If you want a computer with high processing power and hard drive space but don't have much room on your desk, then you want a computer that uses the Micro ATX form factor. A Micro ATX case is much smaller than a standard case but has nearly as much room for adding hardware components. Before building a Micro ATX computer, make sure that your various computer parts are compatible with each other.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Hard drive
- Operating system installation CD
Pick a motherboard that fits the Micro ATX form factor, such as the MSI X58M or the ASUS Rampage II. Note the type of central processing unit (CPU) socket the motherboard has, such as Socket 1366 or Socket AM2. Choose a power supply sized for a Micro ATX case.
Acquire a CPU that matches the type of socket the motherboard uses. Note the number of random access memory (RAM) slots the motherboard has and the maximum amount of RAM it can use. Acquire the number of RAM modules you want to use.
Choose a hard drive that has enough storage space for the software you want to use. Pick an Ethernet or wireless network card if you will be using a network. Get a graphics card and sound card that match the type of ports the motherboard uses, such as PCI or PCI-Express.
Decide on an operating system you want to use, such as Windows XP or Windows Vista. Acquire an installation disc for the operating system. Choose a DVD or CD drive.
Set the Micro ATX computer case on its side. Check the left side of the case to see if its uses a thumbscrew or two case screws. Remove the case screws or twist off the thumbscrew to unlock the panel from the case.
Slide the panel away from the case. Set the motherboard into the Micro ATX case and line up the expansion slots with the holes on the back of the case. Attach the screws that hold the motherboard to the Micro ATX case.
Set the CPU on the socket at the right side of the motherboard. Place the CPU's heat sink and fan assembly on top. Push down on the heat sink and fan assembly's metal clamps to hold it in place on top of the CPU.
Connect the fan's cable to the corresponding port on the motherboard. Slide the power supply into the metal housing at the upper-right end of the case. Connect the power supply's cable to the port on the motherboard.
Push the RAM modules into the RAM ports and then snap their plastic clips into place. Insert the graphics, sound and networking cards into the expansion ports on the left side of the motherboard.
Slide the hard drive and DVD or CD drive into the metal housings underneath the power supply. Attach their cables to the motherboard.
Put the side panel back onto the Micro ATX case and reconnect the case screws or thumbscrew. Attach the power cable to the back of the case.
Power the computer on. Put the operating system installation disc into the DVD drive. Follow the installation instructions on the screen.
Tips and warnings
- Some Micro ATX cases come with slide-out panels that make working with the motherboard and installing new parts much easier. If your case uses a slide-out panel, pull it out of the case before attempting to install the motherboard.
- Micro ATX motherboards only have a maximum of four expansion slots. If you need more expansion slots, use a normal ATX-sized case and motherboard.
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