How to Build a Desktop Computer 1
A complete guide on the start to finish process of building a desktop computer without any previous experience.
HOW TO BUILD A DESKTOP COMPUTER (Not a Mac) (No previous experience required) Table of Contents Part One: I) II) III) IV) V) Overview Purpose for buying a desktop computer The parts of a desktop computer Budget planning and Ordering help Making space Part Two: I) II) III) IV) V) VI) VII) Proper precautions/Setting it all up Putting it all together First boot-up with BIOS Installing the Operating System (OS) Final boot-up Drivers Finished! A note: Here's what you'll be doing by following this guide: Figuring out how you will use your computer, learning what makes up a computer and how to order parts, and building your very own PC (You'll save some money too!). Part One I) Overview The purpose of this guide is to teach you how to build your own desktop computer from the separate parts to the end result. This first section (part one) is to give you a brief summary of what makes up a computer, to help you figure out what you will need, and to help you plan for the purchase. You don't need to know ANYTHING about how a computer is built in order to follow this guide. I will be using "desktop computer," "computer," and "PC" interchangeably. They all mean the same thing. This guide does NOT cover the following items (in detail): water cooling, overclocking, modifications, case building, super computers, NVIDIA SLI, AMD Crossfire, and internet things. IMPORTANT: I may give some recommendations to parts or companies, but please note, the parts that are best now (Spring 2012) will not be the best in the fall, or in later years. That is just how the computer market works; there are new improvements constantly being made by all the various companies for all of the different parts. So when I say "future-proof," this implies that the subject that is "future-proof" should be decent for a few years. For example, if you went out today (March 15, 2012) and bought the best possible video card there is, in 5 years, it will MOST-LIKELY be considered either an average, or below-average video card. The world of technology is advancing rapidly, and it only goes faster each day, so you do have to keep this in mind when buying your computer. This is due not only to the advances in the hardware, but also to the advances in software that requires the computer to be able to handle more. Benefits: There are multiple benefits to building your own computer versus buying one that's already built at the store or online for three main reasons: 1) It's cheaper. The guys who build the computer in the factory and give it to the stores to sell don't do it for free. 2) The computer you build will be better than a stock PC you could buy for the SAME PRICE. This coincides with the first reason. 3) Building your own computer makes it much easier to go and buy a new part and replace it with an old one. It also makes troubleshooting hardware issues much easier. If you want proof of it being cheaper, go to this(http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/kssvg/this_is_why_we_build/) page and click "this is why we build" at the top to see a picture of a stock computer, then read the first comment and be amazed. - - - Onward then! II) Purpose for buying a desktop computer There are generally three types of computers people will buy. They are PC's specifically designed for one or (usually) more of the following: gaming, performance, and work/programming. Gaming computers focus most on graphics and rendering speed for smooth and high quality images. Rendering speed comes from performance. This will be a gaming/performance build type. Gaming and performance go hand in hand. Performance computers focus most on RAM (random access memory/temporary memory) as the programs they use to do whatever it is that they do (making music, 3D modeling, etc.) can be very demanding on the system. Also, RAM is needed for people who do a lot of multi-tasking. Work/programming computers are usually cheaper, depending on the type of work/programming taking place. Expensive work/programming computers are in the line of work mentioned for performance, or they are super computers. There are many different names and combinations for the aforementioned categories, as well as many other smaller types. These three are just the main build types I've heard of. (I have a gaming/performance computer myself). - - - While explaining the parts below, I will mention which ones are important for each build, i.e. where the highest percentage of the budget should go. III) The parts of a desktop computer/choosing the right ones One thing you might be wondering: which part is the most important? The answers you will get to this question are all a matter of opinion. Without one of the vital parts (listed below) the computer will be unable to function properly. So the biggest chunk of your budget should go towards the part that pertains to your build type. Reviews: Reviews are the most important thing to look at when researching a part. Check the ratings and read to see what people say, see if there are any persistent problems, and see if the people like it or not. Customer Service: This is the second most important thing. Do NOT buy from a company that doesn't have a good reputation for customer service. Why? Small issues, big problems, and defective parts. Defective parts are not an uncommon occurrence. Companies make millions of parts, and each one does not have room for an imperfection. Imperfections do happen, thus some parts will not work properly when the computer is turned on. A company with good customer service and warranties/programs for problems will usually do more than enough to compensate you for your troubles. Keeping this in mind, make sure (if you order - your parts online) that you order your parts from a site with a good return policy in case of a defective part. VITAL PARTS 1) The CPU (Central Processing Unit, a.k.a. processor) a. The processor is exactly what it sounds like. It is the "brain" of the PC, and completes all the calculations needed in order to keep the computer up and running. It also serves as the filter through which all the communications between the parts pass through. b. This is one of the parts that heavily affect the speed at which your computer can run. The measure you are looking at is GHz. The higher the GHz, the faster the processor will be able to carry out its calculations. c. Certain processors will do fine for certain builds, and you don't always need the best one. This being a general guide, I can only give you an example rather than refer you to certain processors: The Intel core i52500k processor is a good processor out on the market today, and most people who have a limited budget buy it because they are building a gaming PC. The Intel core i7-2600k CPU is not any better than the i5 for gaming, however, for people who need more performance and run more demanding programs, the i7 is the logical choice. The largest benefit of buying the i7 over the i5 is due to the hyper-threading technology. Hyperthreading allows multiple demanding programs to be run on different sections (threads) of the processor, allowing it to be able to handle more programs with considerable efficiency. d. Verdict: The faster the better, make sure to look up the processors you are considering (comparisons and specs) and choose based on what you need. Obviously the best one you can buy will be the most "future-proof," and the processor is the most difficult part to replace so keep that in mind. Below is the back and front sides of the Intel core i7-2600k CPU. 2) The Motherboard a. Yep. You guessed it. It connects everything to everything else. This is where you plant the CPU, RAM, graphics card, optional cooler, the PSU and a bunch of wires. b. This can also affect your speed, but mostly the speed of transfer rate from hard drive to the rest of the computer. Most average motherboards have a good transfer rate so you really don't need to worry about this; I'm just letting you know it's a thing. c. The motherboard is a pretty all around device, so the one you get should mainly depend on compatibility. That's the biggest thing you need to look for. If you get a motherboard that has the wrong connectors for your video card or the wrong socket type for the processor, you're screwed. i. Here's what you need to look for: 1. Matching socket type between CPU and Motherboard 2. Matching memory slots between RAM and Motherboard 3. Matching expansion slots between video card and Motherboard 4. Matching storage device wire type (i.e. SATA) and the appropriate number of SATA connections. You plug each hard drive and optical drive into these ports, so you need to have enough depending on how many drives you will have. 5. Appropriate physical specs (dimensions and layout i.e. ATX, Micro ATX, etc.) 6. Appropriate (number of) ports that you are looking for (i.e. USB, PCI, PCI-E, etc.) 7. BIOS included. d. Verdict: Just find a motherboard with good reviews following the guidelines above. If it doesn't have BIOS, find another one. 3) Memory (RAM) a. This is a form of volatile memory, meaning that it stores information until its power is removed, and then it's cleaned out. Basically, it's a temporary data house, and varying applications on your computer will access it when they are being used. This means that each application you have running has to access it, and the more memory you have, the more room you have for applications. b. Thus, more RAM will generally make your system faster, provided the rest of your computer can keep up. c. For gaming, you really don't need more than 8 GB (gigabytes). 8 GB is more than enough for 99% of the games out there today. That is probably going to change and you will need more in the future. You definitely want to future-proof this because 1) it is very easy to upgrade, and 2) your computer will be able to adapt to the new cool stuff that comes out! In order to future-proof this, just make sure your motherboard has more slots than what you will originally start with, and (to save money) buy the RAM that has more memory in an individual unit (i.e. 2 sticks of 4GB vs. 4 sticks of 2GB). Above 8 is not necessary for most people, you will need more if you are going for the performance build and use intensive/demanding applications. If you use multiple demanding applications like the ones mentioned earlier, you will want at least 12 GB if this is like you: A friend of mine is currently running two 3D modeling programs, Firefox, Skype, iTunes, 3 Photoshop windows, and an emulator at the same time, using 10 GB of the available 12 he has. The rest of his build is very good today as well, so he needs that memory. It just depends on how much you do. d. Verdict: Go with your budget on this one. See how much you can spend on it and try to get at least 8 GB, you will be glad you did. 4) Hard Drive a. There is a movement happening now, from HDDs (hard disk drives) to (hard-disk SSDs (solid-state drives). This is because SSDs are much faster than state uch CLUTTERED HDDs, and that is because of the way they work differently. b. Explanation: It is simply a physical attribute that makes the HDD slower. The HDD stores all of the information written to it on a CD. When you click a file/document/application/etc. on your computer screen, it takes a few seconds to open because it is loading. It is loading because the HDD has econds to find the thing you just clicked on its CD. It finds the file with the little read/write head shown in the picture below: Therefore, the more you have on the hard drive, the more there is on the CD (platter in picture) = the longer it takes for the head to find the file. he SSDs have a great advantage over the HDD because they are not mechanical, meaning they don' have moving parts. They use microchips don't that contain non-volatile memory, thus the memory can be accessed much faster. This means your computer will be significantly faster for a longer significantly time than if you were to buy a hard disk drive. c. Sounds great right? Well there is one problem: SSDs are A LOT more expensive than HDDs. We're talking a few hundred more here. For example: a 500 GB HDD today costs about $ $100. A 480 GB SSD today costs about $800. That's a HUGE difference. 800. d. Verdict: Is an SSD worth it? YES. From personal experience with one in my own PC, SSDs are AMAZINGLY FAS Here's what I recommend for FAST. the current times: Buy a decently sized SSD so you can install the operating system on it and have some extra space to temporarily store applications you use on a regular basis. Then buy a larger HDD for long longterm storage and to put programs on that you don't use regularly. This way neither drive will get cluttered (if you keep them clean) and they will both be fast. It is worth the money, especially if you get an SSD during a big sale. I got my 160 GB for $160 during the winter holidays with a mail-in rebate stacked onto the sale. Here is a picture of one: 5) Video Card a. Okay this isn't ABSOLUTELY necessary and vital to a computer's ability to function properly if you buy a motherboard with integrated graphics. BUT. If you wish to play any sort of "high-end" game, watch HD movies, have a high screen resolution, or do any sort of 3D modeling, a good graphics card is essential to your build. Enthusiasts do something called SLI (NVIDIA cards) and Crossfire (AMD cards) in which they put at least two graphics cards in one computer to power ULTRA HIGH graphics. This is unnecessary for a first-time builder. b. What you need to look for: i. Compatibility with your motherboard (matching interface connection) ii. Port types (HDMI is currently the best) iii. High ratings/reviews iv. A good warranty v. A fast (high number of MHz) core, shader, and memory clock vi. Benchmark results! 1. These things are very useful; they compare performance levels of competing graphics cards and show you the results so you can see which one is the best bang for your buck. vii. A simple Google search of the card you are looking at c. Make sure to research the competing companies that are trying to put the best graphics cards out there as well. Also, the video card market is the fastest changing (currently) and prices go up and down all the time, so you have to try to plan your purchase accordingly if you have a limited budget. For example, wait for a holiday sale or special offer, or if the company that makes the one you want is about to release another card, wait until it is released and then make your decision. This market is very hard to predict, so you just have to pick the one that most perfectly fits the phrase "best bang for your buck." You will have to do some research for this part in order to find that perfect card. d. Verdict: You're going to have to base this one of your budget. If you don't have a budget, find the best possible graphics card out there and buy it unless somebody is about to release a better one. You cannot go wrong with a good one of these, they are amazing. And as you have probably already guessed, the better the card the longer it will be able to play new games at max settings. This heavily depends on the build-type you are doing, so if you are building a gaming rig, invest most of your budget into one of these (this should be the most expensive part for you). If you are buying a work computer and don't do any 3D modeling, you may not even need to purchase one. Just go out there, do some research and find the one that fits your build. All you need to know is your budget allotted for this part, and your build-type, and that should narrow it down two a few options. Also, do some research on the companies that make them to find a good one with a warranty of some sort and reliable customer service (the main company AND the manufacturing company i.e. AMD and Radeon [manufacturing company]). Here is a picture of an NVIDIA GTX 570 (one of the better cards out there at this time) manufactured by EVGA: 6) Case a. Well you have to put all these parts somewhere. Cases are probably more important than you think. There are multiple sizes of cases, including small towers, Mid-size towers, and full tower cases. Some full towers are bigger than most. The standard desktop computer you see or may be thinking of is a full tower size. b. Here's what you need to look for when choosing a case: i. Proper size according to build-type and budget (really whatever you want, the more expensive cases are around $120) ii. Compatibility with your motherboard layout. iii. Good airflow/space for cable management (these go hand in hand) 1. You also want to check the number of fans here, and see if there are any extra slots for optional fans to be installed. This will depend on your build-type, and you will want the case to have optional fan spots for a gaming or performance rig, due to demanding programs and games that heat up the CPU and GPU (CPU of graphics card; Graphics Processing Unit). iv. Appropriate amount of hard drive trays and optical drive bays (depends on number that you are getting). v. If you care about looks, you have to be willing to dish out more money for the nice looking ones. They usually look good for a reason, so your money will be well spent. c. You also want one with a side panel that's easy to take off, unless you don't mind spending an extra 10 minutes pacing back and forth grumbling about how much your fingers hurt from trying to pry it open. Just take my word for it here. d. Verdict: Get a case with good cooling if you are going for the performance or gaming build-type, if not, at least get one with good air flow so you don't have to deal with a dust storm when you try to clean it out. Just pick one you like and make sure it's compatible with the rest of your parts. 7) Power Supply Unit (PSU) a. "So those are all the main important parts right? Wait how do I turn it on?" The PSU is the heart of the computer. Without it, the computer does not live; no matter how many parts it's missing it will live if there is a PSU. There's not much you have to do for this, other than make sure it has these few things: i. Proper connectors/pins compatible with the rest of your parts. ii. MODULAR; please get a modular power supply, it's not much more expensive (difference of a few dollars if anything) versus a normal PSU. A modular PSU comes with only the necessary cords every build-type will be using already permanently connected to it, while the other cords you may or may not need are independent of the PSU. You can plug them in if you need to use them. This helps the air circulate better, keeping your temps down, and allows for extra space, especially when you have good cable management. iii. You want it to stay cool, so a PSU with a fan in it already fits nicely. iv. You want the type of PSU to be compatible with your case and motherboard as well. b. Wattage: Don't get more than you need. It is pointless to do so, as the unused extra power will just sit there and be forever alone. You don't need to worry about future-proofing this, because newer products are more energy efficient thus reducing the wattage required to run them. c. Verdict: Choose the PSU you like last, after you have added up the wattage it will take to power the parts you have chosen beforehand. Try to find one with good reviews/customer service just in case. Above is a modular power supply, below is a normal power supply. 8) Monitor a. This is pretty simple; just pick out a monitor with good reviews and good features. Make sure it is capable of displaying the resolution you are looking for. Check for ghosting as well. Another option is using a TV. If you have a 3D TV and want to use that feature, you have to have a video card capable of displaying such things. 9) Keyboard and Mouse a. You have to be able to communicate with the computer, and this is really the only way to do it. Here are your options for keyboards: i. Standard ii. Standard wireless iii. Mechanical (do the research for yourself if you want one of these, they are mainly for the enthusiasts) b. Here are the options for mouses: i. Standard ii. Standard wireless iii. Hi-tech gaming one with a bunch of programmable buttons (expensive) c. Verdict: That's all I have to say about those, they aren't really something you should be worrying about if this is your first build/PC. Spend the money in your budget elsewhere. 10) Operating System (OS) a. Even though this isn't hardware, and this is a how-to-build guide, I thought I should include this for those of you who don't know much about computers. An OS is what allows the computer to operate. It acts as a translator between you and your PC. Windows is an operating system. It is the most popular for PCs today and does everything that we need to do at this time quite well, so that's what I would recommend for now. b. Get an official one please (don't download a free one off the internet unless the company makes them free). If you don't get an official copy of the OS you want, all sorts of things can go wrong. You have to deal with the decisions you make, don't make a bad one here. If you do pirate a copy, and nothing's wrong for a year or more, then good for you. Others probably won't be so lucky. c. Verdict: Get the most popular or whatever you like if you've done some research and prefer one over another. Each OS has a different look, feel, and configuration so just get what you want. NOT-SO-VITAL PARTS 1) Optical Drive (A.K.A. DVD drive) [Highly recommended] a. The only reason you would want one of these is if you want to buy a CD at a store and install whatever is on it on your computer. I know a few people with PCs who have never had an optical drive. They get all their games from a program called "Steam" and most software you will need comes in digital copies. b. There is more than one way to install an OS (operating system i.e. Windows, Linux, Ubuntu, etc.) onto your desktop PC. If you don't get an optical drive, the best way is to download a copy of the OS you want online from the developer's website, get a USB drive with enough space on it for the OS you download, and then put the file on the USB drive. You will need one or two things to do this. If you want to do it you need another computer/laptop (obviously) so you can download the file and put it on the USB. If you go to the developer's site, they may have a USB converting tool or specific download type for the OS so it can go on your USB. For example, for Windows 7, the Microsoft website has a "Windows 7 USB download tool" which downloads the file directly to your USB. c. You're other option is to download the file normally to your hard drive, and download a program to convert your USB to a "bootable device," meaning that you can plug your USB into a PC when it only has the BIOS and you can select that as the device your computer will boot from. It will then begin to install the OS. d. Verdict: It's up to you really, and if you have anything left over in your budget you should either invest in another part if you have another computer/laptop so you can do the USB install. Or you should get an optical drive if you don't have a computer or prefer to buy your games/software in CD form. I have an optical drive because I like to watch Blu-ray movies that I have. Note you will also have to download the installation program for your specific motherboard onto your USB to install necessary drivers if you don't get one of these. 2) Sound Card/Speakers [Highly recommended] a. If you have speakers for your computer, or you are planning on getting some for the new PC, don't bother reading this part. b. If you want to get a sound card, you will have to do some research, I don't know much about what makes them good. I would personally recommend speakers; sound cards generally have more issues. In terms of price, they both vary from affordable to expensive, so the money won't really be much of a factor aside from the quality of the sound you want. The more expensive it is the higher sound quality it SHOULD have. Do some research to find what you want. c. You need to find one that fits the system requirements it has as well as the proper OS. Also, you need to make sure you have the correct interface port-type (i.e. PCI) and you have enough room/slots for one. d. Verdict: Get what you want; it's your choice here. Check the ratings/reviews and companies. If you want very high quality sound, you have to be willing to set aside at least $100 for either of these. P.S. This part is in the "Not-so-vital parts" section because there usually is a horrible sound output in the motherboard you buy, but it is very bad, and may or may not work. You pretty much need one of these if you want to enjoy any noises your computer might make, just saying. 3) CPU Cooler [Highly recommended] a. You should only get one of these if you're building a computer to play high-end games or use intensive programs. These things will heat up your CPU quite a bit (which is normal) and the stock cooler doesn't really do much for you. b. Verdict: Just get one with good reviews/ratings that will fit inside your case. If it has a fan on it that won't hurt either. IV) Budget Planning and Ordering Help I'm not going to tell you how much money to set aside for all of this stuff, because I don't know how much you have and I don't know what kind of build you want. It's up to YOU. Make a solid financial decision here and don't get more than you need. Just like the PSU wattage, it's pointless to buy something if you're not going to use it. I'll show you what I did for mine here: I decided on a budget between $1400 and $1600 because I wanted a high-end future-proof gaming PC. I knew at this time, and around the holidays, that should be enough to get a really good one, fortunately I was right! I picked out the parts I wanted/needed and used all my mail-in rebates (USE THEM THEY ARE AWESOME, this is because most people are either just too lazy to mail it in [it's kind of annoying] or they don't know about it. I had a mail-in rebate for my SSD for $130! So with that, AND the holiday sale, I ended up paying $1/GB and wow was it worth it. (Not saying that HDDs are bad or anything... I have a 500GB one for storage). My budget was excluding the monitor and keyboard/mouse. With the sales and mail-in rebates, I ended up paying $1520. Goal met! - - There are quite a few amazing websites out there to help you, I'll list the ones I used/know here: Pcpartpicker.com < helps with budget and seeing your build/what you need Tomshardware.com < best benchmark results and many other helpful things Monoprice.com < cheapest HDMI cables I've ever seen Guru3D.com < also great benchmark results and general help Reddit.com/r/buildapc < the people on here are awesome, yes they are a little biased, as am I, but after you build your first PC you will be too. You can ask anything about computers there and they will be able to help you. Best place to ask specific questions or to present your build from pcpartpicker. TONS of resources here. I would suggest doing a simple Google search for your research. As for ordering your parts, go to newegg.com, NCIX, or Microcenter. I used Newegg, and it's the most popular, but using various sites you can take advantages of sales and minimize your price. V) Making Space Get your place ready for the new guy coming in. If you have an all carpet place, and your buddy is going on the floor, buy a wooden board he can sit on so there's airflow. Don't buy one if there isn't any perforation on the bottom of your case. My case has that, thus really good air flow (it's known for it). Part Two I) Proper Precautions/Setting it all up There are really only two things you need to make sure you do before you start to build. Prepare your build space so that the amount of static electricity is virtually nonexistent. Just in case you forgot what you just read, all of the products inside the boxes will have a warning label letting you know not to allow any of the parts to come into contact with static electricity. The best way to do this is to build on a hard surface aside from carpet and to ground yourself. In order to ground yourself simply just touch some metal (I always touch the side panel of my case even though it's not 100% metal and it does the job). After you've taken care of that, you are ready to open the boxes and start feeling up all the parts... Be careful with the parts. They are fragile and are not meant to withstand high pressures from various angles. Okay they aren't THAT fragile but if you drop it on a hardwood floor, something won't be right afterwards. Don't touch the back of the CPU where all the little golden squares are. Those are easily damaged and yes, it's okay to brush your finger against it I did that with mine and it works perfectly. Just don't touch it to be on the safe side. When tightening screws, don't overdo it and screw it in so tight that it shatters. Just do it so it fits snugly, and leave it at that. You don't want your motherboard to crack when you're screwing the cooler onto it. Designate at least 1/3rd of the day to build if you plan on doing it in one sitting. Depending on if you run into any trouble or if you just take your time, this could take a whole day. Make sure you have everything you ordered. What about defective parts? You can't find out if you have a defective part until your computer has been built and turned on. DO THE MAIL-IN REBATES unless you don't care about getting any cash cards in the mail from good companies, or unless none of your parts has one. - - - - - Let's get started! II) Putting it all together It is impossible for me to tell you exactly how you put all the parts in the case and connect them to each other because each PC has a different configuration. This is because not all of the parts connect to each other or the case in the same way. All I can tell you in this guide are these things: - - - - - - - Follow the manuals. Each part comes with an installation manual which makes it quite simple to do if you can follow directions and diagrams. If you cannot, I'm impressed that you've gotten this far, well done. Make sure you put each part/wire where it's supposed to go. Every part/wire should fit nicely (and some more tightly than others) where it belongs. If it doesn't, it goes somewhere else. Don't worry about cable management until there's a problem with them, or if it bothers you in the way that it looks. If you need to manage your cables, the PSU should supply you with zip ties that are quite useful for that purpose. There will be a good number of things you don't need such as wires and extra screws. Save all of them in case you need them in the future. Thermal paste on the CPU is unnecessary. I don't know anyone who has used the thermal paste that comes with the CPU cooler, including myself, and there aren't any problems. Besides there is already a little factory paste on the cooler and that is all you need, so don't worry about this. Connect all the wires to the proper sockets. It isn't too difficult to mess this up because sometimes the labels on the motherboard are not entirely clear, so if you cannot tell what kind of socket you're looking at, just try to plug in whatever cord you have and if it doesn't fit it goes elsewhere. Don't forget about the buttons on your case. These have wires connected to them that need to be plugged into the motherboard or connected to the PSU. If you don't connect these you won't be able to turn your computer on from the outside. Think of it as an electronic Lego set. If you don't know what Legos are, look them up. Building a computer really isn't as difficult as it might seem. If you can follow instructions well, do a bit of matching, and not break anything, you will be done in no time. I will suggest a build order for you here, and although you don't have to follow it, this is probably the easiest way to do it: Install the parts in this order: o CPU onto the motherboard o CPU Cooler (if you got one) onto the motherboard o RAM onto the motherboard o Motherboard into the case (easy if you flip the case on its side) o Sound card (if you got one) onto the motherboard o Video card(s) (if you got any) onto the motherboard o PSU o Hard drive(s) o Optical drive(s) (if you got any) III) First Boot-up with BIOS Plug in the PSU, flip the switch, press the power button on the case, and turn on your monitor. Wait a few seconds, and if everything is working properly you should see your BIOS main interface. If you see this, start dancing for a bit. If you don't, there may be a defective part or you did not install something correctly. You will have to research how to find out which part is defective if everything is properly installed. I can tell you this: it is either the video card, CPU, or the motherboard. Hopefully you didn't have any problems, and if you followed this guide you are simply unlucky if you have a defective part. Also if you followed this guide, it should not be a hassle getting that part replaced! If everything is working right, and you can see your BIOS interface, see if you can check your temperatures (CPU and whatever else it shows you). I would tell you where to find this but alas every BIOS interface is different and I'm not familiar with all of them. If you're CPU is within the range of 70-110 you don't have to worry about anything (it varies between every CPU so the range is very large, also some CPUs run hotter than others, and vice versa). Check online to see what yours should be at if it is outside this range, I may not be correct. IV) Installing the Operating System You can do one of two things here: Put the CD of the OS you bought into your optical drive, restart your computer, and in the BIOS it will ask you which device to boot from; select the DVD drive. Put your USB drive with the OS on it into your PC, restart your computer, and in the BIOS it will ask you which device to boot from; select the USB drive or removable disk drive (they are the same thing). You may not need to restart your computer after you put the CD or USB in. - If you have more than one hard drive, I don't know if the BIOS will ask you to select one of them to install the OS to, it may pick one on its own. If you want the OS on a specific hard drive, the easiest way to do this may be to do what I did (unless it lets you choose), and leave every hard drive unplugged except the one you want the OS on. That way it will install on the drive you left plugged in because it's the only one the PC recognizes as a place to put the OS. V) Final Boot-up with OS It's the moment we've all been waiting for; the true test to see if the computer is really alive... It will probably boot itself up on its own when it finished installing the OS, and you can just sit back and be proud of yourself for creating something amazing. If it doesn't, just restart your computer. If you see a loading screen for the OS, enjoy it for the first and probably last time unless you got an SSD (hehe). If you don't see a loading screen and you saw it install everything, just wait a few more minutes and let it do its thing. If you don't see it after a while of waiting, you probably got a bad copy of the OS. If you downloaded it from an official website, or bought an official one at a store, this should not happen to you. If you didn't do that, you didn't read the Operating System entry in the Vital Parts section of my guide, or you did and just didn't follow directions. VI) Drivers You're almost done, this is the last step, and then you're free to mess around with your new toy(s). Once you have gotten your computer's OS up and running, and you're on the main home screen, start getting the drivers you need installed so you can optimize your system. Your motherboard should have come with a CD and if you have an optical drive go ahead and put it in. If you put your motherboard's program onto a USB drive go ahead and put that in. An interface of some sort should pop-up, and a bunch of driver download options will be available for you. Download every one that you need (each one should have a description of some sort to you let know what it does). You need to install these in order for you to have access to the internet. Your graphics card will also come with a CD. Don't use that because it is oftentimes outdated. Instead, go to the company's website (AMD, NVIDIA, etc.) and download the most recent driver for your specific card, and install. VII) You're done! If you've made it this far, and you followed my guide all the way through, thank you and congratulations! I hope you and your newly built computer have great times together in the future, and a minimal amount of problems if any at all. Troubleshooting should be much easier for you now that you know a lot of cool stuff about computers. If a problem arouses, and a message shows up, it may say "please contact your manufacturer." If it's not pertaining to a specific part, just remember that YOU are the manufacturer now, and that feels awesome doesn't it? Know that you have made a great financial decision and have a wonderful piece of machinery now to do as you command. Well done. I wish you the best of luck in your future, and I want to say thank you again for following my guide! Enjoy your new PC! ~Thank you, <3, The author of this guide =) In case you were interested, here's a picture of my PC that I built December 18th, 2011: Sources: http://www.wikipedia.org/ http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/ https://www.google.com/ - images A few of my close friends My personal experience