connect the other end connector to the appropriate spot
on your motherboard. Note, hard drives and CD-ROM drives have the
same style of connector on the motherboard. You want to connect your
CD-ROM drive to the motherboard slot that isn't red or is the highest
numbered of all the IDE slots.
• Power on your computer after you plug it in. Your computer should
recognize the new CD-ROM. If it doesn't, go into your motherboards BIOS
and search around for the IDE channels, they need to be set to AUTO.
That's all there is to install a CD-ROM drive or DVD-ROM. If you want to look for a
new one to install, now that you know how to, I recommend that you purchase
one here. You can now use CD's in your computer or even kick back and watch a
DVD movie or two!
Easily install RAM memory to give your
computer more speed
It's very simple to install RAM memory onto your computer's motherboard.
Has your computer been getting sluggish lately? Installing new RAM is a
very cost effective way to give your computer and extra boost.
Upgrading the RAM memory gets you the most bang for the buck when
attempting to make your computer faster and it doesn't take a special technician
to do it.
If you have questions on choosing what type of RAM you need, read my tutorial
on it here.
Or if your looking to buy some RAM, I've found some good deals here on
computer RAM here. So here's how to install RAM into your computer:
• First, you need to unplug your computer from the wall and open your
computer case to get access to the motherboard.
• In order to install RAM you must first locate where your current RAM is on
your motherboard and what it looks like. Chances are there are extra slots
next to your current RAM. The great thing about most types of RAM is you
can leave your current memory in your computer and place your new RAM
in the next available slot.
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• Remove your RAM from its anti-static bag and hold it by the edges. Make
sure you have your antistatic wrist band on so that you don't ruin your
• To next step to install your RAM is to determine which slot to place it into.
You want to install your RAM in the lowest numbered slot or the empty
slot that is closest to your filled memory slots.
• You can only install RAM in one direction. Look on the bottom of the RAM
stick. You need to line up the notches in the RAM with the keys in the slot
on your motherboard.
• Make sure the retainer clips for the RAM are all the way open. Place the
RAM in the slot and gently push it straight down with your thumbs. You
may have to press hard to "set" the RAM correctly. When you press down
hard enough the retaining clips on either side of the RAM will snap into
place, making a "clicking" sound.
• Before closing the computer case up you should test to see if you were
able to install the RAM correctly. Power up your PC and everything should
Congratulations, I know you did an excellent job on your RAM, or now your ready
to install some computer RAM. Now enjoy that extra speed your computer has,
you earned it.
If you need to get some computer RAM now that you know how to install it, then
click here to get some great deals RAM memory.
So did you attempt your RAM install and your computer is not working? Here are
• If you powered on your PC and it did not turn on, IMMEDIATELY turn
your computer off.
• Check the simple things first, make sure your computer is properly
connected to a power source. You'd be surprised how many times people
forget to plug their computer back in!
• Make sure the RAM is set all the way down in its slot. The retaining clips
on either side should be all the way up. Also, make sure your RAM is
installed in the lowest numbered slot or in the slot closest to you current
• If trying the above fails, contact the manufacturer of the RAM and go from
there, that's why they have tech. support and they should be able to help
you install RAM in no time!
Don't forget to install a power supply
when upgrading your components!
One of the most often forgotten computer upgrades is to install a power supply,
one that puts out more watts and/or has an additional cooling fan.
On this page I won't discuss what problems a new power supply could fix or how
many watts you might need, but check out my computer power supply reviews
for more help on this.
Or if you're looking for a power supply, then click here for some good deals I've
found. It is not to difficult to install a power supply. First, you need to remove
your old one If you have a new case then you can disregard this portion of the
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• Open up your computer case so you have plenty of room to install a power
supply. Also make sure you have your antistatic wrist band on.
• While removing the power supply, it helps to make a diagram to
remember where everything goes when you are ready to install a power
• Remove the screws holding the power supply into the case. Be sure to
support it so that it doesn't fall after the screws have been removed.
• Disconnect the power supply from the motherboard and from the drives
and any fans that it is connected directly to.
• Carefully remove the power supply from the computer case.
That's it for removing a power supply. And now how to install a power supply. It's
not difficult at all, it's almost the exact opposite of removing a power supply.
• Place your new power supply in the same location of the old one. Note the
location of screw holes and make sure they line up! Install the screws to
secure it in place.
• Connect the power supply to the motherboard, the amount of connections
vary between motherboards, mine has three. Then connect the power
supply to all of the drives and any extra fans you might have.
(Power Connector - 20 pin) (ATX 12V Power Connector)
(ATX P6 Power Connector)
• Double check all of your work, make sure all connections are good and
secure. Also make sure that your power supply is securely screwed in.
• Plug in your computer and make sure it turns on and everything is running
ok. Then continue by placing the computer's case back onto the computer.
Good work, you now know how to install a power supply in your computer! If you
want to upgrade yours now that you know how to, I highly suggest that you buy
a power supply here.
Printer maintenance tips & guide
Below I have outlined some basic steps to maintaining the life of your
Keep the print heads clean
It is important you keep the printer heads clean. This stops ink clogging the
nozzles of the printer, and reduces ink smudge on the paper. This is important for
HP and Lexmark printers, as they don’t always do the best automatic clean in my
To clean the print heads, remove the cartridge, and gently clean the print heads
with a soft cotton cloth dipped in a little water. I wouldn’t recommend using
tissue or alcohol. I have personally damaged a few printers doing this. Be
Make sure the print heads are dry and then replace the cartridge. By doing this
you will expand your printer life and the quality of the printouts.
Prevent the printer from drying up ink by using it
I remember taking support calls around a year ago. People would say I haven’t
used the printer for over a year, and the quality isn’t what I expected.
If you use your printer regular this will prevent ink drying up and keep the printer
and ink in good condition. Use both Colour and black and white prints weekly to
stop the nozzles on your printer getting clogged up, or the ink to simply dry up.
Be careful with printer jams
Don’t ram the paper out if you have a paper jam. This can damage the printer,
which I have seen done many times. Look at guides on the manufactures site, if
you don’t have time to do that, remember that you want to get the paper out
smoothly. Most HP Printers have a hatch attached at the back that can be
removed. You will then have access to the paper wheels, and you should be able
to see the paper that is jammed in there. Remove the paper this way, and it is
unlikely that you will damage the printer.
Power down correctly
Turn your printer off when not in use. This can prevent drying of ink and also help
keep the printer functioning at high quality. Remember to use the printers power
button, and them remove at the plug if need be. Don’t power off if you are in the
middle of something. These will just cause problems for you.
Clean your printer but don’t over do it
IF you perform print ink clean by software or your printer’s hardware, do it once
and not over and over. Doing this over and over can cause more damage than
good. Clean your printer’s encoder strip monthly to stop quality issues at a later
date. Remember if you have low ink to replace immediately. This prevents ink
being left in the printer heads and nozzles, and will generally give your printer
You can find many printer tips and printer repair articles at Computer and printer