How to build a barebones PC

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The guide to building your own computer
The quickest way to build your own PC is to use a barebones kit that bundles the core components — case, motherboard, processor and sometimes even memory — to get you started. We’ve already explained everything you need to know before choosing a barebones PC, so if you’ve made your choice and to get going, David Bayon, Contributing Editor at PC Pro explains the building process.
Adding some RAM
Gather everything you need
All barebones PC kits come with a case and suitable motherboard, and most also come with a compatible processor already in place. If not, you’ll need to check the socket type of your barebones kit’s motherboard and buy the AMD or Intel processor that fits. These processors all have an integrated graphics chip, so unless you’re building a gaming PC, you won’t need a dedicated graphics card.

Next you’ll need some memory, or ‘RAM’. Again, check your motherboard to see whether it accepts desktop or laptop memory and buy a stick or two. 4GB is standard these days, but it makes sense to buy 8GB, particularly with prices so low at the moment. Depending on the size of your case, you can use a desktop or laptop hard drive, or perhaps an SSD — or even both, if there’s room.
Open the case
The case lid is usually held in place by a few screws, so undo those and it should slide off. Don’t be put off by how technical it all looks inside, as it’s very simple to put everything together. The one thing to keep in mind is that everything connects to the motherboard: processor, memory, hard drives, even the buttons on the case. So if something isn’t working at any point, always start by checking its motherboard connection.
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The processor
If your barebones PC already has a processor, great. If not, you’ll need to install both a processor and cooler yourself. The processor is a flat, square component with a grid of tiny connectors on one side and you should be able to see a matching socket on the motherboard.
Gripping the processor carefully by its edges and with those connectors facing downwards, line it up with the socket — it only fits one way around — and drop it into place. Then take the cooler, peel off the protective strip from the bottom to reveal the silver thermal paste, place it over the processor and secure its connectors tightly. Finally, take the tiny power cable for the cooler’s fan and plug it into the nearby socket on the motherboard — it should be labelled ‘CPU’ or something similar.
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The memory and hard drive
Next, take your sticks of memory and, holding them carefully by the edges, slot them into the long, thin slots on the motherboard until the catches at either end click into place. If you can’t push them in far enough, use your fingers to close the catches manually, then give the sticks a gentle tug to make sure they’re in place.

Many barebones cases have a removable hard drive bay and you may even have already taken it out to get to the PC’s motherboard. Whether the hard drive bay is inside or outside the case, screw in your hard drive or SSD, then connect a power and data cable to its connectors. Leave the other end loose until you’ve re-secured the hard drive bay inside the case, then reach in and carefully connect both cables to the relevant ports on the motherboard — check the manual if you can’t find them.
Install Windows
At this point you have everything you need in place, although you’re free to add a graphics card and an optical drive if you’d like to. Close the case and fix the screws back in place, then connect the power cable, press the little power switch next to (if there is one) and press the power button on the front of the case.

At this point, not much will happen, as there’s no operating system installed. Now it’s time to install Windows from a DVD drive (use an external USB drive if you didn’t fit an internal one) or a USB flash drive. Whichever you decide, press the F12 key on the keyboard during when the PC boots to bring up the BIOS boot order menu and put your Windows installation drive at the top, then restart and follow the installation instructions to get up and running.
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