Step 3: Installing Interface Cards

Now that the Mother Board is installed, and the drives are in the case and connected, it's time to proceed to installing the other interfaces into the system. If you haven't connected the PC speaker, the Power LED, the Hard Disk Activity LED, and the Reset Button to the mother board, now is the time. The status of these indicators is crucial to troubleshooting the computer in the event of a problem.
This section includes Drive Controllers (if they aren't built in to the system) and Video Adapters ONLY at this point. The goal is to eliminate the problems, and add changes in a controlled fashion... AFTER we know the core system is working. The Network card, modem, scisi card, and all other devices should wait for right now
Nothing is worse that thinking you have the system completely assembled only to have it fail to start. Our process will take a few extra minutes, but can save you hours of frustration, and works 100% of the time if all the parts are good. We have adapted these procedures from an accumulation of over 50 years of experience, and building thousands of computers. The average computer system takes 20 to 40 minutes to assemble, depending on the case and the type of parts, from start to finish (hardware only).
When installing the Controller and video cards (if they aren't built-in to the motherboard) it is important to avoid conflicts with IRQ, DMA, Port Address, and ROM Addresses. On many cards these days these are 'automatically set.' But some of the higher end cards have jumpers and dip switches you can still set, change, move. In most cases, factory defaults should be used (at least looked at, considered, and known). All of these settings are carefully detailed and documented in the Technical Manuals provided with the devices. Again, with these particular cards, the default settings will work without any problems 99.99% of the time. If ever you do make changes, make sure you write down WHAT THE SETTINGS WERE... and what you're changing them to.  
Once the cards are properly inserted, connect the corresponding data cables to the cards. Unless you have some really unique and exceptionally high-end video capture or conversion equipment, there are no internal cable going to or from the video card.
Internally, the drive controller, whether on a card or built-in to your mother board, will have at least one or two cables going from it to the hard disk drive, the DVD drive, and any other non-scsi drives. 
In addition, you have the I/O ports. Most of your modern computers use USB (universal serial bus) ports. There are usually USB 2 ports for the keyboard and mouse, and USB 3 for external drives, and other high speed peripherals. Most printers are now USB these days also. The only PS2, RS232 serial ports (9 or 25 pin), or parallel ports are seldom found on most computers these days.
If you have a tape drive, jazz, zip, or any other type of drives... wait for NOW. The goal here is to get the DVD and hard drive(s) working & double checked.

Double check yourself, and all of the connections... make sure you have power connected to both the monitor and the case. There are some basic rules and cautions:

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When you power the system on, do not touch the metal of the inside of the case AND keep your hands out of the inside of the case (off the cards, wires, and cables). A direct short or a faulty power supply can cost you a lot of money AND/OR cause you to change your hair style, and possibly have "Wanna Be Computer Nerd" engraved on your tombstone.
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If you see smoke, immediately turn the computer off and pull the plug. Make sure there aren't flames. Assess the damage, and hope it wasn't an expensive part. Now might be a good time to call for help from a smart friend or trained professional. They might cost you something, odds are not as much as the parts you may have just ruined. NOTE: Brand new monitors may emit a slight smell, which resembles plastic melting. This is normal. If the odor is too strong, or smoke is involved, then power off and double check everything. Continue at your own risk.
If you are absolutely positive that everything is connected correctly, it is time to hit the power switch.
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No shorts, no smoke, and no strange series of beeps... maybe you have properly put your system together. Yea! We're almost done... with the hardware part of things.
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Next, look at the monitor. Is there a picture or writing on the screen? If no, then something is wrong. See the Basic Trouble Shooting Section. If you can see writing (even if it is an error message - which it will be 99.9% of the time, because you don't yet have an operating system installed), then it is time to set up your BIOS and add the rest of your components.

Go to Next Section (LED and BIOS Configuration)

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Copyright 1998 T.E. Mercer, all rights reserved. This page was last updated 16 April 2000

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This site was last updated on 10/26/2017