A common sense guide to building a PC for your business – Part 2: Installing the components
Installing the CPU and motherboard
Welcome to part 2 of our common sense guide to building your own PCs for your business. In part 1 we looked at all the components you need to build your new machine. So by now you should have gone to the online shop and, by following my highly scientific procurement process of purchasing matching components with the biggest numbers, you are now presented with a box of components that you need to plug together. First up, installing the motherboard.
Static warning: Before you unwrap any of your new components, you need to remove any static electricity you might have. This sounds scary, but it’s just a precaution. Providing you’re not wearing one of your granny’s Christmas jumpers or regularly sit on balloons, you probably won’t be very static anyway. But best to be safe. All you need to do is touch something that’s earthed, like a metal radiator pipe. Don’t forget to wear your antistatic wristband throughout the build too.
Ok now that you’re all de-charged, start by mounting the motherboard onto the chassis. By following the game of snap I mentioned above you will have bought a motherboard that fits your chassis. So take a look at the inside of the chassis and you’ll find a number of mounts which correspond to holes on your motherboard, so just do what feels natural. Place the motherboard onto the mounts and screw it into place with the screws provided with your chassis. Job done.
Next you need to mount the processor and heatsink. This is the most critical part of the assembly since the processor is the most fragile component, and helpfully the most expensive component too. So best to ensure you’re properly static free before proceeding. Start by placing the processor into the socket on the motherboard. Next you have to apply the ‘thermal paste’, which you will find in a small toothpaste-like tube in the same box. This helps to conduct heat from the processor and onto the heatsink/fan. Just squeeze it evenly onto the processor while avoiding getting it onto your skin of clothes and secure the heatsink on top.
RAM and other components
The next phase is pretty straightforward, again just plugging in the rest of the components which you would have bought following the game of snap process. We recommend you install the RAM next and any other items that plug directly into the motherboard, most likely your graphics card (if you have one) and any other PCI accessories you may have. Once that’s in, you’re just down to the optical and hard drives. Since these sit in bays on the chassis they attach to the motherboard via cables, which is why they’re easiest left to the end. These cables (usually called SATA cables for most drives, or IDE if you’re feeling a bit retro – again check with the drive you’re buying) can sometimes accommodate two drives, so in theory you can attach the optical and hard drive/SSD to the same cable. However most motherboards can accommodate more than one SATA/IDE cable so we recommend using one cable per drive to ensure you get optimum speed from each device. Oh and if you’re building a brand new PC, don’t even think about using IDE (it’s very old). Go SATA all the way – it’s much faster!
Connect the power and boot up!
Once the drives are in place you should now all your core components in place. Now all you have to do is connect the power supply to the motherboard and optical and hard drives (the drives you just connected with the SATA cables). Look for the Power Supply Unit (PSU) and you’ll find lots of small power cables coming off it. Just plug one of these into the motherboard and each of the drives (the one for the motherboard will be bigger than the one used on the drives). We also recommend you check your motherboard and chassis manuals at this point to see if there are any other leads that need to be plugged in, such as power LEDs or internal speakers. These will be clearly explained in the manual.
You should now have everything in place, so shut the chassis door (call us over-cautious, but we find it’s best not to turn on electronic equipment with the components exposed), plug in the monitor, keyboard and mouse, and hit the on button. Providing everything has been plugged in correctly you should soon be welcomed by the system’s bios, ready for you to install your operating system from a DVD or USB flash drive. Enjoy!
We hope you found this two part guide useful. While it is a very quick, high-level run-through of the fundamentals to building a PC, we hope it gives you the fundamentals needed to build your first business PC. And all you budding IT managers who carried on reading right to the end, I urge you to share your own PC-building tips in the comments below.