When you get your PC parts, the excitement will make you want to rush the building! I know that’s how I felt when I got all the parts. What you should do, however, is take your time building and enjoying it! Here’s how you turn a pile of parts into a working PC.
First, lay out all your pc components. Make sure not to put anything on the ground. Leave them in their boxes or on non-static surfaces. The best thing to do before you start building a PC is to watch a few videos of how other people have built theirs. Each PC is unique because of the components, case and person building it, so you will not get all of the info you want from a single video or an article like this.
We will go through a few of the core building steps that are common in most builds. From there, use the video tutorials to do component specific installations.
Motherboard & CPU
The motherboard is the starting point. This will be the place where most components connect to. Take it out of its box and place it on a non-static surface. Make sure not to touch the top or bottom of the motherboard. Rather lift it by its sides.
On your motherboard you should see a retention arm. Press down on this and move it to the side and up. The socket cover next to it should come off quite easily. Move this until it’s leaning backward. You should see a small compartment/socket where we are going to place the CPU.
Now, take out your CPU. Make sure to lift this on its sides as well and not to touch the bottom. Touching the bottom can cause damage to it. Look for a small triangle on one corner of the CPU. This will line up with a similar marking (such as an arrow, dot or triangle) on a corner of the socket. Carefully place the CPU into the socket where they align. Do not force anything as they should fall into place easily. There is no need to push on top of the CPU to make it fit.
Now that your CPU is in place, move the cover back down. If the cover was held in place by a hook, make sure to lower the cover underneath the hook and then lower the retention arm to keep it in place. The top of the cover should pop off after you have hooked in the retention arm. If not, gently lift the cover to expose the top of the CPU.
If you have a CPU cooler, I would recommend to search for a tutorial for how to install your specific model as there can be a lot of different product variations.
Now for the RAM. Firstly, the RAM should not be placed on the motherboard slots randomly. Slots should be installed and used in a certain order. Thus, check your motherboard’s manual on how to install the RAM. If you can’t find anything, look on your motherboard for markings indicating which slots to install first.
Firstly, push back the wings at the end of the RAM slot on the motherboard and line up the notches at the bottom of the RAM sticks with the gaps in the slot on the motherboard. Push down firmly and evenly on top of the stick at both ends until you hear a click. The wings will push back up and hold the RAM in place. Do not force them into place. If they do not fit, make sure you have them properly aligned and try again.
Power Supply (PSU)
The power supply will be going at the bottom of your case. On the back of your power supply you will see the power plug which will face to the back of your case.
You should have received some cables with your PSU. We will be using these to power our components. On the other side of your PSU, you will find the slots for these cables. Locate the 24-pin, CPU and PCI-E headers, which is going to power our motherboard, CPU and GPU respectively. Plug the other ends into the corresponding PSU slots. Once again it depends on the hardware you are installing, so make sure to find another online tutorial explaining which cables are needed for the component.
You should also have received some SATA power cables. Plug this cable into the PSU as well.
Most power supplies will have a fan, which we would like to point down. Each case is different, so make sure to find a way to place the power supply in the correct orientation at the bottom of your case with the power plug facing outward. Usually you would need to screw it in place, meaning there will be holes that line up.
Your motherboard should now have the CPU and RAM installed, giving us a good basis for installing it into the case. Open up the side panels of the case. The back will be where all of the cable management is going to go. Put your case lying on its back, so that you can install the motherboard from above.
Look at the corners and sides of your motherboard. There should be a few holes where a screw can move through. This should line up with holes in your case. Take the motherboard and gently place it into the case, lining up these holes. Make sure the CPU is at the top of the case and the RAM moving vertically. Now, carefully screw the motherboard in place.
Hard Drives (HDD)
At the back of your case you should see some compartments for placing your HDD’s. You can possibly remove one of these compartments to make the installation easier. Place in the HDD with the L-shaped plugs facing outward. The longer plug is for power and the shorter one is for data. You should also be able to screw the HDD’s and compartments together to make them more stable. We will need two cables, one cable from the PSU to the HDD and a SATA cable from the HDD to the motherboard.
If you have some fans in the case, they should have a 3-pin header. Look for a marking on the motherboard, namely SYS_FAN3 or something similar. You can place the 3-pin connector there. Even if there are 4 pins, a 3-pin connector should still work.
From the power supply, we installed a cable with a CPU header. This will plug into a slot at the top left of your motherboard. It would usually be an 8-pin connector. If there are more pins, it is usually for overclocking or something similar. Plug the cable into the main 8-pin slot. Make sure to use the back of your case for cable management!
Take the 24-pin cable from the PSU and plug it into the 24-pin slot on your motherboard which should be on one of the edges. Easy as that!
If you have a few USB3 slots at the front of your case as well as an audio input, you should see some cables pre-installed in the case. These cables will plug into the motherboard. Take your USB3 header and plug it into the USB3 slot on the motherboard. Next, locate the rest of the front-panel headers, which should look something like this:
Take the front-panel headers (image on the left) and plug it into their corresponding slots. It should be at the bottom of the motherboard with a small depiction on how they should be oriented. If you don’t know how, check out this video to guide you:
MSI® HOW-TO install front panel connectors (JFP1)
In this demonstration, we'll show you how to install power LED, power button, HDD LED and reset button connectors to the front panel header on MSI motherboard.
The HD Audio header plugs into a slot on the bottom left of the motherboard. Once again, if you can’t find it, look to your motherboard manual.
There should be two cables, as mentioned previously, for connecting the HDD. Take the SATA power cable from your PSU and plug it into the longer L-shaped plug on the HDD. Find a SATA data cable, shown below, and plug one side into the HDD and the other into the corresponding motherboard slot.
Graphics Card (GPU)
Now that the motherboard is installed with all the cables connected, we can install the GPU. Look for the PCI-E1 slot on your motherboard. It should be somewhere in the middle.
Make sure to press down on the wing of the slot so that it is lowered. On your graphics card you will have a long edge connector, that is going to plug into this slot. At the back of your case you will see a few rear brackets which we will need to remove. Line up the graphics card with the slot in order to see which you need to remove.
After you have removed those, gently lower your graphics card and push it into the slot. The wing should click automatically. Do not force anything! Take the screws you removed with the brackets and screw it back in to hold the GPU in place.
Now, take the PCI-E power cables from your PSU and plug them into the top-right of your GPU. Depending on GPU, there might be a different amount of slots. Make sure to read the manual on how many slots are required to plug in. (As you can see below, I did not plug in the right-side 8-pin port, which resulted in my GPU not turning on).
That should be it!
Your PC is ready to go. Now, plug in your power cable, mouse, keyboard and all of the other cool stuff you have and turn the power on!
Enjoy your new PC 🙂