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.
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.
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 Cooling Heatsink/Fan
Memory Modules (recommend dual channel, triple channel, or quad channel kits, depending on the motherboard capabilities)
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.
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:
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)