Once assembley is complete, you can test your computer by running a live operating system direct from the CDROM.
are certain versions of Linux that can be run in live mode. These disks allow testing of all the major hardware
components, including PSU, motherboard, graphics card and monitor, sound card and internet connection. They will not
touch your hard drive, so they are safe to use, even without a loaded operating system.
When you push the power button, the first thing that will happen is that your computer will load the firmware from
BIOS (Basic Input Output Setup) chip. There have been major changes in BIOS over the years and the BIOS on modern
motherboards is intelligent enough to configure itself. It will auto detect the processor, memory and clock speeds.
Some settings may be adjusted to optimize the configuration but the system should work from power on.
Some BIOS settings can be tweaked to gain extra performance. Altering clock or bus speeds, commonly known as
"overclocking" is often used to boost performance. Overclocking means that components will run faster than normal,
taking more current from the power supply, and therefore running hotter. You need to make sure that you have
extra power available and sufficient cooling and ventilation, otherwise your system could become unstable.
Small motherboards now have boost features which can increase clock speeds by a small percentage for extra
performance. I would advise caution against overclocking, as extra heat may reduce lifespan of some components.
There are many linux CDs that can work in live mode, Knoppix, Ubuntu, PCLinux. To use a live CD, insert it into the
CD/DVD drive and press power. The BIOS will look for a boot sector on the hard drive, but without any OS loaded, the BIOS
will then look for a bootable CD. The CD I used for testing my system with was PCLinux. After a few minutes the
following screen is displayed:
If you have speakers connected you will also hear a startup sound and if you have a working internet connection, then
you can also use firefox to browse the internet. (The exception is if you have a modern wireless chipset or dongle or
one that does not work with Linux.)
If you get this far, then you know that, the PSU, mainboard, memory, graphics and monitor, mouse and keyboard,
sound and internet are all working. Not bad for a few minutes wait!
If Something Went Wrong
If you hear loud noises or grinding, switch off immediately. These can be caused if a cable touches a fan or is not
free to rotate. If nothing works, then a power connection is missing, or you've forgotten to switch on the power switch
on the computer PSU. If you get a fan noise but no display, switch off and check that the graphics card is seated and
screwed down, and that the monitor plug is fully pushed in. These are not the only symptoms, but just a basic fault
Intermittent faults can be the hardest to find. If the system behaves erratically, first make sure that you are not overclocking
any component or reset BIOS to default settings. Often memory can be a source of instability, so you can always power
up using 1 bank of memory if you think this is a memory issue. Other things to check are that all connectors are
good and not loose, and all screws tight. Running with the case lid open, allows extra ventilation, so if problems
disappear with the case open, it could be an overheating problem.
The next step is loading the operating system, the page can be accessed here or from the fixed
sub-menu on the left.