Beginner Tips – Do’s & Don’ts When Building A PC

If you’ve recently got into PCs and have an interest in building your own, then this guide is for you. If you’re a noobie to the PC building world, then you will need to read through this guide carefully, some of these tips will save you from disaster.

It is important to understand the Do’s & Don’ts before getting into anything, ESPECIALLY PC building. Ask anyone whos proficient at building computers, they will most likely recommend these tips.

Install Your Hardware In The Right Order

Assembling the hardware in an inefficient order will cause headaches, and may even set you backward. Save yourself the time and effort and use this effective step by step.

1. Place the motherboard on a non conductive surface, the box it came in works perfectly fine.

2. Install the processor/CPU first, open the processor socket, and install the processor in the correct orientation.

3. Attach the CPU Cooler, If it’s an AIO, then leave this process to later.

4. Install the RAM into the correct slots, the DIMM slots is where the RAM goes. Make sure it’s in the correct slots.

5. Then you can install the motherboard into the designated case. Screw it in tight, but not to the point where it can damage the board.

6. Install the drives HDD/SSD.

Plan Ahead To Reduce Headaches

Planning ahead is one of the best tips to take in when building a PC. Especially a gaming PC, you should know what are the best peripherals for your specific need.

A video editing optimized system will have different system specifications to a gaming optimized system.

You will most definitely benefit from a powerful GPU in a gaming PC in contrast to a video editing PC.

This is due to the tasks utilizing the hardware differently. A graphically intensive gaming computer will need a decent GPU for it to run smoothly. On the other hand, a video editing PC will benefit from its CPU more.

Also when planning ahead, you should take the time to understand which hardware goes better together, and which hardware is compatible with each other.

Stay Grounded, Static Electricity Is A Killer

Static electricity can really wreak havoc to your hardware in many ways! It is important to take the necessary precautions to minimize the chance of hardware failure.

An electrostatic discharge(ESD) can completely fry integrated circuits rendering them useless. That isn’t all, an ESD can damage a circuit or chip causing failure overtime, effectively reducing chips’ lifespan & effectiveness. This is also known as “delayed failure”, and it can take weeks-months for the device to truly die.

Now that we know the common effects of ESD, let’s talk about how it happens, and how we can prevent it.

Static electricity is caused due to triboelectrification, when two materials in contact, they exchange electrons, one receiving an excess of positive charge, and the other having an equal negative charge. Static electricity is a build-up of charged particles.

In other words, materials rub together, it creates static electricity. If you’re rubbing yourself against a surface, it’s likely you have a build-up of static electricity.

Activities that cause a build-up of static electricity are: Combing your hair & Socks with carpet. Tie your hair up, and stay away from carpet and socks. Also, do not walk with ANY hardware outside of its box

To discharge yourself, the following tips work exceptionally well when done correctly. You can follow all of these tips if you’re seriously afraid of static electricity, or you cannot seem to get away from carpet in your home.

  • When working on your motherboard, keep it on the cardboard box it came with, it works as a static dissipator.
  • Attach your power supply(PSU) to the PC case, screw it in also, plug it in but do not turn it on. After you’ve done this, touch any unpainted metal on your PC case to discharge any static electricity. This is a good way to ground yourself.
  • Purchase an antistatic wristband and attach it to your PC case if you want overkill protection.

Overall, you shouldn’t worry about static electricity once you take the necessary precautions, Be wary, but don’t be afraid.

Buying Cheap & Crappy Power supplies

NEVER cheap out on power supplies, this is one thing you need to buy high quality. There are certain power supplies you should never buy, and there are brands that have earned their reputation for being reliable, and high quality.

The effects a cheap power supply can have on your PC is not pleasant. There have been reports of cheap power supplies catching on fire.

“Surely, if a cheap power supply dies, I can just replace it right?” If you’re lucky this is true. If a power supply fails, it’s likely to take other things down with it, likely your motherboard, and HDDs will go with it.

Overall, buying a cheap power supply can cost you more down the line, so why not just pick up a decent power supply with a reputable brand, and save yourself money in the long run.

In other words, this is a big no, even for budget builds, I wouldn’t recommend buying a cheap PSU. The power supply is arguably the most important part of your build, it powers every component inside your system.

Buying Cheap & Crappy Motherboards

Buying a cheap motherboard can be perfectly fine when you consider your needs. However, if you purchase a cheap motherboard, don’t expect to be doing any overclocking.

Many people buy cheap motherboards because they don’t want unnecessary features the expensive “gaming” ones come with, and that’s perfectly fine. But, those pc builders researched their needs and found it was unnecessary to purchase an expensive, feature-rich motherboard.

Like every product, research the reviews before you make a purchase, especially with budget products. It is possible to buy a decent budget motherboard, both Intel & AMD, just don’t blindly purchase any motherboard under $100.

When purchasing a motherboard, an overlooked features is the VRM(Voltage Regulator Module), and it is responsible for regulating the power between the CPU and the motherboard.

Look out for a motherboard with at least a decent VRM, you can tell a motherboard has a decent VRM via the power phases. More power phases generally mean a better overclock since the voltage stability will be of a higher standard.

Poor Cable Management

For one, it looks straight ugly when your cable management isn’t done to a good standard, especially if you have a tempered glass side panels. Building a PC is like an art, so you need to treat your PC build with love and respect.

Managing cables benefit you by preventing intense dust accumulation, and thermals to a certain degree. If you can’t take an extra hour planning a decent cable management system, then you will suffer in the long run when you want to upgrade your motherboard for example.

If you see yourself taking time into cable management, then picking up cable ties will be your friend when you want to tie cables down to the motherboard.

Purchase The Correct Memory For Your Motherboard

The last thing you want to do is purchase RAM to find out that the notches simply don’t match up with your motherboard. If you’re a beginner, you probably thought any RAM and motherboard could go together

Can a DDR3 RAM stick fit in a DDR4 motherboard? Never, they’re not physically compatible, the DIMM slot is made to only accept DDR4 memory. You can’t go wrong with RAM unless you’re not taking compatibility into consideration.

Yes, people have brought the incorrect RAM before, and it cost them a good amount of time. You can check PCPARTPICKER, they will usually tell you if the RAM is compatible or not.

Purchase The Correct Processor/CPU For Your Motherboard

Yes, you cannot pair a CPU with any motherboard, the CPU needs to be compatible with the socket & chipset. Pro PC builders know that an LGA 1151 CPU will only go with an LGA 1151 motherboard, and an AM4 CPU will only go with an AM4 socket.

To know if your motherboard is compatible with a certain CPU, you can use PCPARTPICKER, but to manually check, you can use this guide.

CPU SOCKET COMPATIBILITY LIST

CPU/PROCESSORSOCKET
Intel 9th Gen(9900KS, 9900K, 9900KF, 9900, 9900T, 9700K, 9700KF, 9700, 9700F, 9700T, 9600K, 9600KF, 9600,
9600T, 9500, 9500F 9500T, 9400 9400F, 9400T, 9350KF,
9320, 9300, 9300T, 9100, 9100F, 9100T)

Intel 8th Gen(8086K, 8700K, 8700, 8700T,
8600K, 8600, 8600T, 8500, 8500T, 8400,
8400T, 8350K, 8300, 8300T, 8100, 8100F, 8100T)
LGA 1151 INTEL (300) SOCKET
AMD Gen Ryzen 7(PRO 1700X, PRO 1700, 3800X, 3700X, 2700X,
2700X Gold Edition, 2700E, 2700, 1800X, 1700X, 1700)

AMD Gen Ryzen 5(1400, 1500X, 1600, 1600X, 2400G
2400GE, 2500X, 2600, 2600E, 2600X, 3400G, 3500X
3600, 3600X, PRO 1500, PRO 1600, PRO 2400G
PRO 2400GE, PRO 2600, PRO 3400G, PRO 3400GE, PRO 3600)

AMD Gen Ryzen 3(1200, 1300X, 2200G, 2200GE
2300X, 3200G, PRO 1200, PRO 1300, PRO 2200G
PRO 2200GE, PRO 3200G, PRO 3200GE)
AM4 SOCKET

You can always come back to this list when you need to double-check if your processor is compatible with a certain socket.

Make Sure Your CPU Cooler Is Compatible

It is possible to purchase a CPU cooler that is incompatible with your selection of hardware. Your CPU cooler can be incompatible with the socket of your motherboard, it can’t physically fit without certain mounting brackets.

Also, if you’ve picked up an AIO cooler, the radiator requires to be compatible with your PC case as well as the CPU socket. A 360MM AIO liquid cooler cannot possibly fit in a case that supports up to a 240MM AIO.

Besides being compatible with the case and socket, if you’re purchasing a massive air cooler they may cause clearance issues to the DIMM slots preventing the installation of RAM.

Just like the RAM and CPU cooler, you are able to check the compatible sockets & cases via PCPARTPICKER.

If you’re interested in a buyers’ guide for CPU coolers, you can find that here: CPU cooler buyers guide.

Don’t Forget To Apply Thermal Paste

The copper heatsink needs to directly attach to the heat spreader of the CPU cooler, however, it needs a medium for the heat to travel through effectively.

To the human eye, the heat spreader and heatsink look extremely smooth, but there are slight inconsistencies in the surfaces. That’s why thermal paste is so important, it fills in all the gaps between the heatsink and the CPU heat spreader. All it does is increase the total contact between the two surfaces, allowing for effective heat transfer.

The consequences of not applying thermal paste are the effectiveness of your CPU cooler will be greatly reduced. The CPU will thermal throttle into oblivion, or your system wouldn’t even boot.

If your processor came with a free CPU cooler, it should already have thermal paste applied, therefore you don’t need to do anything. However, aftermarket CPU coolers generally require the application of thermal paste, you can pick some up from amazon.

An important tip is not to overdo the thermal application, the last thing you want is thermal paste leaking over the heat spreader.

There are many techniques on how to apply thermal paste. The most common way is the pea/dot method.

Have A Decent Airflow Setup

Although not necessary, having a decent fan setup promotes passive air cooling, which indirectly improves the thermals of every component inside your system.

positive pressure
Positive air pressure system

Many professional PC builders install case fans because they don’t want their fancy new parts overheating. Understandable, but they don’t just fill up their slots with fans, they have a strategic approach when installing case fans.

The general consensus is to aim for positive air pressure which means your case is receiving more air than losing. Negative air pressure is when you’re losing more air than receiving.

Positive air pressure is the opposite of negative air pressure. Negative air pressure has a tendency to suck dust in through gaps in the case. This is the nature of negative air pressure, as exhausting more air than intaking creates a vacuumed environment.

When going for a positive air pressure system, you will only benefit from less dust if you have dust filters installed behind the case fans.

Don’t Pair A Powerful Graphics Card With A Slow CPU

This is an easy way to bottleneck your Graphics card(GPU). A good example of a bottleneck is pairing an RTX 2080 TI with an i3 2120, causing a CPU bottleneck. Your graphics card would try to process x amount of frames, but the CPU will limit its full potential.

If you have a CPU bottleneck, then the tall tale sings will reveal a high CPU usage percentage, usually in the high 90s.

If you’ve got a CPU & GPU in mind, check forums on the internet to see if that specific CPU will bottleneck your GPU. This is the only way to prevent a bottleneck without actually trying it yourself.

Don’t Buy A Powerful GPU For Low Resolutions

When building a PC, it’s great to picture how it’s going to be used. I say this because it’s important to have a decent end goal in mind. For example, if you picture yourself gaming at 4K, then you’re going to need a pretty powerful GPU.

Say you pair an extremely powerful GPU with a 1080P monitor, Sure you’re going to get a ton of FPS, but you will miss out of high definition quality. To be it sounds like a waste of power and money.

Not only are you wasting your graphics cards full potential, but it will also suffer from bottlenecking via the CPU not being able to process enough frames. The CPU doesn’t care if you’re gaming at a resolution of 4K or 480P, it only cares about frames.

To game at 1440p at around 60fps, a solid GPU would be a GTX 1070. And to be completely comfortable at 1440P an RTX 2070 Super will be more than enough power.

I Suggest Picking Up an SSD/M.2 Drive. They’re Powerful

Back in the day, SSDs were expensive, the speed for the price they were at was ridiculous, so they could never compete with hard drives.

Now, SSDs have dropped significantly in price, and they have gotten faster, they literally beat hard drives in everything except for storage space.

If you were to pick up an SSD, you will experience faster everything. Faster boot times, faster game loading, faster virus scans, faster backups. This is all because SSDs use chips instead of mechanical disks.

SSDs can read data at a speed up to 550MBps, and write at a speed up to 525MBps. Hard drives on the other hand can only read up to 125MBps, this speed difference is massive.

Since SSDs use chips as their storing methodology, their durability skyrockets above that of a mechanical hard drive. SSDs are able to withstand wear and tear, and physical damage.

Still pick up an HDD, they’re cheap and offer greater data capacity compared to SSDs. Use it as a library to store games and other large files. Hard drives are absolutely necessary if you’re a Video Editor as videos can get quite large, especially at large resolutions.

If you’re going to game, then you should 100% pick up an SSD. Gaming PC builds that use SSDs experience seamless game loading times.

Be Gentle With Your Hardware

Hardware made to be durable but of course you need to be careful when handling your hardware. When you build a PC, know you should never touch the pins on a CPU/Motherboard. If you bend them, you may be able to unbend them but usually, the CPU is toast.

Another tip is not to force anything in, you’re sure to damage it in the process. If a part is refusing to go in, firstly check if you’re installing it properly. Second, check if it’s the correct socket. Third, check if there are any obstructions preventing the installation.

RAM and your GPU tend to be more durable than the CPU and motherboard. Bent Pins or damage caps usually means the end of your PC, it will never boot. So when you’re handling the CPU and the motherboard, take extra care that you don’t damage anything.

Common Mistakes Beginner PC Builders Make

Don’t forget to switch on your computer via the switch on the power supply

After you finish your build, and you go to turn it on, you will be shocked to see no response. However, this is probably due to you not switching the actual power supply on. There’s nothing really wrong with your computer.

If you have two RAM sticks, insert them in the correct slots. Check via the mobo manual

Not installing the RAM sticks into the correct slots. If you have two RAM sticks you may be tempted to install them right next to each other.

This can result in poor performance, or the computer may not even boot. Doing this means you will not benefit from the dual-channel.

Forgetting to remove the plastic cover on the CPU cooler block

Common rookie mistake which can cause a disaster. It will result in poor thermals, and it could melt due to the intense heat of the CPU.

This is common with aftermarket coolers, the plastic cover on the heatsink can practically look invisible, therefore it is understandable for a beginner to completely miss it.

Touching the bottom of a CPU, or touching the motherboard CPU socket

Touching the back of the CPU could cause damage. You can bend a PIN which can be fixed with patience, but it is time-consuming and you could end up breaking the pins.

If you break a PIN on your CPU, then you will need a replacement, because the chances of that CPU working is slim.

Not plugging the CPU cooler in

Many beginners will forget to supply the CPU cooler fan with power, Worst case scenario, they probably would never notice too, this is because the heatsink can passively cool the processor.

The consequences of doing this are poor performance and decreased the life expectancy of the CPU.

Not pushing RAM sticks fully in

Some devices you install require a little effort when inserting it. With RAM, you need to push it down till you hear a click.

If you don’t push the RAM stick in enough, your system simply will not boot up.

Not connecting front panel connectors

Failing to install the front panel connectors will cause your power, USB, audio jacks not to work. This is one of the many reasons why your first PC build won’t turn on, and you’re wondering why it’s being unresponsive.

Plugging your monitor into your motherboard and not your graphics card

Common mistake. If you plug your monitor into your motherboard, you will receive no GPU power. The only graphical power you will receive is from the processor, and that usually doesn’t compete with graphics cards.

Forgetting the CPU power connection

Surprisingly enough, your CPU requires power from the PSU too. This problem is encountered by beginners so frequently, so you have nothing to worry about.

There is a socket on the motherboard which should indicate that the CPU power goes there.

Leave a Comment