This is the first of three posts written specially for people who are considering building their first PC or who are ready to, but need some advices.

  1. 10 tips for first time PC builders
  2. Building your own computer FAQs
  3. Help me: Why won’t my newly assembled PC start?

10 Quick Tips for 1st Time PC Builders

Building your first PC is definitely a fun project that you can get excited about and I don’t blame you. However, to ensure that you have a trouble-free experience and that in the end, you have a functional PC that didn’t cost you more than it should have, here are ten tips for first time PC builders. I hope that they will be useful to you:

Before buying your parts:

1- Plan, plan and plan
Take your sweet time to plan every aspect of the computer that you want to build, before buying the parts that is. If you buy the parts and realize that they are either not compatible or under/over-powered for your needs, you’ll have to pay return fees in most stores to change your parts.

2- Buy the appropriate parts based on YOUR needs.
Make a list of all the programs, video games and everything else that you plan to run/do on your PC. This will help you figure out what are the components that YOU need. Trust me, most of us don’t need the latest and fastest.

3- Buying online vs buying in a brick and mortar store
Are you better off buying your parts online or in a retail store? I weighted the pro and cons of both in Buying online versus buying in a retail store.

4- Be patient
The expression goes that “Patience pays off” and this is especially when it comes to computers. With the insane rate at which new parts are released, if you’re patient, you’ll be either able to go with the newer, more powerful part or perhaps you’ll be able to save up because stores are liquidating older parts to get rid of them.

5- Buy all your parts at the same time
Yes, I know, I said be patient. However, most of time, you’re better off saving up your money to buy all your parts at the same time. Usually, as time goes by, new parts come out and prices on older parts drop. If you buy one part at a time, you might get the problem that some new parts are not compatible with older ones.

However, the main reason for my recommendation is that for most parts, you only have a certain time to return if they are defective, for example, 30 days. If you buy them one at a time, you can’t test them before you have all the parts, unless you have another compatible computer to try them, which may result in that you’ll be stuck with a defective part that you can’t return!

Building process:

6- Give yourself plenty of time, space and light.
Make sure to have many hours ahead of you to build your PC. It is not something that you want to rush, especially not when handling expensive and fragile parts. Work on a large table, with plenty of light available to make the process easier for you. Avoid working on carpets, as the resulting static is deadly for PC components.

7- Don’t force anything in or out
The vast majority of components can only be inserted one way. It if doesn’t fit, do not try to force it, as you’ll most likely just going to break it. Simply try to fit it another way. Heatsinks are the exception here though, sometimes they require quite a lot of force to secure them.

8- Handle the parts with care:
Computer parts are very fragile and should be handled with extreme care. Whether it’s the pins on the CPU, motherboard socket, caps on various parts, thin wires all around, etc. etc., it is very easy to damage something if you’re not careful.

Troubleshooting

9- Help me! My PC won’t power on!
First of all, calm down. Panicking is the worst thing to do when working with a computer and more often than not leads to poor decisions. Once you’ve calmed down, here’s a few things to check. They are simple, but sometimes we take them for granted and forget about them:

Make sure to double-check every power connection. Your motherboard will need a 24-pin connector, as well as a 4 or 8-pin connector. Video cards require one or two 6 or 8-pin PCI-Express power connector. Did you connect the cables that came with your case to the bottom of your motherboard, as the manual specified? Did you plug the power supply cord into the wall and made sure that you’ve switched on the power supply?

10- My PC powers on, but nothing shows up on my monitor!
This is something that can happen with a variety of reasons. When someone writes to me, here’s what I usually ask them if I don’t have enough information to help them:

  • Is the CPU fan spinning at all when you start the PC?
  • Reseat (Unplug and replug) all cables.
  • Make sure that memory modules are plugged where they should be, that is slot 1 and 3 (some motherboards work only with slot 2 and 4). Try one stick a time.
  • Make sure that all the power cables are plugged in. The video card required one or two PCI-Express power connectors and the motherboard requires the 24-pin ATX connector along with the 4/8-pin ATX power.
  • Ensure that the motherboard stand-offs are installed correctly (including the insulation washers) and the mobo is not touching any part of the case.
  • Check your CPU for proper seating, and possibly a bent pin.
  • Think through everything you have done in the setup, even the heat sink and thermal paste.

Something else you can do to is take a few clear, well-lighted pictures of the motherboard and the components with the cables plugged in and post it on the forums.

Conclusion

Do you have any tips of your own to share for first time builders? Share them below in the comments.

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