Building your own computer
So you got a problem, huh?
Firstly, unless you have had a catastrophy things can only get better. Let's look at all the usual issues.
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- I put it all together, swtiched on and nada, zip, silent as the grave.
Do you know for sure that your mains cable is good? Try another. Have you connected all those dangly cables to the motherboard correctly? Double check. Even if your CPU is dead the power supply unit (PSU) will start when you press the button the PC case. Is the PSU up to the job? If you are "reusing" an old PSU with a new mega monster processor it just might not be up to the job. Did you connect the CPU fan? If the fan fails to spin at a minimum speed the board will not boot (to protect your CPU).
- It all starts OK then shuts down almost immediately.
Suspect an inadequate PSU. Some motherboards/CPU combinations require 20 AMPS of power to start. That's quite a bit and not something your PSU taken from an old 486 computer of yesteryear will provide. Secondly check that the CPU fan is connected to the correct motherboard plug. The BIOS checks the fan first and if it doesn't think it's going round will stop at once to protect the CPU.
- The lights on the front of the case don't come on.
You haven't connected the dangly cables (correctly). Turn them (the ones connected to the LED lights) 180 degrees and check again.
- The light on my floppy disk is on permanently.
You have rotated the cable 180 degrees. Turn it back 180 degrees (so the red stripe - pin 1) is connected to the other end.
- I get a series of beeps and then nothing.
Something is not connected correctly. Possibly the video card, or memory, both of which are required before the system can boot. Refer to your BIOS manual's "beep code" table; that will tell you what the combination of beeps means.
- The BIOS screen starts but says it cannot detect any of my drives (hard disks).
Make sure you have connected the cables the right way round on the motherboard and ditto on the drives. Sometimes there is no key (slot) on the connector so they will fit the wrong way round. check the motherboard manual to see where pin 1 (red stripe) should be on the motherboard. On the Hard Disks it shoul be nearest the power connector.
- Things happen so quickly on my 5Ghz processor I don't get a chance to read anything
Congratulations on having more processing power than the entire world did in 1969. When you hear the single Beep hit the PAUSE/BREAK key once until the monitor has lit up then hit SPACE to continue. Continue in this manner until you have read all messages.
- I paid a fortune for my 5Ghz processor but it says it is a 1Ghz processor on boot up.
You haven't told your BIOS (or your BIOS has not auto-detected) your processor. When you hear the BEEP hit the DEL key to enter the BIOS setup program and tell the BIOS what processor you have. You might need a BIOS flash upgrade to recognise your processor if you have not bought the pair together. Oops! that goes way beyond this simple primer, so search Google to find the forum that deals with such heady stuff.
- It all started OK, now I'm getting blue screens
If you can fire up Windows OK, then after a few minutes/couple of hours without you having installed any new hardware or drivers you get a BSOD. Suspect incorrect memory seating (ouch - that's bitten me more than once), CPU overheating or even faulty memory (ouch again!). Reseat the memory chips, check the temperature of the CPU by installing your motherboard provided hardware monitor software. Try removing one of the memory chips (or swap them around) if you have more than 1 to see if the problems persists. Faulty unbranded memory is reasonably common, so get it checked by a RAM checking program (search Google) or try memory from another machine.
- I've installed Windows but it still prompts me for something called a DRIVER? Huh?
Look this is software stuff now. You should have received a driver disk/CD with your hardware purchase. Stick in the CDROM and let Windows find it. The Driver is a program that communicates between Windows and that peice of hardware you just installed. 'kay?