Complete system Build - Overview of procedure

Building a PC is like any project, it helps to have a clear plan before you begin.  In the case of building a PC, you need to have an idea of the requirements for the finished system so that the correct hardware can be chosen and assembled before starting to install software.

By choosing a flexible and common standard for the motherboard, you get the best flexibility in the specification of the components you can add to it, giving great flexibility in the specification and price of the complete system – as well as the ability to upgrade later, if required.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the system build process.  Not every step will apply to every system build – but consider each step before proceeding to the next.

 

System requirements:

What (if any) special requirements are there for the completed system?  Does the end user have any unusual hardware or software that must be used with the new system? Check software and hardware compatibility before ordering parts to avoid costly mistakes.

As an example, a recent client needed a system for their accounts and had an existing matrix printer that was required to print payslips on the new system. On checking the printer type, it was found that it only had an old parallel interface – rather than USB and this meant that a motherboard with a parallel port was required.  By finding this out before building the system we saved a lot of time and effort correcting the issue later.

 

Specification:

Once the system requirements are established a proposed specification can be drawn up.

Some elements of the specification may be adjustable to suit the clients budget – such as the processor type and speed, the amount of system memory or the type and size of monitor for example.

By using a simple spread sheet and collecting the various costs and options, it is easy to provide a basic specification and the cost of various optional upgrades and the benefits they will provide.

This allows the client to choose the final specification to better suit their budget and needs and give them control over the final cost and specification.

 

Pre-Order Check:

Here, we review the client’s needs, the proposed specification and the parts required to fulfil the order.  Check physical requirements such as the case being the correct type for the motherboard and having enough space for the required components.  Check the motherboard has enough slots of the correct types for the processor, memory and any additional add-in cards required.  Review any optional parts such as additional fans that may be beneficial to add into the specification and order now – rather than later.

 

Order and Delivery:

Check stock and pricing at suppliers and order accordingly.  It usually makes sense to use as few suppliers as possible to minimise postage and carriage costs.

When parts arrive, check the deliveries are undamaged externally – sign for as “Damaged” if the boxes appear to have been damaged or opened.  If the goods are clearly damaged on receipt, you may even reject the delivery completely.  Contact the supplier immediate if any goods appear damaged.

DO unpack and check the correct items have been supplied and appear in good condition.

DO NOT unpack items such as memory, processors, motherboards, hard disks and other electronic components in anti-static packaging (usually silver plastic bags with anti-static warning stickers) and DO NOT handle the items until they are needed and then ONLY when using an anti-static wrist strap which is correctly and safely grounded.  See the pages on anti-static precautions for more information.