How to build a PC – A step-by-step guide for beginners

Honestly, building a PC is way easier than you might think!

Learning how to build your own PC is intimidating enough, let alone work on it and actually building it. Be that as it may, once you choose the right component and put everything in the right place, you'll do tremendously good.

Lucky for you, I've been researching on how to build my own PC for a long time. And actually did it just last month! I will guide you through putting all those components together.

In other words, I'll teach you how to build your own PC in this article.

If you're looking to build a rather giant PC, keep reading. If you want something small and powerful, I suggest you read our blog on A beginners guide to Raspberry Pi.

Tools you'll need

Essentially, all you'll need to build a PC is a phillips screwdriver, but you might want to consider getting a few other things to make it easier for you. I.e needle nose pliers or tweezers are perfect for screws that are in tight positions the screwdriver can't fit.

Also, zip ties are useful for tidying up your PC cables (which you don't need to buy because they always come with different computer parts.

You will need a pair of side cutters, or simply scissors, to cut the said zip ties.

Even though you can without it, an anti-static wrist strap is the safe way to go. Unless you've been running around on carpet all day or playing with a cat, you're most likely out of static charge to damage the electronic. But to go the safe way, it's better to wear one.

When it comes to the workspace, you'll need a rather large place like a big table because you'll most likely have to flip the PC a couple of times. This is because it's rather hard to install particular components, unless you help by flipping the PC to your advantage

And, lest I forget, it's a really good idea to have a monitor, keyboard and mouse already lined up before starting to build. This way, you'll have something to plug it into when you finish building. Needless to say, you'll need a power socket and internet connection. Duh.

Time to build! (Finally)

Considering that you've spent a considerate amount of time browsing and fining the perfect PC components, it's time to get to work. Personally, I highly suggest that you do research for about a week before purchasing any components. This way, you'll get a better sense of the price.

You got your components? Good. Screwdriver in your hand? Good. Let's go!

Now, for the sake of the article I'm going to be using the exact same parts I used for my computer.

Check them below:

build a pc components


Strip it down

First thing you should do is strip down the case down as far as you can. Also, remove every panel that you can and keep them in a safe place. I highly recommend using a bowl or some kind of magnetic parts tray to hold the screws. You don't want to build a PC with missing screws. Never. It's very easy to lose screws in the process, so keep a keen eye for them.

Install the fan

If you've purchased extra cooling fans like I did, now it's the best time to install them. Try keeping your cooling setup balanced, so as much air that goes in also blows out. In case you're still not sure how that goes, the plastic fan guards usually denotes where the air will come through.

I suggest to add two fans in the front drawing air in, and at least one in the rear blowing out. Additionally, if your PC has mounting points for them, you can install two more optional fans in the roof of it.

build a pc fan
Motherboard installation

Before installing the motherboard, you might want to check a few things about your PC case first. Check for pre-installed motherboard standoffs. Also, make sure the numbers and arrangements of them are fit for the holes in your motherboard.

Second, see if your PC has a large CPU cutout of windows cut into the back of the motherboard frame. If it doesn't, you'll need to install any CPU cooler backplates, and also a M.2 solid-state drivers at this juncture.

Once you've done those two checks, find your motherboard's read I/O shield. After you locate it, push it into the rectangular slot in the back of your case. Make sure it's the right side up and it's on the top of the standoffs.

After that, it's pretty simply. You just have to secure it with the screws provided with your chassis. Make sure to check and use the right ones, because the last thing you want is for the motherboard to be unstable.

CPU installing

build a pc cpuNext up: CPU installation into the motherboard. This is crucial in order to understand how to build a PC.

Here's where things tend to be a little more different than usual. Of course, this depends a lot on the processor family you decided to go with.

For the Intel mainstream CPU, you'll have to slide the spring loaded rentention arm out and up, and lift the bracket up. This leaves the plastic cover right in place. After this, gently place the CPU inside the socket. But be careful to match the golden triangle located on the bottom left corner of the processor with the one on the socket bracket. 

Next, you should slide the securing bracket back into it's original place so it locks in place underneath the screw and secure the retention arm back down. Make sure to stow the cover away in a safer place to protect the motherboards pins. This goes just in case you ever want to remove the processor from the motherboard.

On the other hand, if you're going with AMD CPU it's way easier. There's no bracket, you just lift the retention arm in its raised position.

And voilà, processor installation done. Whew!


Next step is installing the computer memory.

Start by pushing down the latches at either end of the DDR4 slots on your motherboard. Then, slowly line up the notch on the bottom of the memory with the notch in the slot. Luckily, the DDR4 is not that sensitive so if you fail the first time don't worry.

After lining up the notches, you can install the memory by slowly pushing down both sides simultaneously into the slot. You should hear a clicking sound as the memory secures into place.

Tip: Make sure to use the farthest and second closest slot from the CPU if you're planning to use two memory sticks.

build a pc memorypng

Cooler mounting

Here's the last complicated piece in the building process of your PC, the CPU coolers.

A lot of third-party coolers require you to install a backplate, which you may or may have not already done on step 3 of this guide. Every single cooler has it's own set of instruction to follow, but the essence of each these guides is affixing a backplate and threading four pins to the back of the motherboard.

Let's get to the dirty work.

From there, you'll need to apply thermal paste if your cooler doesn't have pre-applied already on it. You might want to apply a small blob, some around the size of a pea, to the middle of the CPU. This will allow it to spread out once the cooler is mounted. The spread will also provide sufficient amount of thermal interface to transfer the heat from the processor die to the cooler.

On the other hand, for air coolers you should install most models with the fans unattached. Slowly orient the heatsink onto the pins of the mounting place, and secure in place with any provided screws. After that, is purely a case of reattaching the fan to the tower, and pluggin the 4-pin PWM fan into the CPU.

Liquid coolers are pretty much the same process, but require more work. You'll most likely have to attach fans onto the radiator and install it into your PC case in advance. Depending on which liquid-cooler you're using, you'll might need to plug in a second four-pin cable into a dedicated AIO cooler.

Storage installer

Consider you've already installed the memory, it's time to focus on non-volatile memory storage: hard drive or solid-state drives.

My NZXT H400I happens to have a small SSD bracked in from. Installing 2.5 inch drives into these is a cinch, because you can literally just slide it into place and securing it with four screws.

On the other hand, modern PC cases come with SSD bay of some sort. But if yours doesnt, the 3.5 inch drive(which is typically reserved for hard drives) will have compatible mounting points. No matter what type of storage you're installing, make sure the connection ports are facing towards a cable cut-out your chassis. This makes cabling so much easier.

PSU positioning

Now to list what we've done:

  • Motherboard
  • CPU
  • Memory

Next step: Power!

If you've got a modular PSU, you will need to figure out beforehand what cables you need to have, and plug them onto your power supply first.

Most PC cases come without a PSU bracket, but if you're case is different than remove it and attach it to the back of the unit. Next, thread up the cables through the PSU slot in the back, then slide the PSU into place and secure it to the chassis.

Depending on the design, you'll want to face the fan towards ventilation areas built into it. This way, your PSU can draw fresh air in and exhaust heat through the back.

Cable condruming

Now it's the time to plug the rest of your power cables.

First of all, you should identify your 8-pin EPS cable and slide it up to the back of the chassis, through the cable grommet and plug it into the 8-pin power slot at the top of the motherboard. Then, you should look for a 24-pin cable and plug it into the corresponding 24-pin ATX port on the motherboard.

Next, take your SATA power and connect it to any of your storage drives. If you've got yourself something mounted onto the front case, run this SATA through the PSU shroud and into your front mounted 2.5-inch drive.

Last but not least, you should thread your PCIe power cable through the cutout in the PSU cover, making it ready for when you install the GPU.

build a pc cables

Graphically sound

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle of “How to build a PC”.

First of all, take a look at your motherboard and locate the PCIe slot the closes to your processor. From there, you should locate two PCIe slots you want to install your GPU and remove them.

Take your graphics card out of the anti-static bag, and line it up with the slots you've just opened. The rear I/O on the GPU should face out the back of the chassis. Once the gold contacts on your GPU are touching the slots, gently push it into place until you hear a click.

And, done!

Into the BIOS

After the system's built, don't reattach all your panels just yet. You might want to give it a shot and making sure it actually turns on and runs properly.

Take a temporarily built tower over to your pre-setup space and plug it into power. Don't forget to plug in the screen, keyboard and mouse too. Power it on, and mash the DELETE keyr or F12 in some cases to get into the BIOS screen. Check the temperature and make sure it's operating between 30-40 degrees C. Also, make sure your boot drive is registering properly.

Everything showing up properly? Great job! Now might be a good time to enable XMP for Intel to ensure your memory is operating at the right frequency.

Tidying up and installing stuff

After making sure everything runs smooth, it's time to install the OS.

Bring your PC back to the space and start installing the operating system next.

Modern rigs lack an optional drive to install the OS, so you're going to need to create a USB install on another PC. And in order to do this you have to download the Windows 10 Media Creation kit. Then, install Windows 10 onto an USB stick with at least 8gb free space.

Then, once you have it there, plug it into your system. Go back to your BIOS and tell your system to boot from the USB stick first. From there, follow the proper instructions and finish the installation. Don't worry about a software key just yet, as you can activate it later too.

Once you're logged in, you might want to install some applications. I highly recommend Ninite.

Ninite allows you to install multiple apps with a couple of clicks, and it's a great tool I always recommend. You can select which programs you want, download the install and it will do the rest for you.

I hope that with my guide on “How to build a PC” I've helped you somewhat. If you have any question, please reply below. And if you liked the post, please feel free to share it :).