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Do's and Don'ts of Computer Building

DO's
Touch something metallic before you handle anything hardware related. You don't
want any static buildup to discharge onto your fragile motherboard. When installing
in the case, plug in the PSU and leave the switch off to ground the case as well.
Align the CPU, PSU, RAM, Cooler, and everything else the right way. (If you have 2
sticks of RAM and there's 4 slots it doesn't mean they go next to each other. Make
sure they're in the right slots)
Use about the size of a grain of rice for your thermal paste (or half a pea size) in
the center of the CPU before applying the heatsink.
Put on the I/O panel before the motherboard.
Screw in the "stand-offs" or mounts before installing the motherboard in the case.
(These prevent shorts aka fires!)
Don't forget to flip the switch of the PSU to "on" when finished installing.
Remove standoffs that you're not using. The extra ones can short out circuits on
the underside of the board. You can also scratch the traces and permanently ruin
the motherboard.
Verify if your video card requires two separate power cables or not and that you
have the correct cables coming from your PSU.
Read motherboard manual for front io connector help. (power, reset, hdd status,
etc)
Always put the SSD on a 6 Gb/s port, and always use the chipset-native ports (on
the Intel or AMD controller) first. Don't use the marvel/aftermarket sata controllers
unless you absolutely need to.
With some CPU coolers it's wise to install the mounting bracket BEFORE installing
the mobo in the case because the heatsink mount sometimes has to be installed
UNDER the MOBO.
Plan out your airflow before installing your fans into your case. Usually there's an
exhaust on the back, and and an intake on the front. Therefore, your CPU cooler
should blow toward the back of the case.
Build your PC out of the case before you build it in the case, and start with the
minimum - mobo, 1 stick of ram, processor and GPU - then build it up from there.
This will save you a ton of headache if one of your parts is defective. Most build it on
top of the motherboard box or some insulating surface.
Make sure a big aftermarket CPU cooler will fit if you buy or are using high-profile
(tall) RAM.
Mistakes
Don't overspend! You probably won't need a 1000W PSU, $300 mobo, or even SLI.
Don't cheap out on PSU's. It can be the most important part in a build.
Don't buy a PSU with a 220/110V switch. It means it won't have Power Factor
Correction too! If you do have one make sure it's set to 110V if you're in the USA.
Buying a case too large for their needs. Unless you're planning on many HDD's
and a super overclocking watercooling unit, don't do it.
Installing too many fans. A few large fans can move as much air as speedy, loud
small ones.
Not planning ahead. GPU's/PSU's/Coolers can all conflict in some way if you don't
plan and read ahead.
Slowly collecting parts. What if one of the parts that is sitting there idly is
defective and the 30-day return / replacement is now obsolete?

Not using cable management.


Throwing away the little plastic jumper piece on the mobo. It allows you to reset
your BIOS.
Interchanging +5V and -5V for frontal USB. Can fry a flash drive.
Plugging in your monitor into the integrated display adapter (I/O port) if you have
discrete graphics (a "graphic card")
Mixing up the internal USB and 1394.
Don't plug anything in while the computer is running!
Forgetting to use windows update after installing the OS. Get the latest driver
from the AMD/Nvidia website, not the disc in the box.
Over-tightening screws when mounting your motherboard, heat sink, and so on.
Not wiping your hard drive before an OS install. Don't think you can use your
previous build /drivers on your new build.
Touching the bottom of the processor or CPU socket.
Not cleaning your your case. Dust is the main source of failure to electronics. It
can short
Buying 1.65V RAM, running it at 1.5V and wondering why you have instability
issues.
Not jumping into BIOS immediately after boot. (usually by tapping f12, or del)
Failing to realize some cases have a backplate for cable management.
Realizing the CPU has its OWN separate power cord.
Buying a $500 single graphic card or running two cards in SLI and then only
planning to use it on one small resolution monitor
Picking a triple channel ram kit and pairing it with a dual channel motherboard
Failing to keep sensitive pieces inside anti-static bags instead of on top of them
Forgetting thermal paste if not using a stock cpu fan.
Failing to remove the plastic film stuck to the heatsink when mounting it to the
CPU.
Don't defrag an SSD.
Failing to set the SSD to AHCI in the BIOS.
Failing to get out a screw / part that fell into the case. It could short a hardware
component.
Getting an i7 or another hyper-threading cpu when you are strictly building a
gaming pc.
Failing to realize video cards need power as well from the power supply.
Failing to verify that all the fans are plugged in before powering on.
TIPS
The CPU bracket needs a considerable amount of force to lock it in. Lock in the
processor before you put the heatsink on. Installing RAM needs some force as well
to 'lock' it into place.
Make sure the RAM/Motherboard (pins) are compatible as well as the
CPU/Motherboard (socket). This information is usually found online or in the manual.
Does your PSU have a 4 pin 12v connector for your CPU? Or 8 pin? Make sure it
has enough sata power cables for all your hdds/ssds also.
Do not trust power supply calculators from manufacturer websites!
If you're not going to play games or video/CUDA programming, on-board video is
fine. The card will just create extra noise you don't want even when it's idle because
it still generates heat that will cause other fans to spin faster.
The CPU fan should always be a 4-pin header. Case fans can be either, but are

often 3-pin. Fancier motherboards may have 4-pin case fan headers, but these are
backwards compatible.
Those tabs on the IO shield should not actually go inside any ports/jacks. They
should also not be bent off as they act as grounding agents. The main one to look
out for is the one near the LAN port.
Some CPU's are meant for overclocking, some aren't. Usually a 'k' means it's
unlocked and overclockable.
Make sure the monitor is on the right input
Buying an Optical Drive is usually not needed anymore. Everything can be done
with a flash drive these days. The only thing you might use a DVD drive for on a
new computer is installing the LAN driver but even then Window 8 should find it for
you. Therefore, it's handy to have a laptop or backup computer when going the nonoptical drive route.
When removing a PCI-Express or SATA cable, be sure to disengage the card with
the unlocking-mechanism attached to the mobo
Backup obviously before reformatting.
SSD's if you can afford them are amazing.
Most people are just find with on-board audio these days.