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UT CS 320 - A Very Basic Guide to Home Computer Assembly

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Table of ContentsA Very Basic Guide to Home ComputerAssemblyTable of Contents1. Intro2. What exactly do I want?…………………………..43. Verify all the parts………………………………...54. Prep the work area………………………………...85. Hazards to consider……………………………….96. How and where to begin…………………………..97. Cabling…………………………………………...128. Pre-Startup checks…………………………….….159. Power-up…………………………………………1510. Trouble shooting………………………………..1621. IntroFirst let me say that this document is in no way intended to promote any manufacturer, architecture, form factor, “insert name here” format, processor type, socket type, slot type, or anyother hardware bit, byte or nibble over any other. For that reasonthis document will remain as general as possible while still presenting information that should be useful to the novice Hardware Systems Engineer. As individual experience grows one finds that most of the “Oops and got ya’s” are interchangeable in regards to machine type anyway. As all PC’s trace their roots to the IBM  Model 5150 PC it never ceases to amaze me as to the resilience of legacy, especially when it comes to errors. A “301” error is still a keyboard error and anything starting with “17” is very bad news for a disk drive. I did however receive a “401” error from a modern system board which was odd as Monochrome Video went out with Bell Bottom Jeans. A sound card that had failed was using the register and the BIOS just gave a best guess. At this point, take adeep breath and say to your computer; “I’ve got a screwdriver, and I’m not afraid to use it.” Let’s begin.32. Exactly What Do You Want from this Computer?Before you purchase any parts you must ask yourself one fundamental question. “How is this computer to be used?”Will it be a gamer, a music workstation, a fileserver, the list goes on and on but the answer will have a profound effect on the design of the machine. A gamer will need a graphics card which may be more powerful than the computer itself with memory to match where a fileserver may be controlled via a VT-100 serial link and have no video sub-system at all. A basic checklist can be very useful in assuring the final system is configured in a manner fitting the need and that all parts match one another. Examples of questions, which should be addressed,What processor will it use? (e.g. AMD vs. Intel)What form factor will be used? (ATX, mini ATX etc…)What Graphics card type will be used? (AGP, PCI-X etc…)How much memory do I need and of which type?What family of disk storage will be used (ATA, SATA, SCSI etc…) and will it be configured as a RAID?What type of sound support will be required?What removable storage devices will be used? (CD-RW, DVD, USB, Fire wire, Compact Flash, etc…)4And lastly what type of Human interface devices will be used. Oddly this is a category that gets little attention but can greatly affect the overall usability of a computer.3. Verify the Parts:Once a checklist of parts has been developed, the parts need to be checked for functionality and compatibility. Major subsystems will be covered individually in outline form for clarity.a) System Board: -Does it have the embedded features that you want?-Are there embedded features that are unnecessary or possibly problematic?-What processor type will be used and does the system board support the desired processor?-Does the manufacturer have a history of supporting boards in the field with CMOS updates and bug fixes?-What are the boards power requirements?-What type of Video subsystem does it support? -How many memory slots are available and what types of RAM are supported?-How many embedded disk controllers are included and of which family and type? Are they RAID capable?-Does it include the required mounting hardware, backplate, and I/O cables?-Will it fit the chassis you intend to use?5b) Chassis:-Does it support the form factor of the system board?-Does it have the front and rear panel I/O and other features you desire?-Does it use standard power supplies or does it require a proprietary power supply?-Does it have the required number of drive bays and in the correct size? -Does it have adequate cooling for all installed components?c) Power Supply:-Is it rated at sufficient wattage to support the desired configuration?-Does it support the system board? (e.g. 20 pin ATX, 24 pin ATX, 4 pin 12v P4, 6 pin 12v for Athlon , SATA power Etc…)d) Processor:-Does the processor pin grid match the pad on the system board?-Is the cooling system capable of handling the heat load?-Will the cooling complex fit the chassis?e) Memory:-Does the memory match the system board? -Are all memory boards of the same type? Many system board manufacturers state that you can mix memory so long as all memory within a specific bank are matched. This 6practice should be avoided. Memory timing issues can cause unstable operation and are usually very difficult to diagnose.f) Graphics:-AGP or PCI-X? (make sure it matches the system board)-Can the power supply handle it? (many graphics cards require auxiliary power directly from the power supply)-Will cooling requirements be met? (A massive heat sink mayblock an adjacent slot but fans have always been a weak link.)-Necessary Graphics I/O ports. (DVI, XGA, S-Video etc…) g) Mass Storage:-Does disk match the installed controller? (IDE, SATA etc…)-Is the drive large enough for intended use?-Will the disks be part of a RAID?h) Sound Support:-Will the embedded sound device be sufficient?-Will this machine be used as a MIDI controller?-Are the required outputs available? (Multi-channel stereo, Optical Audio, Digital audio etc…)i) Removable Storage:-What type of removable storage do I need? (CDRW, DVD, Compact Flash, SD cards, Floppy disks etc…) 7j) System I/O devices:-Does the system board have all the ports I require or will add-on boards be required? (RS-232 serial ports, Parallel printer ports, Ethernet ports, USB, Fire Wire, etc…)-What type of keyboard and pointing device will I want? (PS/2 keyboard, USB keyboard, keyboard layout, trackball vs. mouse, etc…)4. Preparing the Work Area. There are four main considerations when selecting a work area.-Static Control. A static mat with grounding wire and wrist


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