Building a computer is exciting, but it can also be intimidating. You’ll need a case to house all your parts, a motherboard as the nervous system of your new computer, a processor and RAM that slot into the motherboard, a power supply unit to regulate electricity, and hard drives to store files.
As the brains of your computer, a central processing unit (CPU) is key for gaming, VR headsets, and video editing. Getting the best CPU possible can help you achieve those high frame rates, but it’s also important to make sure your other components support it. This includes RAM and a graphics card, as well as a power supply (PSU) and a monitor.
When selecting a CPU, pay special attention to the gigahertz (GHz) rating. This is the number that indicates how fast the chip is, and a higher number means more power. However, more power leads to a higher temperature, which requires airflow and heat dissipation through a cooling system.
Next, you need random-access memory (RAM), which gives your system space to temporarily store and access data. It’s important to choose RAM that is compatible with your motherboard. Most motherboards feature two or four long slots that are designed to hold RAM. Refer to your motherboard manual to know the correct placement and order of the slots. Adding more RAM allows you to open more programs simultaneously, surf the web without slow load times and handle larger file sizes.
Adding RAM to your computer is the easiest way to make it faster, especially when working with large files and multiple programs at once. Whether you’re editing photos, playing video games or responding to emails, more RAM can help your system run smoothly and efficiently. First, you’ll need to clear your workspace. Work in a static-safe environment and remove any plastic bags or papers from your area. Touch a metal surface to discharge any residual electricity in the area. Next, locate the motherboard and look for memory slots on the right side. Most boards will have two or four slots for RAM, located near the CPU.
Before installing new RAM, make sure you have the correct type for your motherboard. Most modern PCs use DDR4, while older ones may still have DDR3 or even DDR2. Check your motherboard manual for specifics. Once you have the correct type of RAM, locate the memory slots and start by removing any existing modules. These are usually easy to spot, since they’ll have plastic tabs on both sides that pop up when pressed down. Then, simply lift the modules straight up and out of their slots.
To install the new RAM, carefully unpack the module and look for a notch on the bottom of the board that matches a corresponding notch on the RAM stick. Then, line up the module so that it is facing the correct direction. Push down on the module and apply even pressure until you hear and feel a click. Repeat the process with any remaining slots until you have the desired amount of RAM installed. Most manufacturers package RAM in pairs, so make sure you’re purchasing enough to meet your motherboard’s maximum capacity limit.
The Graphics Card is one of the most important parts of a PC because it handles the visual aspects of your games and programs. The GPU or graphics processing unit is the brain that performs complex mathematical calculations to produce stunning visuals and animations. You can find a variety of different cards to suit your gaming needs. Some of the most popular manufacturers include NVIDIA and AMD. The card’s memory is called video RAM (VRAM) and comes in a range of sizes from 4GB to 8GB. The higher the VRAM, the better performance you will get.
Aside from the amount of memory, you should also consider the graphics card’s clock speed or bandwidth, which is how fast it can function. A higher clock speed will offer faster performance, but it can be more expensive. It’s also a good idea to match the card’s output connection type to your monitor. Most modern cards use a DVI or HDMI connection, while older ones use a VGA connection.
You should also check the card’s compatibility with your motherboard. Most newer systems will have a PCI-E slot, while older systems might have an AGP slot. The slots are usually colored differently on the motherboard. AGP is typically a dark color, while PCI-E is usually white, yellow, or blue.
Finally, you should make sure the card can fit in your case. Measure the length and width of the card to ensure it will be compatible with your case dimensions. You may also want to look at the thickness of the card, as some can be quite thick. Also, be sure to look at the power consumption of the card and check if it requires a fan or heatsink to keep cool.
Your computer uses a hard drive to store data, including pictures, music, video, text documents and programs. It also holds the operating system and other software programs that run on your computer. You can buy additional hard drives to add storage or as backups. You can also use an external hard drive to move files between computers.
There are two main types of hard drives: HDDs and SSDs. HDDs are magnetic disks that spin at a very high rate, typically 5,400 or 15,000 RPM. The faster the disks spin, the faster your computer can access the information stored on them. An internal hard drive can have a maximum capacity of 20TB.
The read/write heads of a hard drive detect the magnetic polarities on the platters. Each tiny portion of the platter houses a binary number, a ones and zeros code that represents your digital data. The read/write heads can input these ones and zeros by magnetizing the platter, which the computer then reads as binary information. The head can also write to the platters, which writes a ones and zeros code that is then read by the same read/write heads.
To install a hard drive in your computer, you need to make sure your motherboard has enough free space for it. Most motherboards have “bays” that can fit either 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch hard drives. If your chassis has tool-free bays, you can easily pop the hard drive into place and screw it in (you’ll need a screwdriver). Otherwise, you’ll need to install it using the screws provided with the case. Generally, you’ll need a SATA cable to connect the drive to the motherboard and power supply.
The motherboard is the backbone of a computer and houses most of its core components. It acts as a hub for the rest of the system, distributing power and connecting devices like USB ports to the central processor. The motherboard is also where a computer’s input and output (I/O) ports live.
One of the most important functions of a motherboard is to boot the operating system. A firmware chip on the board stores the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or a more modern version called the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which reads data from the hard drive and then loads the OS. Without the BIOS, your computer wouldn’t start.
Almost all of the components in your PC connect to the motherboard through either USB or I/O ports. These ports can be found on the front of your case or on the side of the CPU. It is essential that you install the motherboard before connecting any additional hardware, as this will keep your connections clean and organized. It will also ensure that the components are properly oriented and aligned, which will prevent them from being damaged or shorting out.
Most motherboards have multiple USB slots that can be used to connect your peripherals and external drives. Make sure you connect these before you plug in your power supply to avoid accidentally shorting out the motherboard or other components. You can also use a front-panel USB cable for your keyboard and mouse, or even an Ethernet port to add wired Internet access.
Most motherboards come in different form factors, depending on the size of your case and personal preference. For example, an ATX motherboard is the most common and can accommodate a variety of expansion slots. There are also micro-ATX and mini-ITX boards, which are smaller options that can be used in compact computers.