What is Computer Assembly?


In this article you’ll learn about computer assembly.

What is Computer Assembly?

Computer assembly is the process of building a computer from scratch by integrating multiple hardware devices into one working system.

Computer enthusiasts perform computer assembly for various reasons that include but are not limited to customizing performance, upgrading old systems, repurposing used hardware, and saving costs by assembling their own machines rather than buying pre-manufactured computers off the shelf.

Computer assembly is a task that requires great focus, attention to detail, and a lot of patience. To do well in computer assembly requires a good understanding of how computers work and all the parts that go into making them run efficiently. Buying your own personal computer allows you to have an efficient machine for any use at home or work but assembling it gives you even greater control over what goes inside. If you want better capability or performance from your computer then building your own is one way to achieve this.

The Process

The process of computer assembly involves several steps that include assembling the motherboard, installing the CPU chip/processor, attaching heatsinks to prevent overheating, inserting system memory into designated slots or sockets, adding power supply units to convert electrical currents into usable voltages for components within the case, connecting cables to various parts of the motherboard and installing other internal parts.

Why perform computer assembly?

Some reasons why enthusiasts perform computer assembly are because they want more control over their systems’ performance characteristics or simply enjoy putting together machines from scratch. There are risks involved in building your own computer instead of purchasing a pre-manufactured unit but it is not necessarily more difficult than changing out a part in an existing machine. If you are new to computer assembly I would recommend taking a look at a guide written by an experienced enthusiast before you start with your project.

Do your research before a computer assembly

Building a computer from scratch can be rewarding but there are some risks associated with it as well. Firstly, considerable research is required to find parts that work well with each other and secondly, there is always the risk of installing or removing components without damaging them or surrounding components. For those reasons I would recommend building from scratch only if you have experience working on computers. While it’s not impossible for a novice to build their own system, the probability of making mistakes along the way is higher than with pre-assembled machines.

Starting out with computer assembly can be intimidating – there are countless little screws, lots of manuals, and even more acronyms. However, when you take your time and don’t rush things it’s relatively easy to build your own computer, especially if you’re using pre-assembled components like the ones sold in online shops like eBay.

How to assemble a computer on your own?

To make things easier for you we’ve put together the following list of instructions that should help you get started with building your first computer; note that these instructions deal with Intel hardware only because AMD chipsets are very different from Intel’s – if you want to assemble an AMD system refer to a manual specific to this type of chipset.

Here are the main steps involved in assembling your own PC:

1. Open the case and install the power supply unit (PSU) making sure to connect all power cables coming from it; note that not all PSUs come with a 24-pin ATX mainboard connector because this type of PSU does not use one. You can always find out whether your PSU uses a 24-pin connector by looking at its rear side and checking for the latter connector.

2. Install the CPU in its socket – make sure to wear anti-static gloves while handling it and always touch a metal part of the case to ground yourself! CPUs are usually shipped in their own anti-static bags which you should keep until they are installed. It is best if you find out about the correct way of installing an Intel CPU by checking with your motherboard manual before doing so.

3. Apply the thermal paste on top of the CPU, then securely fasten its cooler using spring-loaded screws (you can always check out how to do this with your particular CPU/cooler model)

4. Insert your RAM (make sure it’s compatible with your motherboard) and secure its clips just like you did with the CPU cooler – or take a look at this video for instructions on how to do that:

5. Connect power cables for the RAM, CPU, graphics card(s), case fans, etc. The order in which you should connect these wires is usually indicated by arrows printed on either side of each connector. Basically, incoming power goes first to the components which require more power (CPU, graphics cards). If your motherboard also includes an integrated GPU keep in mind that you will need to connect additional power cables from your PSU to it as well.

6. If your motherboard includes a CPU fan connector (almost always 3-pin) connect the CPU fan wire now as well. If it is not already attached to the CPU cooler, plug it in and push/turn it clockwise so that it locks into place – this will prevent your CPU fan from accidentally coming unplugged during use.

7. Screw in the motherboard standoffs and secure its metal case bracket onto the back of the case using screws and washers provided with your case and motherboard. This part is pretty straightforward but if you need any tips on how to do that, check out this article for detailed instructions:

8. Before you put the motherboard into the case, attach the power supply to it by plugging in its 24-pin motherboard power connector (purple wire) and 8-pin CPU power connector (usually black).

9. Carefully lay your motherboard inside your case, making sure that you remove any accessories that may be blocking space around the outside of the board or its connectors. You don’t want to put force on these components while sliding it into place because they are delicate and can break easily – push/pull only straight outward from them.

10. Place screws through mounting holes located at four corners of the bottom of the motherboard and screw them securely into the bottom plate of the case so that motherboard does not move when you put in the other screws.

11. Connect front panel wires (speaker, power button(s), power light etc.) to motherboard’s specific connector/header depending on the model.

12. Connect 24-pin main ATX power connector (usually white) and 8-pin CPU power connector (usually black).

13. Install RAM modules in slots according to motherboard specifications – usually in matching pairs or in slots labeled with numbers 1, 3, 5 … 12 for dual channel; if using only one stick of RAM then install it into slot marked 1 unless your motherboard is incompatible with single sticks of RAM (/u/astroshok provides more info about this here ).

14. Connect your graphics card (if you have one) in the PCI-E slot. Install the power supply cables for your graphics card (if it has one) and plug in any external devices you have connected to it. Connect SATA hard drive cables, power cables for fans/other internal components, USB 3.0 connectors, etc.

15. If applicable, connect front panel case LED & switch cables (if either is installed – they’re usually green).

16. Close the side panel! It doesn’t need screws since there are little plastic pieces that snap into place on each of its corners.

17. Plug in your computer and turn it on.

18. Windows will auto-install basic drivers (e.g., network adapter), but you may need to install video and audio drivers by visiting your motherboard manufacturer’s website or finding them on the included CD/DVD.

19. If Windows doesn’t auto-detect your graphics card and set it up, you can change which graphics card is used via Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Manage 3D Settings

20. You now have a fully assembled desktop PC! Congratulations!

Pre-built computers

While there are many pre-built computers on the market today it’s much more rewarding to build your own from scratch because:

  1. You can brag about it!
  2. You can pat yourself if every goes well.

However, if you can’t be bothered and need one as soon as possible, you will be glad to know that our engineers have been building custom built pcs for past 15 years! So if you need a hand, let us know!


Imagine building one of these

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...