Going Inside the PC Console - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Here’s something you don’t want to do: Open up your PC console. It’s scary. It can screw up everything. It can even kill you, especially if you’re clumsy or just enjoy sticking your tongue to things that are highly electrified. So don’t do it!

Okay, but, suppose you desire to add or replace something inside the PC console. It can be done. In fact, the PC’s guts are entirely modular. As long as you have the proper replacement part, adding new hardware works like connecting LEGO bricks — very expensive and electrified LEGO bricks.

The general steps for opening the PC’s console work like this:

  1. Turn off the computer; shutdown Windows.

  2. Unplug the console; remove the power cord.

    Turning off the console isn’t enough: You need to unplug the power cord. Heck, hide the power cord in another room. You don’t want to run the risk of having any power to the console, not just for your safety but connecting a new piece of hardware to a live system can screw up everything.

  3. Move the console out from the wall or locate it in a place where you have room to work.

    You can unplug some cables if they restrict access to the console, or when replacing an expansion card that has cables attached.

  4. Open the console’s case.

    Each console opens in a different manner, some easier than others. The most common method is to remove two or more anchor screws for the console’s left panel (as you’re facing the console). These screws are found on the console’s rump. Once the screws are off, slide and pop-out the left panel.

    Some consoles have relatively easy-to-remove sides. You swing a level, press a button, or pull a slide to free and remove the console’s side.

    Above all, don’t force the console open; there is an easy way, if you can find it.

  5. Work inside the console.

    Typically, you open the case to add something, remove something, or replace something. You need to locate where the replacement item is or find the location to add a new piece of hardware.

    Yes, this step may require that you move or remove items to see what you’re doing. You may have to remove a hard drive and an optical drive to add more memory to a PC. This is why so many people are willing to pay a professional to work on their computers.

    As you work in the console, try to keep one hand touching the case or, preferably, something metal, such as the mass storage cage. That way, your electric potential is the same as the console’s and you reduce the chances of generating static electricity —which can damage your computer.

    Never plug in the console when the case is open. If you need to test something, close up the case!

  6. Before you close the case, ensure that all wires and cables have been properly reconnected.

  7. Confirm that no tools or parts are left loose inside the case.

    This includes checking for the cat.

  8. Reattach the lid or console cover.

  9. Reattach the power cord to the console.

  10. Turn on the computer.

  11. Pray that it still works.

    That last step is optional in case you don’t believe in a higher, divine being. But why risk it now?