Step 4: How To Build A Computer: Preparing The Case

Now that we have our workspace ready to go with our parts and tools laid out, we need to get our case ready to install everything. Most cases are laid out generally the same way, but our example assumes that you are using a standard sized ATX type case. Some cases have a removable tray that the motherboard fits on also, but the holes to install the motherboard will be the same. If these directions don’t match the type of case you have, make sure to consult the documentation that came with your case.

We have included some photos to help you understand the steps involved.

Opening the Case

  1. Open the left side of the case, by removing the two screws in the back that hold the side on. Once the screws are removed, you may need to slide the panel back completely along the rails to remove it. Your case may have clips instead of screws, and you will need to undo the clips to remove the side. If you have a more expensive case that is locking, make sure the lock is undone before trying to remove the side of the case.
  2. Once you have access to the inside of the case, you will probably see some hardware that has been included, including instructions. You may want to go ahead and open the bag of hardware and have the instructions handy as you follow along.

Now is probably the best time to get your wrist strap out and get yourself properly grounded to avoid damage to your parts as we start working. Follow the installation directions of your wrist strap and continue on below. If you choose to work without a wrist strap, make sure to touch the case every time you start working on the computer, to remove static electricity from your body.

Understanding the Inside of the Case

After taking a look inside the case for the first time, you should see a lot of wires running every which way. The twisted looking wires are used to connect such things are your case speaker, hard drive light, power light, and power switch. There may be an extra set of wires running from the top or the bottom of the case as well that connect to the USB ports on the front of your case if it so equipped.

You may have a fan at the bottom front of the case with a power wire running from it, which is used for cooling and airflow. There should be a speaker mounted somewhere on the front part of the case with a wire coming from it that will later be attached to the motherboard.

If you bought a case that already has a power supply installed, you will see the power supply mounted in the upper rear, with many different power connectors coming out of it. These various connectors are used to supply power to your hard drive, CD/Rom and DVD drives, floppy drive, speaker, and motherboard etc.

We won’t be doing anything with these wires until we get the motherboard installed, so move everything aside as good as you can, to make a clear open space to mount the motherboard into the case.

Install Motherboard Standoffs

Now you will want to get that bag of hardware back out that came with your case, and remove the motherboard standoffs. You will probably also need to get your needle nose pliers ready for screwing them in. The motherboard standoffs are the small screws that have a male and female end to them. This will allow a base for your motherboard to set on, that you can then attach the screws to.

  1. Remove your motherboard from the case and packaging and examine the holes that are present on the motherboard. This is where the screws will go.
  2. Examine the holes inside the case, and hold the motherboard inside the case, and figure out where you need to screw the standoffs into the case to match the holes on the motherboard. When you think you have them all in correctly, set the motherboard on top of the standoffs one last time to make sure you didn’t miss any.

Make sure you get the standoffs screwed in tightly, as these will serve as the base and support for your motherboard on the case. You can now remove the motherboard, set it aside, and continue below.

Install I/O Plate

The I/O plate is the metallic looking piece that fits in the large rectangular space on the back of the case. It should snap into the space with ease, and it will fit around all of the I/O ports on the back of the motherboard when it is installed.

Remove front Covers on Case

Now would also be a good time to figure out think about where you want to install your DVD/CD Rom drive and floppy drive at.

On the front of the case, you will see the individual panels that can be removed. Depending on the size of your case, you should have a few of the larger panels towards the top. Think about where you want the DVD/CD Rom to be installed, and pop out that section. For aesthetics, generally the top most slot works the best.

Repeat this process for the floppy drive if you bought one, and remove the smaller panel below where you want your floppy drive to sit at.

NOTE: You may need to use your flat head screwdriver to gently pry the panels loose. Don’t put too much effort into it though, as they should easily come out.

When it comes time to install these drives, you will now be able to slide them in from the front of the case.

We have successfully prepared the case for installing parts, and now it is time to move on and install the power supply if your case did not come with one already.

Install Power Supply

If the case that you bought already has a power supply installed, then you can skip this step. If not continue on below.

  1. Take the power supply out of the box and make sure to switch to 115v if it is not already (If you are outside the United States, this will be different)
  2. Mount the power supply to the upper back part of the case by inserting the power supply through the side of the case, and then sliding it on the support rails in the back. (NOTE: If your power supply has two fans, make sure the second fan is pointing down.)
  3. If you have everything lined up correctly, you should be able to attach the power supply to the case with the four screws in the back that hold it in place.

We now have the power source necessary to run everything! The next step is to prepare the motherboard for installation.

Step 5: How To Build A Computer: Preparing The Motherboard

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