Planning to build your own PC can be a challenge, and even though it’s remarkably satisfying and worth the journey, it’s easy to stumble upon some new potholes and detours along the way.
Here are some tips to improve your next PC building experience.
Tip 1: Watch out for metal shavings and jagged metal corners. Anything sharp and pointy can spell chaos for your motherboard. Always use a metal nibbling tool, or bend with needle-nose pliers.
Tip 2: Use an anti static wrist strap if you are working in a carpeted area, or live in an arid climate zone. Static electricity can build up on your body and can destroy the fragile electronics.
Tip 3: Your tool kit socket set will vastly improve mounting your motherboard onto your standoffs. A 5mm metric socket usually fits most standoffs. You can also use pliers.
Tip 4: Sort your screws into a multi-compartment tray making it simpler to keep track of all your screws, washers, jumpers and standoffs. You can use a pill sorter, a muffin tin, or an egg carton.
Tip 5: Keep all your tools close by. A Phillips screw driver and a small LED flashlight are obvious must haves, but keep some needle-nose pliers, paper, pencil and a pair of clippers and a parts picker readily available.
Tip 6: Over-tightening PC screws can cause damage. Apply the “finger-tight” method when fixing in screws.
Tip 7: Different screws come for different purposes. Hex-head screws for optical drives; dome headed screws for hard drives, flat and dome headed may be used for mounting the motherboard and self tapping screws are for fastening fans to the chassis.
Tip 8: If you don’t have adequate standoffs, choose to omit some with careful thought or use old standoffs you might have lying around. Just make sure they are the same height.
Tip 9: Trace your motherboard onto a paper and trace in the holes or punch them in using a pencil. This paper template will make installing standoffs a piece of cake.
Tip 10: Handle your motherboard very gently and only lift using its edges.
Tip 11: Cardboard washers are supposed to be used in motherboard mounting holes that are sans a metal rim.
Tip 12: Pop out the PC’s I/O plate carefully before placing the new one that comes with the motherboard.
Tip 13: The tabs on your I/O plate should keep your PC’s ports and plates in alignment with the openings.
Tip 14: Keep your power cables out of the way before you begin installing the motherboard. Restrain those using rubber bands or Velcro straps.
Tip 15: An internal speaker is extremely useful in cases of troubleshooting, so if your motherboard does not have one already built in, use one from an old PC.
Tip 16: Use your flashlight to identify the right header to plug in your tiny wire leads for the front-panel connectors once you’ve placed your motherboard in
Tip 17: What’s that beep bloop? Visit BIOS Central to figure out the meaning of different sounds from your PC speaker. A successful boot up will create a single beep at POST.
Tip 18: Which way does it go? Leads for switches can be installed in any direction, regardless the polarity. Direction only matters for the LED leads.
Tip 19: Keep the cables away from the fans, the heat sinks and high traffic areas inside the PC. Run them along the perimeter or use cable ties to neatly tuck away.
Tip 20: Looking to upgrade? Get thumbscrews for an easier, cheaper and screwdriver free hardware changing in your future endeavors.
Tip 21: Processor orientation is key to a successful PC buildup. Align the arrow on the CPU socket with the one on the processor and slowly lower it in parallel to the board.
Tip 22: Install the cooler with the motherboard outside first, if you anticipate trouble reaching in once the motherboard is inside.
Tip 23: Remove and get rid of the protective cover of the socket before installing the CPU/
Tip 24: First things first, check your CPU cooler’s manual before installing the motherboard. Sometimes the motherboard needs to be attached to the retaining plate beforehand.
Tip 25: Check for clearance to place your cooler before trying to jam it in a tiny space. If you still can’t fit in the cooler after making as much space as you possibly can, get a smaller one instead.
Tip 26: Check to see if the bottom of your cooler is perfectly smooth. If not, return to the seller immediately and get a new one.
Tip 27: If you bent one of your pins despite all precaution, use an emptied mechanical pencil’s tip to straighten out the bent pin with care.
Tip 28: Remove old thermal paste by using rubbing alcohol and clean the fans of the old cooler before placing it
Tip 29: Use only minimal amounts of thermal paste on your CPU before connecting it to the cooler, if it doesn’t already come with the paste pre applied.
Tip 30: Buying alternative premium thermal paste won’t help cut out more than a few degrees, so in general, the paste that comes with the cooler should more than suffice.
Tip 31: If your cooler locks down using four screws, screw the first post in, then the one diagonally opposite. This will help spread out the thermal paste evenly. Also don’t screw down each screw tightly the first time; screw them in place lightly, then after they’re all held down, go around tightening them.
Tip 32: A matching four pin CPU fan with a four pin fan plug is a match made in heaven. However, you need not worry if they aren’t identical. A four pin and a three pin fan and fan plug will work just as well.
Tip 33: Some cooler posts are notoriously stubborn and you will need to push harder than will seem safe to force them into place
Tip 34: Installing a low noise adapter to throttle or reduce the sound your cooler makes can cause the fan to alternate between fast and slow cycling which is not ideal in any case. Use only if absolutely necessary
Tip 35: Want a checkup for your newly assembled PC? Get SpeedFan, a piece of software made for checking the heat buildup in different points inside the case comes in handy for checking the hardware health of your new PC.
Tip 36: Given the choice, always opt for a larger, quieter fan instead of a smaller, noisier one.
Tip 37: Keep the dust bunnies at bay, fit your cooler with premade, washable filters.
Tip 38: A firm fan is a quiet fan. Use an anti vibration washer to mount your cooler and keep your screws from rattling for smoother, quieter running.
Tip 39: Examine your fan’s airflow scheme to enable a better location setting that ensures maximum cooling throughout the case.
Tip 40: Spread out your graphics and sound cards to reduce radio frequency interference from the audio signal and keep the graphics card well cooled.
Tip 41: Molex connectors will require a shockingly large amount of force to insert or remove so don’t shy away from giving it a handful.
Tip 42: Make your unused bays useful- stash away cables for more room and neatness. Also look for hidden nooks and crannies to be utilized for the same purpose.
Tip 43: Be careful of sharp corners and jagged edges when routing cables from under your motherboard.
Tip 44: Molex power leads that come with only two wires are only good enough for fan use
Tip 45: Use rounded IDE cables instead of clunky, flat drive cables.
Tip 46: When restraining cables, rubber bands and adhesive tape are a big no. The inside of a PC tends to get hot, and rubber doesn’t fare well in heat. Also adhesives tend to lose their stickiness and leave a sticky residue for you to clean up. Go instead for cable ties and plastic twists and Velcro.
Tip 47: Front panel audio jacks can be tricky as some motherboards may not support the same audio standard. Make sure they have the same standard, or go for a motherboard that supports double standards.
Tip 48: Cover up any unused open Molex connectors to avoid any unforeseeable crisis.
Tip 49: Double check pin matchups for USB and FireWire ports and never attach one to the other.
Tip 50: A 24 pin plug and a 20 pin motherboard will get along just fine. Just leave the extra pins hanging. However, the reverse is not always true.
Tip 51: Make use of your extra SATA leads with SATA-to-Molex converters to maximize performance
Tip 52: It is advisable to use direct power supply connectors for your graphics cards
Tip 53: Just because a power connector looks like a PCle one, doesn’t mean it is going to work the same way. Check for the right number of pins and socket line up.
Tip 54: Ensure your power supply’s switch and plug gets enough room to wiggle out the case back.
Tip 55: When connecting the motherboard to the power supply, don’t forget to connect the four or eight pin supplemental connector to power up the CPU.
Tip 56: Invest in a reasonably priced power supply tester for times when troubleshooting a PC is made harder if you can’t determine whether the problem lies with the power supply.
Tip 57: Install the power supply to the motherboard with the case lying on its side, or better yet, beforehand.
Tip 58: Leave room to breathe between hard drives. Empty out one of more bays between drives for better airflow around the heat prone drives.
Tip 59: To maximize cooling around hard drives, position them in bays at the top or bottom edge of the fan, not in the center.
Tip 60: Plug the boot drive into the lowest numbered SATA port, and use your SATA ports in order.
Tip 61: SATA drives are better than IDE models, as they use thinner data cables which leave more room to breathe and provides for better cooling.
Tip 62: Recent motherboards tend to have only one IDE port, so if you’re using more than one IDE drives, put hard drives and optical drives on different IDE channels.
Tip 63: For the tight spots, buy aftermarket SATA cables that come with 90 degree bends at one or both ends.
Tip 64: Looking to stay out of trouble? Test fit your optical drives before screwing it in.
Tip 65: If you want to install a floppy drive, which is uncommon, use the twisted ribbon cable to signify the drive end.
Tip 66: If you’re using two IDE drives on the same cable, you can either set both drives to Cable Select, or you can set one as Master and one as Slave. Remember, both can’t be set to Master or Slave.
Tip 67: Don’t go looking for a mess, use a new IDE cable.
Tip 68: The second graphics card is sometimes electrically wired only for x4 or x8 bandwidth, even with an x16 physical interface. Read the fine print on your motherboard.
Tip 69: Little known fact, some PCIe slots will support several types of PCIe cards.
Tip 70: A pair of graphic cards in CrossFireX or SLI arrangement needs to be physically connected to one another.
Tip 71: If you need to let out an internal cable from the case, a bent PCI-slot cover is the answer.
Tip 72: A PCIe card can be removed from its slot using a hidden lever at the far end of the slot.
Tip 73: Match the notch in the RAM and the bar in the slot by pushing down the levers on both sides of the motherboard chip slots.
Tip 74: Use the RAM in matched pairs and insert in “paired” slots for a faster performance.
Tip 75: RAM slots are designated with letter or number. Make sure to use the lowest number or letter first.