If you are unaware of PC parts or you don’t like the hassle of building a PC, there are many pre-built PCs available in the market. You can purchase any of those depending on the price range and your requirements. But nothing can be more satisfying than building your own rig with the preferred PC parts. When you build your PC rather than purchasing a pre-built one, it indicates your enthusiasm for technology.
Before we go any further, we should tell you this article is dedicated to those users who have already purchased all the necessary parts according to their requirements for building a PC. So, this article will only talk about the assembly part.
This article will demonstrate a step-by-step guide for building a PC. Now you should remember, almost all the PCs are somehow unique on their own and you may never find two PCs that are exactly identical. This article will show you the fundamental steps that are absolute for building a moderate PC.If you have a larger aftermarket cooler or custom LED strips for lighting, then we are afraid this article will not help you that much. We recommend reading another article that is How to Build a Gaming PC if you want help for building a high-end gaming PC.
Table of Content –
Step:1 (Tools that you will require)
In order to build a PC, you are going to need some tools. There can be many tools for building a PC. But the basic tools are –
Almost all the screws that keep all parts of a computer together are Phillips-head screws. Therefore, a Phillips-head screwdriver is a must for building a computer. In addition, if the screwdriver has a long shaft (approximately 10 inches long) and probably a magnetic tip; then it will be even easier for you to assemble all the parts. Just make sure one screwdriver fits for almost all the screws you will ever need including screws for the motherboard, power supply, case panel, and other parts. But, you can also keep a small screwdriver just in case it is necessary.
Zip Ties and a Wire Cutter:
Cable management is really an important aspect of building a neat clean PC. Without proper cable management, the internal part of your rig will cover in dust in no time. Moreover, better cable management is necessary for getting high airflow. It keeps a dust accumulation so that maximum air can pass through your rig. Not only will it give your PC a clean and nice look, but also help you clean the PC later.
Zip or twist ties are the best options to keep all the cables inside a rig in the right place. After tying the cables with zip ties, they might look ugly for the excess plastic parts. So, you might also need a wire cutter for cutting off the excess plastic.
Screw Holder or One-time Glass:
While building a PC, many screws can be scattered around and you probably might lose a few important screws when you are focusing more on other things. So, we recommend a one-time glass (possibly a shot glass) or a small tray that can be used as a place to keep all the screws safe.
Blank USB Drive:
A blank USB drive will be needed after the assembly is over. It will be needed for a Windows or OS setup. We recommend having a USB drive with at least 8GB of free space.
Make sure the place where you are building a PC has enough light as there can be shadows inside a PC case and you might need to insert screws in some critical parts that can be hardly visible in low light. Having a torchlight or a headlamp is better. We recommend you keep a headlamp near the build instead of a torchlight as it can stand on its own.
Optional Tools (Extra Screws, Thermal Paste, Rubbing Alcohol, Wi-Fi Adapter, Anti-Static Equipment):
Ok, these tools are absolutely optional. It won’t be a problem if you don’t have any of these tools, but keeping these can add extra advantage for building your rig. You can keep two types of screws, they are – low threadcount “6-32” screws and high threadcount “M3” screws. These two types of screws are the most common types of screws for building almost any rig. Keeping some extra screws might help you if you lost any screws that came with the casing or any PC part.
A patch of thermal paste is applied in almost all the stock coolers that come with the CPU. But you may never know if they are fresh or of high-quality. If you really feel the necessity for extra thermal paste, you can rub off the provided paste and apply the right amount of paste that is really needed. This will help the CPU to remain cool and make the stock cooler more efficient. Buying a small tube of thermal paste will go a long way for building casual PCs. When you are trying to rub off the applied thermal paste from the stock cooler, rubbing alcohol can be the most effective solution. You can also clean other PC components as well because alcohol evaporates very quickly without leaving any residue.
If you don’t have direct access to ethernet or don’t want to use the ethernet for some reason, a USB wi-fi dongle or adapter can be really useful for downloading the drivers or important software utilities from the internet.
Finally, when it comes to anti-static equipment, you don’t really need one as long as you are properly grounded. However, you can get an anti-static wrist strap if you are extra cautious and it will be the most cost-effective method. An anti-static mat or wrist strap will eliminate any Anti-Static Discharge (ESD).
Step:2 (Inserting RAM sticks and CPU on the motherboard)
Before you strip your case down, it is better to insert the RAM sticks and CPU on the motherboard first. So first, take the motherboard, CPU and RAM sticks out of their boxes. Be very careful while taking the CPU from the box and not touch the bottom part of the stock cooler as it can ruin the pre-applied thermal paste. Set the stock cooler upside-down so that the lower part doesn’t get in contact with the surface.
While taking out the processor itself from the plastic cover, don’t try to touch the bottom surface. If you look closely at the processor’s top surface, you will find a triangle at one corner. Try to align that with the CPU socket cover. Push down on the lever and pull it out from the side and lift it up until the cover flips open.
Now place your CPU on the slot very gently aligning the triangle and according to the image. Just gently let it go, don’t apply any force –
After placing the CPU, when you try to close the lever; the socket cover will pop up on its own. This will indicate everything is going smoothly. Now to install the stock cooler. Remember, if you do have an aftermarket cooler, then that can be a completely different scenario.
We are considering the stock cooler that comes with the processor. You have to align the four pins on the four holes that are surrounding the CPU socket on the motherboard, Just make sure before installing, the cable of the cooler can reach the fan header on the motherboard. Now gently placing the cooler aligning the four holes, follow the picture to perfectly install it –
Once all four pins are locked, connect the cable header from the cooler into the heat sink.
Now to connect the RAM sticks. Your motherboard may have a label that shows in which RAM slot you need to insert your RAM sticks first. Take a look at this picture if you can’t find the label –
So, if you have 2 RAM sticks, you need to insert them on the 2nd and 4th slot before occupying the other slots (here RAM slots are numbered according to the distance from the CPU socket). While inserting a RAM stick, make sure the gap on the bottom of the stick aligns with the notch on the RAM slot.
Gently place the RAM stick on the slot and evenly put pressure from the top of the stick until it snaps into position. If you have inserted correctly, the clips on both sides of the slot should lock in on their own. Perhaps, these pictures may help to guide you more accurately –
If you happen to have an M.2 SSD, installing it on the motherboard will be wise in this step. As we are discussing how to build a casual PC, we are not going to discuss more on installing an M.2 SSD here.Check out the How to Build a Gaming PC | Step by step guide (2021) article to know more about that.
Step:3 (Putting the motherboard inside the case and installing I/O shield)
First, take off both side panels of your casing by removing all 4 thumbscrews. Secure the screws inside a one-time glass or shot glass or a small tray. Every case includes either a box or a bag of screws in order to install various hardware. Therefore, keep the bag or box of screws in a secure place for now.
Now it’s time to install the I/O shield. You have to be very gentle while installing the I/O shield and install it at the back of the case by carefully sliding it from the inside of the case. Make sure you are applying equal pressure on every four corners until it snaps in place, but never apply pressure on the center as it can bend or most likely break.
If you have successfully installed the I/O shield, then are ready to build the full PC by yourself. Because it’s literally the most sensitive part to install.
Make sure you bought the right casing depending on your motherboard’s form factor (ATX, Micro-ATX, EATX, Mini-ITX). Now it’s time to insert the standoff screws that came with your casing. The best way to insert these screws is to place the motherboard in the right place inside the motherboard and find the holes that align with the casing hole.
Sometimes there can be some standoff screws that are already pre-installed. In that case, you have to make sure to insert standoff screws in the remaining holes. Each motherboard may require a different number of screws depending on the form factor and manufacturer model. So, start by screwing the standoff screws one by one and give a double-check to ensure all the screws are inserted until the motherboard is fully tightened down.
At this point, you may need to attach the rear casing fan as well. Also, if your casing comes with an extra front fan or if you intend to use 1 or 2 additional fans for extra cooling, then now is the right time to install them. Just grab the fan cable headers that come from the casing fans and connect them to the system fan headers on the motherboard.
Step:4 (Installing power supply, hard disks, or solid-state drives)
If you can handle all the steps so far, now is the time to install the power supply. Slide the power supply towards the back of the case while the fan is facing downwards. Also, make sure the four screw holes on the power supply align with the cut-outs on the casing otherwise, you will have trouble screwing.
The required type of screws for installing the power supply will either come with the bag that is included in the power supply box or you can find them inside the bag or box that came with the casing.
Now it’s time to hook up the storage. You can install either an HDD or an SSD. Again, you can install both an HDD and an SSD at the same time. You can hook up the HDD or SSD with the hard drive bays or trays inside your case.
While installing the HDD, you need to match the screw holes on the HDD with the small knobs of the tray. Not just HDD, you can also install an SSD on this tray. For that, you will need to insert 4 screws. Follow this video to get a clear idea –
Additionally, you can install your SSD at the back of the casing. You will need to make sure the SSD remains tight in place by screwing all 4 tiny screws. After that, you will need to connect the storage devices with your motherboard.
Whether you are using an SSD or a hard drive, you will need a SATA cable and a data cable that will come out of the power supply. Just connect the SATA cable to the smaller slot, which is situated at the back of the hard drive. It is good to use a SATA cable that has an L shape head rather than a SATA cable that has a straight head. It will make cable management easier. After properly connecting your storage drives, match with this image below to find out everything’s under control.
On the motherboard, you can use any of the SATA ports. Just don’t use the SATA port 1 if you are going to use an M.2 SSD. You will know more about connecting an M.2 SSD in our article written for building a gaming PC.
Step:5 (Managing cables and installing the graphics card)
Before cable management, install the graphics card. For that, you need to remove the PCI covers at the back of your casing to access two PCI slots. Depending on the motherboard’s top PCI slot, it is common to remove the 2nd and 3rd PCI covers. The best way to remove PCI covers is to fold them a few times until they snap off.
You will need to align the PCB on your GPU with the top PCI slot of your motherboard. It is recommended to connect your GPU with the top PCI slot as it is the most secured one. It is also able to bring maximum performance from your GPU.
Bring your GPU close to the PCI slot and when you feel it is sinking in, gently apply some pressure until you hear it Snap in place. Now screw in the PCI bracket at the back of the casing while holding the GPU.
This is obvious for proper installation and it will prevent the GPU from dangling. You can always put the PCI covers back in place if you accidentally remove an unspecified one.
Now, it’s time to connect all the cables and manage them. It’s a good way to start with GPU connecting cables. It is labeled as ‘PCI-E’. It can be either a 6 pin or 8 pin connector. So, connect the suitable one according to your graphics card model. At the edge of the graphics card, you can see a socket. You should connect the cable there and you can hear a sound if it is properly snapped in place.
Next, you should connect the power cable to the motherboard. This cable has a huge connector-head including 24 pins and it looks something like below –
It should go in the 24-pin socket on the motherboard. Make sure there is no gap while connecting this cable and –
always remember if a connector doesn’t fit; it doesn’t belong there.
Next, we will connect the CPU power connector. It is labeled as ‘CPU’ and you can’t miss it. Grab both of the headers together and insert them into the socket that is right above the CPU cooler to the left.
Next up is the USB 3.0 power cable with a blue header. It is the cable that powers the USB connectors that are situated at the front of your casing. You won’t find this cable if your casing doesn’t have any front USB ports, but that is very unlikely.
The socket for this cable is situated right below the 24 pin power connector. If you look at the cable head, you see a notch. Just make sure the notch is facing the right direction before you insert this cable otherwise, you might just break the pins of the socket.
Additionally, you need to insert it directly into the motherboard or at a 90 ° angle as the socket pins may break due to its slight bending.
After connecting the USB 3.0 cable, you can connect the front audio cable that is labeled as “HD AUDIO”. This will allow you to connect your headset or microphone to the front audio port of your case.
This cable goes to the bottom left side of your motherboard. You will see the pins of the socket are labeled as “JAUD 1” if you are facing any problem finding it.
Now it’s time to connect the USB connector that will power the USB ports. You will also find the socket at the bottom of the motherboard placed in the middle. You insert it either in the header that is labeled as ‘JUSB1’ or the one that is labeled as ‘JUSB2’.
You are almost there to finish connecting all the essential cables. If you do have a front fan or any additional fan, then you might need to hook up the Molex connector or dedicated fan connector. Grab the Molex connectors that come from all the additional fans and connect them to the Molex connectors that come from the power supply.
Finally, you will need to connect power cables that power the front panel of the case. This one can be a bit complex to connect. The socket for connecting these cables is situated at the right bottom of the motherboard.
First, connect the cables labeled as “RESET SW”. With the words facing downwards, you will need to connect them on pin number 3 and pin number 4 that is situated at the bottom row of the socket.
Following that, you can connect the “POWER SW” cable on the 2 pins at the top row and that is above the “RESET SW” header that you have just connected.
Next up is the “H.D.D LED ±” connector. This one matters which way you plug it in. Plug it right next to the “RESET SW” header at the bottom row facing the words downwards.
The final two are the “POWER LED +” and “POWER LED -“ connectors. Connect the “POWER LED -” connector right beside the “POWER SW” and connect the “POWER LED +” right after that. If you were able to connect all the cables properly, this is how it should look like from the front and back of the motherboard –
If you are still confused about connecting these cables (“RESET SW”, “POWER SW”, “H.D.D LED ±”, “POWER LED +”, “POWER LED -”), then take a look at this image below as we have plotted the following image thinking of your convenience –
You are officially done with cable management. Take some time to work on cable management. Try to take out the CPU cable from the back of the motherboard. It can be difficult sometimes and you may have to take out a few screws again to squeeze this cable through the small hole from the back of the motherboard.
Route the front panel cables through the front of the casing, at the side of fans (If you have any), and bring them out at the back of the case. Figure out the suitable spaces inside your casing and manage the cable accordingly.
Try to hide the cables as much as you can and use a lot of zip ties or Velcro straps to tie the cables together. If you manage the cable properly, it will look something like the clip below –
Step:6 (Windows setup and driver installation)
If you have done everything right up to step 5, then you are pretty much done with the assembly part. But the work is not over yet. Now you need to install the operating system (Windows or Linux or other) and download the drivers for the motherboard.
We are going to discuss how to install Windows 10 as it is the most widely used operating system right now.
Creating a bootable drive:
You will need a USB drive with at least 8 GB of free space. You will also need another laptop or desktop PC in order to download the operating system and make it bootable into your USB drive. Visit the official Microsoft website and download the tool to create a Windows 10 installation media.
Once, you have downloaded the tool double click it to open it. Follow the on-screen instructions accordingly. You will come up to a page labeled as “What do you want to do?”. You have to select the “Create installation media”, which is the second option, and then click Next. The following picture may help –
After that, keep everything to default and make sure to select the USB drive where you want the files to be installed. After clicking the Next button, it will download the essential files required for Windows 10 setup.
Once everything is complete, you will see the message “Your USB flash drive is ready”. Just click on ‘Finish’ and remove the USB drive from the laptop or desktop PC.
Setting up the operating system:
Take the bootable USB drive and plug it into the PC that you just built. Turn the power on by clicking the power button on your PC. If your PC isn’t turning on, then make sure the power button on the power supply at the back of the casing is switched on.
Once your PC is booted up, you will see a message regarding BIOS setup. Command your system to boot from the USB drive first otherwise, it may not find the source to boot up. Make sure you are paying attention to the details on the screen. Your PC will detect an operating system straight from the USB drive by default. It will render you to the setup screen.
Once you see the setup screen, click on the “Install Now” button and follow the instructions carefully. At a certain stage, it will ask you to enter the CD or windows activation key. Enter the key in the box if you have it otherwise, click on “I don’t have a product key”.
Select the version of windows that you want to install or the version that you purchased and click on Next. When you come to the page labeled as “which type of installation do you want?”, select ‘Custom’.
Next, you will need to choose the drive where you want the operating system to be installed. Select the drive where you want to install the operating system (it is recommended to select the SSD or M.2 drive if you have any). You may have to format the drive. So, make sure you have backed up the important files on that particular drive.
It will take up to 20-30 minutes to install Windows 10 on your PC depending on your drive speed. So, sit back and relax. Once you are done, it will take you to the setup screen. Just go through the on-screen instructions and may need to select your preferable Wi-Fi network at a certain point.
Download and install motherboard drivers:
You can use the CD that comes with your motherboard to install the drivers. But this process is a bit old and now, no one uses a CD drive that much. On the other hand, you can use another laptop or desktop with internet access and download the desired drivers for your motherboard. Move the drivers to a USB drive and plugin that USB drive to your recently built PC for installing the drivers.
If you don’t like the process or you can’t manage another laptop or USB drive, then you can use a portable Wi-Fi adapter and get connected with your Wi-Fi network. Then you can download the drivers using the internet.
Remember, this process is only for those who don’t have direct ethernet port access. Once all the drivers are downloaded, extract each file out of their folders before installing them. Don’t forget to download and install the drivers for your graphics card.
When you have done downloading and installing all the drivers, then congratulations! You have successfully built your PC.