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How to Build Your Own Computer from Scratch


Teenager building or assembling a computer

This site is dedicated to the many thousands of ordinary people who decide to build their own personal computers each year -- very often, on their kitchen tables.

My goal is simple and remains the same as it was when I first built this site in 2003: I want to present an illustrated, step-by-step guide to building a computer from scratch, in simple language, to help make your do-it-yourself computer-building project as enjoyable, educational, and rewarding as it can be.

I also like to think of this site as a springboard from which you can learn more about technology. I want to give you enough information to guide you in your planning and thinking, but without doing that planning and thinking for you. The learning comes from the planning, not from the assembly. Anyone can use a screwdriver. I want you to learn something: and designing and building a computer is a great way to learn.

Besides, if I had just published a parts list and some basic assembly instructions, then you'd be building my computer, not your computer. And I want this to be your computer.


Navigating this Site

Video card being inserted into computer case with eBay logo in top left corner

This site uses an unusual navigation system. In addition to the menu on the top, there are "mini-menus" on the bottom of every page to allow you to quickly switch back and forth. The "Getting Started" link on the top of each page will take you to a map of the site. You can also click here if you get lost. That page is a sitemap of all the pages related to actually building a computer (but not all of the extra informational pages).

The links for "Components" and "Software" will take you to mini-maps of the pages dealing with those topics.

In addition, some subjects are divided into multiple pages, with mini-maps on the bottom to navigate between those pages.

The reason I chose this odd layout is because I know from experience that designing and building a computer is not quite as much of a step-by-step process as one might hope. It involves a lot of back-and-forth, as well. After experimenting with different navigation styles, this one seemed most like the actual process. And after years of the site being live and undergoing several rebuilds, I still think it works pretty well.

Why should I build my own personal computer?

That's a good question. After all, it's a lot easier to buy a computer from a reputable computer shop than it is to build one yourself. Here are some of the reasons.

As was mentioned above, when you design your own computer, you can build it to suit the things you want it to do. The days when all computers had to do was check e-mail and surf the Web are over. A high-end smart phone or a decent tablet can do those things (and much more) well enough. But for gaming, CAD/CAM applications, high-end video editing, and other specialized tasks, there's no better way to get the machine you need than to design and build it yourself.


What do I need?

Like any other do-it-yourself project, computer building requires certain skills, tools, and resources. For example:


Notes About This Revision

The most recent major site-wide revision to this site was in June of 2020, with additional minor revisions in September of 2020, February of 2021, and April of 2021. Changes made in these revisions include:

The above revisions were to the entire site. Individual pages are also revised on an ongoing basis.


I hope you find this site helpful, and I hope you have fun.

The gray-bearded author outdoors with a wild bird on his shoulder and a Buy Me a Coffee tip link

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