How To Build Your Own PC From Scratch (Part 1)

5/19/2012 9:06:52 AM

Ian Jackson has some amazing hardware for this PC building guide, but he also takes a look at how you can build a rig that’s almost as powerful for nearly a grand less!

2011 saw the release of some seriously exciting hardware, one of the most revolutionary of which was the new Sandy Bridge architecture CPU from Intel. Whether you opt for the locked-down Core i3 or the bonkers unlocked quad-core K-series chips, they seriously upped the ante in terms of performance, delivering more speed per clock and, for the first time, really quite respectable integrated Intel graphics. The guinea pig for today’s build is the most hard-core of all of the Sandy Bridge processors, the Sandy Bridge E. This chip has no less than six cores under its hood, each of which is fully unlocked. It also uses its very own socket, which with no fewer than 2,011 pins is the largest yet released for a home PC.

Description: how to build a computer from scratch?

Whether you’re building a fire-spitting gaming monster or an office box, the fundamental stages of the building process are more or less the same. More expensive systems will, of course, have more components to fit and will therefore take a little longer, but each of the stages we’re going through today is as relevant for a system costing $750 as it is for one costing $3,750. If this is your first PC build, the most important advice we can give you is to take your time, don’t panic if you run into any snags and finally, if in doubt, consult the experts in our forum ( for assistance!

Step 1: Purchase and check your parts

Description: computer parts

Before you dive head first into a build, double-check that all of the parts you require have been ordered and delivered. With so many separate components to think about, it’s easy to forget something important! All machines need a processor, motherboard, cooler, case, video card (unless going integrated), power supply, hard disk, optical drive, memory and operating system. You should also consider any extras you might need for your individual build such as cooling fans, adaptors or extension cables. You’ll also need a screwdriver (Pozidriv or Philips No 1 is ideal), cable ties for neat cabling, scissors and some thermal paste for the CPU if your cooler does not come with it pre-applied. An antistatic wrist strap is also advisable if you have one; if not, remember to ground yourself by touching a metal part of the PC case or a radiator before picking up sensitive components!

Step 2: Prepare the CPU socket

Description: the CPU socket

The next step is to remove each component from its packaging and carefully place it on a static-free surface. Never place components on carpet, because even a small discharge can damage delicate surface components. As you unpack each component, inspect it for signs of damage. You need to take extra care when checking the CPU socket, as even the most minor of bents pins will cause irreparable damage to your motherboard, likely preventing the system from starting up correctly. With large sockets like 2011, you need to be even more careful, since the pins are more densely arranged. Prise the protective cover off the socket by using the demarked ridge. A fingernail will do or you can use a flat-headed screwdriver. With the socket cover free, it’s time to lift the socket cover. On socket 2011 there are actually two levers, but on Socket 1155 and older variants there’s only one.

Step 3: install the CPU

Your first step should be to install the CPU, RAM and cooler to your motherboard. This is much easier when not confined by the interior of the PC case and also makes it easier to install the board later, because you can hold it by the cooler. To install the CPU, line up the notches in the side of the processor with the corresponding protrusions in the socket and delicately place it in position. Some chips are also marked with a gold triangle in one corner, which corresponds to a triangle marked on the corner of the socket. If you’re installing an AMD processor, the pins will be on the underside of the processor rather than on the motherboard. Once in place, fold the socket cover back over the chip and lock it into place by locking the lever arm back into its original position.

  •  How Not To Build A PC (Part 3)
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  •  How Not To Build A PC (Part 1) - Underspecified PSU & Wrongly mounted cooler
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 6) - Picking the right RAM, Picking the right cooling, SLI and CrossFire
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 5) - Choosing your case & Picking the right storage
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 4) - Picking the right PSU
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 3) - Picking the right video card
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