How to build a computer

Building your own PC is the best way to earn geek cred -- here’s how to do it

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Opening the case

Preparing the case is the easy part. The instructions should introduce you to the basic layout of your case, as well as offer up special instructions regarding component installation.

Lay the case in your work area and remove the side panel that provides access to the interior. For most cases, this means the left-side panel (as viewed from the front). Also remove anything that’s dangling inside the case, or if it’s attached, push it aside. Many cases have permanent internal wiring that can become a hassle later.

Before we start putting other parts together, we’re going to install the power supply, and then set the case aside for a few minutes.

The power supply

The first component to make its way into the case should be the power supply, or PSU as it’s more often called. Typically located on the rear of the case, usually in the bottom or top corner, the slot is easily located by searching for a square opening. This opening will have screw holes on at least two corners, and the PSU sits in it with a switch and female socket facing outward. Consult your case’s manual if you have trouble finding the proper location.

There are two main varieties of power supply: standard and modular (there’s a hybrid semi-modular type too, but we don’t need to worry about that for now). Modular PSUs have cables that detach from the main unit to avoid clutter. They’re ideal for smaller cases and neat freaks.

If you have a modular supply, it’s best to leave the cables out for now and run them as you install each additional component. If all the cables are permanently attached, carefully bundle them up so they’re hanging out the open side panel of the case, for now. This will keep them out of the way while we install the rest of the components.

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