How To Build A Personal Computer

By | 12/10/2022

How to build a PC

How to build a PC: a pace-by-stride guide to get the job done

A tower PC against a red background

Quick steps

  • Appraise what you need your PC for (gaming, content creation, streaming etc) and ensure that required components are compatible with each other.
  • Check yous have all required tools and a make clean work surface
  • Start the build, following each stride from mounting your motherboard to connecting case accessories and fans.
  • Switch on the PC to make certain it works and launches into BIOS
  • Install the operating system of your choice
  • A philips head screwdriver (though a prepare of screwdrivers is preferable)
  • A make clean piece of work surface
  • A monitor, mouse and keyboard to consummate the setup
  • A USB flash drive with at least 8GB of storage
  • Zip ties and an anti-static wrist wrap (optional)

Later on spending weeks coming up with a listing of PC components, waiting anxiously for them to proceed sale, and getting them delivered to your door, it’southward time. You’ve got a phillips caput screwdriver in hand, and you’re prepare to go.

For the purposes of our PC building guide, we’ve used the following parts as an instance of how to build a complete figurer. These components are also exactly what y’all need to construct an pocket-size – if a little last generation – gaming PC.

Step by step

1. Ready your PC case

1. Strip downward

First thing you’ll want to do is strip the case downwardly equally far every bit yous can go. Remove every panel that you can, and store them in a safe place (inside the case box is the all-time bet). Nosotros recommend using a bowl (or a magnetic parts tray if you desire to exist fancy) to hold your screws throughout your PC building process.

Cheap PC Case

(Image credit: Future)

2. Install your fans

If y’all’ve purchased some replacement or actress cooling fans, now is the time to install them where you need them. Try to keep your cooling setup counterbalanced, so there’s as much air being drawn in, as is being blown out. In case you’re not certain which way the wind will become, the plastic fan guards usually denotes where the air volition come up through.

Typically you want two fans in the forepart drawing air in and at to the lowest degree one in the rear blowing air out. You could also spiral one or ii more than optional fans into the roof of the PC case for boosted frazzle, if your PC example has mounting points for them.

The back panel of a PC case

three. Install the motherboard

A mini-ITX motherboad

(Epitome credit: Future)

Before we go to install one of the all-time motherboards, you’ll desire to check on a few things about your PC case. Check for pre-installed motherboard standoffs, ensure the number and arrangement of them conforms to the holes constitute on your motherboard.

Secondly, see if your PC example has a  large CPU cutout or window cutting into the back of the motherboard frame. If it doesn’t you may want to install any CPU cooler backplates and M.ii solid-state drives at this juncture.

Now that’s done, first observe your motherboard’s rear I/O shield, and push it into the rectangular slot in the back of your PC case. Make sure it’s correct side up by matching the pattern of cutouts to the arrangement of ports on the back of your motherboard.

Side by side, lay your motherboard down within the chassis – carefully lining up its rear ports with the corresponding holes in the I/O shield you just installed – on top of the standoffs installed in your chassis.

So it’due south a simply case of securing the motherboard down with the screws that came with your chassis. Make certain you use the correct ones hither, as yous don’t want to thread the standoffs, in case you need to remove it at a later on date.

iv. CPU Installation

Internal components of a PC

Next upwardly, socket your CPU into the motherboard. Here’southward where things are a picayune different depending on which of the best processors and/or brand you decided to become with.

For Intel mainstream CPUs, slide the leap loaded retentivity arm out and upwards, so elevator the bracket up leaving the plastic cover in place. Then, gently identify your CPU inside the socket, matching the golden triangle located on the lesser left corner of the processor, with the triangle on the socket subclass.

For the next step, you should slide the securing bracket back into its original position and so information technology locks in place underneath the screw, and secure the retention arm back down. During this process the protective plastic comprehend should pop off, so don’t freak out if it comes flying at you lot. Be sure to stow the embrace away in a prophylactic place as it’ll protect the motherboard’south sensitive pins if you determine to remove the processor from the motherboard.

If you’re installing an AMD CPU, fortunately, installation is much less daunting. There’s no bracket here, only lift the retention arm in its raised position.

Yous should so have your processor and friction match the golden triangle on the corner of the Ryzen processor with the triangle on the socket. Once the pins on the bottom of the processor lineup with the holes on the socket, drib information technology into identify. Give information technology a little nudge to brand sure it’s secure, then lower the retention arm back down and lock it into place.

Processor installation done, whew.

5. Install your memory

Internal components of a PC

Adjacent on the agenda is installing the best RAM to take care your calculator memory. Push downward the latches at either ends of the DDR4 slots on your motherboard. Then line upwards the notch on the bottom of the memory with the notch in the slot. Subsequently that, you can install the memory by advisedly pushing down both sides of the memory into the slot. You lot should hear a clicking sound equally the memory secures into place and the latches click back up.

Make sure you use the farthest and 2nd closest slot from the CPU if you’re simply using two retention sticks. Complete that and you’ll be expert to go.

6. Install your CPU

Internal components of a PC

Here’s the last complicate slice in the PC building process, figuring out which of the best CPU coolers to go with.

Near tertiary-party coolers crave installing a backplate, which you may or may non have already washed from step three of our PC building guide. Each individual cooler will take its ain set of instructions your should follow, merely the gist of most installations requires affixing a backplate and threading 4 pins though back of your motherboard.

From there you’ll want to thermal paste if your CPU cooler didn’t come with any pre-applied already. Users will desire to squeeze out a small blob, effectually the size of half a pea, onto the center of the CPU. This will spread out one time your libation is mounted, and provide a sufficient amount of thermal interface textile to successfully transfer heat from the processor die to the libation of your choosing.

For air coolers, you’ll desire to install most models with the fans unattached. Carefully orient the heatsink onto the pins or threads of the mounting plate and secure in place with whatever provided thumb screws or regular screws. Later on that it’s merely a case of reattaching the fan to the belfry, and plugging the four-pivot PWM fan header into the CPU Fan slot on the motherboard.

Liquid-coolers follow basically the aforementioned procedure, merely require more than upfront work. Yous’ll probably have to attach fans onto the radiator and install information technology into your PC case in advance. Depending on which liquid cooler you’re using, you may also need to plug in a second four-pivot cable into a defended AIO cooler or optional libation header on your motherboard.

This is also a proficient opportunity to plug in the rest of your system fans into any bachelor slots on the board. Or alternatively, if your PC case has an integrated fan controller at the dorsum of the chassis to route all your fans into, so directly onto the motherboard. It’ll also need to connect to the motherboard via USB header.

seven. Install your storage

(Paradigm credit: Shutterstock / Tester128)

Once retentiveness is in, information technology’southward time to focus on some non-volatile retentiveness storage, the best hard drives and all-time SSDs (solid-state drives). Our NZXT H400i happens to have a small SSD subclass on the front end. Installing 2.5-inch drives into these caddies is a sure-fire, as you lot can simply slide it into identify with the option of fully securing it with four screws.

Most modernistic PC cases comes with SSD bays of some sort. Only if you’re instance doesn’t, the 3.5-inch drive caddies typically reserved for difficult drives should accept compatible mounting points. No matter what type of storage drive y’all’re installing, ensure the connection ports are facing towards a cable cut-out within your chassis as it will make routing cables easier.

8. Position and install power supply

Back panel of a PC

Now you’ve got your motherboard, CPU and retentiveness installed you’re going to want to cull the all-time PC power supply to run your new PC and then install it. If yous’ve got a modular PSU, figure out what cables you lot need alee of time, and plug them into your power supply showtime.

If your PC example comes with a PSU bracket, remove it ahead of time and adhere information technology to the back of the unit. Next up thread the cables through the PSU slot in the back of the case showtime, and then slide the PSU into place, securing the bracket back onto the chassis.

Otherwise, on older cases y’all’ll have to slip in the ability supply in through the inside of the chassis and button it firmly against the within wall as you attach it with four screws.

Depending on the blueprint of your case, y’all’ll want to orient the fan towards ventilation areas built into it. For about cases we suggest facing the fan downwards or to the side away from the interior of your PC. This style, your PSU tin draw in fresh air and exhaust oestrus through the back.

ix. Connect everything to your motherboard

Inside a PC

To get your front I/O ability buttons working properly, you lot need to plug in the right cables. Fortunately, on our NZXT H400i, this is a single cake that plugs directly onto the front I/O headers on the motherboard, brand sure you orient it the correct way, then push it into place on the pins.

For everyone else, have the individual pins, and, using the motherboard installation handbook, identify which pins and cables demand connecting. Effort to practise this part gently do, and so every bit to not to bend the pins. It’s important to annotation that any LED lights (HDD and Power), need to be oriented correctly, with the + and – cables installed into the + and – pins on the lath.

It’south likewise a skillful fourth dimension to plug in your USB 3.0 header, USB 2.0 header, and sound passthrough. Audio is located on the bottom left of nigh motherboards. It will be labelled, and the pin outs volition be different to the USB 2.0 headers. Install your USB 3.0 cables (denoted with a bluish-colored end) into any available slots on the board, making certain to lineup the pins with the holes in the USB 3.0 cables.

10. Connect your power supply

a stock image of a power supply

(Epitome credit: Hereafter)

Now you tin plug in the balance of your power cables.

Identify your eight-pivot EPS cablevision, and slide it up the back of the chassis, through the cablevision grommet and plug information technology into the 8 pin power slot at the pinnacle of the motherboard. So, find the bulkier 24-pin cable, slide that through whatever cablevision routing recesses on the chassis and plug it into the corresponding 24-pin ATX power port on the motherboard.

Next up, have your SATA power and connect it to any storage drives. If you happen to have a something mounted onto the front end of the case, run this SATA power cable through the PSU shroud, appropriate grommets or holes, and into your front end-mounted 2.5-inch drive. This is a good opportunity to plug in the SATA Data cables between any storage drives and the motherboard besides.

Lastly, you’ll want to thread your PCIe ability cable through the cutout in the PSU encompass or whatsoever side grommets/holes, so that information technology’s set for when you lot install your GPU.

xi. Installing your graphics card

Inside a PC

Finally we have the final piece of the puzzle to slot into place.

Kickoff have a look at your motherboard and locate the PCIe slot closest to your processor. From at that place locate the two PCIe slots side by side to where yous’ll want to install your GPU and remove them. In most PC cases, that’ll involve undoing two screws on the PCIe slot covers and removing them.

Take your graphics card out of the anti-static bag and line it up with the slots nosotros just opened up. The rear I/O on the GPU should exist facing out the back of the chassis. Once the gold contacts on your GPU make are touching the PCIe slot, gently push it into place until you hear a click. And so use the same screws we removed from the PCIe slot cover to secure the GPU into place.

Then it’s simply a case of plugging your PCIe power that you routed in with our last pace – and we accept a fully built PC (generally).

12. Plow on your PC

At present the system’s built, don’t reattach all your panels just withal. Starting time you’ll want to make sure it actually turns on and runs properly.

Accept your temporarily built tower over to your pre-setup estimator space and plug it into power, a screen, keyboard and mouse too. Ability it on, and mash the delete central to get into the BIOS screen. Check your CPU temp, make certain that’s operating somewhere around thirty-40 degrees C, and ensure that your boot bulldoze is registering correctly.

If everything is showing up, at present is too a good time to enable the XMP for Intel or DOCP for AMD to brand certain your memory is operating at the right frequency. Then hit F10, save and exit. And so ability off.

13. Clean upward your cables (optional)

Now that we’re sure the machine is working, disconnect it over again and bring it back to your workspace. Information technology’s worth doing this because you’ll want to reattach all those PC example panels and tidy up any loose cables.

That means using cable ties to agglomeration together cables as much as y’all can. Most PC cases come with cable cut-outs to use as tie down points. Where there aren’t any, nosotros usually use thicker cables to assistance push smaller ones flush against the inside of our computer chassis.

14. Install Windows (or the operating system of your option)

Screenshot of a PC login page

Bring the system back to your calculator space, where it’ll sit down forever – or at to the lowest degree until your next upgrade – every bit we’ll want to install the operating organization next.

Most modern rigs lack an optical drive to install your Os, so you’ll need to create a USB install on some other PC. To do this, download the
Windows xi Media Creation Kit

(opens in new tab)

and then install Windows 11 onto an USB stick with at least 8GB of space.

Then, once it’s finished, simply plug it into your new system. Go dorsum into your BIOS to tell your system to boot from the USB stick first. From in that location y’all can become through the prompts to install the operating organisation onto your new rig. Don’t worry about non having a software primal during installation, you can activate Windows 10 once you reach desktop.

xv. Desktop maintenance

One time you’re finally logged on, head on over to the manufacturer’southward website, find your motherboard, caput to service, and download the right chipset drivers for your organisation.


(opens in new tab)

is a great tool to get all the programs yous want fast without having to worry most installing each one individually is. On the Ninite site, you lot can select which programs you want, download the installer and let it run its magic. Later that, go download and install the correct graphics commuter for your card and you’ll be all set to sit dorsum and enjoy.

What components do I demand for my PC?

Gaming? Content creation? Everyday office work? All take different requirements.

These days, basically anybody needs a decent PC to get through life, simply they come in so many shapes and sizes that information technology’southward important to know what you’re trying to build earlier y’all even get started.

For instance, if you’re just going to be using your PC to do daily function piece of work – like web browsing or writing upwardly documents – you don’t demand to drop thousands of dollars on a fancy gaming rig. Edifice a PC with something like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G will go you a quick and responsive PC that will last y’all years, with enough graphics horsepower to get you through all tasks that most people experience on a twenty-four hour period-to-day basis.

However, at that place are plenty of people that need something with a bit more oomph. Computers are legitimately more powerful now than they’ve ever been, and at that place’s never been more options to build something that volition tear through the best PC games similar they were so much paper. Only, powerful hardware like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and the AMD Ryzen nine 5900X come up at a loftier price.

Luckily, if you’re on more of a budget, you tin can get something like an Intel Core i5-11600K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (if yous tin can find one in stock at a decent cost, that is), and have an incredible 1080p gaming machine. And, that volition be able to get some video editing washed on the side too.

A tower PC against a black background with a screwdriver on top

What tools do I demand to build a PC?

You may demand fewer tools to build a reckoner than you’d presume.

Although a single phillips screwdriver is all you demand to construct a PC, y’all may want a few more things on hand just in case. For example, needle nose pliers or a elementary pair of tweezers may come up in handy to identify screws into tight places or retrieve them.

Zip ties are useful for tidying up all your PC cables and luckily, you most probable won’t accept to buy them as they oftentimes come up included with several unlike types of estimator parts. Yous’ll also need a pair of side cutters (or merely pair of scissors) to cut those said zip ties.

Y’all tin’t go wrong with an anti-static wrist strap, either – though you tin can get abroad with not having one. Unless you’ve been running around on carpet all day, or accept cats, yous likely aren’t belongings plenty static charge to damage the electronics. Just do yourself a favor and discharge whatever latent electricity by placing your manus on metal, similar your PC case or power supply.

As for your workspace, you’re going to desire to clear off a practiced chip of table space, as you’ll likely exist flipping your PC on its side, anxiety, dorsum and any which way to install everything.

And, before we forget, it’southward a expert thought to get a monitor, keyboard and mouse prepare before yous showtime building, so you lot have something to plug it into when the building is washed. You lot should also take a power socket and net connection available.

Information technology’s hard to find a modern build with an optical drive these days, so put the Windows eleven installer onto a USB stick (we talk you through this in how to install Windows 11). If you can’t find a handy thumb drive and a laptop, we would cannibalize an older rig for a CD drive, or fifty-fifty just buy one – you can discover them online for less than 10 bucks these days.

Jackie Thomas is Deputy Editor at Decisionary. Previously, she was TechRadar’s US computing editor. She is fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, simply she just happens to be a satanist. If yous need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the marketplace, don’t exist afraid to drop her a line on Twitter or through email.