So, you’ve bought all the hardware, your tools are prepped — what’s the next step to ensure your build is as easy as it possibly can be?
“You should wait until later to install any AIO liquid coolers, because the waterblock and tubing will only be a nuisance during the installation process otherwise.”
TIP 1 Case stripdown
The first thing to do (other than lay out all your hardware, and take a shot for Instagram, obviously), is strip your case down to its frame. Carefully unscrew, pop off, and remove every panel you can find. You can also remove the dust filters, and any hard drive cages you don’t need. Doing this improves airflow, makes your build infinitely easier to manage in the early stages, and stops you manhandling and potentially damaging some of the more aesthetically pleasing panels (damn you, brushed aluminium).
TIP 2 Panel storage
It’s smart to keep your part boxes, at least for a year or so, until the warranties run out. That said, there’s an immediate use you can make of the box your chassis came in. The larger side panels and glass windows can slot carefully into your cardboard case box, between the polystyrene packing material, to ensure they don’t get damaged or lost. You’ll know where they are, and you can rest assured they’re not going to fall over or get scratched during the build process.
TIP 3 Meditate
Not really, but you should visualise where your hardware is going to go. This is a great time to do a test fit — place your hardware where you think it’ll go and check there won’t be any problems or conflicting parts. Imagine your cable routes, check there’s enough room for your fans; it’ll save time in the long run.
TIP 4 Replace the stock fans
Most stock fans are more than adequate for providing some sort of cooling, but if you have an eye for detail, you prefer more performance-oriented fans, or you’re just after something that’s a little quieter, replacing those stock polypropylene blades now is definitely the best decision. With unfettered access to every area at this point, it’s easy to route the cables behind your case, and install them without worrying about the chassis being too heavy when everything’s inside. One thing we would say is that you should wait until later to install any AIO liquid coolers, because the waterblock and tubing will only be a nuisance during the installation process otherwise. Also, if the top of the chassis is pretty tight, it might be worth holding off on those, at least until you’ve had the opportunity to plug in the motherboard power cables, and any other fan cables you’re going to need.
TIP 5 Pre-thread your cables
When working with more budget-oriented cases with little cable management room, pre-installing and threading your cables ahead of time is a smart way of making a cleaner, tidier build without necessarily breaking the bank. One particularly problematic cable tends to be the eight-pin EPS, or CPU power. For cases without any cable routing room, you can actually lay the CPU cable under the motherboard itself and into the top left-hand corner of the case. Then, after you install and secure your motherboard down (not forgetting the I/O plate, of course), you can plug in and install your CPU cable, keeping it out of the way and tidy in the process. In pricier options, and with modular power supplies, now is the perfect time to decide what cables you’re going to need and pre-install the lot, tying them to the back of the chassis where you can, using the cable ties we mentioned earlier.