AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Ellicott City, MD
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To build a PC you need the following:
Video card (optional, as many new CPUs have embedded GPUs, as do many motherboards)
Tuner card (optional if you want to set up WMC as a DVR)
Here's a quick tutorial on building a PC from scratch. Note the instructions supplied with the case, motherboard, and any extra components that are specific to their installation as this is just a general set of instructions and may not cover all specific hardware and/or software items.
1. Lay the case on a flat surface and remove the outer panel (this will usually be the left side panel when viewing the case from the front). Insert the metal backplate that came with your motherboard into the rear opening of the case, making sure the cutouts are properly oriented for the rear connectors on the motherboard.
2. Install threaded standoffs on the bottom panel of the case, making sure they line up with the mounting holes of the motherboard. The standoffs and mounting screws will come with the case.
3. Install the power supply in the case and secure it to the rear panel of the case with four screws.
4. Insert the CPU into the motherboard, making sure it's properly oriented in the CPU socket (consult the motherboard manual). Secure the CPU to the motherboard with the integrated clamp.
5. Release the clamps at each end of the memory DIMM slots and install memory DIMMs into the slots. Make sure they're fully seated and fully clamped in place.
6. Apply heat sink compound, such as Arctic Silver or similar compound, to top of CPU and spread evenly into a thin film. Don't apply it too thick. Note that the cooling fans that come with retail CPUs may already have heat sink compound applied to the bottom surface of the fan.
7. Align the CPU cooling fan assembly over the CPU and attach to the motherboard per the supplied instructions. Connect the fan power cable to the fan connector on the motherboard.
8. Carefully install the motherboard into the case with the connectors facing the rear of the case. Tilt the rear of the motherboard downward and slip the connectors under the small metal tabs protruding from the backplate you installed in step 1.
9. Make sure the mounting holes are each over a threaded standoff and loosely insert a screw into each one of them. Tighten the screws until snug.
10. Find the four or eight-pin cable from the power supply and insert it into the receptacle on the motherboard. If you have an 8-pin connector and a 4-pin socket, the connector should come apart into two 4-pin connectors. Either one will fit the socket.
11. Connect the 24-pin power cable from the power supply into the main power receptacle on the motherboard.
12. Find the various small wires attached to the case and connect them to the proper pins on the motherboard for Power, Reset, Hard Drive LED, Power LED, and speaker. Note that the solid dark color wire for the LED wires will connect to the + pin on the motherboard. Connect any power cables from case fans directly to the motherboard or power supply cables, as applicable.
13. Mount the hard drive in a 3-1/2" bay with the connectors facing outward. Secure with screws or brackets based on how the case is designed. NOTE: If you plan on installing Windows on your system and want to install more than one hard drive, wait until after the OS installation before installing the additional hard drives or the OS may not install correctly. Install just the drive for the OS at this time.
14. Mount the optical drive in a 5-1/4" bay with the drive tray facing forward. Note that you may have to remove a small panel covering the external bay to mount the drive.
15. Connect a SATA power cable from the power supply to both the optical drive and the hard drive. You can use a single cable with multiple connectors and just attach one of the connectors to each drive.
16. Connect one end of a SATA data cable to the optical drive and the other end to the first SATA socket on the motherboard (usually labeled SATA 0).
17. Connect a SATA data cable between the hard drive and a 2nd SATA connector on the motherboard.
18. To install extra cards in either PCI or PCI-e slots, remove the screw securing the back panel cover next to the slot where you wish to install the card. Insert the card into the slot and secure it with the screw you just removed from the panel cover. Note that some video cards require a separate power cable to be connected directly to the card. This is the cable labeled PCI-e.
19. Check all of your connections to make sure everything's connected and securely fastened.
20. Install the outer panel on the case and set the case upright.
21. Connect the monitor to the graphics port (i.e., HDMI, DVI, or VGA), the ethernet cable to the RJ-45 jack, mouse and keyboard to either USB or PS/2 ports, as applicable, and the power cable to the IEC socket on the power supply. Make sure the on/off switch on the PSU is set to off (0).
22. Plug the power cord into a wall receptacle and set the power supply switch to "1".
23. Hit the power button on the PC case and wait for the POST screen to appear. If nothing happens, set the power supply switch to off (0) and unplug it from the wall. Open the case and recheck all connections. When prompted, hit the Delete key or whatever it instructs you to press to enter Setup. When the Setup screen appears, scroll to the Boot screen and configure your drives so that the optical drive boots first followed by the hard drive. The motherboard manual will instruct you how to navigate the Setup screens and make changes.
24. Insert the OS installation disc into the optical drive and close the tray. Hit the ESC key and then scroll to the EXIT screen. Select "Save changes and exit" and then wait for the PC to reboot.
25. Press any key when prompted to boot from the CD or DVD. You will be greeted with the installation screen for the OS. Follow the instructions for installing the OS. When the OS installation completes, insert the disc that came with your motherboard and let it install the motherboard drivers.
26. Remove the driver disc after installation is complete and reboot the PC. Make sure the OS is updated to the latest version. If you have installed any cards in the motherboard slots, make sure you install the latest drivers for them as well. Install any additional software or drivers at this time.
27. To install another hard drive, shut down the PC and install the same way you did for the first drive. Check the Setup screen to make sure the new drive didn't get assigned as the first hard drive to boot from. Save your settings and reboot. Format the drive in Windows and assign it a drive letter.
That's it for a basic build and OS installation.