How To Build A PC

The PC is brilliant. It’s brilliant for all the things you can do with it. But it’s also brilliant for being something you can build yourself. Yes, you at the back. You too can build a PC. Almost anyone can. And it’s not just easy. It’s fun. Once you get the knack, you won’t want to turn back. You’ll also be much more confident in future whenever you have to crack open the case. So here’s the RPS guide to the basics of building a PC.

For the record, we touched on the broader pros and cons of self-build and how it lines up with the pre-built proposition before. There are good reasons to go either way. Thus, we shan’t debate that again. We’re here to learn good basic PC build practice.

PC building, then, is dead easy. But it’s also dead easy to say that. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, it’s intimidating. Just how easy is it to brick components with static charge? How hard should you push, pull and tweak things?

Intel socket: Pins of doom

So, building a PC is not without hazard. But with some basic know how, it needn’t be scary. Oh, and this guide applies to both AMD and Intel systems. Where there are differences, and there aren’t many, I’ll highlight them.

Finally, in my Soave-addled dotage, I’m bound to have missed something. So shout out below and I will purge and merge to suit. Let’s begin.

These links will take you directly to a particular step:

Getting Started: The Five Ps
How To Prepare A PC Case
How To Install A CPU And Prepare A Motherboard
How To Install The Memory And A CPU Cooler
How To Install The Motherboard
How To Install A Graphics Card
How To Fix A PC That Won’t Boot

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109 Comments

  1. causticnl says:

    Its now much easier then lets say 10 years ago. These days all power cables are “foolproof” (ie you can only insert them one way), the cableling from the case to motherboard is these days just 1 combined cable, not the 3034909304 different kind of cables wich has plug in a certain way. Hardest part is still the motherboard installation with the cpu.

    • vorador says:

      I still remember when building my second PC i carefully, slowly took the Athlon 64 from it’s plastic tray then promptly hit my feet with the table’s corner and threw it to the floor.

      Spend almost half an hour carefully straightening cooper pins with a small flat screwdriver. Fun times. Derp times.

      • Flopdong says:

        Remember all the old switches on Pentium-era motherboards? They were so small and so close together that you had to use a pin to flip the ones you wanted without accidentally touching any of the others.
        Also, Master and Slave hard drives, with a teeny tiny little chip to distinguish which was the master. Lose that chip (it was removable) and you couldn’t turn on your computer until you got a replacement.
        Good times lol

        • jmtd says:

          By chip I think you mean jumper?

          • Zandolar says:

            Get the tweezers!!

          • Tacroy says:

            Yeah and if you lost one and didn’t have a spare you could use a properly contortioned staple, IIRC.

        • solidsquid says:

          Having worked mostly with second hand parts for my machine as a kid, I remember the “fun” of trying to work out where the jumper was supposed to go on *this* model to make it master vs slave. Thankfully later on they started adding a sticker that told you, but before then there was a fair bit of trial and error

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Oh, that one time years back I plugged the two AT power connectors in with the black wires on the outside edge.

      Lots of magic smoke escaped that day :(

  2. causticnl says:

    and dont forget to remove the plastic cover of the cpu ;) one time I installed a pc, and saw cpu temp reaches 90c. Then I saw the plastic was still on the cpu, whoops.

  3. RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

    I’ve never understood what the downside is of picking all the components and paying an engineer or someone to build it for you. Just as a middle ground between pre-built and DIY.

    • tuzgai says:

      There’s not much downside aside from cost I think. I found building a PC valuable as a confidence and knowledge building activity, but I’d also happily build one for a friend without lecturing them on the value of doing it themselves.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      Aside from the obvious costs, it is simply more fun to diy and in the case something breaks down or obsoletes itself later on in its life you have the know-how to replace or upgrade the components yourself. In short, paying an engineer or the store means you miss out on learning an useful yet simple skill.

    • Jediben says:

      Building a pc is like a baby biRd. Unfortunately yours will have imprinted itself on that “engineer” and will naturally yearn for him to return. It will not overlook to its full potential, and is almost certainly crashing more often than if you had done the work yourself. If you aren’t the one that gives power to that psu or presses f8 to set up the bios for the first time, then I’m afraid you are not his real dad.

    • Luringen says:

      This is my preferred solution as well after tightening a screw a bit too much when mounting the CPU cooler, damaging the motherboard and short-circuiting the processor and memory. Had to replace all three, and paid a PC store to do the install since I’m an idiot and I don’t trust myself to do it anymore. That was not a good month for my wallet.

    • Zandolar says:

      Well to me, the big upside of self building is that I can save money by reusing stuff I already have.
      For instance I built a new machine at the end of last year. My power supply and case were still fine, 750W PSU and a nice case. At least £200 for similar quality new replacements for those.
      If I’d bought from a PC builder website I’d have to select a PSU and case that I didn’t really need. Meaning self building gets you more for your money if you already have stuff that you can use.
      Also its fun and for those of us that do self build I think we take an amount of satisfaction sitting down and cracking a beer open after the PC has posted and Windows begins to install. A feeling that its uniquely MY PC and I did it all myself.

    • Carra says:

      Yeah, done it like that with my current PC. €50 extra and it’s done. I’ve built my previous one myself but now I gladly pay a bit extra to save me the nervousness of building it myself.

    • trn says:

      Having done it myself, I have the confidence that if something goes wrong I can identify what it is (and repair or replace it) without the additional expense of taking it back to said engineer.

      Also, even though I had never built anything more complex than flatpack furniture before, it took less than one hour and saved me a considerable sum of money!

    • Tacroy says:

      I’ve never understood what the downside is of picking all the components and paying an engineer or someone to build it for you.

      Picking the components (and scrounging up the money for them) is the hard part. Putting the thing together is like assembling a Lego build. It’s basically the easiest part of the process.

  4. Premium User Badge

    cockpisspartridge says:

    A friend of mine built me an athlon xp1800 setup in 2000 or so and have never bought pre-built since. Once you get to know all of the potential pitfalls (power supply/FSB/CPU slot combos) it becomes easy. In fact, I only finally threw away the last piece of that build last month. The case was missing it’s facia and most of it’s slot covers but it was still awesome……..

    • Flopdong says:

      Yeah, building the PC is an enjoyable process to me. Buying a pre-built PC would be like buying a pre-assembled lego set.

    • Zandolar says:

      Yeah similar. My dad has a Frankenstein’s monster of a PC made up from my old unwanted parts. Old case, similarly from the start of the last decade with the front missing, the side off because it’s become warped and rattles when attached ethic etc. Still ticks along though and does what he needs.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    Any hints to shake that nasty feeling that you may waste a lot of your own or somebody else’s money if you fuck up? I never quite managed to shake that with experience alone, and I’m thinking I may not be the only one.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Eat before you start! Even if you’re super excited! Could take you 1 – 3 hours start to finish. Being hangry and having low energy don’t help that problem.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Modern systems are so straight forward the only thing that will really screw up your hardware is being too rough with the CPU cooler and chipping or cracking the CPU.

      It seems everything has a failsafe now and the chance of having a smoking Athlon are near non-existent. Both AMD and Intel chips will underclock, switch off or not even boot if it overheats.

    • RIDEBIRD says:

      I’ve built like 10 PCs and even work with servicing laptops and I still get this with builds. Especially my own. It’s just the sheer fear of seeing all that hard-earned money lying on the floor waiting to be assembled.

      My best tip is taking it REAL slow and being quite perfectionist and careful, which I have to be as I am very clumsy. I also listen to a podcast to entertain myself a bit more.

      Last build went very fast, like two hours tops, and worked instantly. Building today is very easy compared to just a few years ago, and not having to dabble with optical drives and such helps as well.

      • Zandolar says:

        Agreed. The counter to that of course is the feeling of joy and elation when, after a couple of hours of concentration and usually an unhealthy amount of swearing whilst tackling the CPU cooler (yet to install one that wasn’t a pain in the arse), the machine springs to life.

        • yogibbear says:

          the Hyper 212 evo was the easiest CPU cooler I’ve ever installed.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I have the same cooler. Yes it was a hell of a lot easier than the Zalman cooler I had previously, which I’m sure was designed by aliens. Still took a fair few attempts pushing it down, whilst being worried about not pushing it too much and snapping something, before I got the screws to grip.
            It wasn’t terrible, but it’s still not like clicking something into place either.

    • Czrly says:

      Beer. Beer and Wine, perhaps.

      Oh… and, when building a PC while drunk, remember to plug the power BUTTON in BEFORE you panic because it isn’t turning on.

      • SlimShanks says:

        Funny you should mention that, I wasn’t drunk, but it never occurred to me to plug in the power button. So much confusion.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    Oh hey there Fractal R3 or R4 case. Just installed in a new one of those last weekend. Great case so far.

    Wanted to add to the “PC that won’t boot” section that my recent experience says to remember to/emphasize plug the monitor into the GPU video output, not the motherboard output. That one confuddled me for about twenty minutes, because prior (old) experience suggested that the BIOS might now recognize the graphics card output immediately, and yet it worked straight from the get-go.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      *might not

    • TrentTech says:

      Just bought a Fractal R5 myself for my new build. I had absolutely no idea about what case to get, so I was just browsing through Ebuyer’s case selection and saw it. I thought it looked pretty sleek. It not being a chavy boy-racer type case with all the bright colours and lights and stylised design attracted me to it. After looking at some reviews I discovered it was actually a very highly rated case, which was lucky!

      Looking forward to getting my hands on it and slapping the computer together. As my last few PCs have been gaming notebooks for the portability I haven’t built myself a computer in about a decade (was a Pentium D, GeForce 7800GT, a bit of a beast at the time!) and haven’t built any for work for about half that time, so it’s exciting to get my hands dirty again!

  7. Velleic says:

    Wow, this is absolutely perfect timing! I’m planning to build for the first time this month, I wonder if others will be doing the same to take advantage of the free Windows 10 while it still lasts.

  8. Paul B says:

    When I built my first PC back in 2013, I found Newegg’s “How to Build a PC” videos invaluable:

    Part 1: link to youtube.com
    Part 2: link to youtube.com

    Also, with my newest build, I chose a Noctua CPU cooler, which was a doodle to fit. Considering this, and installing the CPU, are probably the hardest parts of a build, it’s worth spending a bit more money on this – plus the Noctua is dead quiet too.

    • Solgarmr says:

      One of the best coolers, damn quiet. Next upgrade is replacing my case fans with Noctua fans

  9. mattevansc3 says:

    As a preference I always install the HDDs last. There’s a good chance the power cable for the GPU is going to clash with one of the HDD bays and seeing as most there’s more HDD bays than GPU slots its easiest to move the HDD to a different bay.

    Also two important criteria when buying a case are to make sure its a “tool less” case and you’ve measured it up. It makes life so much easier in the long run. A tool less case is designed to minimise the need for a screw driver such as coming with thumb screws and clip in brackets. There’s also nothing worse than buying all your kit, putting the GPU in and finding its hitting the side fan or HDD brackets.

  10. Det. Bullock says:

    The thermal paste thing fortunately is supeflous if you go with the stock Intel cooler, they have pre-applied thermal paste (also I had to cut a few corners).

    • haldolium says:

      …and then your 120€ beQuiet PSU dies for no reason whatsoever and you go through the sweatty process of applying your very old, no-warranty Cougar PSU with quite some A missing.

      And a year later you wonder why the fuck you spent that much money on beQuiet, while your – by now 7 year old – Cougar still does the job.

      • haldolium says:

        and that was not supposed to be a reply. But well, RPS trap-comment-system.

    • malkav11 says:

      My Intel CPU this last build didn’t come with a stock cooler. I think it depends on model. Stock AMD coolers come with preapplied paste, though, and that’s always served me fine when I was buying AMD (i.e. every previous CPU I’ve ever used).

      • Zandolar says:

        Yeah K series chips (6600K and 6700k) do not come with a cooler as they expect those to be overclocked and hence a decent cooler used.
        None K series chips will ship with a stock cooler.

        • King_Rocket says:

          Both my 2500k and 4970k came with stock coolers. So not all K chips come without them.

          For some chips it’s optional and if you are going the 3rd party route you can skip the stock cooler and save some cash.

  11. Aninhumer says:

    I feel like you’re glossing over the topic of choosing components a bit here. I realise it’s not the focus of the article, but I’d argue it’s one of the easiest things to screw up as a beginner, and I feel like that should be flagged up a little more than just “check basic compatibility”.

    • Hayden Dingman says:

      Will always recommend PCPartPicker. Massive time-saver. Intuitive. Foolproof. link to pcpartpicker.com

    • beekay says:

      Yup. Gee, I have been considering building my own, maybe this article is exactly-

      “Check the very basics of compatibility, that any idiot is aware of, like does your QRXI have enough ZXCVBNM plugin portholes to fit your CPU?”

      On second thoughts, maybe I’ll leave it to the experts.

      • fabronaut says:

        This site is an excellent companion to “PC Parts Picker” — with more detailed information in a streamlined: formathttp://www.logicalincrements.com/

        the blog feature is nice for keeping pace with recent updates as well.

  12. Person of Interest says:

    Careful not to actually “slide in” the motherboard, as the standoffs can scrape the back of the motherboard if you aren’t gentle. You can align the motherboard mounting holes with the standoffs, without dragging along the standoffs, by using the I/O plate for alignment/resistance.

    Look for online reviews of your CPU heatsink for details on the mounting mechanism. For example, Silent PC Review usually diagrams any tricky alignment or tensioning issues, so you’re less likely to under- or over-tighten something.

    • Zandolar says:

      And don’t screw things down with power tools like those people that were blaming the new Intel CUPs for being thinner after they bent then with electric screwdrivers.
      Remember, lightly hand tight is enough. You dont need to torque the beans off it and crush things.

  13. Katanalx says:

    This article is very good but is missing a very important (and cheat) tool: the antistatic wrist strap.
    DDR memory is very sensitive to static, so are the graphic cards.
    I already destroy memory sticks with static and is very frustrating to have a new computer with blue screens of death. And memory problems are hard to diagnose.
    Also graphic memory problems can reveal themselves only with a very taxing task. A normal user doesn’t test is computer thoroughly after he builds it.
    It very cheap and life saving (the life of your computer of course)

    • Sakkura says:

      Good to have if you build often, but really not necessary for the average guy. Just touch metal (PSU or case) periodically while building, then you won’t have a problem.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        The PSU needs to be plugged into the wall for that as it needs to be earthed. You can achieve the same by putting your hand on a (cold) radiator.

      • Katanalx says:

        That is true if the motherboard is already connected to the psu AND the psu is CORRECTLY connected to earth through the wall socket.
        If not, depends on the surface that you use… If you have a rug and build on the floor you can charge your case…
        The amount of trouble you have to detect a problem in a memory or a graphic card (if you are a normal user building your firsts computer) pays the wrist strap.
        At least they should mention in the article about static…

        • Premium User Badge

          Aitrus says:

          “As for the issue of static discharge in the event of the laying of hands, my experience of years of rough-housing review samples I haven’t actually paid for has taught me this almost never happens. But it’s awfully easy for me to say that. Accidents will happen and bits do break, so you can either get one of those wrist bands or touch something metal like the internal structure of your PC case before you put paw to components.”

          From page 2. Perhaps this was added after your comments, though?

      • Czrly says:

        It really depends on where you live. Back in South Africa, I never used one. Here in Germany, I get shocked by the cat. If there’s a potential difference between myself and the CAT, I think worrying about static might be a Thing.

        Of course, I still wouldn’t bother with an anti-static wrist strap. To be honest, you either go with a full anti-static workstation or don’t bother. A half measure is about as good as no measure.

    • Buuurr says:

      I’ve never used a strap to build a PC. I have been building them since I was 13 (early 90’s) and have never, ever had a electric short or shock cause any issues with any hardware. Making sure to plug in the PSU to a wall outlet and telling yourself that your left hand is to only touch the metal of the case. Using a magnetic screwdriver in your right hand all will be fine.

  14. Katanalx says:

    One advice to all from someone who has assemble 200+ computers:
    Think of the cables, cards, memorys like wall sockets but for different countrys. The “European wall socket” wont work on an “american wall socket” so don’t force it.
    In the pass the C: drive should be in the primary master PATA connector but with SATA the order is irrelevant.
    The only thing you have to worry is the memory placement. If you have 2 sticks they should be place in diferent banks of memory… I know, this is to technical, but there is an easy way: If you have a pair look at the colors of the sockets in the motherboard and place the memorys in the same ones. In an AXT mobo, NORMALLY, you would end with an 1 and 3 socket configuration.

    • Zandolar says:

      Yeah this is something the article didn’t really explain. I’m yet to see a modern MOBO that doesn’t ha be differently coloured pairs of RAM slots. Just make sure you put 2 sticks of identical (same make, model and size), into the same coloured RAM slots.

    • Czrly says:

      Actually, that’s where the mobo. manual comes in. It has two purposes: demonstrating poor English translation technique, often hilariously, and giving you a map of slot-colours to channels. There’s usually a table. Apart from that, it’s scrap paper.

  15. Wisq says:

    No mention of removable motherboard trays, and/or of using them to test your rig outside the case before putting it all in? Are they that rare? Seems like a wonderful tool to have, especially for a first-time build.

    • Hayden Dingman says:

      I’ve personally never seen this. Usually just build outside the case on top of the mobo’s cardboard box, then use the CPU cooler as a handle to move the mobo onto the standoffs eventually.

    • Buuurr says:

      I don’t think they are rare. I do think they are rare for the bargain basement build used in this article. I know my case has a lot of features but you now pay for what used to be standard in decent cases. Its all micro-costs these days.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Hmm, I’ve had 3 mobos from asus all in the 100 -1 50 quid range and i’ve never even heard of a removable mobo tray.

        • Buuurr says:

          Yeah, you wouldn’t. That’s because those trays come with certain PC ‘cases’, not certain motherboards. Some cases come with the awesome concept of modular. Whereas instead of unscrewing a whole slew of crap you just click one or two quick releases and pop out the motherboard or work on it at your leisure without having to do much else inside.

  16. Katanalx says:

    Something like this:

    link to lian-li.com

    very expensive but very good to test rigs…

  17. Stevostin says:

    Thing is it’s substantially more expensive than prebuild gamer config those days. Individual components comes with a higher margin for the seller than a group of them. Ultimately this weights more than assembly costs….

    • Zandolar says:

      It depends really. You can also shop around for good deals on components to make it significantly cheaper. PC builder companies aren’t going to lower their prices because someone had a sale on graphics cards (as an example).
      Also with my last build I was able to save money by keeping my PSU and case, saving a significant amount of money compared to buying a complete PC.
      You also need to be careful of companies using cheaper, lower quality unbranded PSUs and cases that might cause problems in the future when it comes to upgrading in the future. It always pays to make sure you have enough head room when it comes to both wattage and space for future proofing purposes.

  18. Jimbo Jones says:

    Step one; chuck that AMD card in the bin.

    • Buuurr says:

      I agree. AMD and their (since the early 90’s) empty promises of amazing gaming for all – only not.

    • Shlork says:

      I’ve had nothing but good experience with AMD, since early 1990s. Both CPUs and (eventually) GPUs.

      • Jimbo Jones says:

        Yeah, I have a pc I use as a media player that has an AMD CPU. I’m actually really glad they are around as they push Nvidia to try harder.

      • Buuurr says:

        I used to build with nothing but AMD back in the day. I got burned on not one or two rigs but three in consecutive backing. One had bent pins so bad on the CPU it look like bulls had run over it. That lasted all of 3 months once I managed to get the pins in. The other was the AMD branded Gigabyte motherboard that leaked and corroded its capacitors all over my RAM and video card. The last was the straw. I had it custom built at a shop and picked it up. Screwed in the monitor and pressed the on switch. Nothing. RMAed for a dead chip the guys said.

        Switched to Intel and have had nothing but quiet, rock solid, and amazing up scalability since.

        • Shlork says:

          About those capacitors: have you been victim of the great Capacitor Plague of the late 90’s/early 2000s? (link to en.wikipedia.org)
          I’ve had two PCs die a smoky death due to leaked capacitors. One was Intel, the other was AMD-based. One PC died so thoroughly that even the monitor and the keyboard stopped working. :-o Same thing happened to a friend of mine (Intel-based PC).

          • Buuurr says:

            Yeah, could have been likely. In any case, it was the last straw. I am happy with the switch. Not to mention the not having to have a monster cooling system in my rig since switching to Intel-based boards and chips.

  19. grundus says:

    About electrostatic discharge precautions and damage:
    – DO NOT work on a PC if there’s a cat in the room. Shut the cat out of the room, always. They are walking ESD bombs and they don’t always have your interests at heart.
    – Avoid working on a carpeted floor. Moving around on a carpet will generate static.
    – Avoid working in extremely dry weather if possible. Humidity helps to leech static charge off of you.
    – Wriststraps and touching (properly grounded) exposed metal does not guarantee that you won’t fry components so you still have to be careful to avoid touching them inappropriately; still avoid touching actual circuitry by holding RAM and graphics cards by the edges, coolers, heat spreaders and such. This is because you can’t guarantee you and the component are at the same potential and it’s the difference in potential that causes discharges one way or the other.
    – “Lethal” static discharge isn’t always heard and/or felt, and doesn’t often result in the outright death of a component, it can simply manifest itself as reducing the life of a component by a month (out of 10+ years) or it could reduce the performance and you’d never know why.

    • grundus says:

      But for the most part it doesn’t really matter because the technology is far more ESD-resistant than it used to be, just don’t take unnecessary risks if you’re able to avoid them.

      Oh and avoid wearing wool, of course.

      • Czrly says:

        I never wear wool while building. In fact, I always build gaming PCs naked. And with beer – as mentioned previously in this thread.

        I thought there were rules about this sort of thing.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Also, if your mains power supply has an earth pin, install the power supply first, plug the PC in, but leave the mains sockect switched off. Then every time you touch the case, you are earthed.

      • grundus says:

        Yes, but the bit about the difference in potential is still true. It’s better than not being discharged but it’s not a guarantee that you won’t damage or kill something important.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Absolutely – I advise this as well as using all the precautions you mentioned, not instead of!

      • Czrly says:

        Earth is NOT necessarily zero and NOT to be trusted. Earth leakages are very common and old buildings and old wiring or even a poorly built guitar amp in your neighbours living room might feed into YOUR earth. Honestly, stick to touching the chassis and keeping away from the cat and that’s enough.

    • Lanessar says:

      All your advice is valid, but I have to say….

      I’ve been building PCs since the 90s. Possibly 150+ computers, small-company server solutions, $3K gaming rigs – you name it.

      In that time, cats or rabbits or just touching the case, carpet or not, I’ve never lost a single component or had ESD “weirdness”.

      Not in Los Angeles in summer, not in Switzerland in the dead of winter, not in Anchorage, not in Florida.

      I’ve also babied most of those systems afterward (or been tech support), and other than a shitty PSU or a bad fan, those systems have lasted at least 3 years (one is a Core2Duo E6600 system I retired just last year, been running for what, 11 years now?).

      Along with your terrifying message of silent dooooom, I must say that straps and whatnot have never assisted me.

      • grundus says:

        Yeah, I mean I’m just talking from an electronic engineering point of view; if you want to avoid ESD risks then the advice is valid, I ignore all of them routinely and I’ve never had a problem. With PCs. CMOS ICs and sensitive electronics are a different matter, but even then I’ve rarely seen issues with storing them in non-conductive trays and such. PC components are built to be handled in less than ideal conditions so they’re quite tough.

        Then again, it’s entirely possible I have shocked everything I’ve ever touched but replaced them long before noticing any life-shortening ill effects.

      • Shlork says:

        I’ve ruined at least two RAM sticks, one HDD and a fancy motherboard (?!). All components worked fine before I handled them. No mechanical trauma, so I must assume it was an ESD. And I’ve only built about 5 computers.

        No regrets!

        • Shlork says:

          …should add that those were all separate occasions, rather than one lightning-flash of ESD. :)

  20. a very affectionate parrot says:

    Choosing a case is also a very important part of building a PC, I have to go with mid-towers since I have a tiny desk and live in a hovel but if you have the space a full tower is definitely the best option since it just provides so much more airflow and makes cable management a doddle, especially if you don’t have a modular PSU.
    Also dust filters are invaluable, I know some high-end cases come with them built in but even if there is no fan attached to a vent it’s still worth the minuscule price of a filter for it for not having gunk accumulate on your pricey components.

  21. Duoae says:

    I think the only thing glossed over a bit was the mobo installation. The connections of the case amenities (little things like the power and reset buttons!) to the motherboard are quite important and not intuitive to first timers.

    Also, the mobo standoffs (in my experience) can be an unintuitive hassle. Firstly because sometimes they’re in the wrong places. Secondly because sometimes there aren’t enough and thirdly because sometimes you need to install a plastic supporting piece to reduce too much flex in the board which can be dangerous when pulling out/pushing in gfx cards and RAM.

    Otherwise a nice article!

  22. KastaRules says:

    CORRECTION: You don’t “build” a PC, you merely *assemble* it.

  23. iainl says:

    Everyone has different ideas about how to best set the airflow through your PC I suppose. But is that normal? Every time I’ve built a PC, I’ve had air coming in the front at the bottom, then exiting at the back/top. So it seems a bit weird to have the CPU fan blowing from the back to the front to me.

    Though getting cold air to my CPU never seems to be half as important as to the GPU, and that’s owning a relatively low-power NVidia; AMD cards like the one in Jeremy’s build look like heat monsters on paper.

    • gunny1993 says:

      The reality is if you have 3 or so decent fans not blowing in dumbfuck ways you’re going to be absolutely fine, all you’d gain with perfectionism in that regard is a few degrees here and there.

      • Lanessar says:

        If even that. Airflow and cable management is all the rage these days, but it honestly doesn’t matter. This guy threw boxes and towels into a case and it didn’t change anything significantly.

        • Buuurr says:

          I agree with the above video. I used to have an over-clocked Pentium D with four (4) Vantec tornado 80mm fans… remember those? That rig was so insane. I used to throw my winter coat over it to keep the noise down. No heat issues.

          That said, I currently have no more then an inch or so, minus the one (1) PCI-E cable to the GPU, of cable in my case. It is incredibly clean looking and has no dust issues whatsoever. Most important to me is, it’s quiet.

  24. Duoae says:

    I guess it depends on your environment, type and number of bits and bobs in your case as to how important air directionality is.

    For instance, living in a hot country, you’re pulling in relatively warm air so it’s more important to increase flow as the air has less cooling potential.

    Myself, I draw in from the front and exit from the gpu blower on the back combined with the exhaust of the psu and a massive side fan that is very quiet.I also don’t have lots of components blocking air flow either so there’s no ‘channel’ for air to flow from – just a flow out of the case from two sides.

  25. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Speaking of airflow, that CPU cooler is on backwards. It’s sucking from the back, and blowing towards the front of the case.
    Rule of thumb: fans blow towards the side with the wires on.

  26. Raoul Duke says:

    Personally I would never use a magnetic screwdriver anywhere near the components inside a PC.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Why not?
      They don’t affect hard drives (the casing is too thick), and nothing else in your computer is bothered by weak magnetic fields.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Marclev says:

    Gosh, I haven’t built my own PC for about 20 years now. It’s still the same trusty one I’ve had ever since before I went to university, all I’ve done is occasionally changed or upgraded the ISA and/or SATA hard disk(s), PSU, CD and/or DVD and/or BD drive, motherboard, CPU, memory, case, graphics card and/or 3d accelerator, ISA and/or PCI and/or AGP and/or PCI-E cards, case, floppy and/or zip and/or no removal drive.

    • Premium User Badge

      Marclev says:

      Not to forget about the Soundblaster and/or Adlib and/or embedded sound card, of course.

      Did I miss anything?

  28. arienette says:

    I remember I improperly mounted a motherboard once, so every time I turned it on it sent a current through the whole case.

    Despite that, all the components survived, it only shorted the sound chip.

  29. Urthman says:

    When I built a new PC for the first time last year, the only really hard part was matching up the plugs for the various LEDs to the correct place on the motherboard, and that just because it was tiny and in an awkward position to see clearly.

  30. tricerarock says:

    Getting a 6700 and an AMD RX480 soon. Man. That will be wonderful.

  31. Malcolm says:

    Why is there not yet a standard Front Panel connector block? It’s incredibly fiddly plugging in all the separate connectors – every motherboard seems to use the same pin array in the same configuration so I don’t see why cases don’t have a matching connector (much like USB headers). That and I always seem to run out of conveniently located SATA power connectors.

    • xrror says:

      There actually is a puedo-standard for front panel connectors, it’s just many cases still keep the “block” separated out of paranoia.

      Personally I’ve gotten to the part where I just use (LIGHT!) touches of superglue to bind the individual plastic blocks together into a standard FP connector. And if I ever did need a lead separate it’s not too hard to snap them back apart.

      Heres the front panel layout in any case:

      • xrror says:

        well the link to the image didn’t work, but just search for ATX front panel connector pinout and you’ll get it. The hardest part is figuring out which way your case has the front LEDs wired, but even then worst case just reverse the wire if it doesn’t light up. The power and reset switches don’t care.

        link to openclipart.org

  32. xrror says:

    Jeremy, I emphatically beg you to please add a part showing installing the motherboard standoffs into the case first, before installing the motherboard. I know many cases now have them pre-installed and/or the tray has them permanent, but it’s something that really is never explained in many guides, and it’s something I’ve seen first hand burn so so many first time builders.

    It’s super disheartening to see first time builders, who finally work up the courage to build their first machines and do 99% of the build right, only to have the excitement of first power on either be a no-post, or worst case component death because their motherboard is both grounded out on the tray, and potentially flexed to death because the I/O shield and card slots are still elevated, but the mobo that’s screwed flat to the frame is not…

    And then that’s where they swear off building a computer again =(