First of all, prepare a clean workspace. This could be a dining table, a clear desk – any surface large enough for your suitcase to lay flat on its side, with enough room around for the rest of your components. You will also need a Phillips screwdriver that will fit the screws on your case. When you put these parts together, be sure to discharge any static electricity build-up and work on a non-metallic surface such as a wooden table. Or you can just assemble the motherboard on top of the cardboard box it comes in.
Most of the components you have purchased will come with instruction manuals; keep them close at hand. We will start with the motherboard, so open the instruction manual on the installation page. It can be quite intimidating – there’s a lot to look at – but think of it all like a large Lego set. Each piece fits into the other room. For the motherboard, your first job will be to install your CPU.
Installing your CPU
Depending on the type of processor you purchased (Intel or AMD), the chip will either have small pins on one side (don’t touch them) or small gold contacts on one side (don’t touch them). Seriously, don’t touch that side of your chip. Oils from your fingertips can damage contacts or bend a pin. Do either and your processor becomes nothing more than an expensive piece of silicon.
Setting up your processor is pretty straightforward. First, check your motherboard instructions and make sure you have unlocked the processor socket. It will be a large square with a bunch of small holes (or contacts), with a lever or button next to it. Your motherboard instructions will explicitly state how to unlock the socket so that you can install your processor without any issues.
Once you’ve confirmed it’s unlocked and ready, simply find which corner of your processor has a small golden triangle and line it up with the same symbol on your motherboard’s processor socket. Gently lower the processor into the socket, and then gently return the latch or locking mechanism. You shouldn’t have to fight it. If you have to press very hard, check again that the processor is properly seated.
Then you will need your Thermal paste. This tiny little silver goo plastic syringe is very important for this next step. Now that you have your processor installed, take a look at the shiny square of silicon in the center of it. This is where your heat sink will sit. Your processor comes with a heat sink and on one side you will see a copper circle. You will place the heat sink directly on the processor after applying the thermal paste, with the silicone square and the copper circle perfectly aligned.
Go ahead and carefully squeeze a small ball (no bigger than a pea) of thermal grease onto the silicon square of your processor. You’ll want it as close to the center as possible.
Now line up your heat sink with the screws surrounding your processor and gently lower it into place. You’re going to crush the thermal paste, and the goal here is to create a thin layer covering the back of your processor. It’s okay if it oozes a bit, but if it oozes and above the edge of the processor, you’ve used too much. Get isopropyl alcohol, dab it on a lint-free wipe, and wipe down the processor and heat sink. Wait until they are completely dry and try again.
If everything looks okay, screw your heat sink into place. Go back to your motherboard’s instruction manual and find the right place near the processor socket to plug in your heatsink cooling fan. It should be very close to your processor socket. Once you find it, plug it in. Congratulations, you have just installed a processor. That was the hardest part, and that’s more than, good work.
Installing your storage and memory
Memory is perhaps the easiest thing to install. See those little vertical sockets next to the processor? Line up your RAM sticks and insert them, starting with the left slot. They lock into place once you have them properly installed. If you have two sticks of RAM, be sure to skip a slot between them. Your motherboard manual should indicate which slots to use.