This module introduces learners to how to build a PC and the necessary skills that are necessary and the components of a computer. The module will enable students to have an opportunity to understand what is required and the specifications of a PC. Further, the model provides learners with a chance to understand the essential components of a PC and how to install and configure the computer parts and understand the functions of the operating system. Every functioning computer comprises some vital components. These are the necessary things to consider and are most important when building a network (Heaton, 2006). The processor is the most critical part of a computer and can perform more tasks at once. The processor is also one of the most expensive components of a computer. The next essential element is the motherboard that connects all other computer components (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). The motherboard is the physical base upon which all other computer components are built and contains several core features such as the USB ports, expansion cards and determines the size of a computer. The type of motherboard to be selected depends on whether one decides to build a low, medium, or high-performance computer.
Figure 1: The motherboard
The case is an essential component of a computer that holds the computer parts together. However, the case does not determine how a computer functions. However, it is a crucial consideration that also depends on some factors when deciding to purchase one (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). The RAM is used to store information that a computer needs to enable the programs to run faster. The RAM allows more applications to be run at once; hence it is necessary to develop a network with more random access memory.
Figure 2: Computer RAM
The graphics card is a vital computer component meant to handle computer graphics. It draws the desktop data and windows information on the screen. However, some motherboards have the cards incorporated in the system (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). However, such systems lack the potential of watching a video or playing sophisticated 3D games. The other components are hard drives that keep all the information, such as documents. However, the type of drive selected will determine the amount of data that is to be stored. Some types of hard drives can affect the speed of a computer. The optical drives are what is used to read the CDs and DVDs (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). The power supply is used primarily to direct power to other computer components. A high performing PC is inbuilt with a processor that used a higher power supply. It is the last component that should be bought after acquiring other parts, and it depends on the amount of power supply that will be needed to run the computer. There are other vital components to consider while developing a machine. For instance, when considering to use a Wi-Fi, a Wi-Fi card will be necessary (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). An internal SD card reader is also required when considering to take photos. A Bluetooth card is also needed, as well as a webcam when considering to video chat with other people. Other essential components include a mouse, a keyboard, and a monitor.
The Role of a PC Technician
The roles of a PC technician include the protection and safety of computer users. As such, computer technicians should behave professionally, maintain computer systems, and use the windows tools as well as utilities to view configuration information and manage the computer. As a computer technician, one should understand the safety measures (Chambers, 2013). The PC technician should be able to maintain personal safety as the priority when working with computer components. A PC technician should focus on exercising great care when using electricity. Also, a computer technician should ensure that before handling any system components the power should be off and the main power code should not be plugged on (Meyers & Haley, 2007). Further, a power supply that houses the capacitor should not be opened. Next, a PC technician should ensure that all computer components are protected and minimize any chance of an accidental electrical shock.
A PC technician should maintain and asses the safety of the data sheets (Chambers, 2013). It is also necessary to ensure various components such as the CPU, fan, or other components within a laser printer are well maintained. Laser printers emit hazardous particles when inhaled. Therefore, it is advisable not to place them next to the desks. According to Meyers and Haley (2007), the area should also be kept well ventilated. All the faults power supplies to be replaced instead of trying to repair them.
A PC technician should understand ESD static charge can jump, especially when it comes into contact with the surface of a grounded object. It can cause a lot of destruction to the computer. Further, ESD can destroy other computer components and degrade them completely. Therefore, the relative humidity should be kept between 40-70% and between 72-77 degrees (Rosenthal, 2004). Further, a PC technician should ensure that dry air is avoided in the computer repair location. Before touching any computer components, a technician put on the antistatic wrist strap. It is important to note that the system is unplugged before carrying out any work on the internal components of a computer.
The PC technician should also take into consideration the environmental facts. For instance, the internal battery packs are very hazardous wastes. Other toxic materials include the CRTs that have a caustic substance that should not be incinerated (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). For PC maintenance considerations, it is necessary to consider the description, heating, ventilation as well as air conditioning. The temperature should be kept at 72-74 degrees (Rosenthal, 2004). Notably, this will ensure that internal computer components are kept safe from overheating. Also, for areas that have heavy smoke and dust, filters should be added to the air intake systems to filter out the particulate matter. For troubleshooting, it is necessary to identify the problem. It is not appropriate to fix things at this point. Before making any changes to the system, it is advisable to back up the user and the system data (Chambers, 2013). The technician should also recognize the possible causes and the theory that surrounds the probable cause. The method should be tested to verify the primary purpose of the problem. Next, a technician should develop an action plan to address the most likely issue and check the result.
The hardware is the primary physical component required by a computer to ensure that it operates correctly. The computer case is the box the mainly encloses other components of a computer. The power supply is used to connect all other computer parts to the power supply. Most often, the power supply is found at the back of a PC case (Meyers & Haley, 2007). A computer usually has a fan that is mainly used to disperse a significant amount of heat generated by the electrically powered parts in a computer. The fan is an essential component since it prevents mostly overheating of various components that use power. However, some components use a heat sink located to absorb heat generated by the processor (Rosenthal, 2004). Consequently, the motherboard is used primarily to connect the power supply to other electronic components of a computer. It is also used to hold other computer parts in place. It is used to keep the RAM and the processor. Also found in the motherboard is the BIOS chip that offers some vital tasks of the computer such as linking the hardware and the software (Meyers & Haley, 2007). There is also a small battery in the motherboard that functions to store the system time and other vital computer settings. Computer drivers are used for storing data. The primary storage area is the hard disk or the hard drive. The CD ROM and DVD drives have higher storage capacities (Chambers, 2013). The USB port can be used to connect other storage devices, such as the external hard drives and the flash drives.
Figure 3: Components of a computer
The cards are used to connect and communicate with input and output devices. The tools are relatively flat to enable them to fit into their designated slots that are provided in the computer case. Most computers have a sound card, video card, as well as a network card (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). The processor is the central brain of a machine that performs all the instructions that are needed and manages the flow of information in a computer system. It is also known as a computer chip, although the term also refers to other lesser processors, such as BIOS. The speed of a processor is measured in MHz or GHz (Dexter, 2014). Further, the peripheral hardware is a name that is given to other computer components that are not found within the computer case. These devices comprise of the mouse, keyboard, and microphone.
Their primary function is to carry information from the user to the computer processor. Other peripheral hardware includes a printer, speaker, and monitor that display and transmit data from the computer back to the user (Chambers, 2013). Today, machines have about five buses each with varying speeds, access methods, and protocols. Also, motherboards mainly use expansion slots to offer support for additional devices as well as high-speed video graphic cards. The most commonly bused expansion slot is the PCI and AGP (Dexter, 2014). The PCI slots are mainly used for add-on cards, which comprise of the network, video, and audio. Others consist of I/O and storage host adapters. The most commonly used PCI slot found in desktops is the 32-bit slot running ar 33 MHz.
According to Chambers (2013), the I/O devices enable users to control the PC and assists in displaying data in various ways. Some ports are used to connect the peripheral devices to a computer. Thus, to understand how to install, configure, and troubleshoot the input, output, and media devices to a network, it is necessary to understand the ports (Chambers, 2013). The USB port is the most commonly used type of port in computers. It is used to connect other peripheral hardware, such as the mouse, keyboard, and the printer. Further, the USB port has gone through different models with USB 3.0 is the fastest.
Preparing the Workstation
Before beginning any installation work or modification to a computer system, the PC technician should ensure that all the devices are not plugged to avoid electric shock. Most power supplies usually provide a constant power supply to the motherboard even when the system is not turned on (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). Therefore, it is recommended that to prevent electrocution or electrostatic discharge that could destroy the computer components, the PC technician should put all equipment on an antistatic mat and wear an antistatic wristband (Pyles, 2012). Significantly, this will ensure that the technician and the devices are placed at a distance from the charge. It is also recommended to avoid any plastic materials from the workstation.
The device that a computer technician will require when installing computer equipment is a Phillips No. 2 screwdriver. It is recommended when installing the power supply and also to remove the expansion slot covers. Further, when planning the workstation, the PC technician should ensure that all the computer parts are in place. These comprise of the computer case, motherboard, power supply, processor, a tube of thermal paste, processor heatsink, fan, socket, and system memory sticks.
Installing the Motherboard
When installing the motherboard, the PC technician will use a 1366 socket type. The first thing that has to be done is to ensure that a panel is removed from the case (Pyles, 2009). Essentially, this is done by removing screws and sliding the panel off.
After removing the side panel, the PC technician should ensure that antistatic wristband and the mat are both secure and protected from the metal surface of the case (Pyles, 2012). Importantly, this will provide an equilibrium between the PC technician and the case.
The PC technician will install the computer components inside the case. The standoffs will enable the motherboard not to be in direct contact with the case. However, if the motherboard is in direct connection with the case and the power source is turned on, electricity will be sent in the entire case as well (Pyles, 2012). Therefore, the standoffs will be installed in the marked holes as shown in the figure below:
The PC technician will install the standoffs by hands. There are several holes in the case to enable it not to be in direct contact with the motherboard (Thompson & Fritchman, 2004). Next, the motherboard should be lined on the standoffs and screw then on the delays. Notably, this is done to ensure that the board is secured. After lining the motherboard and ensuring that all the screws are placed into their standoff, they are then tightened.
Installing the Power supply
The PC technician will connect the power supply on the top left side of the case (Thompson & Fritchman, 2004). The power supply should be secured into the case. Notably, this is done by using screws to ensure that the case firmly holds it.
Some power supplies have a switch to control the input power (Meyers & Haley, 2007). Once the power supply is secured correctly, the PC technician will ensure that the pin connector is plugged into the motherboard.
Installing the CPU
To install the CPU, the PC technician will have to open the cover (Meyers & Haley, 2007). Significantly, this is done by pushing down the metal on the latch and pulling it upwards to the top of the motherboard, which will make the cover to open as shown in the figure below.
To insert the processor, the technician will line pin 1 on the CPU as shown in the figure below.
After ensuring that the markings are lined up, the processor is pressed into the socket. However, if there is any form of resistance, the processor should be taken back and be aligned again. Once the processor is installed, the cover is then closed and locked using a lever.
The next step is to apply a thermal paste to the processor. After applying the thermal paste, the heat sink is connected to the CPU fan (MacRae & Marshall, 2012).
After installing the fan and the heat sink, the CPU is then plugged into the motherboard.
Power is then provided to the processor by plugging the power supply into the connector.
The motherboard is designed to use memory. The manual state of the motherboard to achieve its maximum performance will require the RAM to be set in a Trippel channel mode (MacRae & Marshall, 2012). The DIM slots that are colored blue assists in recognizing the correct slot to be used.
The processes used when installing the RAM is very simple. Mostly, when inserting RAM, the technician must ensure that the RAM is in line with the notch placed in the motherboard. This process is vital because it enables the PC technician to prevent improper installation of the RAM that may be destructive to the system in the long run. To ensure that the RAM is installed as provided in the manual, the technician will have to confirm whether the white tabs on the top and bottom are locked in together in place.
Chambers, M. L. (2013). Building a pc for dummies. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Dexter, A. (2014). Build your PC: The ultimate DIY PC manual. Bath: Future Publishing.
Heaton, J. (2006). Build a computer from scratch. St. Louis: Heaton Research.
MacRae, K., & Marshall, G. (2012). Build your computer. Sparkford: Haynes.
Meyers, M., & Haley, D. (2007). Mike Meyers’ CompTIA A+ Guide: PC technician lab manual (exams 220-602, 220-603, & 220-604). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Pyles, J. (2009). PC technician street smarts: A real-world guide to CompTIA A+ skills. Indianapolis, Ind: Wiley Pub.
Pyles, J. (2012). CompTIA A+ complete lab manual. Indianapolis, IN John Wiley.
Rosenthal, M. (2004). Build your PC. Emeryville, California: McGraw-Hill/Osborne.
Thompson, R. B., & Fritchman, T. B. (2004). Building the perfect PC. Beijing: O’Reilly.