Building a PC is a great way to save money. It’s also a great way to make a PC that works exactly how you want it to work.
Whether you’re building the ultimate work machine or a powerful gaming rig, there are some common mistakes that many PC builders make. Some of these mistakes are made by first-time builders while others are made by veterans. Here are those mistakes and exactly how to avoid them.
Building a PC is like navigating through a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You choose your motherboard, and then you have to choose one of five different CPUs. Then, you choose your graphics card based on those previous choices and your RAM, your hard drive, etc. etc.
The point is: once you choose your PC case, you only have a set number of motherboards from which to choose. Once you choose your motherboard, you only have a set number of CPUs, etc.
Here are the most important compatibility choices to make:
-Computer cases: Choose a standard case if you want to use a standard (ATX) motherboard; choose a micro ATX case if you want to use a micro ATX motherboard, which is way smaller.
-Motherboards: Choose whether you want a motherboard with an Intel CPU socket or an AMD CPU socket. Both AMD and Intel have their own unique advantages. Find a processor and look at benchmarks. Make sure the motherboard you choose has the appropriate socket for the CPU you choose today, AM3+ is the most common AMD motherboard socket while LGA1155/1150 are the most popular Intel CPU sockets.
-CPUs/Processors: When it comes to CPUs and Processors, you only need to worry about compatibility with your motherboard – which you should have already done in the previous step.
-Memory/RAM: There is DDR3/DDR2/DDR RAM and it comes in a number of different stick sizes, including 1GB/2GB/4GB sticks. RAM also comes in a number of different speeds (frequencies), latencies, and voltages. Your motherboard should be able to support all of these frequencies, latencies, and voltages, so your only priority should be buying the fastest possible RAM. Check your motherboard’s RAM compatibility section for any possible problems.
-Video cards: Video cards generally slot into your motherboard’s PCI-E slot. If your motherboard has a PCI-E slot, you’ll be fine. The only other consideration is to check your power supply and make sure you have the appropriate voltage connectors, but that also shouldn’t be a problem on most modern rigs until you start adding second and third video cards (if you do that, make sure you have more PCI-E slots).
One of the best ways to avoid all of these problems is to go to PCPartPicker.com, which is an incredibly helpful resource that shows which PC components are compatible with one another. You build your entire rig and you don’t have to read through manuals finding compatibility problems.
Losing little screws and components
PC building is a game of dexterity. It involves lots of small screws and components that need to go into specific slots. Losing one of those screws is devastating. I guess you could say you’re screwed if you lose one?
The point is, you need to keep track of every screw you take out of every PC hardware box and every screw you take out of your PC. Bring out a shoebox, take out some Tupperware containers, or use whatever you need to keep track of those little screws. You don’t want to lose one.
Putting together a rig on carpet in socks
There are mixed opinions about static electricity build-up when putting together a PC. Some people say that you should take all steps to avoid it (like be naked in a room with a grounding wire strapped to your waist). Other people say that simply touching your grounded power supply is enough to dissipate any dangerous static electricity buildup.
The point is: static electricity can fry your PC before you ever start it up. It’s absolutely something to be aware of but not something to go nuts about. If you’re building a PC in a carpeted room, don’t wear socks. Ground yourself as frequently as possible.
One of the best ways to ground yourself if you’re near a grounded object is to touch any metal part of your PC’s case while the power supply is attached. It sounds hokey, but if your power supply is connected to an electrical outlet (it should be plugged in but not powered on), then you will ground yourself by touching your metal power supply or any part of the case that touches the power supply.
Placing RAM in the wrong slots
RAM is awfully picky about where it’s placed in your motherboard. In most motherboards, there are four RAM slots. If you’re not filling every single slot with a RAM stick, then you need to place the RAM in specific slots.
If you’re installing one RAM stick, then that RAM stick generally must go in the first or second slot. If you’re installing two RAM sticks, then the sticks generally go in the 1st and 3rd slots or the 2nd and 4th slots.
You can check where your RAM needs to go by reading your motherboard’s manual.
Installing RAM in the wrong slot won’t fry your PC, but it will prevent it from starting up. If you’re built a PC and it’s making weird beeping sounds and not starting up, then try switching around your RAM configurations.
Poor cable management
The first time I built a PC I didn’t care about cable management whatsoever. Then I had to upgrade a part and it was a nightmare trying to get through all the cables.
To avoid these headaches and make your PC look nice, be sure to use cable ties. Artfully tuck cables behind unnecessary parts if you have to. With a little extra effort, you can easily optimize air flow through your PC’s case, make your computer look nice, and make it easy to swap out/upgrade parts in the future.
Thinking that building a PC is rocket science
Without any experience, building a PC looks really intimidating. But once you get into it and start putting parts together, you realize that it’s not nearly as difficult as it sometimes looks.
At times, when you’re putting together your PC, you’ll forget that PC building isn’t rocket science. Don’t forget that lesson and you’ll be fine.
Have any more tips to add? Add them in the comments below!