Author Topic: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer  (Read 3827 times)

Joshin

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Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« on: November 26, 2014, 12:38:17 PM »
So my 9-almost-10 year old, very mechanically adept son has decided to rebuild the husband's old computer for his own personal use. Said husband and I know nothing about fixing/building a machine or have much hardware knowledge beyond the basics -- we're mechanical dunces, really. Son did build a radio telescope from an old satellite dish last spring (and then taught a bunch of adults how to do it), so I have no doubt he can figure it out.

The desktop was retired about a year ago when the power source burned out, so we know that needs replaced. The graphics card is probably out of date, because the hubs was talking about replacing it when it crapped out (he's a digital illustrator, though, so he has insane graphics needs).

The kid wants the computer mainly for school stuff, Minecraft, Kerbel, and for running the Radio SkyPipe/Radio Jupiter Pro programs for his telescope data. He's been taking some programming classes, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's going to be getting more into that, too.

My question: Does anyone know of any good, kid/layman-friendly websites/videos/library books that can give him a basic overview of the process? His plan right now is to inventory everything in it, figure out what he needs, raise the funds for the components, and figure out how to put it all together. He desperately wants to do it all himself, but of course we will provide safety oversight.

Any further advice to help him with this project would be mucho appreciated!!


tarheeldan

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2014, 01:24:29 PM »
Hi! The good news is, it's really not very difficult to put together a PC. There aren't that many connections and the connectors are made so you can't screw up easily.

The first thing to do is decide on a motherboard and CPU as these two have to match. For PC, you're looking at an Intel base or an AMD base. As long as these two match, the only other major factor is whether or not your power supply (PSU) provides enough juice to run the board and processor, along with the graphics card. Quality matters in a PSU, not just the output.

I googled and Youtube video and a Lifehacker article came up:

http://lifehacker.com/5151369/the-first-timers-guide-to-building-a-computer-from-scratch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1Q8ksRI1Eo

Video is nice so you can see how things should look.

Anyway, he'll be fine - the plan is sound to inventory first, decide on needs - make sure new components are compatible. Putting it together is simple - do keep in mind whether or not it will all fit in the current box or if you need a new one.




Radagast

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2014, 01:27:10 PM »
It shouldn't be much of a problem to a kid who can build a radio telescope from a satellite dish. Computers are simple and safe, just unplug them and don't open the power supply. All of the parts are standardized and easily exchangeable. He'll be able to look up the motherboard on the internet, and get a list of what parts are compatible. Just typing what he wants to do into google should provide more than enough resources. Used computer parts are easy to find and dirt cheap.

SingleMomDebt

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2014, 01:28:37 PM »
I second that. It really is not that difficult. When I do have questions or issues in replacing something, I use google or youtube for references.
He will be fine. And I think its awesome he wants to rebuild it. Find a local computer parts place to find items, as it will prove to be much cheaper to buy than a mainstream store.

Joshin

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2014, 01:42:21 PM »
Thanks, guys! I think I'm more scared of the process than he is...moms, ya know! I've sent him the links to check out. I've plugged more memory into a computer before, so I'm going to just assume for now that it shouldn't be much more complicated than that.


bacchi

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2014, 02:22:59 PM »
Get him one of these.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16899261005

He doesn't strictly need it. The alternative is to touch ground/the metal case pretty often.

Some AMD processors have the graphics integrated (aka, "APU"). They're not tier 1 graphics but they can definitely handle Minecraft.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-2.html

Sibley

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2014, 11:41:03 AM »
Joshin - Speaking as an adult who did that sort of thing as a kid that same or younger age: he will be fine. Pretty much impossible to seriously injure yourself with that project. Pinch a finger a little, sure. Maybe even a papercut. I'd be more concerned that he'd accidentally shock the computer and fry something (static).

deborah

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2014, 06:00:30 PM »
Computers are very easy to rebuild. I have never used the internet to help. The parts slot together easily and boards say what they are. Boards often have settings and these are usually written on the board. In my experience, you only need a couple of phillips head screwdrivers. If you still have the manuals that came with the machine, they may make it easier. The board settings and the disk settings are about as hard as it gets - but he won't get into these if he is just replacing a power supply. Sounds like it should take him less than a day if he has the new power supply, and it's the only thing that's gone - he'll just be taking it apart and putting it back together again. If it overheated any of the other parts, he should have some interesting diagnosis work, but that should be relatively easy to work through - getting to know the BIOS and what the beeps mean when you turn it on and a vital component is missing.

gimp

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2014, 08:06:36 PM »
I did it too as a kid. It gets easier every year with fewer connectors and more standard connectors. A computer is like a very expensive 10-piece lego. You just need to be patient and careful, and make sure to follow safety procedures (don't hook things up to power; ground yourself while working).

You have approximately the following components:

- Case
- Motherboard goes in the case
- CPU goes onto the motherboard
- GPU - entirely optional, both AMD and Intel chips have integrated GPUs - slots into a PCIe slot on the motherboard
- Power supply unit goes into the case, hooks up to the motherboard (and a couple other things)
- Disk goes into the case, hooks up to the motherboard and power supply
- Optional optical media player (DVD/BR player/burner) goes into the case, hooks up to the motherboard and power supply just like a disk
- Cooler goes onto the motherboard, over the CPU, to cool it (usually a fan)
- The case comes with fans, which need to be hooked into the motherboard too
- RAM plugs into RAM slots on the motherboard
- Optionally, a wifi card plugs into a PCI slot if you want wifi but you don't have it already on-board the motherboard

That's basically it. With adult supervision, your kid can put it together easily, and adult supervision only to make sure he doesn't plug power in until the whole thing is ready.

(Generally speaking, the only component requiring some strength is the I/O plate - this thing - http://www.cybergooch.com/tutorials/images/buildsystem/IMG_6788.jpg - this tends to be a real pain in the ass to plug into the case properly. Of course it depends on the case.)

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help! My kid wants to repair/rebuild a computer
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2014, 11:20:27 AM »
Replacing parts is easy. Figuring out the most cost effective parts to buy can sometimes be the challenge, especially as you get further and further back generationally.

I'd recommend getting at least the core parts list (CPU/motherboard/graphics) and posting it in this thread. CPU technology hasn't advanced all that much (5-10% every generation) but graphics has advanced quite a bit in power and power efficiency.

Keep in mind it's easy to have way more computer than you need, but often hard to figure out what's enough while being reasonably future proof.

Good luck/have fun!