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How to Build a Computer


Installing RAM and the Microprocessor

But before we start building, we need to say one thing about static electricity. Most of the parts you'll be handling when you assemble your computer are highly sensitive to static shocks. If you build up static electricity on your body and a shock passes from your body to something like a CPU chip, that CPU chip is dead. You'll have to buy another one.

The way you eliminate static elec­tricity is by grounding yourself. There are lots of ways to ground yourself, but probably the easiest is to wear a grounding bracelet on your wrist. Then you connect the bracelet to something grounded (like a copper pipe or the center screw on a wall outlet's face plate). By connecting yourself to ground, you eliminate the possibility of static shock.

Each combination of parts is unique. But in general, here are the basic steps you'll need to follow when you assemble your machine:

­First, you'll need to unwrap the motherboard and the microprocessor chip. The chip will have one marked corner that aligns with another marked corner of its socket on the motherboard. Align the corners and drop the microprocessor into the socket. You don't need to apply any pressure - if it's aligned correctly, it should fall into place. Once you have it in, cinch it down with the lever arm.

Now, you need to install the heat sink. The CPU box will contain a manual that tells you how to do it. The heat sink will contain either a heat sink sticker or heat sink grease to use when mounting it on the CPU. Follow the instructions closely to install it. To install our heat sink, all we had to do was put it in place, cinch it down with flanges on either side and lock it with a cam. Connect the power lead for the heat sink to the motherboard.

Next, you'll install the RAM. Look on the motherboard for the slot marked "one" and firmly press the RAM module into it. It will probably take more pressure than you'd think to get the RAM into place. Each side of the module should also have a rotating arm that will lock the RAM down.

Now your motherboard is ready to put in the case.