Build Your Own PC

Introduction

This tutorial is intended to assist you in building a basic PC. There are obviously a plethora of possible PC configurations and hardware that you could put into your new PC if you choose. But, what we are trying to do here is help you put together a basic PC. For this reason, we are only requiring the basic components and tools to get you up and running.

If at any point you become confused reading this tutorial or have further questions, please visit the PCMech Community Forums. Our experienced techs and system builders are happy to answer any questions you might have.

Tools Required:

Screwdriver – A Phillips-head (cross-point) screwdriver is what is used in most PCs. Also have a straight slot available.
Screw Extractor – If you have surgeon’s fingers you may not need this. But, if you’re human, it is likely you might drop a screw into your PC during this procedure and be too big-thumbed to get it out. A screw extractor can help you grab those screws and get them out without messing with the hardware. You definitely do not want to run your PC with loose screws in there. It could cause a short circuit.
Flashlight – Unless you are in a fantastic lighting situation, you will likely need a flashlight to get a look of the landscape in your PC while you’re working.
Magnifying glass – use with the flashlight to inspect the CPU and socket, and anything else that concerns you.

Hardware Required:

PC Case
Hard Drive and/or solid state drive
DVD Drive (recommended is a burner, because they are only about $20; advanced users can install an OS from a flash drive)
Processor
Processor Cooling Heatsink/Fan
Motherboard
Memory Modules (recommend dual channel, triple channel, or quad channel kits, depending on the motherboard capabilities)
Power Supply
Video Card (optional if motherboard/CPU has onboard video)
Keyboard & Mouse

To build a basic PC, you will need at least a motherboard, a memory module, a processor with heatsink/fan, a power supply, a hard drive and a DVD drive.

Most electrically sensitive hardware comes in a static bag which is designed to protect the electronics from static electricity shock. Leave your hardware in these bags until you are ready to install them.

Software Required:

Device Drivers (these usually come with the hardware above)
Operating System (for the purposes of this tutorial, we will assume you are choosing Microsoft Windows as your operating system – PC Mech has lots of great information on Linux and other alternatives)

Cables and Miscellaneous:

Drive cables
Motherboard spacers (usually come with the case, but are used to space the motherboard up off the mounting plate)
Screws (usually a whole pile of screws will come with your PC’s case, but if you are using a case you happened to have around, you will need to collect some screws)
Power cords (for both your PC and your monitor. They usually come with the hardware when you buy it, of course)
CPU Cooling Compound (usually preapplied to the heatsink that comes with boxed retail processors)

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  • MikeSA

    Is there any way to download the whole Build Your Own PC Guide as one file instead of having to download umpteen files. And why are images not displayed, should they be?

    • Timo Mechler

      Thank you for your comment. We are actually working on doing both. We plan to add pictures to the article shortly and hope to provide a downloadable version of the guide in the near future.

  • Shazaam

    Excellent series, guys! Well written. Pictures and download will definitely make it the most comprehensive on the web with everything in one place. Thanks for the effort that went into this.

  • Bob

    Likewise! It can turn readers off and they skip a good article to have to click through 15 web pages. Its bad enough when some sites think that using “slide shows” to cover a topic is “kooolll!!!”, but most reader comments complain and want it one article.

    To be honest, an article should neve go more than 2 or 3 web pages tops! Its easier to scroll down a ways to read an article than to click through multiple pages (or slide shows). Especially if the reader is pressed for time and decides to copy and paste the entire article in a text file to read later.

    I put together a monthly newsletter for an organization (being a meber). I use LibreOffice Writer to create the newsletter (which can be published on the organization’s web site) and Writer’s PDF option to create a file to send to other members.

  • Bob

    I should have added that a “Print” option would also be nice. I use “DoPDF” to “print a PFD” file when I don’t have time to read a lengthy article. There are other “Print to PDF” programs besides DoPDF, I just happen to prefer that one.

  • Bob

    My apologies. I am too fast on the “trigger” (plus its 2:30AM where I am and my brain is asleep) – I should have added – “a Print option” would negate for you producing a PDF to download. Most readers are likely to know about “Print to PDF” programs that act like a printer but produce a PDF instead. There are also some browser add-ons for Firefox and Chrome that allow som editing too and then produce a PDF. I don’t use IE, so I don’t know if it has a similar add-on, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t.

    • Timo Mechler

      Hi Bob – thank you very much for your comments and suggestions. We’re looking into making these changes to make it easier to print/download the whole guide.

  • http://youroil.net Larry Turner

    Excellent! I’m also looking for a way to download and save your great article. I have a couple of these guides from several years ago but this info needs to be refreshed once in a while and your artice does that! Thanks – please send a email when I can download the text and photos…
    Larry

  • RLAIII

    I wanted to agree with every thing Bob said. I hate slide shows and many webpages. Is the reason you use them financial? More Webpages open equals more hits equals more money?? Great article but a pain to wade through.

    • Timo Mechler

      Thank you for your comment. The main reason was actually to make the article more manageable to read. Once we add pictures to the article, each page and each section will become a lot longer. We are also looking into a way to display all pages at once.

  • Charles Laughlin

    I concur with most of the previous comments. I to would like to see a stand alone downloadable file. Oh, I can cut and paste to make a whole document, and I intend to do that, but it would be nice to have a .pdf file to access the content of this build article in one place; I use a .pdf reader extensively.

  • Charles Merrick

    I have built two PCs. One was a Shuttle with Intel, and the other an Antec with AMD CPU. I am not interested in gaming; I just like to be able to choose components.
    I would be interested in a small form factor build, with SSD as the primary drive. It seems easier to buy ready-made than to build from parts though. Any ideas?

  • http://www.fikifirmansyah.com Fiki Firmansyah

    Why build a PC if you can buy a Mac? expensive? yes, but its worth money. got macPro ’09 now 2015 still killin it!

  • Roland Ortega

    Screw mac overpriced garbage stick with Microsoft the best operating system on earth best computers on earth. I prefer to build my own computer their is no greater feeling than the feeling of building a quality built computer that you know what you put into it. You can build a quality top notch computer for a fraction of the price that it would take to buy one with the same specs as the one you built. Macs are too proprietary and you can’t easily buy replacement parts for them when things go wrong. Give me a Microsoft based computer any day much more reliable better performing.

  • Charles Hammond

    This is a really boring article. The internet demands pictures and diagrams. You are expecting the builder to already have a high degree of computer know-how to use this kind of directions. It should be understandable by a 4th Grader.

    • Timo

      Hi Charles – Thank you for your feedback. We agree that this is currently a limitation and as such are looking to add pictures to the guide in the near future – please stay tuned.

  • Shon Nutting

    Just wondering if you plan to add a section to include cases with no optical drive slots. IE my case doesn’t have any and I’ m required to use an external drive. (NZXT 440H)

    But great article and look forward to the one click download vice page by page!