Adventures in Paranoia: A Self-built Computer Story.

As I’m sure I’ve already well established, I’m a bit of a nerd. Admittedly, though, I haven’t been as thorough a one as I’ve wanted to be for a while. Since I was about 16, I wanted to build my own computer. Recently, I had a week with a little extra time and a little extra money.

So I decided I was going to do it, with a little help from DIY Tryin‘, a fun little YouTube channel that has inspired me to try more hands-on projects.

The list of components is there. I won’t bore you with the technical specifications. I’d rather entertain you with a view into the mind of a paranoid first-time computer builder.

I was paranoid because while I heard that putting a computer together was much like playing with LEGOs (and who doesn’t love that?) you can’t fry a LEGO with static electricity.

So I went out and bought a little PC tool kit, and plucked up the courage to start taking things apart and *gasp* touching the components.
It all started off by taking the panels off of my case. Left and right weren’t bad, but the front panel was a PAIN to remove. Anyway, after that was done (9:42 am) I proceeded to install the powersupply (9:50). So far so good.
Step one: realize how far you actually have to go once you take the sides off the case…
And then I got to the mother board. Installing the back shield was a breeze, but actually making the board line up with it was frustrating. I finally decided to bend a few of the little tabs on the back of the shield, and it slid in perfectly. Great. That only took me 20 minutes of thinking I had probably fried the card or scratched something. (10:10 am)
So now that I’m wondering if the first real piece of circuitry will even work, I take out the processor. My fingers are shaking slightly — this thing is fragile. I manage to place it correctly, but the holder doesn’t close easily. I had read that if you have to force it, you’ll probably ruin it. Great. So I tried placing it again — 3 times — and it was still as hard as the first time to secure. Drat. Oh well, here goes nothing…
*Click* Great. It slid down like it was supposed to, but I still have no idea whether or not I’ve ruined it yet. Determined, I installed the heat sink. (10:20)
Please don’t let this be a brick…
The RAM, Hard drive, and DVD drives were a breeze. (10:36) Graphics card, not quite so much, but that’s because I didn’t see the little rubber stopper at first. (10:45) Keep in mind, that I’ve been standing this whole time over my kitchen table, and am getting a little light headed.
THEN THE CORDS. GOOD GRIEF THE CORDS. SO MANY OF THEM. After 40 minutes, I had finally gotten them all in where they went. I learned a valuable lesson though — when dealing with a small motherboard, plug in all of your cords as you go, and leave the GPU for last. There were so many little ports that were directly next to the graphics card, and the angle was tough. (11:25)
But it sure looks pretty in there. And I still have plenty of wiggle room. Hmmm…

Hungry, tired of standing, and a tad light headed, I zip tied the cords out of the way of the air flow at 11:35 and put the case back together. Now it’s time to test it.

Remember how I said earlier I wasn’t sure if everything would work? Now I’m dreading that it won’t. I calmly put the tower down next to my TV and plug in the HDMI cable. Saying a quick prayer, I hit the power switch, and…

Please insert boot disk or choose different destination.


So, now you know the story of the computer I just typed this article on. I hope you found it amusing. I feel incredibly smug, and my wife can attest that I still can’t shut up about it. 🙂 Pictures to come in a future update.

Edit: The pictures are here. Just in case you skipped down to this part of the post. Now go back up and read!