How to Build a Desktop PC Step by Step Part 1: Preparation and Precautions

This is the first part of a comprehensive 3 part step by step guide on how to build a desktop PC from scratch. In this first part you will learn about the safety precautions you need to keep in mind when building your custom computer, and you’ll find out what tools you need for the job.

If you haven’t chosen your components yet, check out the component buying guides and reviews if you want to select your own parts, or take a look at my current build examples if you don’t have the time to choose your parts one by one.

If this is your very first time building a computer, fear not as these days it really is a piece of cake and you don’t even need to know a thing about computer hardware. Just follow the steps in this guide and you will have a finished build in no time. If you can build Lego, you can easily build your own PC.

As with all guides on this site I aim to keep the technical mumbo-jumbo to a minimum so that anyone can easily follow along.

What You Will Need

Ok, let’s take a look at the things you will need before we jump into how to build a desktop PC.

  • Screwdriver: These days most builds will only require the use of a basic phillips-head screwdriver. Pliers may also come in handy for certain builds but you should do just fine with a screwdriver.
  • Suitable Workspace: You’ll want to build your machine on a flat surface with good lighting to make your job nice and easy. Working on a decent-sized desk or table is ideal, and stay away from carpet at all costs as it’s a breeding ground for static electricity that can wreak havoc on your components.
  • Enough Time: If this is your first time, set aside at least a couple of hours to finish the job in one sitting just to be sure. You don’t want to rush the process at all as you run the risk of doing something wrong, forgetting something, or even damaging one of your expensive components. Take your time and enjoy it.

How to Avoid Static Electricity

There are certain precautions you should take in order to avoid enemy number 1 when building a PC: static electricity. Static electricity has the power to fry your sensitive computer components. Make sure to follow these guidelines to avoid the dangers:

  • Regularly ground yourself during the build process by touching your hands on metal such as your computer case
  • Components should come in anti-static bags for protection, but do not remove them from their bag until the moment you are ready to install it
  • Don’t work in areas of high static such as carpet, particularly nylon or other synthetic carpets
  • Don’t wear static-creating clothing such as those made of synthetics
  • Although not completely necessary, if you want to be extra safe you will want to wear an anti-static wristband whilst building your gaming PC

Handle Your Components With Care

Just a little heads up before we get into the meat of how to build a desktop: your hardware can be very sensitive and fragile so you’ll want to be careful when physically handling your parts. Try to only handle them by their metal edges, and when installing them you don’t want to use a ton of force.

If a component doesn’t insert easily, you may not be inserting it correctly so don’t risk damaging something by using excessive force. CPU coolers can sometimes be an exception to the rule though, as they sometimes require more force than usual to be secured properly.

Now it’s time for part 2 of how to build a desktop gaming PC where you will learn the exact steps to install each and everyone one of your components.

Next: Part 2: Install Your Components

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