This page of the Build Your Own PC section of this website provides a summary of the order of the assembly of the internal components and the installation of a version of Windows in a newly-self-built desktop PC. There are three main versions of Windows currently in use, all of which are dealt with here - Windows XP (Home and Professional Editions), Windows Vista (Home Premium, Business, Ultimate) and Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate). On August 24, 2011 Windows XP , Microsoft's most successful operating system by far, was 10 years old, but it is still being used in nearly half of the computers in the world. Its installation disc can be used to perform a repair installation and access the Recovery Console, but, apart from System Restore and the System File Checker, other recovery methods have to be used for Windows Vista and Windows 7 (all of which are dealt with in depth in the relevant sections devoted to those versions of Windows on this website), because the installation disc for both of those versions contains all of the available versions of that version, thereby making it unusable as a recovery disc. The licence (Product Key) of the version you have purchased can only install that particular version.
3. - The Disk Drives
5. - The Dial-Up Modem
6. - The Assembly & Installing Windows
Note that you can switch the computer on without replacing the cover while installing software or testing it, but you should not touch any of the components unless it is switched off at the wall socket. For obvious reasons, if you have small children or pets, you should never leave it unattended in an exposed state. Often a computer is not switched off when powered down - it remains in a suspended mode, so it is always best to switch it of at the wall socket. Leave the plug in the socket with the switch off, since in this state it is earthed. Always replace the cover if you are not going to be in attendance and you have pets or children - and never have drinks, etc., nearby when working on electronic components.
If you want confirmation or clarification of the information provided on this page, and/or you want to view images not provided here, visit the other websites that are devoted to providing self-build information or have a section devoted to it, such as Tom's Hardware. You should also be able to find many other such websites by using a suitable search query, such as build your own pc, in a web search engine.
Computer hardware troubleshooting flowcharts
As you can see from looking at any of the diagnostic charts made available from the following links, there are no photo-illustrations or explanations of basic computer functions. The intended audience is the hobbyist or technician who already has some experience of repairing computers.
If you can understand a particular flowchart, it would be a good idea to print them just in case you can't boot your computer and you need the information.
CPU, RAM, and Motherboard Troubleshooting:
Power Supply Failure: - http://www.fonerbooks.com/power.htm
Video Card Diagnostics: http://www.fonerbooks.com/video.htm
Hard Drive Failure: http://www.fonerbooks.com/ide_hd.htm
CD and DVD Troubleshooting: http://www.fonerbooks.com/ide_cd.htm
Modem Failure: http://www.fonerbooks.com/modem.htm
Sound Card Diagnostics: http://www.fonerbooks.com/sound.htm
Network Trubelshooting Flowchart: http://www.fonerbooks.com/network.htm
1. - You have the tools required for the job at hand. It is possible to use nothing other than a standard Philips screwdriver, but a pair of pliers are handy for removing recalcitrant power-supply connectors, a pair of tweezers are handy for removing and replacing jumpers, or setting DIP switches, a magnifying glass is handy for reading the small print on the motherboard, or on the other hardware, or for seeing if pins have been bent, etc., - and a torch is handy if the lighting is insufficient. - Inexpensive tool kits can be obtained from most computer stores.
The motherboard you purchased to build your PC should have come with a user manual that you will need to read before you install in in the PC's case and then add the components. You should have it handy to consult as you configure jumpers/dip switches, or install the components.
2. - You have purchased all of the components, and you have reminded yourself to touch the metal case to earth yourself before you install electronic hardware. Even touch metal, such as a radiator, before handling electronic components. I have never used an anti-static wrist band that connects to the computer's case by a clip to discharge static electricity, and I have never had any components destroyed by static electricity.
Note that I have read How to Build a PC guides that recommend removing the plug from the wall socket. But as long as the computer is switched off at the wall socket, its contents will be earthed, because the earth wire remains connected and open when the wall socket is switched off. By removing the plug from the wall socket the earth link is broken.
You should work on a desk or table that is well lit. It's not a good idea to use the sitting-room carpet, because you're likely to suffer from aches and pains, such as sore knees.
3. - You have read through and understood this whole article. - You have accessed other sites offering the same information just in case I have left out something you need to know - or I have provided it inadequately. You have fitted the motherboard so that it does not make contact with the case anywhere other than at the stand-off screws. You have made sure that there are no loose screws or pieces of metal in the case that might short the motherboard.
NOTE WELL - BEFORE TURNING THE POWER SUPPLY ON, ENSURE THAT THE VOLTAGE SELECTION SWITCH ON THE PSU IS SET CORRECTLY (230V in the UK -115V in the USA).
Failure to ensure this switch is set to the correct voltage will probably destroy your PSU. - And do not use the power supply unit unless it has a load attached to the motherboard, such as the processor, the processor's cooling unit, and RAM memory. Turning the power on with only the motherboard attached to it, could also destroy the power supply unit, which must have a load to function.
If necessary, visit buildyourown.org.uk for an illustrated guide on installing a power supply unit (or any other component). Other sites with this information can be found by using a web-search- query such as: install psu or install power supply unit, etc.
4. - You have installed the processor in its socket (or slot if you're installing an old Slot 1 or Slot A Pentium or Athlon processor), and fitted the heatsink and fan unit over it according to the instructions that came with it, or by visiting its manufacturer's site.
Because of space considerations, you might prefer installing the processor, processor cooler, and RAM memory on the motherboard before you install it in the case. The way in which the processor's cooling unit is installed can require installing the processor and cooling unit before installing the motherboard in the case.
Note that in order to install a particular make and model of processor in a motherboard, that motherboard and its BIOS setup program must support it. All of the recent and current processors made by Intel and AMD just have to be installed in a motherboard that is properly installed in a PC's case with RAM memory, video/graphics card, etc., in order for the supporting BIOS to recognise and configure it for the operating system, which is usually a version of Windows.
Make sure that you purchase a heatsink and fan cooling unit that is designed to fit the type of processor that you're using.
Note that if there is a plastic covering over a sticky square of thermal compound in the middle of the heatsink where it fits over the central core of the processor, be sure to remove it, because attaching the cooling unit with the film still in place will cause the processor to heat rapidly and burn out.
The the processor core is visible behind a perspex window in the centre of some of the older Intel and AMD socket processors. The cooling unit has to be fitted so that the groove in the heatsink fits over the core's slightly raised window in the centre of the top of the processor. This is not the case with the earlier Socket 7 and Super-Socket 7 processors. The chip's processing core is hidden by the casing with these processors, and the cooling units made for them fit flush over the top of them.
It is a good idea to have a spare cooling unit on hand, because they're prone to break down. A high-speed processor with a failed cooling unit attached to it might lead to a fried processor - even with built-in overheating protection. So, from time to time, even if your motherboard has built-in overheating shutdown circuitry, which all motherboards have had for over five years, and the motherboard's BIOS or a software utility is set to monitor the processor's temperature and give a warning when it reaches a predetermined high temperature, it is a good idea to check if the cooling unit is functioning properly.
You could also have applied a thin layer of special heat-conducting termal compound, available from most computer stores, to the top of the processor as a way of improving the conduction of heat between it and the heatsink.
It has to be a thin layer of this paste - otherwise the processor will overheat.
If the processor has been installed with its default settings, (at its specified voltage, and it is not overclocked in any way), I would only use thermal paste if there is none already on the heatsink and you experience heat-related problems, such as erratic fatal exception and page fault error messages, reboots, failure of applications to run properly, etc.
Do not overclock the processor or video card unless you have researched how to do it thoroughly.
Note that some motherboards now have the technology that allows the system to overclock itself automatically to provide it with extra power in order to cope with processing demands that are higher than the non-overclocked system can deal with.
The MSI K9A2 Platinum (AMD Socket AM2+) motherboard provides this technology, which it calls Dynamic Overclocking Technology.
5. - Preferably, you should have installed the processor and cooling unit on the motherboard before the RAM modules in order to avoid damaging them. Having touched the metal case of a computer (connected to a wall socket that is switched off) to discharge any static electricity, you have fitted the RAM modules in the DIMM sockets in the order given in the motherboard manual. Some motherboards don't mind what the order of installation is, but others require the banks to be filled in a particular order, starting with Bank 0.
DDR/DDR2/DDR3 memory modules running on motherboards that support dual-channel DDR mode must be installed in pairs and must be installed in the DIMM memory slots that support dual-channel mode. See the RAM page on this site for more information on this.
All new motherboards now use the BIOS (instead of jumpers or DIP switches) to configure the following settings. The motherboard has a front side bus frequency (FSB) setting, which also sets the speed of the RAM, or the RAM can have its own frequency setting. The processor has a core-voltage setting, and there will be a range of clock multiplier settings.
Most current AMD and Intel processors have the clock multiplier setting set within them instead of in the motherboard's BIOS, so that overclocking them by increasing this setting is made too difficult or obscure for most people to attempt. However, both manufacturers sell unlocked processors (usually the most exensive models, but not always) that are unlocked and that allow overclocking of the clock multiplier, which is done via the BIOS.
As was mentioned above, the settings can be made by setting jumpers or DIP Switches on an elderly motherboard, or by setting them in the BIOS, which all of the current motherboards now use. The motherboard's manual will have illustrated instructions on how to set the motherboard up to run a particular processor or type of RAM.
Click here! for information on this site on the motherboard settings for the processor.
The availability of the settings depends on the motherboard, and, with regard to the clock multiplier settings, also on the type of processor. For instance, some motherboards do not have a range of processor core voltage settings; the motherboard sets the core voltage automatically. Another make of motherboard can provide a wide range of core voltage, bus frequency, and clock multiplier settings. Another make/model of motherboard can automate all or most of the BIOS settings so that they can't be changed.
Some motherboards provide only a very limited range of settings. - You have to read a motherboard's manual to find out how the settings are set and what range of settings is available.
Most reputable motherboard manufacturers provide manuals for their boards on their websites. Unless you know how to set the variable inbuilt clock multiplier settings on the latest AMD and Intel processors, you will only be able to adjust the system bus frequency (FSB) and core voltage settings - if the motherboard allows it.
If they are set manually, you have checked all of the settings again to make sure that they are correct.
Click Motherboards, Cases and Power Supplies to go directly to the information on this website on overclocking the processor, memory and graphics card.
7. - You have fitted the motherboard into the case, and fitted the processor and its cooling unit to the motherboard - as described on Page 3 of this article - and you have attached the heatsink and fan to a power point on the motherboard, or to a plug from the power supply unit. If possible, you should buy a cooling unit that attaches to a plug from the power supply unit instead of to the motherboard, because the fan might draw more power than the motherboard connection can supply and short it.
8. - The following information applies to parallel ATA (PATA) IDE hard disk drives...
Having fixed the hard disk drive into a suitable internal bay (invisible from the outside of the closed case) with four short screws, you have installed the drive's cable on to the Primary IDE Channel - as shown in the motherboard's manual - so that, with ATA 33 40-conductor ribbon cables (only for use with an ATA 33 and earlier ATA drive), the side of the cable with the red line along its length is fitted to the side of the channel that has Pin 1. If the new 80-conductor ATA66 ribbon cables are being used, make sure that the blue end connector is attached to the Primary IDE Channel, the black end connector is attached to the drive, and any slave HDD or CD/DVD drive is attached to the grey connector in the middle of the cable.
Note that it has come to my notice that 80-conductor IDE cables can come with a colour code different from blue-grey-black, such as red-grey-black. In this case the red connector will be connected to the motherboard.
You have plugged one of power cables branching from the PSU into the hard disk drive.
If you attach the boot hard disk drive to the Secondary IDE Channel, the system will not start up (boot).
Note. - Make sure that IDE cables are properly connected to the motherboard. I have heard of HDDs that have been written off because the cable connector wasn't connected properly to the motherboard.
The above information applies to parallel ATA (PATA) IDE hard disk drives. Click here! to go to information on this site on serial ATA (SATA) hard disk drives, which are easier to install because the cable can only be fitted in one way to the motherboard and to the drive itself.
To remind you, below are the kind of instructions that are provided in the manual that is provided with a retail boxed HDD, or that can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website for OEM drives that are supported by the vendor instead of the manufacturer. These instructions were provided in the manual of a Seagate drive.
"You can mount the drive in any orientation using four screws in the sidemounting holes or four screws in the bottom-mounting holes. See Figure 4 on page 23 for drive mounting dimensions. Follow these important mounting precautions when mounting the drive: Allow a minimum clearance of 0.030 inches (0.76 mm) around the entire perimeter of the drive for cooling. Use only 6-32 UNC mounting screws. The screws should be inserted no more than 0.200 inch (5.08 mm) into the bottom mounting holes and no more than 0.14 inch (3.55 mm) into the side mounting holes. Do not over-tighten the mounting screws (maximum torque: 6 inch-lb). Do not use a drive interface cable that is more than 18 inches long."
9. - Fitting a CD/DVD/Floppy Disk Drive requires the removal of a covering (facia) from the front of the case through which the drive protrudes. These are easily removed by pressing them out from inside the case. You should not throw these covers away because you might decide to network the PC and use it without any external drives. If you throw the covers away, you will have to leave the drive in place in order not to leave gaps that look unsightly and prevent the case from cooling properly.
Having fixed the drive into one of the FDD bays at the front of the case, you have installed the floppy disk drive's cable to the FDD Channel as shown in the motherboard's manual - so that the side of the cable with the red line along its length is fitted to the side of the channel that has Pin 1. One of the plugged power cables - the smallest of them - branching from the PSU - has been plugged into the drive. The end of a floppy disk drive cable that has the twisted crossover lines is attached to the drive; the other end is attached to the motherboard.
See the image below, which shows clearly the end of the cable that has a characteristic twist in some of its conductor wires.
10. - If you are going to use inbuilt graphics on the motherboard (only certain makes/models have inbuilt graphics), all you have to do is plug the monitor into the VGA or DVI port on the motherboard with a VGA or DVI cable that connects to the VGA or DVI port on the monitor.
If you have an old PCI or AGP video/graphics card, you have fitted it into its PCI or AGP slot. If you have a new PCI Express x16 graphics card, you have to install it in a long PCI Express x16 slot. Some PCI Express cards require a power connector from the power supply to be connectd to them. The power supply you have purchased or that came with the case must have such a connector. If you want to install two PCI Express graphics cards using either SLI or CrossFire dual-card technology, you have to have a motherboard that supports that specific technology (CrossFire or SLI) and a power supply that has the extra power connectors. Refer to the user manual that came with the graphics card(s) or that you have to download from the manufacturer's website.
If you have a sound card don't install it for the time being. You can add it after the operating system (Windows, Linux, etc.) is installed. Many motherboards provide an inbuilt sound chip and external ports that provide good sound quality when connected to a quality set of speakers. If the motherboard has an inbuilt video/graphics card you don't have to connect anything unless the video port is on a riser card, in which case you will have to install the riser card into its slot on the motherboard. Most ATX motherboards with an inbuilt graphics chip have the video port(s) built into it as well. Some recent motherboards provide both a standard analog VGA port and a digital DVI port that can run two monitors.
The video/graphics standard called PCI Express has replaced the AGP standard on new motherboards. Click here! to go directly to the information about the PCI Express standard on the Video & Graphics section on this site. Use your browser's Back button to return to this point on this page.
11. - According to the information in the motherboard's manual, you have attached the collection of plugs (including the LED - light-emitting diode - plugs) to the motherboard that are on the end of the wires that run back to the switches and lights on the front of the case.
These plugs have to be attached to the motherboard so that the Power-on switch and light, the Reset switch, and HDD-activity light function or light up.
You won't be able to switch the PC on unless the Power-on switch is connected to the motherboard, but the other LEDs provide nonessential features, and do not have to be connected to the motherboard for the PC to switch on.
The motherboard has been plugged into the power supply unit (PSU). - The PC has been plugged into a wall socket. - The monitor has been plugged into a wall socket, extension to a wall socket (or the back of the PC), depending on the cable. - And the monitor's other cable has been plugged into the video card's port at the back of the case.
Note that you must have a power supply unit that has a connector that can connect to the motherboard's 20-pin or 24-pin connector. Click here! to go to the page that deals with power supplies.
If you place the motherboard on the antistatic bag it came in, or on a non-conductive material such as a cardboard box, for testing purposes, you can assemble all of the components without installing them in the case. The hard disk drive should also be placed on non-conductive material so that its circuitry doesn't come into contact with anything that conducts electricity. For this purpose, you can remove the PSU from the case. To start the naked computer all you have to do is place the head of a screwdriver across the pins that the Power-on LED cable in the case is connected to. I never do this myself, because I've seldom had any problems firing a system up successfully after I've installed the main components on the motherboard and then in the case. On the rare occasions I've had a problem, I've usually fixed it by simply swapping components, such as the RAM modules and the PSU, with known good ones.
12. - You are now ready to switch the system on and install the operating system, which is usually Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. Windows XP was first released in 2001 and has had its final Service Pack 3 released long ago and has been superseded by Windows Vista (2007), Windows 7 (2009) and Windows 8 (2012), it is still probably the most used version of Windows.
Installing a version of Windows 9x (Windows 95/98/Me) is much the same as installing Windows XP, but, since Windows XP no longer has an MS DOS interface, it will not come with a boot floppy disk, and will have to be installed from a CD drive unless you have a Windows 9x start-up (boot) disk that you can use to provide CD-ROM access on a system that has no operating system installed. If you are buying a retail version of Windows XP, make sure that your system can be set to boot from a CD/DVD drive in the BIOS setup program, because the Windows XP Home edition comes on a CD or a DVD, not on floppy disks.
The first feature that Windows XP and Windows Vista and Windows 7 installation routine goes through is the formatting and partitioning of the boot hard disk drive, usually the C: drive or partition which contains the Windows system files in the Windows folder. You do not use the FDISK program, or a third-party program, as you would when partitioning and formatting a hard drive to install a Windows 9x system.
If you want to re-partition the boot hard drive, or partition a second or third hard drive, you can do it from the utilities provided in the Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation CD/DVD. If Windows is already installed on the boot drive, you can format and partition a new drive from within the Windows Disk Management feature. You can format a drive from within My Computer (XP) and Computer (Vista/7) by right-clicking on the drive and then choosing Format...
With Windows XP and Windows Vista and Windows 7, the setup program does most of the installation work for you. At some point you just have enter the Windows Product Key (on a sticker on a brand-name computer and on the purchased disc) and choose the type of keyboard, time, date, etc.
Click the link to read the article on this website on Windows 7, the latest versions of Windows: Install, Use, Restore, Recover and Repair Windows 7 - Win7: How It Differs from Windows XP and Vista.
There are only two versions of Windows 8 suitable for the home and small business user - the standard Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, both of which are available as packaged, retail products and downloads that can be burned as ISO image files that are then boot discs, allowing the installation of Win8. Both the packaged retail and download versions are Upgrade versions. If you want to install Win8 on a newly built PC or one with a blank hard disk drive or SSD drive legally (on a PC without a previous qualifying version of Windows (XP, Vista, Win7), you need to buy one of the System Builder versions, also known as OEM versions. Anyone who installs only a new, blank hard or SSD drive on a PC qualifies as a system builder.
That said, if you install an Upgrade version on a blank hard drive/SSD and there is not a qualifying version of Windows installed on the computer, it will activate successfully - but doing that is not legal. Legal is having a previous qualifying version of Windows on the computer. If, say, the hard drive on the computer fails, then you can reinstall Win8 on a blank, formatted hard drive or SSD on that computer.
The support for System Builder versions is provided by the system builder, not Microsoft and they are a little cheaper than the Upgrade versions, so, legally, anyone who builds a PC must install a System Builder version, but an Upgrade version will install and activate online.
Here is the information on this website on how to buy and install Win8:
It is on the page of this website that provides the essential information on Windows 8:
Essential information on using Windows 8 and upgrading to Win8 from Windows 7, Vista and XP -
If you have followed the above instructions, and you have problems booting the system to the BIOS, or experience any other kind of failure, the following is good advice to follow, because it shows that the problem is likely to be caused by the power supply, which could be faulty, or not delivering enough power...
"A lot of individuals make the mistake of hooking up all of their components (sound card, multiple CD-ROM drives, multiple hard disk drives, FireWire/USB cards, network cards, etc., etc.) when first building their system. The best thing to do is build your system with the minimum hardware requirements to POST. [Get beyond the Power-On-Self-Test that is enabled in the BIOS] That is, you'll need to install the processor fitted with cooling unit, motherboard, RAM, and video card, then slowly add to the setup, such as a hard disk drive, and CD-ROM drive to actually install an OS."
Note that you don't have to have a hard disk drive installed to be able to boot as far as the BIOS setup program, or boot from a floppy disk. You can run the BIOS setup program with just the RAM and video card installed on the motherboard. But you obviously have to have a hard disk drive installed to be able to install an operating system.
If you are installing a hard disk drive (HDD) from another PC that already has Windows 9x (Windows 95/98/Me) installed on it, all you will have to do is press the F8 or Ctrl key when Windows 9x is about to start up, and then select the item on the menu that presents itself that starts the system up in Safe mode. You can then open the Device Manager (Start => Settings => Control Panel => System => Device Manager tab), select the devices that no longer pertain to the system, and use the Remove button to get rid of them. For instance, the HDD Controller might have been from VIA because the previous motherboard used a VIA chipset. But the current motherboard chipset is made by ALi, and so requires an ALi HDD Controller. If you remove the VIA controller in Safe mode, Windows will automatically install an ALi HDD Controller as it starts up.
If you have upgraded Windows instead of installing it cleanly it is a good idea to clean the Device Manager of redundant entries, which only appear in it in Safe mode. The following webpage provides the information on how to do it in Windows 9x and Windows XP. However, this should not need to be done with Windows Vista and Windows 7 because those versions of Windows clean the Device Manager themselves. Note that if you see more than one entry under Processors, it is because a multi-core (dual-core, tripel-core, quad-core) processor is installed that has one entry for each core (processing unit).
Clean Up the Device Manager in Safe Mode -
Visit the Device Manager page on this site for information on how to perform such a clean up. It covers all of the versions of Windows from Windows 98 to Windows 7. If you require more detailed information, try using a search query such as clean "device manager" in "safe mode" in a search engine.
Note that redundant device entries can also build up when you install new hardware into a new system.
If the system has no operating system installed on it, you should be able to switch it on and access the BIOS setup program. You will have to be able to boot the system up to the memory count in order to be able to access the BIOS - usually by pressing the Del key.
Note that new brand-name desktop and laptop PCs that come with Windows 8, use the new UEFI BIOS that works in conjunction with the GPT partitioning format that makes possible the use of a hard disk drive with a capacity that exceeds 2.19TB (2000.19GB). The standard MFT partitioning format, which uses 32-bit addressing, cannot format a drive that has a capacity exceeding 2.19TB. A boot (system) drive requires a UEFI BIOS and GPT partitioning, but Windows Vista, 7 & 8 support GPT partitioning that can be used on a secondary internal or external storage drive with a standard BIOS. In short, if the PC has a boot drive that exceeds 2.19TB it requires a UEFI BIOS, but a secondary drive can be used in Windows Vista, 7 & 8 with a standard BIOS if it is partitioned using the GPT format.
When you first switch on the PC and it starts up, if the HDD options in the BIOS are all set to Auto (which they should be by default), the HDD will be configured for operation automatically - if it has been installed properly to the motherboard and the PSU.
The motherboard's manual should have a section devoted to BIOS settings, so, if necessary, read through it before you attempt to install Windows.
The HDD configuration settings are usually accessed by clicking the first menu item, often called something like Standard CMOS Setup. The HDD IDE ports and their modes of operation are usually enabled under a heading named something like Integrated Peripherals.
If any of the hardware, such as the HDD and FDD do not work, make sure that the ribbon cables and power supply connectors are properly connected. The boot HDD has to be connected as the master drive to the primary IDE connection point on the motherboard. Take all of the expansion cards and RAM modules out and re-seat them, making sure that they are properly installed. Screwing the adapter cards in too tightly can sometimes cause them to lift out of their sockets. Check all of the jumper, DIP switch, or BIOS settings (as shown in the motherboard's manual) to make sure that they are set up properly for the type of RAM and processor that are installed.
If you cannot get the system running after having checked all of the installations and settings, you should take the case (with all of the devices required to boot a system installed) in to a good computer shop for advice.
Note that no new motherboards provide device drivers for Windows 95/98/Me, so you can only install those versions of Windows on an old motherboard that supports them. New motherboards only provide the drivers for Windows XP,Windows Vista, Windows 7 & 8. Extended support for Windows XP ends in June 2014. If you are installing Vista and earlier versions of Windows, check to make sure that the motherboard supports device drivers for those versions. Most new motherboards provide drivers for Windows 7 & 8, but might not for XP and Vista.
For example the MSI RS482M2-IL/ L motherboard (for superseded AMD Socket 939 processors no longer being made) dating from 2005, provides drivers for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
I am now assuming now that you have installed a new HDD that has nothing on it, and you have succeeded in entering the BIOS program by pressing the entry key at start-up (usually the Del key), before or after the memory count has taken place. During the memory count, a series of running numbers much like those of a petrol pump roll by on the screen until all of the memory has been counted.
You will now have to install Windows - or whichever alternative operating system for which you have the installation disk(s).
If the HDD has not been partitioned or formatted, you will have to do this first. If it is a brand new hard drive out of its box, you can assume that it needs to be partitioned and formatted.
If your operating system is Windows 95/98/Me, it should have come with a boot floppy disk that can be used to partition and format the HDD. You boot to the Windows XP CD to run the formatting/partitioning utility. Or you can use Windows XP's Disk Management feature within Windows XP to install additional internal or external FireWire or USB hard drives.
There are several ways of accessing Disk Management in Windows XP, the easiest of which is to enter diskmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box, which also works in Windows Vista, but you use the Start => Start Search box. In Windows 7, the box is called Start => Search programs and files.
For a Windows 9x system, you boot the system from the floppy disk, and then run the DOS FDISK utility that should be on it to create one Primary Partition that covers the whole HDD, designated as the C:\> drive, or a Primary Partition of a chosen size, and an Extended Partition, in which you can create as many logical drives of whatever size you like as long as the total size of all of them does not exceed the total volume of the HDD.
Each logical drive will be given a drive letter of its own. The Primary Partition will be the C:\> drive, and the logical drives in the Extended Partition will be the D:\>, E:\>, F:\> drives, etc. The CD/DVD drive will be given the letter that comes after the letter for the last logical drive, which in this case is G:\>.
Windows XP and Windows Vista/Windows 7 have their own set order for providing drive letters.
The following information only applies to Windows 95/98/Me systems.
If you are having difficulty using it, there are many tutorials on how to use FDISK to partition a large HDD. If you want to find them, just enter a search phrase such as fdisk tutorial a search engine.
If partitioning and formatting software was provided with your HDD, it should have come with a full set of instructions on how to use it to get the drive in a state fit for the installation of an operating system.
You have to format each drive before the operating system can be installed or data can be transferred to it. You do this by using the Windows boot floppy disk, or the one that came with the HDD. This description applies to the Windows floppy disk.
Insert it in the floppy disk drive (FDD), and switch the system on. The system should boot to the A:\> drive. You can now enter the format c: /s command. A warning will come up saying that all of the data on the drive will be destroyed if you proceed with the formatting. Ignore it and choose to go ahead. When the formatting process is over you can repeat the process for the other drives.
You shouldn't use the /s switch in the command when formatting the other drives, because it transfers the system files to the intended boot drive to make it bootable. The other drives are not boot drives. So use the command format d: to format the next drive, etc.
All brand new motherboards will be able to boot from a CD or DVD. In fact, many motherboards dating back to 1998, or thereabouts, will be able to boot from a CD. Versions of Windows from Windows 98 to Windows 7 can be booted from their setup installation CD or DVD. All you need to do is enter the BIOS setup program, usually by pressing the Del key as the memory count takes place. There will be an option that sets the boot order of the FDD, the HDD, the CD-ROM drive, etc. All you have to do is enable the CD drive as the boot drive, and then reboot with the Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 CD/DVD in the drive. Windows should bring up its opening window that gives you the options to run its setup program.
Note that if a PC's system is so elderly that it can't boot from the installation CD/DVD of a particular version of Windows, you shouldn't try to install a version of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 on it, because the PC is unlikely to meet the minimum system requirements to run those versions of Windows. No new motherboards provide device drivers for Windows 95/98/Me, so you can only install those versions of Windows on an old motherboard that supports them.
Click the link to read the article on this website on Windows 7: Install, Use, Restore, Recover and Repair Windows 7 - Win7: How It Differs from Windows XP and Vista.
If the motherboard is so elderly that it doesn't allow booting from a CD, you will have to boot the system from a boot floppy disk.
You can download the files to create a boot floppy disk for most of the versions of Windows from bootdisk.com.
To do that the CD-ROM drivers have to be installed, because you are still going to install Windows from its CD. If the boot disk installs CD-ROM drivers, all you have to do is change from the A:\> prompt that the floppy brings to the screen to the drive letter of the CD-ROM drive, which will be D: with only one HDD and one CD drive installed.
Just type cd d: in at the A:\> prompt to change to D:\>. All you have to do to run the Windows setup program is type setup, or setup.exe in at the D:\> command prompt. As Windows installs, if you don't want to or know how to customise the installation, just choose the express setup option that installs the most commonly used features. You can always access the CD to add or remove features, such as Backup, etc.
In fact, it is a good idea to create a folder called, say, WinXP, if that is the version of Windows being installed, and copy the whole of the Windows CD into it. Then, if Windows needs to access its CD for any reason, you can use the Browse option to direct it to that folder instead of loading the CD in the CD drive. If you have a copy of the CD on its own partition of a drive, or on a separate drive, just clicking the drive's icon in My Computer will bring the Windows CD's interface to the screen.
Note that the Windows Vista and Windows 7 installation discs cannot be used in the same way as the Windows XP disc, because they work in a different way, containing all of the versions of those versions of Windows so that Windows Anytime Upgrade (now only available for Windows 8) can use the disc to upgrade from one version to a higher version. (Note that with Windows 8, released in October 2012, as happened with Vista after Win7 became available, Anytime Upgrade has been dropped for Win7 and switched to Win8.)
A CD containing the software device drivers should be provided with most of the items you can buy and install in a home-built computer - the motherboard, the video card, the sound card, the dial-up modem, and the disk drives (CD/DVD and hard disk drives). The processor and the RAM don't use device drivers. Windows uses an .inf file to configure the monitor that can be obtained from its manufacturer's site if Windows doesn't have it in its driver library and therefore installs and uses its standard monitor file. However, because the supplied drivers are often out of date, after the computer is up and running, it's always a good idea to visit the respective manufacturers' sites for the latest drivers for a desktop PC - especially for the motherboard, which uses a range of drivers - a graphics card driver, sound card driver, the motherboard chipset drivers, etc.
You should visit a laptop manufacturer's website for the drivers for a particular model, because they are often customised for that model. For that reason, you won't be able to obtain the graphics card driver for a laptop from the graphics chip manufacturer, only from the laptop's manufacturer. In any case if you lose the driver CD/DVD for a laptop or desktop PC, its manufacturer should be able to supply replacement drivers and other software that it installed from the Support section of its website.
You can also update DirectX, the gaming software driver provided by Microsoft. If the correct drivers are installed, the correct manufacturers' names of the devices will be shown in the Device Manager. If only standard names are showing, you need to install the manufacturer's drivers. In some cases, you need to know how the manufacturer displays its name. For instance, Seagate hard disk drives have the letters ST at the beginning of the entry that describes one it its drives (as in ST32132A). If you see an entry under Disk drives in the Device Manager that begins with ST, then you know that a Seagate drive is installed.
Several reboots later, you should be able to boot up without any interference from Windows. You should now check the Device Manager.
The Device Manager in Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista, Windows 7 (Win7) and Windows 8 (Win8) -
The quickest way to open it in Windows XP is to enter devmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box. In Windows Vista, enter devmgmt.msc in the Start => Start Search box. In Windows 7, just enter the word device in the Start => Search programs and files box and click the Device Manager link at the top of its menu window.
The image above is the Device Manager's window. Click it to read an article on it and view full-size images. Images of the Device Manager in Windows 95/98/Me and Windows XP systems are shown. The Device Manager has remained much the same from Windows 95 to Windows 7.
The following page on this website provides information on Windows 8, including how to install it and access the Device Manager.
If you see any item of hardware with a yellow exclamation mark, or a red cross against it, this means that there is a problem with the device. Either it is conflicting with another device, it has not been installed properly, or the wrong device has been installed. You will have to remove it and try installing the driver downloaded from its manufacturer's website. In Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7 right-click on the device and choose Uninstall.
With Windows up and running you can shut the system down and add the sound card to the system. With this done, when you start up, Windows will detect the new hardware and install the correct drivers, or request that you load the CD/DVD with the drivers on it and then browse to the correct folder containing the drivers on the disc. You can also obtain device drivers from their manufacturer's website and download them to a specific folder. Selecting and then right-clicking on the device in the Device Manager, provides an option to Update Driver... You can then browse to the folder containing the downloaded driver to install it.
If you want to hear sound from CDs/DVDs you have to attach a special sound cable to the sound card and CD/DVD drive. One of these will have come with the CD/DVD drive. You can also purchase them from computer stores. Just connect one end of the cable to the only port it can possibly fit into at the back of the CD-ROM, (it is usually next to the IDE cable), then connect the other end to the sound card's 'CD-IN' connection point, as shown in the sound card's manual. If your motherboard has an inbuilt sound chip and sound ports, refer to the motherboard's manual for the location of the 'CD-IN' connector.
You can also install your modem, printer, and scanner now.
Install one device at a time so as not to confuse Windows.
That's it. - You can now explore Windows to your heart's content.
In this way, if the PC begins to misbehave in any way, you will know that the chances are excellent that the new addition is responsible. You can then remove it in normal mode, or in Safe mode. But if you install many devices and programs at the same time, you won't be able to tell which one was responsible. Antivirus applications in particular, such as those provided by McAfee, can make a PC behave in weird ways if their scanning options are enabled and don't agree with the system. For Windows 98 systems, you should enter MSConfig in the Start => Run box, and click the Startup tab. All of the programs listed are loaded at start-up, and you can disable them by removing the tick from their check boxes Windows 95 (or 98) users can download the Start-up Control Panel from mlin.net, which is installed in the Control Panel. You will have to download the Microsoft Installer to install Mike Lin's programs. He tells you where to find it on his site.
Being able to disable the start-up programs and then re-enable them one at a time is an invaluable troubleshooting technique.
An article called Complex Configurations and IRQ Information for the AMD Processors on AMD's site discusses IRQs and how IRQ conflicts can be avoided. The article provides a suggested order for installing devices in order to avoid such conflicts. However, nothing is mentioned about the BIOS setting called APIC mode.
APIC mode (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller) is a BIOS setting made available to Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems that increases the number of IRQ (Interrupt Request) lines available to the processor. When APIC is disabled in a Windows 2000/XP system, only 16 IRQs (0 to 15) are available to the processor, as is the case with Windows 9.x systems, instead of the 23 that are available with this setting enabled. This reduces the amount of hardware that can be run on the system to the level of Windows 9.x system, and can therefore be the cause of unnecessary hardware conflicts.
Carbonated soft drinks are very acidic. Over the years, I have seen various electronic devices rendered completely irreparable due to spills of fizzy drinks. The cleanup technique is to get it wet and then soak it up. Blowing air over the wet device serves only to concentrate the residue that can act as a conductor of electricity and blow the circuitry.
You can wash a mouse and a keyboard with a mixture of warm water and washing-up liquid, and several rinses. Just make sure that it is left to dry out properly before you attempt to use it.
In the case of a notebook PC, use a wet sponge or cloth, then immediately apply a dry sponge or towel. Never attempt to wash it in the way you can with a mouse and a keyboard. The idea is to draw the liquid into the dry material. If necessary use several towels, and keep the sponge dry. The idea is to syphon the bad stuff away from the notebook.
Always keep liquids far away from computers.
Before working inside the case of a desktop computer, or with any of the components, make sure that you earth yourself according to the instructions provided on Page 1 of this section of this site.
To remove accumulated dust in desktop computer, all you have to do is use cotton buds to loosen the dust and a can of compressed air (available from most computer shops) to send blasts of it into the the air intake(s) and outlet(s) of the fans used in the processors's cooling unit, power supply unit (PSU), and the case fans.
You can also use the compressed air on the keyboard to blow out accumulated dirt. I use cotton buds to remove any grime or dirt from around the outlets and drive bays. With some desktop keyboards, the keys can be removed so that you can clean underneath them. Just make sure that you put a particular key back where it came from or you'll get the wrong character coming up on the screen when you press the key.
A relatively cheap can of compressed air costing a few pounds or dollars can last for several cleanings. It produces directionally controllable, intense bursts of dry, clean air, and usually comes with a long plastic nozzle that's used for cleaning dust out of crevices and other areas that are difficult to reach. There should be instructions on how to use it in the packaging, or on the can itself.
Take care when aiming compressed air at any of the fans. A strong blast can over-rev a fan sufficiently to cause damage to its motor or bearings. To prevent such damage, keep the fan from spinning as you clean it by, for example, inserting a clean cotton bud between the fan's blades to secure it, or by holding the blade fast with a pair of tweezers.
Quite a bit of dust can be expelled with the first few blasts of air. Note that with some makes of can it's possible for a super-cooled liquid to be expelled if you invert the can, which won't do either the computer or anything else the liquid may come into contact with any good, so make sure that you follow all the instructions that come with the particular product you use.
If there is dust anywhere else, such as on the motherboard, you can use a fine painter's brush or something similar to remove it. If you use a hair-dryer or a vacuum-cleaner to blow dust away, make sure that you don't place the air outlet too close to the electronic components because of the danger of a discharge of static electricity that can easily destroy them. For that reason, you shouldn't use a vacuum-cleaner to suck dust away, only use it to blow air if it has that option.
The TFT LCD screens of desktop and laptop computers are far less robust than the glass-covered screens of standard CRT monitors, so care should be taken when cleaning them. The laptop's user manual should provide tips on how best to keep the screen clean.
A desktop computer should never be used if the processor's cooling fan or any of the fans in the power supply unit are dead, because permanent damage may be the result. Replacement fans can be purchased from most good suppliers. If the computer is out of warranty, you can open the case and install a new heatsink and fan unit over the processor, or install a new PSU yourself. But if the computer is still under warranty, or if you're not confident of your abilities, it's best to get a qualified technician to do the job.
SpeedFan is a free thermal monitoring utility that can monitor the temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages of many computer systems. Not all of SpeedFan's features work on all systems, but temperature monitoring, which is its most-important function, works on most systems that are equipped with the kind of thermal sensors that most laptops have.
August 9, 2005. - BartPE (Bart's Preinstalled Environment) is a free utility that allows you to create a bootable Windows XP CD that loads its essential files into RAM memory and operates from the CD completely independently of an installed version of Windows, allowing you to troubleshoot and repair an ailing installation of Windows.
Bart says, it's "... a complete Win32 environment with network support, a graphical user interface (800x600) and FAT/NTFS/CDFS file system support. Very handy for burn-in testing systems with no OS, rescuing files to a network share, virus scan and so on. This will replace any DOS bootdisk in no time!" - http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/
Visit the Recovering Windows XP section of this site for more information on BartPE and other methods of recovering Windows XP.
You have built a computer by following all of the instructions and it won't bootAND
Windows 95, 98 and XP won't install on a self-built computer
Click here! to go to the page containing the short articles listed above.
CLICK HERE! to go to the page that links to all of the sections of this website that deal with computer hardware and software problems and solutions
Here are some good UK and US sources of hardware:
Dabs (UK) - http://www.dabs.com/
Overclockers UK - http://www.overclockers.co.uk/
Price Watch (US) - http://www.pricewatch.com/
PC Connection (US) - http://www.pcconnection.com/
NewEgg.com (US) - http://www.newegg.com/
Tiger Direct (US) - http://www.tigerdirect.com/
More information on building PCs and servers:
Build Your Own PC - http://www.buildyourown.org.uk/
Tom's Hardware Guide - http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/
3. - The Disk Drives
5. - The Dial-Up Modem
6. - The Assembly & Installing Windows