We live in a time when the economic outlook keeps changing daily. That is why I decided to build my own computer system and have my money work for me. And you can too.

Truth is I’m no computer teckky. No brain with a list of technology degrees behind my name, just a middle-aged woman who is taking positive matters into her own hands. When my computer continued to crash every half-hour for the past year, I decided to do my own research to see how hard it would be to build a new one. In the process I became very savvy in comparison computer parts shopping.

I can hear you say, “I can’t build my own system and hard drive. It’s way over my head.” Or, “I don’t have the technical background needed.” Well, neither do I, but I did not let it stop me.

By following the steps below, you can build a dependable computer system for less money, just as I did.


1– Read every computer magazine you can get your hands on. PC Magazine, Computer Shopper, PC World, and Consumer Reports list new and current products. Read thoroughly and choose wisely.

2– Understand how everything works. Use your current hard drive as an example. Open your case and look at the motherboard, connections, and power supply. Notice how the entire layout is presented. This will be your saving grace when it is time to put all your new components together.

3– Talk to the experts in your community. Go to local computer stores and let them know you are thinking of building your own system.
And after listening to them go back to your office or home, and do your own extensive Internet research. For my particular use, I wanted a workhorse motherboard and hard drive with plenty of memory and a good graphics card.

I was glad I did this, because the information I gathered was everything I needed to make excellent choices.

Some very informative useful websites are: http://www.intel.com, http://www.motherboard.com, http://www.coolermaster.com, http://www.www.smartcomputing, and http://www.amazon.com.

Shopping & Buying

On a budget and not wanting to run up my credit card bill, I decided to buy everything I needed online and on sale if I was lucky. And if I couldn’t find what I needed, I went to my local computer store in my area.

1– The most expensive items: Processor and motherboard were bought in one group. Case, hard drive, DVD burner in another. Power supply, memory, and other smaller items by themselves.

Desiring for the best for less and always budget conscious, I decided on the Core I7 920 processor, and Gigabyte GA EXUD4P motherboard. For the case I was very picky. Style and flash are important but I wanted something with plenty of maneuvering room inside. Choosing the Coolermaster 922 HAP with three pre-installed fans was an excellent choice. The Samsung 1T hard drive came highly recommended. Plextor’s DVD R/W and Lightscribe DVD are two good choices. The Diamond ATI 4870 graphics card was given dependable good marks by the authorities on the Internet sites I visited. And the Corsair 3DDR memory chips compared to other companies were too impressive to pass up.


Now with all equipment and software collected, I was ready to install. On a mission and not to be distracted, I turned off my cell phone and put out the do not disturb sign letting nothing deter me from my goal.

1– Lay out all the equipment in front of you. Visualize how you want to put it all together.

2– Read the step-by-step guides inside the packaging. By taking the time to do this I saved myself a lot of frustration.

3– After reading the guides, keep those pages showing the graphic details open to guarantee easy installation. Again, follow them step-by-step.

4– Place the motherboard and CUP out together in front. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by how everything looks.

Carefully unlock the metal CUP’s latch holding the plastic placeholder in place. Take the plastic placeholder out. Do not touch the motherboard’s socket contacts. Look for the notch in one corner of the new CUP and match it with the motherboard’s. Make sure the tiny pins are positioned over each other correctly to insure contact then lower the latch and lock both into place.

5– Before installing the cooler on top of the CUP, use the packaging clear guide that comes with the box and lay it over the new CUP. Then add a thin layer of thermal grease (make sure you buy some before installation if your packaging doesn’t come with it. In most cases the costs is five dollars) over the top surface.

Feeling confident, I placed the cooler over the CUP and secured it in place by twisting the cooler’s plastic push-pins until secure.

Finished with the first part, I let the motherboard sit for a while.

6– Next install the graphics card. Position the card in the motherboard’s assigned slot and make sure contact is made. What a breeze.

7– Very impressed with Gigabyte’s GA EXUD4P motherboard so far, I installed the memory next. By using Gigabyte’s new locking system once the memory made connection they snapped into place.

8– Breathing a sigh of relief as everything looked good so far; I laid the empty Coolermaster case down then carefully secured the motherboard into place using the small packaging screws.

9– A personal choice of mine was to put the Corsair 750 cooling unit at the bottom of the case, instead of the top. I’m glad I did because everything fit perfectly giving me extra room inside.

10– The easiest part so far, was sliding the Samsung hard drive into the case’s designed slot, and using the plastic button guides to lock it into place. Afterwards, I installed two additional screws connecting both case and hard drive together.

Simple right?

Now I know what you are thinking. By now she must have messed up somewhere. Right? Surprisingly no. By taking my time and reading the installation papers and guides, “things went rather smoothly.

But hold on.

One thing I didn’t count on, and took a little time to figure out was installing the case’s color-coded cables into the motherboard. I first thought, how simple. Just line up the green with the green colored wire on the motherboard respectfully. And wa-la, it’s done.

And yet after hooking up my existing monitor and crossing my fingers, when I turned on the computer I quickly heard several beeping noises and nothing much else. Turning off the computer, I reread the BIOS instructions, looked at the installation guide’s graphics one more time then used a magnifying glass to look closer at the motherboard.

It was apparent that I hadn’t lined up the pins properly. By taking my time, I reinserted the tiny color coded wires into their respective places on the motherboard then took a long deserved break. Whew! I was thankful for finding that simple fix.

Eager to get back to work, I took a moment to go over everything one more time then felt more confident in my methods. Turning on the computer, I kept my fingers crossed. Hearing one beep then the BIOS screen appear on my monitor, I breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes!”

More confident, I choose to, “Maximize the Bios” and let the computer do everything for me. Installing the Windows Vista system disk next, it was a matter of minutes before all the computer’s parameters were set up. The Gigabyte’s driver installation CD allowed me to install the necessary drivers so the computer could work properly. And finally, understanding the need for a good dependable security system, I installed Norton Security.

From this point on, everything was simple and straightforward when installing the rest of my software.

Wow! What an experience. I now have a kiss-ass system that hums so quietly, I hardly know it is running. Certainly a big difference from my old hard drive which will now have a home in computer retirement.

Tabbing up the costs and rounding off to the nearest dollar my new system cost around $1350.00. Now if I can do it, so can you. Satisfaction prevailed when I used my own ingenuity and determination taking one step at a time.

Read up on everything. Do your research. And you too can feel the joy that comes from saving money when you build your own computer system.

Written by: Robin S. Garland


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