Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Computer Build Part Two – Preparing Your Work Area

Okay, so you’ve finally got all the parts for your new computer. Time to go build, right? Not so fast, Sparky. Building a computer isn’t something you should just jump into without any kind of forethought. It is a process, and there are steps. Here’s what you need to do first:

Work Area

Work Area

Work Area: Your first concern should be locating a suitable space in which to do the dirty deed (I kid, I kid). I chose to use this large table in my garage because it affords me several advantages. First, it gives me plenty of square footage on which to work. I had room to set up my own PC on one end and build Raymond’s rig on the other side. You want to be comfortable and organized when building a PC, and having a ton of space to work with really helps. Also, notice I’ve got around four feet of free space in all directions around my “work bench”. That gives me the ability to move around whenever I want, look at the PC from different angles, etc. Finally, this work area has one huge advantage that trumps the others: It is static-free. I’m building on wood, which is on a slab of concrete. There won’t be any static electricity built up as I move around during the build. This is important because if you accidentally discharge a load of static electricity onto a PC component, you can fry it. Bam. Gone. That’s it. It is a fairly expensive mistake to make, so try not to make it.

Wear cotton clothing and an anti-static wrist strap!

Wear cotton clothing and an anti-static wrist strap!

Static-Free Environment: Beyond choosing the right area, there’s even more that you can (and should) do to ensure you don’t have any problems with static electricity during your build. First, wear nothing but cotton clothing. If you don’t have any (which would be weird), build it naked, for all I care. Cotton won’t build up a static charge, as compared to synthetics or wool, which have a nasty tendency to do just that. Finally, use an anti-static wrist strap (pictured above). It’s that yellow thing with a wrist strap on one end (no way, a wrist strap that has a wrist strap? wicked!) and a metal alligator clip on the other side. Essentially, the strap keeps you grounded while you build. Just attach it to something metal, like the back of your computer case. Also, try not to work in an area that is either excessively cold or dry, as both of these conditions promote static electricity.

Dont I look like I know what Im doing? This should be you.

Don't I look like I know what I'm doing? This should be you.

Know What You’re Doing: I don’t mean that you need to be an expert, otherwise nobody new would ever get into building PCs and before too long we’d all be clueless. If this is your first build, take the time to read up on the subject before you start. Check out some solid PC building guides (like this one 😉 ), such as this excellent one hosted by Corsair. It’s a couple of years old, but is very thoughtfully written and has some good tips for beginners.

Always have a plan.

Always have a plan.

Have a Plan: Don’t go into this all willy-nilly, as my mom would say. Think about what you’ll be doing, how everything connects together. The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone. So on and so forth. Take the time to lay out all of your components, and only keep the ones you will be using in the first few steps up there. Put everything else…elsewhere. You can pile it in the floor as long as you haven’t taken anything out of it’s packaging. Don’t get ahead of yourself, basically. Focus on whatever task is immediately at hand, whether that is spreading some thermal paste onto your processor or figuring out which of these chunks of silicon in front of you is the motherboard (if you have this problem, maybe you should call in some outside help…). To paraphrase a knowlegdeable PC builder, any idiot with a screwdriver and a how-to guide can put together a PC. Hopefully that’s you (not the idiot part, the screwdriver and how-to guide part).


Relax (just not like this).

Relax: Take your time. Breathe. I don’t care how excited you are to get your PC up and running, it should never turn into a race. I had the parts for Raymond’s computer for three or four days before I started building it, simply because I had too much going on with college stuff to worry about it. Even then, I took the better part of two days to assemble the hardware for it, and another two days to get all the software installed, flash the bios, update drivers, and work out any bugs. There will be some problems during your build – I guarantee it. Take them in stride. The worse thing you can do it stress out or get upset; you’ll just end up making more mistakes, potentially very expensive mistakes. Building a PC should be fun! Enjoy yourself, this is a learning experience, and you’ll come out better for it.

Got everything together? Ready to go? Alright! Now hurry up and wait. Part Three of this guide should be up in the next day or two. I’ll be covering the installation of your processor, heatsink, RAM, and graphics card. Good luck with your build!


September 21, 2008 - Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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