Chapter 28. Building a PC

In the previous edition, we included a chapter on designing a PC. As popular as that chapter was, it went out of date even before the book was published. So, for this edition, we’ve moved that material to our web site, where it can be updated. To learn how to design PCs for various needs and budgets, visit There you’ll find detailed component lists for everything from no-frills systems to multiprocessor high-performance workstations, as well as advice on how and where to buy the parts you’ll need to build a PC from scratch.

With all the components in-hand, it’s time to start building the system. If you’ve built systems before, you may be able to complete a simple system in a couple hours, and even a complex system should take only an evening to build. If this is your first system, plan to assemble, configure, and test it over a weekend. Choose a well-lighted work area (the kitchen table is traditional) and lay out all of your components. We use old towels to protect the surface of the table. Observe anti-static precautions throughout.


Many of the following steps may be done in whatever order is convenient. You may, for example, install the motherboard before the drives (although, having once dropped a drive on an installed motherboard, we prefer to install the drives first). Case design and motherboard layout determine the most logical order of steps, and may mandate doing things in slightly different ...

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