Learning how to build a PC has changed little in the last few years. We mostly use the same computer hardware, but with better technology and brands.
In this guide, I will walk you step by step on how to build a powerful desktop computer that you can use for work or play. I also build high-powered gaming PCs which gave me the inspiration to write this guide.
How to Use this Guide to Build a Desktop Computer
To ensure a successful, trouble-free build experience, we recommend watching helpful videos on YouTube.com or other websites for visual guidance and printing this guide for easy reference.
For the more experienced, you may find it useful to skip unnecessary steps and go straight to the ones you need. You can print specific pages that you will need while building your PC.
With careful preparation, you will build your desktop computer with ease.
Introduction on Building a PC
Welcome, friend! My name is Tony, and I created this guide to help you build a powerful desktop computer.
This PC Guide provides a comprehensive walk-through of the steps needed to build a desktop computer. We will cover everything from the basics of gathering components to tools and safety.
All the building steps discussed in this guide are based on my personal experience and function correctly.
I will continue to update this guide to provide you with the latest and most popular ways to build a desktop PC. With this guide, you can easily build a high-quality desktop computer in no time.
So don’t wait any longer and let’s get started!
Why Build a Desktop PC?
One of the major benefits of building your own desktop PC is saving money. By constructing your PC, you can save up to 50% of the total cost of a new computer.
For example, if you want to build a PC that costs an estimated $1500.00, you can save up to $750.00! Not only does this allow you to save money, but it also allows you to purchase useful software for your computer.
This guide can help you get started with building your own computer and gain valuable technical experience. By following each step, you’ll be able to sharpen your skills or even start a new career.
Business owners can also benefit from this information by understanding the components of their computer, allowing them to make informed decisions when buying and selling computer parts.
You can skip to any chapter you like to find out more about the building process, or follow the step-by-step guide to build a powerful desktop machine.
However, if you’re not comfortable with the process, you can always purchase a ready-made PC from a trusted manufacturer. In the end, make it a memorable experience building your new desktop system.
How to Build a PC for Beginners
Tip: To get you familiar with the building process, watch the video above. It has great visual information for building your PC.
To build a desktop computer, you will need the following computer hardware and steps:
Always remember that electricity is your enemy when building a computer. An electrical shock can damage your computer and can also cause you harm.
Pay special attention to safety instructions when building a desktop PC. Turn off and disconnect power supplies, take off any loose jewelry, keep all food and drinks away, and don’t use metal surfaces.
Wear an anti-static wrist strap, and remember that electricity is a potential danger.
When building a computer, it’s important to have the right tools available.
You will need a needle-nose pliers to bend or grab components, a medium-sized Philips screwdriver for most components, a small flashlight to help you work in dimly lit areas, and cable ties to organize wires and cables.
Having these tools on hand will help make the building process much easier and more efficient.
Prepare the Computer Case (Tower)
When prepping your computer case for assembly, it’s important to read the case’s manual and product overview to get familiar with its parts and accessories.
Make sure it comes with all the promised items when you buy it. In the manual, read the installation guide to understand how to assemble the case.
Lay down your PC flat on its front side and remove all cables and wires from the front of the case to the rear. Read your manual to determine if your motherboard requires a mounting bracket.
Take your time and double-check every step to ensure a successful build.
When installing the computer motherboard, read the motherboard manual to get familiar with the parts, layout, CPU, memory slots, and expansion slots. Make sure all accessories are included.
Begin by installing the I/O shield to the case. Use a pair of pliers to shape the shield without applying too much pressure.
Mount the motherboard bracket or standoffs screws onto the PC, making sure the motherboard is elevated from the case to avoid contact.
Use a screwdriver and wrench tool to finger-tighten the motherboard screws diagonally, starting from the top left, then the bottom right, and repeating for the opposite sides until they’re evenly tightened.
Don’t over-tighten the screws as the motherboard is sensitive and can easily break.
Central Processing Unit
When installing your computer CPU, read the CPU manual and check your CPU for any bent pins. If there are any bent pins, carefully use a razor blade to align them, and if the pins are severely bent, exchange it for a new one.
Unlock the CPU lever on your motherboard, remove anything that would prevent installing your CPU, then align the triangle icon on the CPU with the triangle on the motherboard.
Lower the CPU into the socket slowly, wiggle and jiggle the CPU until it slides into place, then push the lever to lock the CPU in place.
If you are using two computer memory sticks, add one stick to slot 1 and the other one to slot 3. If you are using four memory sticks, add two sticks to slot 1 and two sticks to slot 3.
To secure the memory sticks, use a screwdriver or wrench tool to attach them to the motherboard. Make sure the tools are the same size as the screws on the RAM sticks.
Apply gentle pressure and turn the screws in a clockwise direction to secure the memory sticks. Read the CPU manual to see how to position the heat-sink onto the motherboard.
Try lining up the holes with the motherboard to the heat-sink. If you are installing a brand new CPU to the motherboard, it usually comes with thermal paste.
The thermal paste acts as a buffer/coolant between the CPU and the heat-sink. If you’re reinstalling your CPU to another motherboard, you need to clean up the old thermal paste and add a new one.
Clean both the CPU and motherboard with a linen cloth or paper towel until dry. Apply the thermal gel to the back of your CPU, two to three drops of the thermal gel are enough.
If you use the thermal drops in the center, you won’t have to spread it across the CPU.
Advice: If you add too much thermal paste onto your CPU, when you tighten the heat-sink, the thermal paste will drip onto your motherboard, making a mess.
Attach the heat-sink onto the CPU and lock it into place. Depending on the type of heat-sink you have, you may have to push some pins or tighten some screws to secure it.
Check your CPU manual for instructions on how to secure the heat-sink. Your heat-sink should have a CPU fan attached to it with a wire that connects to the motherboard.
Look on your motherboard and find the slot that says CPU Fan. The CPU Fan slot should be next to the CPU, plug the wire into the CPU Fan slot.
Install the Power Supply
Read the computer power supply’s manual to get familiar with its cable structure. Figure out if you have a modular or a non-modular power supply. Non-modular power supplies will have extra cables you may not need.
Before installing the power unit into your PC case, attach all the cables you will need onto your power supply. Install your power supply into your computer case and use the Philips screwdriver to fasten the screws.
Install the Video Card
Read your computer graphics card’s manual and figure out what type of Peripheral Component Interconnect PCI card it is. There are three types of cards you should get familiar with; they are PCIex16, PCIex1, and PCI cards.
Your motherboard contains PCI slots for different cards.
Tips: We can use PCI slots for video cards, audio cards, USB ports and more.
On the back of your case, remove the expansion slot covers near your video card PCI slots. Removing these covers will allow you to insert your video card into the correct slot.
Don’t throw away any screws that were holding the covers; you can use them to attach your video card. Insert your video card gently into the PCI slot, push down until it snaps into place.
Some PCI slots have small levers on the far end. Only pull or press the lever to lock your video card. On the back of your PC, add screws that will secure your graphics card in place.
Install the Hard Drives (Storage)
Read your PCs case instruction manual to figure out how to install the hard drives. Each computer case is distinct and may have additional components for hard disk drives and SSD’s.
Remove the hard drive holder from the computer case so you can attach your hard disk to it. Some SSD drives bring their brackets that must be installed on the hard drive holder.
With a Phillips screwdriver, remove the screws from the holders and attach your hard drives to the holders. Make sure that we direct the hard disk wiring towards the rear of the PC, not the front.
Insert your holder with the hard drive into your computer case and secure it.
Install the Optical Drives
Read your PC case manual on how to install the computer optical drives. Optical drives are CD/DVD/Blu-ray/DVD Burner drives, which are much bigger than the hard drives.
The optical drive bays are on the upper front panel of your PC. There are two ways to install them, either from the front side or the inside of your PC case.
Tips: Measure the optical drive cables to make sure they will reach the motherboard SATA slots. Install your optical drive into the bay and secure it with screws or other mechanical devices.
Some computer cases have built-in latches that secure your optical drive in place.
Connect Computer Wires and Boot Up your PC
First, we are going to organize our wires before connecting them. Grab your power supply cables and place them through the nearest grommet hole to the rear of your PC.
Grab the computer case cables and run them through the back of your PC similar to the power supply. All your main cables should be on the backside of your computer now.
Advice: When all wires are on the backside of your PC, you can easily organize your cables based on their location. Read the motherboard manual to figure out where to attach the wires.
Connect your computer wires in the following order:
Step 1 Apply the 20 to 24 pin connector to the motherboard. This is usually the biggest connector coming from the power supply.
Step 2 Attach the 4 to 8 pin connector to the motherboard near the CPU and CPU fans slots.
Step 3 Fix the six pins or 6+2 connector to the video card. Make sure the wire fits snug but does not hang too loose. Try rewiring the video card connector to get the best fit.
Step 4 Connect the PC case fans using the Molex cables from your power supply. They group together the PC case fan wires with other computer case wires. Connect these wires on the back side of your desktop computer.
These Molex cables have three to four pin connectors. If you have a modular power supply, make sure that you add the Molex cables to your power supply.
Step 5 Working from the backside of your computer, attach the power supply cables for your hard drives and optical drives.
These power supply cables are Molex or SATA style cables, sometimes grouped into three separate connectors. If you have two or three hard drives, you can connect all three with one wire.
You should find two different power supply connectors for both the hard drives and optical drives.
Step 6 Attach the SATA wires to the back of the hard drives and optical drives. Run the cable through the grommet hole nearest to the motherboard’s SATA slots.
We should connect the primary hard drive to SATA#1, your secondary hard drive to SATA#2 and your optical drive to SATA#3 on your motherboard.
Step 7 Connect the case speaker to the motherboard. Read your motherboard manual.
Technical: They do not equip all computer cases with case speakers.
You can skip this step if you don’t have one.
Step 8 Connect the USB headers, microphone jack, speaker and headphone jack.
Read your motherboard manual.
Step 9 Connect the power, reset, HDD, and other connectors. Read the motherboard manual.
Pay close attention to the positive and negative sides of the cables when connecting any cable to the motherboard.
Step 10 Organize all your cables on the backside of your PC and tie them down with plastic tie cables.
Step 11 Attach the PC case cover to the back side of your computer.
Boot Up your PC
We are ready for our first official boot; we are going to check that all computer fans are working. Connect the power supply cable to the power supply.
Push the main power button on your PC and make sure each fan is spinning.
Tips: When checking your case fans, be sure to include the CPU fan, graphics card fan, and any other fans.
You can check your fans with the flashlight so you can see if they are working and connected properly. Once you complete the first step, turn off your system by pressing and holding the power button until it turns off.
Disconnect the power supply plug from the computer case.
Prepare your Bios Configurations
You need to set up your computer BIOS software settings according to how you will install the Windows 10 or 11 operating system. If you have the operating system on a CD/DVD, your optical drive should be your first drive.
If you downloaded your operating system into a USB drive, then place your USB drive as the first drive.
Technical: If you don’t change the booting order, your computer will try to boot from the first drive it sees.
Booting from the first drive may cause an error and slow down your installation. To get into your Bios settings. First, you need to connect your monitor to your computer’s graphics card.
Keyboard, Mouse and Keyboard
Connect your computer keyboard, mouse and monitor cables to the PC. After connecting all necessary wires to the computer, plug in the power supply cable to the power supply.
Read your motherboard’s manual to figure out which keys will give you access to the BIOS interface. Turn on your computer and continue pressing the Delete, F12 or another key to access the BIOS interface.
Access your computer’s boot ordering system. Next, place the drive where your Windows 10 installation files are on the first drive. Before exiting out of the BIOS screen, save your changes then exit.
Advice: Once you have installed the operating system on your hard drive, access your BIOS interface a second time.
Set your primary hard drive with Windows 10 or 11 installed as the first or primary drive. Place your secondary drive on the second drive, and we should set our optical drive on the third drive.
Save your changes and exit the BIOS screen.
Install Window 10 or 11 and Update Windows
Once you exit and save the changes in the Bios configuration panel, your computer will automatically install Windows 10 or 11.
The Windows operating system may ask you a few questions about language preferences, region locations, time settings, etc.
Technical: If your computer reboots and you end up with the same installation screen, you need to remove the Windows CD/DVD from the optical drive.
Restart your PC rig again and let it continue with the installation. Windows will ask you which drive to install the operating system, choose your primary drive.
If you’re using an old or used hard drive, you may have to delete its content before continuing. Warning: all the data in that hard drive will delete forever, so choose wisely.
On some occasions, Windows may show that you have to format the disk before continuing. Formatting a hard drive prepares it for adding an operating system.
Follow the on-screen instructions to prepare your hard drive for Windows 10 or 11.
Update the Operating System for the Desktop Computer
During the Windows installation, it may ask you to enter your internet or Wi-Fi configurations. If you input network connections during installation, Windows 10 or 11 will update itself.
If you don’t have an internet connection, you can continue installing Windows and update it later. Once you have internet access, you can connect via Wi-Fi or direct network access.
Type the word “Updates” on the bottom left-hand corner of the task bar to go to the settings page. On the Settings page, press the button that says “Check for updates.” Install all Windows updates.
Building your own desktop computer can be a fun and rewarding experience. You get to customize your computer to your specific needs and have the satisfaction of knowing that you built it from the ground up.
With a little patience and research, you can save money and build a powerful computer that will last for years to come.
Start by deciding on the components you need, then research the best options for each component. Once you have your components, you can begin building your computer.
I recommend using a visual aid like YouTube to help guide you through each step.