It's easier than you might think
How to install new memory in your PC How to replace your PC's motherboard How to install a graphics card How to install a new hard drive in your Tie me down: The ultimate guide to Show More. Building a PC for the first time can be intimidating, though. Here are links for each piece of hardware in your PC: How to avoid common PC building mistakes —a must-read before you even buy your first part.
Related: PCs Components Hardware. How to build a PC. Currently reading. How to build a PC: A step-by-step guide. How to avoid common PC building mistakes. Replace your PC's heart: How to install a power supply in How to replace your PC's motherboard. How to install a new hard drive in your desktop PC. Either way, you'll want the appropriate standoffs screwed into the correct holes.
You can use either a small socket wrench that fits the standoffs, or some cases come with a 'standoff installer' that you can use with a screwdriver. With the standoffs in place, it's time to screw in the motherboard. Most cases have a peg that fits up through a hole in the center of the motherboard, so if you have it properly positioned, it should now be locked into place.
Once the motherboard is in place, install and tighten the screws down—and don't overtighten, just tight enough that things are secure. This is often the trickiest step for first-time PC builders. There are usually multiple connections from the case to the motherboard, and the number and type of cable as well as where these connect on the motherboard varies.
You'll want to refer to your specific motherboard manual here. Find the section on front panel connectors. All cases will have a power switch at a minimum, and most include a reset switch as well as LEDs for power and storage activity. There should be a wad of cables somewhere inside the case, including any included fans, USB, and audio ports.
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The USB and audio connectors look similar but are keyed differently, so you can't install them on the wrong pin cluster on the motherboard. USB 3. These should all be labeled, and plugging them in is as simple as reading your manual and figuring out what goes where. The power, reset, and LED connections are more difficult, because they are tiny and you need to match the appropriate power and ground connectors to the correct pins. The power and reset switches can be reversed, but the LED leads have to be installed properly or you won't get any lights.
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The cables from the case should have a small triangle on the positive connector, or if you have white and colored cables, the white cables are for ground 'negative' and the colored cables are positive. The first part of this step is easy. Take your power supply out of its box and set aside all the cables, which you'll be using a bit later.
Depending on the model, the power supply may be completely modular in which case, no cables are permanently attached , partially modular primary motherboard power cables are hardwired in , or not at all modular a whole big mess of permanently attached cables. Depending on your case, you may have the option to orient the power supply face up or face down. See the big fan on top of your power supply? The fan needs clear airflow. If your case doesn't have that ventilation at the bottom, simply orient the power supply so that the fan faces up, into the case.
Our case has a mounting bracket that we first screw into the power supply, and then the power supply slides into the back of the case. Use the power supply screws that came with it or potentially screws that came with your case and screw it in tight. You'll then need to use the case thumbscrews to secure the mounting bracket to the case. But before you do that, or modular power supplies, it's a good idea to attach the appropriate cables. Feed these cables through the PSU hole at the bottom of the case as you slide the power supply into place, and then use the thumbscrews to hold it in.
Now that we have the power supply installed, it's time to connect the other ends of several of the cables: you need to supply power to the motherboard, parts of the case, and later your graphics card. Route the fat pin ATX cable to the appropriate area in your case, using space behind the motherboard tray if possible. The EPS12V cable goes to the top-left of our system, where there's a small cutout, and because we're using a larger AIO cooler we need to connect that first.
It helps to get a power supply with cables that are long enough to reach the desired location with some additional leeway. Our particular case has a built-in fan controller hub with pre-wired fans on the front of the case. The whole thing gets power from a single Molex connector, which makes things a lot easier. Other cases may require you to connect fans to the motherboard's fan headers or separate Molex connectors. It's a good practice to try to keep the wiring and cables tidy, especially in the front area where the CPU and graphics card will want as much airflow as possible. One of the more time-consuming parts of assembling any build is the process of installing your CPU cooler.
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Unless you're using an included box cooler see above , you'll need to first add the appropriate mounting bracket to your motherboard, then install the cooler itself. We're using a large mm AIO cooler, which has a big radiator with two mm fans. Lower tier builds, particularly if you're not going to overclock, can get by with far less cooling. Check the cooler for size and clearance before adding the fans, as you might run into orientation issues or simply not have enough space.
This is where places like PCPartPicker. As noted above, the Kraken X62 we're using blocks access to the EPS12V connector on the motherboard, so we had to connect that before installing the radiator. It's generally best practice to configure your cooling to provide positive air pressure—meaning, more fans pulling air into the case than fans exhausting from the case.
As such, we oriented the two fans on the radiator to be intake fans, then passed the fan cables and waterblock cables out one of the top routing locations to keep things clean.
Depending on your CPU cooler, it may already come with thermal paste applied, but if you want to use a different thermal paste, you should remove any pre-applied paste. The Kraken X62 comes with a circle of thermal paste already in place, and we've found it works fine. If you're using a different cooler and need to apply paste, a small pea-sized blob in the center of the CPU works well.
You can also use an 'X' or a line about the size of a grain of rice. In general, how you apply the thermal paste isn't usually critical—use enough but not too much, and let the pressure from the heatsink or waterblock spread out the paste.
The result you're looking for is a thin, even layer between the cooler and the CPU, not a big gloopy mess. Installing the waterblock is pretty easy once you've got the mounting bracket and fans in place: just place it over the CPU and tighten the four thumbscrews.
The Kraken X62 has multiple connections: two for the fans that we've routed behind the motherboard, one for the motherboard's CPU fan header so that your motherboard knows the CPU is being cooled , one USB 2. It's less complex than it sounds. This step is super easy, and it can be done now, much earlier in the build eg, before installing the motherboard into the case , or even later. Take your RAM sticks you probably have two, or perhaps four if you're going for a high-end X or X build out of their packaging.
Before installing, refer to your motherboard manual's page about the RAM slots. This page will tell you which RAM slots are the ideal slots to use based on how many sticks you have. The slots are sometimes color coordinated, but on most modern boards you'll want to install two sticks into slots 2 and 4. Once you know where you're putting the RAM, unlock the slots by pushing down on the hinged tabs on one or both ends.
Orient your RAM so that the notch on the stick matches with the notch on the slot. Then press the RAM sticks firmly into the slots. Don't worry about pressing too hard—it takes some pressure. It's important in general computing needs but is an especially critical component to consider when thinking about gaming. If you're looking for a high-performance system, a quad-core or hexa-core processor works well in multi-threaded applications. Speeds vary depending on model and voltage, but to avoid bottleneck, you typically want a processor running at a minimum 2. Another important component when considering a gaming PC is the computer's motherboard.
If you're building your own gaming PC, you'll want to look for a motherboard that has ample slots for the amount of memory you wish to use and the size of video card you'll install. This piece of hardware is often referred to as RAM. The memory in a computer provides a space for data to be accessed by the CPU. Basically, it lets your computer use data quickly, so the more RAM that's in the computer means that it will use a program or game that much faster.
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The amount of RAM you need differs drastically depending on what the computer is used for. A gaming PC needs more RAM than one that's used to simply browse the internet, but even within the gaming realm, each game has its own memory requirements. A normal computer that isn't used for gaming can probably get away with 4 GB of system memory, maybe even less.
In fact, some motherboards can hold huge amounts of memory, like GB, so your options are nearly endless. As a general rule, you can assume that 12 GB of memory is enough to support most video games, but do not use that number as a reason to avoid reading the "system requirements" next to the games you download or purchase. If a video game says it needs 16 GB of RAM and you only have 8 GB, there's a really good chance that it simply will not run smoothly, or even at all, unless you upgrade to fill that 8 GB gap.