We all have our own dreams of what we consider a "Dream
Machine".In this page I will present in simple easy to follow instructions
how to build your dream machine or a basic run of the mill PC. The options
you choose to build your PC will ultimately be the deciding factor of your
PC speed and performance.
One of the most compelling
reasons to build your own PC is the simple fact that you can optimize your
system to your special requirements and the satisfaction of knowing that this
machine was built from your hands. The system I will be building in this page
is just an example and you can switch and substitute as you see fit, taking
into consideration what your specific needs are.
Ok enough talk people lets do this don't expect a whole
lot of graphics here people we're here to build a PC we'll leave the cute
stuff for later, right now lets go build a Computer. Links on right side of
page will help with any problems with specific installations.
CASEHere is the shell of your
system. The case you get is determined by the type of system you want and
what plans you have for it as far as upgrades and options you may wish to
add in the future. Your first choice is how many drive
bays you feel you need in respect to how many gadgets you plan on adding
to your system. Secondly you need to determine what your power supply needs
to be and this will also be determined by the gadgets you plan on placing
in your PC (i.e.CD-RW, DVD-ROM, Hard Drive, Removable Storage, etc, etc.).
Between 235 and 300+watts will handle just about most PC needs.
again this is determined by what you plan on installing on your PC, such
as how many ISA, PCI slots you need. Keep in mind that all motherboards
are not created equal and can vary from vendor to vendor.Some are configurable
and have adjustable setting and some don't. Be sure to look at the manuals
that come with your boards for its specific jumper settings if applicable.
Be aware that the type of board you buy will determine the type of options
you can place in your PC and what upgradesyou can make to it so choose your
board wisely.The last thing you want is to buy a 800Mhz Intel Processor
only to find out that your board only permits a 400Mhz Intel Processor.
CPU This is where you get to decide exactly how
fast you want to zip along and if you need a basic system or if you want
a screaming monster which your friends will envy you for. Your basic choices
at this point are either Intel and AMD. This is one area that is greatly
determined by you needs and will vary from individual to individual. An
important factor in choosing a CPU is that you have to obtain a CPU that
will work with your specific motherboard. If your motherboard can only execpt
a 450Mhz pentium II , there is no way that buying a 700Mhz pentuim III is
going to help you.
MEMORY Your choice these days
are the standard DIMM SDRAM while older PCs have EDO RAM which needs to be
installed in pairs where as SDRAM is installed in singularly. You can purchace
ECC-RAM if you feel you need its error correcting capabilities in your particular
application. Most PC builders will opt for 128MB, but the average"Joe"
can get along with 64-96MB. The more you have the better, keep in mind that
your motherboard once again will determine how much memory you can place both
in its total allowable memory capacity and in the amount of DIMM slots your
Most generic floppy drive will do in this situation so splurging is not needed
HARD DRIVE The hard drive will once
again be determined by your needs. If you are a MP3 junkie then a large
20-30Gig drive is for you. If you rarely download anything, then a average
capacity drive will do. Consider your needs and your choices. Your options
can vary from a older IDE drive to a Ultra/DMA drive. Keep in mind that
if you are installing multiple hard drives to properly place you jumper
settings. Settings for jumpers will come in your Hard Drives manuals. So
read manual carefully for proper settings.
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM Your CD or DVD ROM
needs are and will be determined by your desire for using DVD-ROM or standard
CD-ROM for your system. If you plan on watching movies and keeping upto
date with the latest technological advances then by all account get yourself
a DVD. If however you have no need for the added features of a DVD then
you can get a standard CD-ROM which vary in speeds and are at this time
very inexpensive as compared to a DVD-ROM.
With this option you can save important files to an outside source other then
your hard drive. You can get an array of removable storage option , from a
CD-RW to a Iomega Zip 100. The deciding factor for this will be price and
the amount of extra storage you feel you need. Each Storage option has its
advantages and disadvantages and once again your particular needs will be
the deciding factor in which you choose .
VIDEOCARD Your stanard PC user has
no real need for a flashy card but if your into graphic intensive work or
computer gaming then a higher end card isa must for you. Keep in mind that
some older motherboards have an intergrated video slot on it already and
some newer boards have a AGP slot for AGP videocards, so check to see if
the motherboard you are going to purchace comes with or without these features.
The higher end cards offer greater image quality and higher frame rates,
also higher end cards offer dual monitor outputs for those of you who wish
to have two monitors running off one system.
your into intense music and gaming sounds then splurge on a higher end card
for your needs. If not then a basic card will do for your average webhead.
Choose your card by your present and possible future needs.
MODEM What is a PC if
you can't connect to the internet? This feature is determined by you needs
once again. Modems vary greatly from extraordianry performance to your basic
hook upto the internet type modem. Once again choose by your needs.
The operating system is a simple choice of which you feel is more to your
liking and works best with the application in which your PC will be used.
Systems vary from your standard Windows line to Linux, Mac, etc , etc.
Read each operating systems features and determine whichis best for you.
It is time to build this baby. Take into account
that the instructions within this page are for this particular PC I
am building and will vary depending on the configuration of the PC you
are building.But most applications will have these basic configurations.
Remove your motherboard mounting board from ATX case. Laying
it on a flat surface. Be sure not to work on a carpeted surface and
to keep yourself grounded. The best way to do so is with a wrist antistatic
band or by simply grounding yourself to a metal surface before touching
the motherboard. For if you dont you run the possibility of frying
your motherboard from a electro static charge.
Place brass standoffs on tray to keep motherboard from contacting
surface of tray. Line up the board to its matching holes on tray.
Mount your motherboard on the motherboard tray. Once secure test motherboard
slots and see if placing a card into its corresponding slot causes
motherboard to make contact with tray.If contact is made place more
brass standoffs until problem is resolved. Once you test and no contact
is made between mother board and mounting tray remove cards and continue.
If your motherboard needs its jumpers set then read manual
for its jumper settings for your particular application, if not continue
to next step.
Install your CPU in its slot.For this application CPU will
slide into the goal post provided. Be sure to read all documents that
come with your particular CPU for its proper installation. The CPU
is made to go in only one way and if in doubt look at notch on CPU
and align it with slot on motherboard. Carefully rock the CPU once
inserted to assure that it is firmly in place. A word of cation, rocking
doesn't mean to apply enough force to snap a tire iron , just rock
it so as to assure that it is seated properly
Place your system memory (SDRAM),IDE ribbon cables(HARD
DRIVE & DVD-ROM),floppy cable on board. Connect all the cables
and connect all your wiring for your LED, internal speaker, power
switch, reset switch, etc. Once again read the documents that come
with each piece of hardware. For ribbon installation, look at ribbon
and the red line that runs along one side of ribbon. This red line
will will line up with the Pin 1 which is marked on motherboard in
slot where ribbon is to be placed.
Set your hard drive to its proper master/slave settings.
If only one drive is installed and it has no seperate controller installed
then place this setting on primary master which you can determine
from the manuals that accompany your hard drive. If two drive are
in place set one to primary master and other to primary slave.
Place all your drives in ATX tower,i.e Hard Drive, DVD-ROM,
Floppy Drive, Iomega Zip Drive. Screw all components into their respective
trays in tower with at least 3 screws.
Mount your motherboard back onto ATX case and replace all
screws used to remove motherboard back.
Connect all your ribbons and cables to their specific devices.
Be sure to insert all ribbons in the proper direction. a good rule
of thumb is to look on the device and find where it says Pin 1 and
the red side of the ribbon goes into the Pin 1 side. Failing to connect
your ribbons correctly will make your PC fail to post. If you connect
your cables upside down the drive light for that particular device
will remain on, if this occurs reverse cables.
Connect power. Depending on the type of case you purchase
will determine which power cable you will use . Older cases and boards
use split plugs that sit black to black which means the black ends
of each cable sit next to each other. This PC has a ATX case so it
will use a 20-pin plug which gets plugged into the slot marked ATX
on motherboard. BE aware that some boards have a jumper for either
a AT board or a ATX board so set this jumper according to which case
and power supply you have.
Add your Videocard into its slot. No other cards need to
be placed at this time.
Once all is secure upright your PC and Boot the PC. If all
is well your PC will perform a POST(power on self test).This will
perform a diagnostic test to see if your RAM, Devices, Keyboard, etc.
If something is not correct it will signal with beeps, these beeps
are used by you to correct the problem by using the provided manual
to correct the problem. If the manual doesn't help check all your
connections for this will most likely be the problem.
Once your PC boots properly turn off the power and install
the rest of your cards.
Reboot your PC and press your F2 key or Delete key whichever
key brings up your CMOS BIOS. Once this blue screen is up set your
time, date, etc. If your board does auto detecting allow it to do
so for optimum settings. Once complete exit and save new BIOS settings.
If your lucky enough to already have your operating system
on your PC then it will detect all devices on system and install its
proper drives for it and your done. If not then you need to create
a bootable partition and format the partition. This is done by getting
a start-up disk from another Windows 98 system and placing it in the
floppy drive. This start-up disk can be made from another PC by using
the Add/Remove program in your control panel.(
Be aware also that with Windows98 you can also boot from the
CD by changing your boot sequence to boot from CD. Just press F2 or
corresponding key to bring up your CMOS screen and change setting
to boot from CD-ROM. Save and exit if you have made these changes.)
Place start-up disk in floppy drive or CD in tray if you
choose this option, and reboot PC
Once your PC boots you will get a screen asking you if you
want to continue with or without CD-ROM support, chose support and
allow PC to install your Drivers for CD-ROM. Once drivers are installed
(You will be told where virtual drivers for CD have been placed,usually
this will be next available drive and in most cases that will be D:)
and you get your DOS prompt type in FDISK
:then hit enter. Make a primary DOS
partition of at least 1GB. You will need to specify if you want a
FAT32 or FAT16 file system. Keep in mind that a FAT32 system will
use and have more available space but may not be compatible with older
programs. After running FDISK and receiving prompt you will need to
type in FORMAT C::
and press enter. This will format the partition you just made.
At the A:\ prompt type in D:, your A: prompt should change
to D:\. Once you get a D:\ promt type in setup.exe and enter. Windows
will now begin installng itself and just follow the onscreen instruction
for installation. Windows will reboot itself and will auto detect
all devices installed on your PC and will ask for device drivers as
needed. Once all drivers are installed and no conflicts occur. Reboot
PC one more time to assure all is in order, PC boots and Windows loads