How to Build a Desktop PC Step by Step Part 3: BIOS Setup and OS Installation

Now that you have installed your gaming hardware and you have turned on your machine successfully for the very first time, it’s time for the third and final part of building your very own gaming desktop computer from scratch. The meaty part of the actual build process is out of the way, so now it’s onto the easy stuff: how to setup your BIOS and how to install your operating system.

How to Setup Your BIOS

After turning on your PC for the first time it should indicate on your screen that you need to press a certain key, usually DEL, to enter setup. Do this and you’ll enter the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) where you can edit certain settings about your new PC.

Note that you might not even need to change anything at all, but you may as well go through it once now and make sure the important bits are setup correctly. Note that your BIOS may look different than the image below as they vary from motherboard to motherboard.

how to setup bios

First of all you should check to see that your BIOS is detecting your parts correctly. There should be a “system information” screen in your BIOS, so go there and first of all check that it shows the correct amount of RAM for your build.

If you installed 8GB for example and it doesn’t show this, your RAM may not be installed properly so you’ll need to go back and re-install it correctly (remember to turn off all power before doing so). Also, keep in mind that sometimes your RAM settings won’t be displayed in the BIOS but instead on the very first screen that shows up immediately after you press the power-on button of your machine. Now find the “SATA configuration” option and check that it’s set as AHCI which is what you’ll want if running Windows 7 or 8.

You should also go to the “boot order/priority” screen and check to see that your DVD drive (or USB drive if you’re installing your OS from there) is first in the boot order, and that your hard drive that you want to install the operating system to is second in the queue. If your hard drive doesn’t actually show up on the list, it may not be installed properly or it could be dead which is rare but can definitely happen.

There are other things you could check in your BIOS, but these are the ones you should check before moving forward. If you want to, take a look around and check the other settings, but don’t change anything unless you know what you’re doing. Check your motherboard manual if you want to learn more about your BIOS. For most people the default settings will usually be what you want.

Ok, exit your BIOS (usually be pressing the escape key), save your changes, and let’s get to installing operating system software to finalize the build process.

How to Install Operating System Software

If you haven’t chosen your operating system yet, check out What is the Best OS for Gaming. To sum up that post in one sentence, if you’re building a gaming system you’ll want to pick either Windows 7 or 8. I’ll continue this guide assuming you’re using either of these.

Installing your operating system is dead easy and simply a matter of inserting the installation DVD and following the on-screen instructions. You’ll want to select “custom” as the type of installation when it asks you for this.

At some stage you’ll need to choose the hard drive you wish to install the operating system onto. If your hard drive is brand new you’ll want to format it first, so click on drive options and there should be an option there to format your drive before going ahead with the OS installation. Once that is done, click on the “unallocated space” partition of your drive and click next.

Now you can sit back and let Windows do it’s thing until the installation is complete and your system is restarted.

Install Your Drivers and Update Windows

Once Windows is up and running you should install your hardware drivers before starting to use your new system. Firstly, setup your Ethernet or Wi-Fi drivers so that you can access the internet to actually find all of the latest drivers that you need online.

If your Ethernet or Wi-Fi already works from the get go, Windows may automatically try to find the majority of your drivers for you. But if your internet doesn’t work straight away, find the Ethernet or Wi-Fi driver CDs that should have come with your motherboard and install them.

I don’t recommend installing all of your drivers for your hardware using the CDs provided by your motherboard as they may be out-dated and it’s a good idea to get the latest ones from the manufacturer’s site.

To do this in Windows 7, open up the start menu and search for the Device Manager. If a driver is missing for a certain component there should be a question/exclamation mark next to it, and then head to the manufacturer website of that particular component to get the latest driver (for example, go to NVidia.com for a NVidia video card).

Once you’ve installed all of your drivers, you will want to update Windows to the latest version. In Windows 7, go to the start menu, go to programs, and then look for windows update.

Now you’re all done, well done! You should feel proud that you have built your very own custom gaming build from scratch. It’s time to load up your favourite game and find out what your new beast is really capable of.

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