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Building A Personal Computer PC

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PC Maintenance

Step 1 - Motherboard Installation

The first thing you should do is unpack your ATX case. Take off the cover of your case so that you can access the inside. Place the case on a desk so that you are looking down towards the open case. Your case should come with motherboard mounting screws. If your ATX back plate it not already fitted you can fit it by placing your plate near the ATX back plate cut out and pushing the plate outwards, it should clip on.

Now place your motherboard on top of the mounting screw holes. Make sure your ATX devices on the motherboard such as PS/2 and parallel port are facing towards ATX back plate cut out. Gently push your motherboard towards the cut out; every device should fit easily into its corresponding cut out, as shown below.

Two USB pod connectors PS/2 mouse port connector PS/2 keyboard port connector

The screw holes on your motherboard should align with the screw holes on your case. Place your screws that came with the case into the appropriate holes and gently screw it on using a screw driver.

The motherboard is now securely mounted to the case. You can now place the ATX power connector to the motherboard. Your ATX case should come with a power supply unit (PSU) and should already be mounted to the case. The ATX power connector is shown on image below.

Place the ATX power connector on top of the power socket on the motherboard. Push down the power connector and it should clip onto the socket. If you try to fit the power connector the wrong way round, it won't fit, it will only fit one way. So, if the power connector does not go in, it should go in the other way round.

Step 2 - Processor (CPU) Installation

Locate the processor socket on your motherboard. I am installing an Intel PIII 866 processor on a socket 370 as shown on the following image. The installation would be slightly different if you have a different processor i.e. Slotl PIII CPU, P4 Socket 478, Core 2 Duo Socket 775, AMD Slot A / Socket A, Socket AM2 CPU etc.

Raise the brown lever on the socket and slowly put the processor in place. You have to make sure the pin 1 of your CPU goes into the pin 1 of your CPU socket otherwise the CPU would not get into the socket, so don't try to force it in. It will go in gently if you fit it correctly. Now close the brown lever which will securely hold the CPU in place. If you bought retail boxed CPU it would include a heat sink + fan. If you bought an OEM CPU make sure you got a fan that is correct for the speed of your CPU, otherwise your CPU will overheat and behave abnormally or could be damaged. Take off the plastic cover from the bottom of the CPU fan that covers the heat transfer pad. Now place the CPU fan on top the CPU and push down the metal clips on the fan so that it clips onto the CPU socket.

CPU fan has a power connector which needs to be connected to CPU fan power socket on your motherboard as shown on the image above.

Finally, you have to specify what frequency (speed) your CPU is running at. This can be done using jumper settings, or on some modern motherboard it can be done in the BIOS, or your motherboard may have automatic detection for your CPU frequency. Please refer to your motherboard manual for more details. The motherboard I am using (Abit BX133) has a dip-stick jumper setting and it can be setup in the BIOS. I have left the jumper setting to default as I will use the BIOS to specify the CPU frequency. The CPU runs at the bus speed of 133 MHz therefore I will use the settings 133 * 6.5(multiplier) under the BIOS, which will the run the CPU at 866 MHz.

Step 3 - Memory Installation (SDRAM)

Installing memory is quite simple. Find the SDRAM banks on your motherboard; they should look similar to the banks below. Notice the memory banks have a white clip on each side. Make sure you release the clips so it bends to each side.

Hold each corner of the SDRAM placing it on top of the bank 1. You will notice that the SDRAM has a cut at the bottom side; it is there to prevent the memory going in the wrong way round. If you are holding the SDRAM the incorrect way you will not be able insert it. Gently push down the SDRAM and it should clip on to the memory bank. The two white clips will now become straight holding each corner of the memory. If you have more than one SDRAM perform same steps as above but placing the SDRAM in memory bank 2 and so on.

Step 4 - Hard Disk Drive Installation

The IDE/ATA connector is on the left hand side which consists of many pins. Next to the IDE connector is the jumper setting for the drive. The jumper should be set to Master, which the default is setting for a new HDD. Any other device sharing the same IDE cable should be set to Slave. Different HDD has different jumper settings; please refer to your HDD manual for more information. On the right hand side, next to the jumpers is the power connector. Every device except FDD uses this type of power connector.

The ATA 66 cable which is also known as UDMA 66 cable is an advance IDE cable, which offers higher performance and data integrity than the standard IDE cable. ATA 66 cable consists of 80 conductor cable where as the standard IDE cable consists of 40 conductor cable. I am using an ATA 66 cable because the above HDD is an ATA 100 drive which requires an ATA 66 cable.

Place your hard drive into the HDD mounting slot of your case; make sure the IDE/ATA connector is facing outwards. Screw the HDD to the case using screws provided with the HDD or the ATX case.

Insert the ATA 66 cable into the ATA connector of the HDD. Make sure the pin 1 on the cable is connected to pin 1 on the HDD connector. Pin 1 is the red or pink strip on the edge of an ATA cable. Most new IDE/ATA cables are designed so that it will only go in one way which will correspond to pin 1.

Push the power cable into the power connector as shown. The power cable is designed to go in one way, so you shouldn't have any problems.

Connect the other end of the ATA 66 cable to the primary ATA socket of your motherboard as shown. Make sure the pin 1 on the cable connects to the pin 1 on the ATA socket.

That's it you have successfully installed a HDD.

Step 5 - Floppy Disk Drive Installation

The rear side of a floppy drive looks similar to the following image.

The black connector on the left hand side is the floppy disk connector. It is different from the IDE connector and uses a different cable. The small white connector on the right hand side is the power connector for the floppy drive

Place the floppy drive into the FDD mounting slot as shown. Screw the drive securely into place.

Insert the floppy drive cable into the floppy drive connector. Make sure the pin 1 on the cable connects to the pin 1 on the floppy drive connector. As you already know by now that pin 1 is the red or pink strip on the edge of the floppy drive cable. Most floppy drive cables are designed so that it will only go in on way, so you cannot connect it incorrectly.

Push the floppy drive power cable to the power connector. This will only go in on way.

Finally connect the other end of the floppy drive cable to floppy drive connector on your motherboard. Make sure pin 1 on the cable connects to pin 1 on the connector.

Step 6 - CD-ROM/DVD-ROM Installation

If you look at the rear side of your CD DVD-ROM

On the right hand side you have the power connector. Next to power connector you have the IDE connector. On the left hand side near the IDE connector you have the jumper settings for the DVD-ROM. The jumper is set to Master by default. I am connecting the DVD-ROM on a separate IDE cable therefore I will leave the jumper setting to Master. However if you are sharing an IDE cable with another device like HDD, then you would have to set jumper to Slave, as your HDD would be set to Master. Next to the jumpers you have the CD Audio-Out socket. One side of your audio cable connects to this socket and other side connects to the sound card cd-in socket. This would allow you to listen to Audio CD's on your computer.

Finally connect the power cable to power connector and connect the audio cable to the CD Audio-Out socket

Step 7- Graphics Card Installation

Most modern graphics cards are AGP based and connects to the AGP bus of the motherboard. An AGP bus (slot) looks like the following image. The brown slot is where you connect your AGP graphics card.

Place your AGP card on top of the slot and gently push it down. The card should firmly sit into position.

Finally connect the power cable to power connector and connect the audio cable to the CD Audio-Out socket

Step 8 - Sound Card Installation

Most modern sound cards are designed with the PCI interface and connect to the PCI slot of your motherboard. A PCI slot looks like the slots on the following image.

Place your sound card on top of a chosen slot. Gently push down the card so it sits into position. Once the card is seated correctly into position, screw the card on to the case.

Finally insert the audio cable into the CD-IN socket. The other end of the cable should be connected to Audio-out socket on your CD DVD-ROM drive.

Step 9 - Modem/Network Card Installation

Find a free PCI slot on your motherboard (assuming your modem/Network cards are a PCI modem/Network card). Place your modem card on top of the slot and gently push it down into position.

Once the card has seated correctly into position, screw the card to the case using the screws supplied with the case. Now you have installed all the prerequisite hardware devices. You can either proceed to the finalizing stage, or you may want to install optional devices like a ZIP drive, CD-RW drive or a TV-Card. If you do not want to install these devices you can now proceed to the finalizing stage.