How to Build a PC

jimmysmitty

Champion
Moderator
While I don't always use one I think you should add an anti-static strap to the list of pre-requirements. Its never a bad idea to have one and I do have a couple at home in case I have to work on carpet.

Also is that standard bubble wrap or anti-static bubble wrap?
 

islandwalker

Managing Editor
Editor
Mar 6, 2018
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@jimmysmitty: From the paragraph right below the "Be Prepared" section:

"Some builders swear by anti-static equipment, including mats or wrist straps. But as long as you don’t live in a particularly dry environment, you’re not building on a metal surface (opt for wood or plastic) and you aren't rubbing your socks on a carpet while building, you should be able to avoid shorting out your PC or parts. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing things safe. So if you’re worried about static, take the appropriate precautions."
 

TechyInAZ

Polypheme
Moderator
Solid tutorial Andrew! The only criticism I have to add is the lack of recommending the user to update the BIOS ASAP (especially for AMD users). It's super easy now that all modern motherboards can update their bios within the bios/UEFI itself (all you need is your Ethernet cable plugged in)).
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Solid tutorial, goes into enough detail to guide even the most novice builder through.

A couple of thoughts/comments though, would be on the order of a couple of things.
1. Installing SATA power/data before mounting the drive could work in some cases, but I'd suspect most people would be better off mounting the drive and then connecting cables.

2. Personally, I wouldn't moved the FPanel, USB, Fans etc to pre-GPU. I can't think of many cases/boards where it's particularly easy to access all necessary headers after the GPU is installed.

Small nitpicks though, good tutorial overall!
 

islandwalker

Managing Editor
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Mar 6, 2018
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@techyinaz Andrew actually had a mention of that in there and I took it out because I was on the fence about it, particularly for first-time builders. While I would personally always update the BIOS, it's also pretty easy to brick a motherboard in the BIOS update process, particularly if it's a budget board with no built-in BIOS recovery, and you aren't careful about what you're doing.

So my general thought, particularly if you're a new builder, is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." So if there's an issue you're having that's expressly addressed by an update, go for it. But I worry that if we told everyone to update their BIOS by default, it might do more harm than good.
 

MagicWok

Distinguished
Apr 19, 2007
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You need WAY more thermal paste. Becareful of the PSU shocking the system. And you really should use a swiss army knife that might have a screwdriver.

vulgarity removed
 

Math Geek

Glorious
Herald
i do like that RTFM is a big part of the instructions. for new builders i always suggest going page by page through the mobo manual and hooking up/plugging in whatever is on that page if you have it. makes it a lot harder to miss anything that way. especially for the front panel headers and power switches and so on. they are in so many different places and the writing is so small at times the manual is the only way many can figure it out.

but overall a great tutorial for a new builder that gives the basics without being too specific to certain brands/set-ups.
 
Oct 23, 2018
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ty, very nice aproach.. its very similar the way i usually do, only changing that in most of cases i install "tiny front-panel connectors" bedore i lay down the board at cabinet ... very cool..
 
I like to do the cable management (as much as possible) before installing anything in the case. It's usually easier that way, however it requires some knowledge of what cables go where and why, as well as a little planning. Still I think overall that's a fine instructional. Better than the monstrosity that "The Verge" did.
 

KidHorn

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Oct 8, 2009
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Cable management for my builds is basically making sure none of the fans are hitting the cables. Too many cables barely reach so I don't have any leeway in where they go.

Oh and those last few pins for the power button etc... are always a major PITA. If I were a skinny asian woman, it might not be that bad, but my fingers are way too fat. I wish the MoBo makers and case makers would agree on a single ribbon connection with everything in the right spot.
 

bloodroses

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Jan 27, 2013
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As a general rule, they say to use about the size of a grain of rice for thermal compound. If you use too much, it can actually insulate the contact area, increasing temperatures. The main use for thermal compound is just to fill in the imperfection gaps between the die spreader and the heat sink. Polishing the die and heat sink also helps reduce the gaps.
 

Math Geek

Glorious
Herald
i'm still old school. i still use about a pea size and then spread it manually over the whole heat spreader. so thin i can still read the part # and such on the spreader through it. was just how i learned and i'm old and refuse to learn a new way :p
 

stdragon

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Apr 5, 2018
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Exactly correct, and also exasperates the "pumping out" problem.

Actually, I'm going to recommend NOT using paste anymore. I'm a religious convert to Innovation Cooling (IC) Graphite Thermal Pad. They come in 40x40mm (can can cut to size for GPU applications if you want). The material specs are really impressive, better than old Arctic Silver in fact. Some bench at just 1c hotter than the best paste. But who care, you never have to worry about it pumping out, drying out, causing a mess. It's solid and works really well!

Just set it and forget it!

 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Without spanning too far off-topic here:
The thermal pads are an interesting concept, but still far away from being an outright recommendation IMO.
Yes, they perform fairly well for a new concept, but other than junk paste, it doesn't outperform.
Costs more ($12 or so IIRC) when some decent paste will give you 10-20 applications for 1/2 to 2/3 of the price.

There's definitely some benefits in avoiding it spilling out from an over-application and potential for mess, but that's about it.
Paste doesn't really 'dry out' (to the point of not doing it's job) unless a system sits unused for a very long period of time .
On the flip side, we know how paste performs in the long run. The Graphite stuff is still relatively new, and we won't know the long-term performance of the stuff for a couple of years, I wouldn't think.

Worth a try? Absolutely. Worth directing a new builder to it (ultimately, who a "how to build a PC" tutorial is aimed at)? Not so much, IMO.
 

stdragon

Commendable
Apr 5, 2018
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You might want to re-check the material specifications.

Arctic Silver 5 - tested at 0.94 W/mk

IC Diamond - rated at 4.5 W/mK

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut - rated at 12.5 W/mk

IC Graphite Thermal Pad - rated at 35 W/mk

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut - rated at 73 W/mk
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator


And yet, the W/mK rating is not the limiting factor at all.

Refer pages 8-11
https://www.tomshardware.co.uk/thermal-paste-comparison,review-33969-8.html

The difference between Conductonaut (2x the conductivity of the IC graphite) and Kryonaut (1/3 of the graphite) translates to, at absolute worst, a 2'C delta.

Even between best/worst performers (that are being used for their intended purpose) you're at 5'C delta.
Anything greater than the cheapest of the cheap paste, is going to perform very similarly, if applied correctly.

We're completely off-topic now.
If you want to discuss further, please PM me (or start a dedicated topic)
 
Good Tutorial and simple for anyone to follow. Only thing I do different is I first install the motherboard in the case. Less risk of damage to back side of the motherboard while setting on a hard or semi hard surface. Plus I keeping my bare forearm on the case for grounding while installing each part. No need for the static wrist strap if you can stay grounded.
 

kep55

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I've built two pc's since the early aughts. One is close to 15 years old and the other 8. Both are still going strong. Both were built off Gigabyte mobos. Since I use my computers for real work and not playing, I rely heavily on articles like this to choose the kit. Unfortunately, trying to get info on GP kit is nigh impossible any more. Everyone talks about gaming kit that's out of date or burned up in a couple years, if that long. Bottom line, if you're serious about building a solid unit, don't use bleeding edge kit and do use last month's gear. Your unit will last a lot longer and will be upgradable longer.
 

catilley1092

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Fantastic Tutorial! When I built my first entire PC from scratch (had rebuilt older models for charity, friends & fun), relied in part on an older guide here, as well as sought advice elsewhere on a couple of issues.

Yet for the most part, I winged it! One thing I had leaned long ago is the importance of that $5 wrist strap. Yes it gets in the way, yet that low cost investment can save one hundreds of dollars if there were a spark due to static electricity & all it takes is a fraction of a second. If buying most components from the same retailer, they're going to be suspicious of a lot of parts DOA.

Of course, one can also be touching part of the metal case at all times when handling components to achieve the same. As the author indicated, use some common sense as to where one's going to build, never do it on carpet. Winter is a risky time also, especially when running 'dry' heat (example, wood). Yet just by being careful, things will go fine.

Perhaps the best part about building your own rig is to remember the bottlenecks of OEM builds (example, a single ATX 4 pin plug for CPU power). Or no M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe slot, be careful to get the most up to date components, one can spend an extra $30 for the MB & (for the time being) use an existing HDD to store data on. As well as a DVD burner, no need to spend more than $20 for this, unless a BluRay optical drive is desired.

With patience & attention to detail, one can build a PC that better than 'high end' OEM units for half the cash layout, to include a Windows license. BTW, Windows 7 & 8 upgrade keys works for activation, but not OEM branded keys, these stays with the original build. One can use an OEM key & media from Newegg & other retailers who carries these, keep in mind not to enter the key to activate until everything's known to work. This is important because on some occasions, a MB may work for a few days & give trouble, don't risk losing that key. The only way to reuse afterwards is on the same exact make/model MB (not a revised one).

There's no better joy if one's into computers than completing your first build. Which will give you confidence moving forward, and learn more & more every time. I've built no less than 50 & still learning, as the times changes, so do we. The old goes out & we have to learn the new. Take pride in your work by the cleanup of cables & will be doing two things at once. Cluttered wiring jobs restricts airflow, the more that can be drawn in from the intake & blown through the exhaust, the longer your build will run. Heat is the bane of all electronics, computers are no exception.

These are the articles I love, even though I have building experience, don't understand all of the technical jargon, like the battle of the latest SSD's & so on. I rely on user reviews more so than anything for selection of all of my components.

Great read, have fun building your own bottleneck free rig!

Cat
 

PapaCrazy

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Dec 28, 2011
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I partially agree with your logic, but if something is going to go wrong, I'd rather it go wrong in the first 30 days than after. Veteran builder or newbie, it's a roll of the dice either way. It's like Apollo 13 when they stir the tanks. They had to stir the tanks eventually, no matter who was in the seat. I say if you're still in the exchange window, stir the tanks.

Great guide, I'm linking it to a friend building his first computer after buying them for decades.
 

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