Building Your First PC: Do’s and Don’ts
So you want to build your own PC, huh? Well, good news! It’s perfectly doable. Thanks to the internet, PC building has never been easier for those who aspire to build their own partners in crime. It’s a rewarding experience that provides just enough difficulty and challenge to earn you some bragging rights at the finish line.
The truth is, PC building can still be intimidating. While resources are easy to find, the difficulty rests in knowing where to start. As a first-time builder, you can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of information available on the internet and that sets you up for failure. The secret is to take things one step at a time and learn things that you can easily accomplish along the way.
So before you get busy with which brands to buy and where to go shopping, let this article guide you through the basics of PC building. This article should help you get started the right way, without intimidating you to surrender even before you start building.
Step 1: “Why Are You Building a PC?”
Shopping can be very costly and quite confusing when you don’t have a goal set in mind. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a sense of direction.
What are you building a PC for? Do you need a PC that can handle extensive gaming? Do you use it for streaming? If so, what are the extra components you should need? Are you creative and are looking for a machine that’s compatible with your video editing or graphic design needs? Perhaps you’re looking to build a custom PC with killer looks?
All these are necessary questions that will help you make better decisions when it comes time to shop. It will also help you nail the results you really want.
Step 2: Choose a Processor
To put it simply, your processor or CPU is the brain of your computer, making it the most important component of your build. Currently, the best players in the game are Intel and AMD and you can’t go wrong with either one, although many will argue that Intel does a tad bit better when it comes to gaming while AMD handles editing and other creative tasks faster.
Determining which of these processors to choose is important because it will also dictate the type of motherboard you should get. Remember: always check if your motherboard has the correct CPU socket.
Purchase the latest gen processor because it will give you more leeway and options if you ever decide to upgrade.
Overclocking is also another thing to consider. Overclocking is basically tuning up your computer so it runs faster than how it was originally intended by the manufacturer. It is usually common among gamers who want to step up the speed of their machines. However, modern CPUs are now built with incredible power that overclocking is slowly losing the charm it once enjoyed among PC enthusiasts.
Still, if you want to overclock, there are unlocked CPUs in the market today that are specifically designed for overclocking. They are typically more expensive than locked CPUs or those that can’t be overclocked and require more expensive motherboards and coolers to accommodate them. So if you’re willing to shell out a few more dollars to overclock, go right ahead and do so.
Step 3: Choose Your CPU Cooler
To optimize the performance of your CPU, you need to prevent it from getting too hot. A CPU cooler serves this purpose. However, it does not suffice to buy just any cooler. The better CPU you have, the hotter it can get, therefore, the need for a better CPU cooler.
So see to it that the cooler you choose is at par with your CPU type. If you’re a hardcore gamer or you’ve opted to overclock your CPU, it’s always advised to go for a higher-end cooler.
You have two cooling types to choose from for this step: an air cooler or a liquid cooler, both of which have their own pros and cons. Which one is better would always depend on your habits and how you are going to use your PC.
You will also have to determine the compatibility of your PC cooler with your motherboard’s socket and with the size of your case.
Another important thing to note is the sound. A lot of builders have qualms about noisy PCs and if you share the sentiment, opt for larger fans for quieter coolers. Coolers with 140mm fans are also generally less loud than coolers with 120mm fans.
Step 4: Feed the Speed of Your Hungry CPUs
Your computer’s memory plays one of the biggest roles in your PC’s overall performance. So if you’re building a high-end workstation for graphics and editing works, you will need at least 16GB of RAM. For a budget-friendly gaming PC, an 8GB RAM would suffice.
Not all RAM types, however, are compatible with every system so be sure to check the RAM’s a) DDR generation, b) Motherboard DIMM slots, c) CPU Heatsink Clearance, and d) Form Factor when checking its compatibility with your other components.
Step 5: Check Your Parts for Compatibility
When you’re building your own PC, you’re basically taking parts and components from different vendors and hope they fit together to make a functioning whole. The last phrase is a crucial thing to keep in mind when shopping for components. You don’t want to spend a fortune on the latest CPU and RAM only to find out that they don’t work together.
So how do you make sure your basic parts are compatible? Here’s a quick guide from Windows Central:
● Check your motherboard CPU socket and compare it against your processor OR check beforehand the compatibility of the motherboard you’re eyeing for with your CPU before you buy
● See what type of RAM your motherboard supports
● See what type of RAM your CPU supports
● Check if your motherboard supports a GPU SLI configuration
● Check your components’ clearance to your case sizes
● Make sure your Power Supply Unit (PSU) provides enough power
Step 6: Be Careful in Handling Components
Treat your components like fragile little puppies. Every change in the detail can make or break your build so see to it that you have enough room on your assembling table when putting them together. Bent pins, small chips, and even static damage can easily result in a non-functioning system. So handle packets and packages with utmost care.
Step 7: Static Worries?
You’ll see many PC building articles online warning you of the dangers of static electricity. The static discharge is said to damage components, rendering them useless for the build. But there haven’t been stories of these incidents.
While there is still the possibility, they are rather slim and shouldn’t be the cause of too much anxiety. But if you’d rather be safe than sorry, use an anti-static wrist strap or handle anything metallic first before touching your parts and components. This way, static is dispersed and not built up.
Step 8: Prepare Your Tools
There’s nothing more annoying than having all your assembly materials in place only to realize that you forgot one teeny tiny detail! Now, your excitement is totally trumped and you have to run to the shop to buy the forgotten item–what a bugger!
So get your tools ready before you roll up your sleeves and set to work. You don’t really need much. Here are the basics from PC Gamer:
● Magnetic bowl — for storing your bolts and screws and instantly turning ordinary screwdriver into a magnetic screwdriver, voila!
● Isopropyl alcohol — for cleaning off thermal paste
● Thermal paste
● Screwdriver and socket set
● Cable ties
● Create good airflow
● Skip the driver discs
● Save your boxes and bags
● Make sure your RAM and motherboard pins are compatible with your CPU or motherboard socket.
● On-board video is fine if you don’t need to play games or perform CUDA programming
● Invest in a magnetic screwdriver
● SSD is no longer optional
Some More DON’Ts
● Overdo your thermal paste
● Cheap out on PSUs
● Forget to measure the correct case size you need
● Install too many fans
● Buy an i7 if you’re not going to take full advantage of its features
● Trust power supply calculators from manufacturer websites
● Work the computer while it’s on
● Plug the monitor into the motherboard instead of the GPU
● Install fans in the wrong direction
● Install RAM the wrong way
● Ignore component manuals
● Disregard cable management
● Choose the wrong components
Now, you are armed with the basic knowledge of how to build your own rig. Don’t be discouraged when you make mistakes. And the biggest hack of all: Don’t forget to research. Read up and watch videos and tutorials to properly guide you with the actual assembly process. If you want to learn in a fun and more interactive way, you can also check out this cool simulator for building a PC.
DISCLAIMER: This article is a guest post written by Madeline Yeoh — a writer, a cosplayer and game enthusiast. She loves anything related to technology and is addicted to cats. She’s an avid fan of ibuypower and has a customized gaming desktop for her gaming needs. Contact her MadelineYeoh
Originally published by Daisy Marino at Gamingtipsandguides on January 17, 2019