So by now you've bought your parts and are wondering how to put your PC together. Well, luckily for you this is the easy part. As long as you've bought everything correctly, then you will have no problem.
So before you start, you’ll want to perform some setup to the area where you are going to work. The space should be clear and have plenty of flat surfaces, and should be a comfortable height to work at. I personally use my office coffee table – it’s a bit low, but it’s ideal because of the amount of space I have. Next, you’ll want to make sure that you have all of the parts you’ll need close by but not piled up. You don’t want to be scavenging to find stuff, as it should all be easily accessible when you need finally it. Take care to make sure all the separate screws and kept separate as well.
Now, let’s take a second to talk about static electricity and magnets. When people build computers, static is a major concern, but don’t let it scare you. Make sure that you aren't building on carpet or have pets running about. The latter is especially important for organization, too. As for magnets, yes, they will wipe hard drives and damage your kit if they’re strong enough. I've used a magnetic screwdriver on everything and nothing has failed so far. As long as you’re only using it for screwing screws and not rubbing it along your hard drive, you’ll be fine.
Finally, a small bowl for screws is handy for making sure none roll under the couch, table, or fall into a black hole from which they’ll never return. Another method is taking a piece of duct tape, or electrical tape, and folding it back (so it is essentially double sided) and stick the screws to that as you open them up so they are always present and you can keep them sorted. Either way, you’ll want to manage your screws.
Step I – Prepping the Case
So when you first open your case, you’ll notice a few things. One is the clusterfuck of wires that preside in the front. These are the I/O connections, LED connections, and USB headers that will connect the case switches to the motherboard and let you turn the damn thing on; for now, just move them to the side. The main thing we need is about 6-10 little brass raisers that will lift the motherboard up from the case. In your mobo handbook, there should be page that will tell you where to put these in your case; since cases are all standardized (among particular form factors), you can trust the booklet.
Raise a little hell ... and your motherboard.
Your motherboard box will contain an I/O shield for the back of the case. You want to make sure it is lined up properly first before putting it in, but once in position you can just snap it in.
Before and After
Step II – Prepping the Motherboard
Once the case is ready, set it aside and break out the motherboard. For this step, you’ll need the mobo itself, the CPU and its cooler, and the RAM.
The ASUS P8P67-M PRO
First thing’s first, let’s sit the CPU. Since this is a new motherboard, there will be a placeholder in the socket. Push down on the lever (be gentle but firm) and unlatch it. Pull back to lift the latch up, carefully remove the placeholder, and make sure you keep it. If you need to send the motherboard back, you need to unseat the CPU and put this back in! With that out, take out your CPU, and holding it from the top and bottom, line it up with the socket on the board. There are two cuts in the side of the CPU and two keys on the socket to help. Once it’s lined up, slowly lower it on.
Do not move the CU after seating it! This might cause pin breakage and will need fixing! If it needs to be reseated, gently pick it up and repeat this process. Once you have it seated, slowly lower the latch back over it and re-lock it. Note that there will be a horrible crunching sound as the CPU is smushed into the socket. This is normal, but be slow and gentle as to not wreck anything.
Handy Motherboard Diagram
Now we have to place the cooler. I haven’t messed with anything other than the default fan that comes with most Intel CPUs, so I can only tell you how to put that one in. If you have a special aftermarket cooler, just refer to the manual and it will likely tell you what to do. For the stock fan, there are four legs that will go into the four holes around the CPU socket. Just line it up and push down on all of the legs until they snap into place. Once that is done, you need to take the fan’s power connector and plug it into the board. To do this, there will be four pins sticking up on the board that should be labeled something like “CPU_FAN.” Just use the notch on the plug to line it up and plug it in.
Finally, we can insert the RAM. Depending on your board, there will be anywhere from two to eight slots. My motherboard has four. RAM is simple to insert, but you need to know where to put it first. On ASUS boards, I typically go for the light blue slots first. If your RAM is dual channel, then both DiMMs must be inserted to work, and they must be in matching color slots. If you have quad-channel RAM and four slots, then you’ll have it easy. If you are worried about which slots to use, your mobo handbook will help.
Putting the RAM in is actually quite simple. Just make sure the slot is open (i.e. the tab(s) on the ends of the slots are pushed back) and line the RAM up with the slot. To help, there is a notch about a third of the way down each stick and a key in the same place on each slot. Just line these up and push down firmly and without too much force. If it won’t go in and you feel worried, simply make sure the key and notch is lined up and try again. Sometimes it takes a little extra force to get them seated. Once you've inserted your RAM, then you’re done prepping the board!
The inserted RAM sticks
Step III – Placing the PSU, Hard Drives, and Optical Drive
Next, I like to get the PSU, HDD, and everything else that doesn't need the motherboard into the case.
Inserting hard drives is super simple. Just place them into any of the 3.5” bays you have (not the largest or the smallest) and use small screws to hold them in place. As for the optical drive, there is a bit more work. The inside of your case (depending on the model) will have one or two 5.25” drive bays. These are for optical drives, and they likely have covers on the front of the case to make it look pretty. To remove these covers, just reach inside the case and push from the inside out; it should come out. Sometimes there will be metal blocking the opening, so use your hands (or pliers or a screwdriver) to remove it. Then, slide the drive in from the outside and screw it into place as well (this usually has four screws on either side). Some cases have latches on the side that will automatically lock the optical drive in place, too.
As for the PSU, it depends whether the hole for it is on top or bottom. I have a top loading case, so mine sits up top. To secure it, there are three screw holes at the corners and one moved inwards. Screw it into place and you’re done.
Step IV – Inserting the Motherboard
Now comes putting the motherboard into the case. Using the raisers that we placed earlier, lower the board into the case, making sure the holes line up with the raisers. You’ll also want to make sure the back I/O panel lines up with the shield. If you know that it's in right, then you can start screwing the board in place.
An inserted motherboard
Once the board is in, you can start hooking up the front panel connectors. Your motherboard booklet will have a nice little diagram showing you what goes where. If you have more pins than you do connectors, however, a quick search for your case online will help you label the connectors properly. Just make sure everything is placed in the right spot and you’ll be good.
Step V – Hooking Up to the Motherboard
Now we can start hooking up the drives to the mobo. You will need SATA 3.0 or SATA 6.0 cables depending on your drives, but they should come with whatever you need. The cables all have an “L”-shaped connection, so when you are plugging them in be mindful of this. Now you can plug the cables into the drives and their respective (and marked) slots of the motherboard.
Then we can insert the graphics card. Your card will take one PCIe slot and will need either one or two slots on the back of the case. Just like the RAM slots, there is a little latch to pull back first, then you can simply slide the GPU in like you did with the RAM. Now you can screw the graphics card into place using the screw holes above (or to the side) of the back slots of the case.
The expansion slots
Step VI – Power
Now we can start providing power to the rig. There are two connections for the motherboard: one is the large 20-pin (or 24-pin) connector (you can't miss it), and the other is either a 4- or 6-pin connector that will power fans.
Now it just depends on your drives and graphics card. Current graphics cards use at least one 8-pin connector with another 6-pin connector. Just make sure you get power to all of the devices that need it, and plug the appropriate cables into your monitor, and you’ll be good.
Once you’re done that, you can place the side panel back on your case, and unless you forgot something, you're good to go!
Now you can plug in your computer to a wall socket and make sure it posts (boots). If you reach the BIOS, then you can install Windows 7, 8, or whatever you see fit.
(E/N from Josh Kowbel) If you are not getting a video signal from your computer to your monitor, it could be one of many things. Chances are one of your parts came DOA (dead on arrival). Personally, my GPU was dead, and with a defunct graphics card sitting in your PCIe slot, you will not be able to test the video signal. Even if you unplug the monitor cable from your graphics card and plug it into your motherboard, you will still not get a signal. You must unplug the graphics card first. Thankfully, that was the only part that was fried for me. If it's a possible RAM issue, test your sticks individually.
For other troubleshooting needs, however, visit reddit.com/r/buildapc. They were able to assist me with the issue I just mentioned, and help me pick out my PC's parts.
My current (and just built) rig
I hope this guide helped you build a computer, or at least got you interested in building one. If you have any trouble, just remember that Google is a great resource, and there are literally thousands or forum threads that can help you!