15 Tips you NEED to Know Building a PC!
I have been building computers since 2010 and it has been an exciting 7 years of discovery. I have had to learn as I go, and while you can check out multiple tutorials online for tips and tricks that help when building a PC, I would like to share with you the main tips that I wish I knew back then.
Let’s begin with the gear, and the most important piece is a magnetic screwdriver. Get one as soon as possible, you won’t regret it. There are plenty affordable kits that you can buy online through Amazon and other retailers. It will save you some time and anxiety when finding that little screw that has fallen in the little crack of the black hole that is some crevice inside your case or underneath the motherboard. A magnetic screwdriver is a simply a must.
The best way to organize your screws is to a little plastic compartment box. You can use the different compartments to organize your thumb screws, you drive screws, your motherboard screws, and even the motherboard standoffs. It’s very handy.
I know everyone wants to immediately peel off the protective film off the acrylic side panels, since it’s so satisfying and it sounds cool, but keep it on until you are finished with the build to prevent unnecessary scratches. Nothing ruins a fresh build like finding a ton of little scratches everywhere. And if you own a tempered glass case also keep the protective film on, not to prevent scratches but to prevent finger marks, so that you can peel it off it will still look shiny and beautiful.
Something I do with every single new case that comes into the studio is to loosen up all the thumb screws that I know I will eventually remove. This is because they are tightened way too hard out of the factory and it just helps with the assembly process. Static discharge is a big deal, so in order to avoid any unintentional damage to your hardware make sure to ground yourself either with one of those grounding straps or touch a metal part of your case before handling your components. Keep in mind that aluminium is not static dissipative, so if that’s what your case is made of find something else to touch.
Remember that placing the CPU inside the CPU socket does not require any force on either Intel and AMD platforms. Just double check to make sure that the triangle alignment is correct on both the CPU and the socket and your installation should be simple and trouble-free.
The easy way to remember which memory slots to fill if you are not occupying all of them – for example if you’re using 2 out of 4 or 4 out of 8 slots – is to occupy the non-black slots first. Feel free to refer to your instruction manual for clarification too.
A common practice for new builds is to actually assemble everything outside of the case and then boot into the BIOS to make sure that all the hardware is recognized. If you also want to install Windows that is also good to do before installing everything inside the case to avoid any troubleshooting headaches.
Another common practice is to visualize your build and see how things will be structured inside the case. This can potentially highlight some of those compatibility red flags. A few things to keep in mind is not all cases have 140mm of fan support at the rear, and if you are installing a radiator and fans at the top of most mid-tower cases you might run into compatibility issues with tall memory modules. Most Mini ITX motherboards only have two fan headers, so keep that in mind when you’re planning airflow and cooling in smaller builds. By the way, despite the fact that they are really popular and more convenient when doing cable management, it’s totally okay to save a few bucks and use a non-modular power supply.
When doing fan installation I recommend rubber fan screws. There are multiple variations of them and they have many benefits like easier installation and also anti-vibration properties. I just really don’t like having to deal with those annoying stock fan screws, so rubber fan screws all the way. You can order them on eBay or Amazon for only a few dollars.
For cable management I like to pre-wire the 8-pin CPU cable because the 8-pin is kind of in an awkward corner spot and it’s good to have that cable out there before inserting the motherboards. I also like pre-wiring the I/O cables before handling the power supply cables because it makes for a much easier cable management job. My main cable measurement tip would be to route and assemble cables by areas, and only then secure them. This allows you to visualize how cables are spread out through the back and it allows you to then bunch up certain cables in those areas. Basically, it makes cable management easier. Remember that the standard SATA cable has 4 connections and they are all spaced out perfectly to allow for 4 drives to be connected simultaneously if they are located one above another. Try to concentrate your drives in one area in order to avoid adding more SATA cables.
Double check all your motherboard mounting points, any standoff that is even the slightest bit misaligned might cause your system to short out. In order to avoid that issue I make that the back of the motherboard is properly aligned with the I/O shield and I also double check that the extended motherboard standoff – the one that usually catches the motherboard – is aligned properly in the hole to avoid any shortings due to improper mounting.
If you are using an all-in-one liquid cooler, double check how you want the radiator to be mounted inside the case and rotate the radiator accordingly so that the CPU block can remain in horizontal orientation. Otherwise the block might end up skewed and the logo in the middle might not align properly and that won’t give you the best visuals.
Remember that hot air rises, so install your fans accordingly, for example by rotating the CPU heatsink to exhaust air upwards. Having said that, it’s totally okay to also have horizontal air direction since the hot air can be blown out the back of the case by the rear exhaust fan.
I think that’s pretty much it when it comes to critical tips. Feel free to share your own hidden gems for PC building. And remember, when in doubt, check out the Hardware Canucks forums for more tips and techniques. We have such an awesome community and I would love for you all to join.
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