In mid-April, Enea and I built a desktop computer out of parts we had originally ordered for our Amazing Gaming Machines class, to use for the then-upcoming class "Java Programming with Minecraft". We began with a table full of parts, most still in their original packages:
The full parts list is available here
This is the barebones midi-tower case, nothing installed yet. Cougar Solution 2.
Although the room's lighting was alright, some of the text written on the motherboard was a tad hard to read. Luckily I came prepared with a mini flashlight (plus various screwdrivers & pliers).
As the build was progressing we began component testing, to make sure that each part we added had power running to it and was functioning properly. Don't worry, we took the proper precautions to minimize the risk of damaging parts:
- Switched power off and unplugged cord between tests
- Cleared any static charge from ourselves before touching internal components
The CPU cooling fan we got was VERY different from what I was used to - all 4 computers I have built in the past had a CPU fan baseplate that would be screwed into the case itself, BEFORE installation of the motherboard. Then the fan itself would be screwed onto this plate through the holes in the motherboard, perfectly positioning the cooling element on top of the CPU. This fan however, had plastic components that looked almost like a syringe or plunger, which went directly through the motherboard and attached themselves on the case. This was a bit counter-intuitive and difficult to grasp at first but we were able to figure out the proper way to get it connected. Personally I felt like it didn't deliver the same amount of pressure as the spring-loaded CPU fans I am used to but it seems to be stable and immovable, so it should deliver a decent amount of additional cooling to the CPU.
After about 2.5 hours the build was finished, but no video output went to the monitor during the first test run - I quickly discovered that I accidentally plugged a VGA cable into the motherboard instead of the GPU - in most cases if a GPU is present all video output must go through that and trying to get output from the motherboard directly will not work. You can see the mistake in the picture below, the blue VGA cable should have ran to the GPU about halfway down the back of the tower, instead of the the motherboard near the top.
After the build is functioning, all we needed to do was install Windows 10 from a USB drive and then run through all of the software installation steps to get a Minecraft server up and running! All in all this entire process took about 5 hours to complete (hardware build + software setup). However, not everybody should expect to be able to build a PC that quickly. My first build at 16yo took several days because I took every step extremely slowly and carefully (and still made mistakes). My most recent builds in the past year were between 3 to 6 hours, so this one was about par.
If you or your kids are interested in learning how to build a PC, reach out to us!