150201 Build a Computer
My information is old and dated. Still, here is what I know. Forgive me if it's too much, or too little.
You'll need a case. That's the part you see. I like big spacious cases which open easily on both sides. Some don't require screws.
Inside, you will need a motherboard. This holds most of the high speed electronics, like memory and CPU. What will you be using your new computer for? This will help you choose between something current, and something that was popular a year or two ago. People who play a lot of modern video games with their system need all of the speed and power possible. So do users who perform 3D (or other) imaging. A music or a video editing computer should be fast and talented.
If you are just browsing the internet and typing the occasional document, anything you make will be wonderful.
If the motherboard doesn't include RAM memory and CPU, you'll need them! Two GB ram is Not too much.
The case includes a power supply (a transformer). If it doesn't, you'll need to buy one.
The ports are where you plug things in to your new computer. USB ports are a necessity now. The motherboards I used to see had six USB ports on them. Will that be enough?
Networking is important. On a general purpose computer, one ethernet port is fine. If your new system is a server which has an inside network, and an outside network, you'll need enough network for the intended purpose.
Wireless networking is an asset even on a larger station. While all products work, only some are good for Security Testing purposes, so check first. Pen-Testing may require special wireless hardware.
A hard drive doesn't just hold information, but also the operating system you happen to choose. While there is much variety in speed and price, you should note that the drive (the slow hard drive) has often been the weak link in the systems I've assembled.
The type of hard drive you choose could be affected by your motherboard. In my day, the boards included IDE drive chipsets. Your motherboard may only have SATA or some other standard. The drive type must match, and the cables from the motherboard to the drive must also fit one another. Even without a manual, I found motherboards had the required information printed right onto the circuit board, so this easy to read.
The faster the system, the more sensitive it is to Invisible Static Electricity. Be careful not to fry your new computer before you finish putting it together.
The different ports you have chosen will include cables which go to the outside of the case, so you don't have to open the box to plug things in later on. These are likely ribbon cables. It would be nice if these are hard keyed in some way (so you just cannot plug it in the wrong way). Probably not, though. The ribbon cable has a stripe on one of the wires. This is Number One. The plugs on the motherboard should have a '1' on it, and these should match up the mark on the ribbon cable. I recommend checking it twice. Other cables and plugs have different systems for numbering. Just make sure wire 1 goes onto plug for number 1 on each one. If you're confused, find the small sheets of mini manual which came with your system. Failing that, try the internet.
You won't likely want a floppy drive on your new computer, but maybe you want SD cards, or a DVD writer. It's a good idea to have some way to install software, and much can be found as CD and DVD. SD and other memory cards often take the place of diskettes. So do USB memory keys (but these won't require your attention while building a system).
Your motherboard should include support for sound. If it doesn't, you will need to buy something.
I recall that there were four holes on the motherboard which were meant to be screwed to the case, and made a connection for ground. There were four other holes which were for some kind of nylon screws, so they wouldn't touch anything.
You probably already own a keyboard. Something plain with a simple USB connection is preferred to a fancy one. You want the computer to discover it while it powers up. Same for the mouse: You may like a wireless fancy one, but for this job, at least while getting it going, have a simple one handy. I built computers when we had PS2 style connectors. These were dedicated, and the computer could detect the presence (or absence) of a device as it fired up.
Does your motherboard include the video you need for your job? There is a lot of room for opinion about video. I have a friend who is uncomfortable without three monitors on his desktop system.
Your monitor should support various resolutions. While the operating system is installing, you will be glad the monitor is able to show you what you need to see.
If installing Windows, these require a long license key. A lot of time can be wasted if you have trouble reading this number accurately. It also requires about three hours.
You may have a backup copy of an operating system. This can save a lot of time, but depending on your choices, some things may be dysfunctional.
Linux is free, has many choices, and installs faster. It has grown up and works well with old motherboards and new ones too. Do your homework before spending money and make sure the OS you choose supports the hardware you want.
Once you've installed the operating system, and it is stable, you should probably remove it from your Anti Static workbench, and install it in the office from where you will do simple things, like check your facebook, stream jazz.fm and occasionally find porn images left behind in the browser cache. (who's been using my hand made computer?)
I've loved using ASUS motherboards. They were robust and didn't zap out. All processors worked well, but the Intel brand didn't overheat to death.
2015 is upon us.