THE BUILDER’S CURSE
I THINK I’M CURSED. For the life of me, I can never seem to build a PC that works the first time around. You might be thinking, “How’s that even possible?” But the truth is, it’s happened every time I’ve built a machine, whether it’s for myself or someone else. Things always go wrong. Even when I’m upgrading, things go wrong. Once I bought a blazingly fast 52x CD-ROM drive to upgrade my aging unit. It didn’t work. I had to exchange it for another. It’s so bad that my uncle once asked me to help him build a PC, but instructed me not to touch anything, only sit there and tell him where to put things. Like I said: cursed.
To make sure you won’t have the same horrific building experiences that I’ve had, we’re going to walk you through all the tips and tricks to not only build an amazing rig, but to do so while avoiding the common mistakes and problems.
There are lots of little details that get overlooked, especially as you become more confident about the whole building experience. For instance, BIOS updates. Motherboards—even a brand new one you’ve just received—tend to ship with old BIOS revisions. The first thing you should do once your PC is booted is update your motherboard’s BIOS. I always prepare a little USB stick with the he most recent revision.
Another invaluable tool to have is the magnetic screwdriver. I can’t count nt how many times I’ve dropped a case se screw down into the bowels of my nearly rly finished PC. But you know what’s the he worst part of all? When the damn screw falls down between two PCIe cards. If you don’t have a magnetic screwdriver, you can buy a magnetic extendable wand for cheap. You’ll thank me later.
I tend to build my PCs on the floor, because it gives me more room to work, but if you build your PC on a table, there will come a time when a screw will just run away from you. To prevent this, get yourself a magnetic screw mat or bowl. I prefer a mat to a bowl because I can lay out the screws in the same fashion as they are on the device I’m taking apart. Letting a screw fall down into your case somewhere is frustrating enough; losing it completely is even more aggravating.
One last pro tip: Read the manual! I can’t stress this enough. Admittedly, I’m one of those people who tend to skip the manual and jump right into the action. This is a mistake. My most recent lesson? Installing an Intel Optane M.2 drive into one of my mobo’s M.2 slots. I noticed that when I had the Optane installed, one of my SATA hard drives would fail to be detected by the BIOS. Of course, I had already set up everything and closed my case before realizing—by reading the manual afterward—that installing a drive into that particular M.2 slot disables one set of SATA ports, due to PCIe lanes.
No matter how experienced one gets, one will always make mistakes, but we’re here to help. TuanNguyenis Maximum PC’s editor-inchief,alsoknownas“thepointyendofthe stick.”He’sbeenwriting,marketing,and raisinghellinthetechindustryfor20years.