The most common PC building mistakes

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran there are some silly mistakes that you can make whilst building a PC.

After all, you have a lot to think about, from assembling parts to installing software etc. It is quite easy to overlook some basics.

In this article, we have identified the most pc building mistakes and how to avoid each one of them.

Let us know in the comments if we have missed anything.

pc with pink rgb fans

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

Mistakes Made Before Building PCs

Mistakes Made While Building PCs

Mistakes Made After Building PCs

BONUS TIP

CONCLUSION

WHAT'S NEXT?

Mistakes Made Before Building PCs

There is a number of things that you need to think of before you even get to the building stage of your PC, here is areas where you can make mistakes:

BUYING INCOMPATIBLE PARTS

This is the first and the most catastrophic mistake that you can make in the whole process of PC building.

Buying parts is arguably the hardest step, it is so tough to figure out what you need for your PC with all the different things available out there today.

There is a chance that you could run into issues.

It might be that your CPU is not compatible with your motherboard, or your motherboard simply doesn't support the type of storage you bought. Or maybe you bought a CPU cooler that's too big for your case.

Regardless, buying incompatible hardware is a serious headache that can be avoided by doing some research before hitting that buy button.

Tools like PC Part Picker are very useful in this kind of scenario. You can use their system builder and add the parts that you want for your PC and it will tell you if they are compatible or not.

We also provide our own free tool, the PC parts selector quiz. This finds the best parts for your needs based on the answers to some questions, everything is guaranteed to be compatible.

NOT READING MANUALS

Not reading manuals is a sin !

As useful as online tutorials can be, nothing will ever be as good as a manufacturers manual.

If you are lucky, the PC part that you are trying to install will have a video explaining how to do that on the internet already. But a lot of the time that isn't the case, so sometimes you have to try to mimic what someone is doing in a video with your own components.

In these kinds of scenarios, it is the best idea to read what it says in the manual. These will give you instructions that are specific to your component. For example on an SSD manual, you can be told how to mount that component specifically based on its structure.

Another example can be for a motherboard: a manual can tell you in which slot to place your RAM to achieve things like dual channeling which is explained more below.

I know this step can seem tedious but manuals are there for a reason.

HAVING AN UNSUITABLE WORK AREA

In the best case scenario you would be building your PC on a large clear desk while standing on a wooden floor.

But that isn't always the case.

If you are working in a messy area, make sure that you have a set space to put any screws and other tools necessary, in areas that are easily accessible and where you won't mix up the screws or worse, lose them.

In case you're working on a carpeted surface, buy an anti static wrist band to ensure none of your components get fried. Carpets are conductive so you will build up charge and you risk the chance of shocking your PC parts.

NOT RESEARCHING GPUS ENOUGH

The most common mistake that new builders make with their graphics card is that they don't check whether it will fit in their case or not.

To solve this, you want to check for both height and case clearance, you want to make sure that nothing like a drive cage on the side is causing blockages. Most of the time this information is written in the description of your GPU and case.

You do also want to think of the orientation of your GPU and fans and cpu cooler in your case, especially if you are going for a custom loop. Ensure that none of the parts are blocking each other.

As I mentioned above, cases come with a description that says what size coolers and GPUs can fit in your case, but you can look at reviews or articles for the parts that you want to put together as well to see if they would fit or whether they might cause blockages within your case.

For a complete beginners guide on how to buy a GPU, check out this article:

https://senxios.com/blogs/articles/how-to-buy-a-graphics-card-the-right-way-in-2021

NOT CALCULATING WATTAGE AND CHEAPING OUT ON THE POWER SUPPLY

When you are picking parts for your PC, you have to keep in mind how much power your graphics card needs as well as other components.

Check the power rating required to run your PC parts using a tool like PC part picker or other ones to calculate the required wattage by your system, a lot of them are quite accurate.

Also, make sure that your power supply has the required cables to power your GPU and all other components, especially all your storage drives.

I would definitely recommend buying a power supply from well known brands as well such as corsair, cooler master, etc. If you are on a tight budget it is tempting to cheap out on one but it won't end well for you.

Here is an article with a list of good power supplies:

https://linustechtips.com/topic/1116640-psu-tier-list/

BUYING NON OVERCLOCKABLE PARTS FOR OVERCLOCKING

Unbeknownst to a lot of people, you need to buy a CPU and motherboard that both support overclocking.

Ryzen allows overclocking on most of its CPUs and motherboards so you do not need to worry there.

However, for Intel, your CPU needs to contain the letter K, while your motherboard needs to have a Z in it.

For example an Intel Core i7-9700K can be overclocked, while an Intel Core i7-8700 cannot. The same applies to the motherboards, a Z390 can be used for overclocking while a H310 cannot.

Mistakes Made While Building PCs

This is the area where most people are afraid to make mistakes, which makes sense because there is a chance that you damage PC parts which you spent money on permanently. Here is the mistakes that you want to avoid:

NOT DOING ENOUGH PREPARATION

You might have heard the saying failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This 100% applies to PC building.

Now there are a number of things that you want to make sure that you do before you start building a PC and a number of steps that you follow in order to build your PC properly. They are broken down into different sections and explained in more detail below.

But before that, here is some general things that you should prepare before hand:

  • Get a copy of a Windows 10 ISO file on a USB so you can install it on your system later. Keep in mind that the USB that you use needs to be at least 8 GB and freshly formatted.

  • Make sure you have tools handy like zip ties, screwdrivers, scissors, and a torch possibly.

  • Plan out where cables are going to go in advance to help with cable management in the long term. I have found this video to be very useful explaining how to do cable management.

This is where you get to the fun stuff: the building stage for a PC. The first thing you are going to want to prepare is your case.

NOT PREPARING YOUR CASE

Make sure to install your motherboard I/O shield before you slot in your motherboard. This is very important as if you forget to install the I/O shield, you are going to have a very bad day, you will have to unscrew all your components just to get the shield back in.

Next, you are going to want to install motherboard standoffs on your case if they aren't already installed. Keep in mind that, if they came pre-installed, sometimes there can be extra extra ones installed which you are going to need to remove, if not, these can cause short circuits. Also make sure to screw your motherboard in afterwards, but this comes at a later step so don't worry about it just yet.

Don't forget to install case fans as well before slotting in your motherboard. When I built my second PC, I forgot to install fans so I had to take out the motherboard again and re-do all that again. This is silly but even “professionals” like myself make mistakes like this.

Also, for the fans, keep in mind fan orientation, which direction to want your air to flow in, here is an example of how fans should be configured:

Case cooling fan spin directions

Note: The blue means that your fans need to be in an intake configuration so they pull all the cold air into your PC.

The red means that your fans need to be in an outtake configuration so they push all the hot air out of your PC.

NOT PREPARING YOUR MOTHERBOARD

Next up, you are going to want to make as much progress as possible on your motherboard. It's hard to get screws in once your motherboard is in its case because of the darkness and tight spaces. From experience, I know that messing around with flashlights at this stage isn't fun.

You are going to want to install your CPU (and an M.2 NVMe SSD if you have one) on your motherboard.

Installing a CPU can be very daunting, and rightly so, the pins on it are very sensitive and damage easily.

You need to know which direction to install your CPU in. All processors will have some kind of marking on one of the corners, on AMD chips it's a gold arrow usually found on the bottom-left corner. That marking has to be lined up with the marking you'll find on your motherboard's CPU socket.

If you want a visual representation of what to do, watch this video.

At this stage, some tutorials say that you should install your cooler but that can change from case to case. You are going to want to check for clearance to see if you can get to the top screws after placing your motherboard in the case. Some coolers are very bulky and you can't get those screws hence you have to install your cooler beforehand. This especially applies when you are trying to install radiator coolers. To check for clearance, you should place the cooler and motherboard in the case, without screwing either of them in, to see if all screws are clear and can be screwed in later.

MORE ABOUT CPU COOLERS

There is more you need to know about CPU coolers as well.

Orientation is very important, you are going to want to orientate your cooler in a way that it doesn't block up the RAM slots.

Moreover, you want a push style fan configuration, so air flow looks like the image above under the case fans section.

Pull configuration isn't as advised because of the fact that a push configuration is much more efficient and you will see a massive decrease in CPU temperature while using it.

However, this doesn't matter for radiator coolers, you can put them whichever way around as long as your fans are taking the heat out of the case.

Also don't forget to check the cooler height, if it is too long then it won't fit into your case.

NOT REMOVING THE CLEAR PLASTIC COVER ON THE CPU COOLER

This is as simple as it sounds. But oftentimes with all the excitement of building your own PC we forget the very simple things like this.

Sometimes your cooler will come with thermal paste pre applied and it will have a clear plastic cover on it, if you are unsure just feel it with a pencil, a very small little piece should stick on the pencil if it doesn't have a plastic cover.

Side tip, don't get thermal paste into your socket, it is not going to end well for you, apply a pea sized amount. The heatsink is going to squash the thermal paste down to a very thin layer. If you add too much thermal paste it is going to spill to the sides and cause short circuits on your processor or motherboard.

USING THE WRONG RAM SLOTS

Another very common mistake is placing the RAM sticks in the wrong slots.

Motherboards have a technology called dual channeling, this significantly increases your performance as your CPU makes use of 2 sticks simultaneously instead of just 1.

To achieve dual channeling you place 2 RAM sticks in 2 different slots, leaving 1 slot empty between each stick as shown in the image below.

RAM DIMM slots

Consult your motherboard manual to see which slots to occupy for dual channeling.

When installing RAM, keep in mind that pushing it in requires a lot of power, much more than you would think. So don't worry, you aren't going to break your motherboard when you do it, push those sticks all the way in until you hear a click.

NOT PLUGGING IN EVERY CABLE OR PLUGGING THEM IN THE WRONG PLACES

First of all, don't forget to plug in the main power cable and turn on the power button.

Yes, it sounds stupid but you would be surprised how many things you forget to think about under the pressure.

Not plugging in the right cables means that your computer won't turn on, I usually tend to leave this part to last so I can orient them much easier without affecting other components once I know where they fit. Furthermore, plugging them all in at once let's you route them better throughout your case.

To remove any chances that you might forget to plug in some cables, make sure that you have a checklist handy to check for that. Here is an example of what cables you might need to plug in:

  1. Power cables to connect your power supply unit to the various components

  2. Front panel connectors on your case that connect to your motherboard

  3. SATA cables and Hard Disk power cables to connect and power your hard disks/DVD drives

  4. DVI/HDMI/Display port cables to connect your graphics card to your monitor

Also, don't worry if some of your cables are left unconnected.

Quick story here, when I built my first PC it wasn't turning on because of the fact that I plugged some of my fans on the wrong pins, there were some excess cables on the fans which didn't need to be connected anywhere. But being a beginner, I thought that every cable had to be connected so I made that mistake. Luckily, nothing was damaged.

So make sure that you don't do the same.

Also, don't push cables down too hard on pins, chances are that you are trying to plug them in the wrong slot and you could end up breaking some of the motherboard pins, which is disastrous.

When you connect your monitor and PC, make sure to connect the cable, whether that is HDMI, Display port, etc in the GPU slot, not on the motherboard. Your screen won't come if you do the opposite.

Mistakes Made After Building PCs

Now that your PC is up and running surely there is nothing else that can go wrong right?

This is where you are incorrect.

There are still mistakes here that you can make.

FORGETTING TO INSTALL DRIVERS

Make sure to install drivers for each of the different components that your computer has.

Drivers ensure that your hardware is well maintained and it allows you to change settings like overclocking and even lets you track temperatures to see whether thermal cooling is working as intended or if there are issues.

NOT MONITORING TEMPERATURES

It is key for your PC parts to be working at their ideal temperatures, if they get too hot, then chances are that they might wear down quickly and become damaged.

If you are wondering what the ideal temperature is for your hardware you can go to the manufacturers website and check.

Or more simply, make a google search, so for example if I wanted to check the temperature for a Ryzen 5 3600, I would look up “Ryzen 5 3600 ideal temperature”.

A lot of times people have already asked what your PC parts' ideal temperature is going to be, so this should show up some articles explaining exactly that.

If not you can always post new questions on websites like reddit or quora and you should get helpful replies from the PC community, or if you prefer you can leave a comment here and I can try to assist you.

I have written an article on bottlenecks which also goes through monitoring PC parts metrics like temperature.

THROWING AWAY WARRANTIES

Make sure to keep all of your boxes and warranties in case your PC parts come faulty or they need to be replaced within the warranty period.

BONUS TIP

If your graphics card and monitor can support a higher refresh rate than 60 Hz, go to settings>display settings>advanced and change your refresh rate to whatever you require. Windows does not do this by default.

CONCLUSION

There are many mistakes that can happen throughout all the different stages of PC building, whether that is something that goes wrong when buying a PC part or when putting it all together.

Rest assured, with these tips you won't make any mistakes.

Don't let this frighten you too much, PC building isn't difficult as long as you take the time to do your research into PC parts and the building process. You are going to be absolutely fine!

Best of luck with your next build!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me, you can use the comments section below or a contact form.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to share it with your friends and family!

WHAT'S NEXT?

We have a few ideas on what articles we want to write in the coming weeks, we host polls on our Instagram Page to see what our community wants more articles on.

For our next article, the community has settled on a piece talking about how to buy the best CPU for your PC in 2021.

Let us know if you have any content suggestions below and let us know what you think of this article.

 

 


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