In my previous In-Depth blog post, I discussed the differences, uses, and price of the three most popular operating systems used in computers today. I concluded that Windows, the software I will be installing on my device, is the second cheapest option that is used in most computers around the world. I chose Windows because it is known for being reliable and has access to the most software out of the three. Mac OS, the most expensive operating system, is also reliable, however, it can only be purchased along with an apple device which I am not buying so it is out of the question. Linux is also out of the question as I am not experienced enough with programing that if I run into any issues with the software, I would not be able to do anything to solve it. Unfortunately, Linux would have been the cheapest as you can buy many of their software completely free from the web. With this software decision in mind, and with all my computer’s parts, I can now assemble my computer with the help of my mentor, Lucas.
The very first step before I unpackaged any parts was to put on my slides as I have carpeting in my room, and I do not want to risk any static electricity building up and ruining my components.
From there, I took out the motherboard and placed in on its static prevention packaging to ensure its security while I placed the CPU in its spot. I had to lift the metal level on the CPU’s right to unlock the pins and then carefully placed the CPU in to line up with those pins. It was crucial I took my time and kept a steady hand as even if I broke a single pin, the entire CPU would be total garbage. To lock it in place, I lowered the lever on the right again, and tucked it under the small hook.
After, I installed the CPU’s fan which is there so the CPU does not overheat while it is carrying out difficult tasks. Unfortunately, I installed the fan and realized that the RAM was not going to fit in the first slot as I placed the fan facing the wrong direction. Lucas and I were able to problem solve by removing the fan, snapping the RAM in, and turning the fan around without ruining the thermal paste that is set in between the CPU and its fan. Additionally, I forgot to take photos of me installing the SSD after I put the fan back in, so it suddenly appears in the last photo of this sequence.
Once I sorted out that issue, I set the case up for the motherboard to be screwed into it. Unfortunately, I was not able to build the case as I bought the display model because of their shortage of inventory. I was alright with not having to build the case because I was able to get the last one, so it all worked out.
The following step was to lift the computer upright and unscrew slots for access to the PCI slots. With the second and third slot undone, the motherboard and case are set to install the GPU and I was able to reuse the same screws used to hold in the previous slots on the GPU.
The next challenge was to plug in all the tiny pins by matching the diagrams with each other. It helped that the cables were all labeled, however, the writing was so small, it was often quite difficult to read.
I followed the same procedure when it came to installing the WIFI and Bluetooth card in the bottom slot. The real challenge with this part was how tiny the cable was to connect it to the cables. Speaking of which, the cables are all attached to the PSU which is screwed in at the back of the computer and is hidden under the bottom section as it is not as good looking as the other components within my computer.
The final part I installed into my computer was the HDD which was placed in a small try and slid into its compartment at the base of the computer next to the PSU as the HDD is also not a very good-looking part. Along with all the other parts, a cable was plugged into it to connect it to the other parts. The last step in the computer’s assembly was to clean up the cables so that the final product would like beautiful from the outside as there is a glass siding which will allow for me to look inside it all the time.
When we first powered on the computer, it would start up, but it would immediately shut off. This was extremely scary at first. Lucas had to take over and search around the computer for anything that might have been put in wrong. He struggled to find the source of this issue for quite a while. Fortunately, we double checked the cable layout for the different parts, and it wound up that I mixed up one of the motherboard cables for the GPU cable. Once they were switched back the computer began running flawlessly! Once it was all working together, Lucas gave me a USB drive that had a version of Windows 10 on it that I was able to install to begin testing my computer for full functionality. This was a free version of Windows that does not allow for full customization, but it will let me get my baring’s of this new system before I make the actual purchase of a Windows 11 licence.
With the software up and running, that means everything has been completed in relation to the construction of my brand-new computer. Although the internet is right in front of me whenever I want it, I think that my mentor, Lucas, has really exposed me to new learning through this new side of the internet I have never previously explored. This has allowed me to learn from not only Lucas, but other in his field that may be far more experienced than him. Something that has previously existed that has helped me grow was the YouTube channels that I used to watch a while ago. Although I may not have understood them before, with the knowledge I have now, I have understood what they are discussing more and more while allowing for more of my own learning to take place. This hands-on experience of building my own computer has been quite the acceleration of my learning which I have really enjoyed this incredible learning opportunity. When we meet with together, there is mostly talk of computers, however, there is usually questions I have for him about how his post-secondary education at BCIT is going. Other than that, we generally stay on topic as we tend to have a time limit on our meetings as we both are very busy people. Currently, a lot is going well in our mentoring relationship right now. I have been enjoying his help throughout this process and I believe his patience with me, especially when I was building my own computer, was very generous and I really appreciated it. Although I did know Lucas prior to this mentorship through my sister, I never knew just how passionate he was about computers and the programming that went along with that. Through this mentorship opportunity, I was able to see a whole new side to Lucas that I have not seen previously.
Overall, this project has been an absolute blast and I have learned so much about a crucial part of my generation’s future, computers. I’m sure this knowledge will come in handy someday. With the final building of my computer, that marks the end of my progress and I’m thrilled to have been able to complete this project over a long period of time through the TALONS program. I am so happy with how it all culminated in the building of my own computer which I now proudly display on the corner of my desk for all to see. I would also like to especially thank Lucas, my mentor, who helped teach me almost everything I now know and helped me build my computer. I am so grateful for everything, and I cannot wait to see what I will learn next on my own!