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Build Or Buy PC System Build Guidelines For 5-30-01

The following process has been tested and proven to be an effective and efficient method to assemble your new ATX Form Factor PC.


Rule of thumb – Do not force any screw or fastener.  If it does not go in easily you probable have one of three situations:

1.        You are using the wrong size screw.

2.        You are using the wrong pitch screw (threads per inch)

3.        You are using the wrong length screw.


Inventory all parts.

A.     Check each component of your PC against your order.

 Insure that all items that should come with software (driver disks) has the software (Video Card, Modem, Sound Card, Tape drive, etc).

Verify all documentation present for those items requiring such (Mother Board, Video Card, Sound card, Modem, etc).

Record all Serial Numbers, Revision Numbers and Model numbers on your inventory sheet.  THIS WILL BE YOUR PERMANENT RECORD!


B.     Put on your grounding strap.

C.     Open case, place cover aside and remove Mother Board mounting plate (If Applicable).

D.     Install Power supply into case if not already installed in case.

E.      Install power cable to power supply.

Motherboard Configuration:

F.      Using your manual, verify or set jumpers / switches on motherboard (Speed, voltage and multiplier, these are CPU specific). (If Applicable).

G.     RAM: Install the memory module(s) – (SDRAM DIMM’s).

H.     CPU: Install the CPU (verify speed).  No force should be needed.  DO NOT touch, bend or modify the thermal sensor (small brown strap inside the socket.)

I.        Insure the thermal paste is uncovered and mount the fan on the CPU.

J.       Be very careful when clipping the fan into place; apply pressure straight down evenly.  Attach the power cable to the CPU fan connector on the motherboard.

K.    Motherboard Preparation:

L.      Insert the spacers in motherboard mounting plate. (These are for motherboard support and grounding).

M.   Mount ATX access panel plate carefully.

N.    Carefully position the motherboard, and fasten with (6) or more screws.  Do not use insulator washers!  You are after all, trying to get a good ground plane.

O.    Mount the Motherboard mounting plate on the chassis. Be careful not to bend any of the small RF shielding fingers around the access holed in the plate.

P.      Install video card (AGP slot). Wait for other PCI slot devices – modem, NIC, etc.

Q.    Install hard drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM and any other drive bay components into case.

Connecting Cables to Motherboard: (Very carefully)

R.     Connect Power Supply to Motherboard.

S.      There are several sets of wires with 2,3 and 4 pin connectors coming from the front of the case.  All are clearly marked.  Using the Motherboard manual, connect these cables to the motherboard. 

Installing Device Cables:

T.      Install Floppy Drive Cable. Red edge of cable goes next to power connector.

U.     Install Hard Drive Cable to IDE1, and the CD-ROM Cable to IDE2. (Same as above.)

V.     Connect keyboard, monitor and mouse before applying power to PC.

W.   We now have our Base Reference Standard PC to further build upon with additions.


Time to tune for maximum smoke! (i.e. check out the installation)


X.     Apply power to the system: With no floppy disks in the system, turn on PC.  (At this point we are testing the 5-volt system and all LED cable orientations.

Y.     Normal POST should run.  Is the HD light coming on? Does the FD light come on?  Is the monitor coming on and the RAM check completing? Ready to install O/S – Excellent!

Z.      Install the software in the following sequence:  Operating System, MB drivers (Bus master, AGP and sound), Video drivers.


Finally, if you should experience any problems you can’t handle, follow the old Navy adage: “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”