How to Build a PC from Scratch

Building a PC from scratch can be much easier than many people think. Many people get intimidated by technology in PC building and believe that the process is highly technical. With a wealth of online tutorials and this step-by-step guide, you will see how to build a PC from scratch.

Even a beginner can source components that are cheaper, more efficient, and designed to work in a more streamlined process for the objectives of their PC. Prebuilt home PCs are great for doing everything with versatility, but when you build a PC from scratch, you can optimize it for the tasks you use it for the most. If you want to play the latest games, you can check the specs required to run it on high settings and source components that meet or slightly exceed these settings. Suppose you plan on video editing or working with applications like Photoshop. In that case, you can optimize a PC with the ideal graphics card, processor, and memory to quickly handle large files and render.

How to Build a PC from Scratch

When you build a PC from scratch, you can get the advantage of shopping for components, getting compatible products on sale, and sourcing components that will work as efficiently as possible to help you use your PC to the fullest.

Shop for Components

Shopping for components is the first big step in building a PC. If you don’t have the requirements to run the latest games or want to develop a hobby computer to run older titles, you can use used components or look online for various sales.

When shopping for components, you should check to see if components you buy are compatible. You will need a motherboard that suits your processor, RAM, and graphics card that can run compatible. Remember the specifications you need, such as your desired graphics memory, processor speed, and chosen storage and memory. You can upgrade and downgrade as your budget and requirements allow.

After assembling a shopping list of components that work in compatibility, make some comparison shopping to find retailers where you can get the components at the best price. Services that compare prices on PC parts and communities like Reddit can help you source some of the best sales and mail-in rebates for new PC parts.

Quick Start:

Once your components have arrived in the mail or you pick them up at a local PC supply store, you can get ready to assemble your PC and set it up.

  • Start with a clear working area that is free of dust.
  • Double-check compatibility on every component before assembly.
  • Have a set of screwdrivers with a small Philips head available.
  • Have a monitor, mouse, and Keyboard to set up the software.
  • Source a USB flash drive with 8gb+ space to complete your Windows setup.
  • Have zip ties ready for cable management and consider a grounding anti-static wrist wrap when attaching components.

Now we can move on to how to build a PC from scratch.

Step #1 – Prepare your case

How to Build a PC from Scratch

PC cases will often come in a box with plastic wrap to protect their finish and a series of panels that offer access to install the components. You will want to remove all packaging and every panel that can be removed from the case to start the PC build. Place any screws into a container to find them after you have installed the components.

Step #2 – Install your fans

How to Build a PC from Scratch

After the case is opened and ready to accept parts, consider installing the fans in the areas where you can optimally cool your PC components. Some cases will come with built-in fans, but you should consider getting extra cooling. At least one rear fan and two front fans are recommended. Many experts will mount fans to the roof of the PC case to offer improved exhaust venting. Fans are a relatively inexpensive addition to your case, and they can help prevent issues with overheating as components age or as you push them to the limit with the latest titles. Optimizing fan placement comes with experience as you learn how to build a pc from scratch.

Step #3 – Install your Motherboard

How to Build a PC from Scratch

One compatibility issue you should watch for is your case and motherboard size. Some cases will have standoffs to help you install the motherboard. Make sure the case you selected will fit your motherboard and has holes that conform to the board’s design. If your case does not have the CPU cutout on the back of the case, you will need to install a cooler backplate with space to mount your storage drives.

Lay down the motherboard in the case and line up the ports to the I/O shield or case mount. Secure it down with the screws that came in the motherboard packaging. Always use the screws that came with the motherboard so you can have the option to remove and replace it.

Step #4 – Install your RAM

How to Build a PC from Scratch

The slots for RAM on your motherboard should be open. Ensure that the ram you buy is compatible with your motherboard, and find the appropriate DDR4 slot before you unpackage the RAM chips. Push down on the latches at the end of the slots, line up the notch with the bottom of the memory, and notch them into the space. You will hear a click with the RAM has been secured into the motherboard. Install your RAM into the farthest slot and closest slot from the CPU if you are not using every slot. This is the ideal configuration for using two RAM sticks. As you add new ram, you can fill up the other slots if they are available, don’t exceed your motherboard compatibility requirements for memory.

Step #5 – Install your CPU

How to Build a PC from Scratch

Start by mounting the CPU cooler to the motherboard. Third-party coolers will require a backplate installation which you may have completed to mount your motherboard anyway. Coolers will have detailed instructions on how they will be installed. Most start by installing a backplate and threading a four-pin connector through the back of the motherboard.

After the cooler installation, you must use Thermal paste if the CPU you bought does not have a pre-applied paste. Make a small, half-pea-sized blob in the middle of the CPU, and once the CPU mount is completed, it will spread. When installing a liquid or air cooler, place the heatsink over the threads or mounting plate and reattach the fan to the tower with regular screws. The 4-pin PWM fan header will go into the fan slot of your motherboard to operate the cooling. Liquid coolers require extra work, including attaching fans to a radiator and plugging a 4-pin cable into your motherboard’s AIO cooler or cooler header.

If you have additional system fans or fan controllers, plug these into the extra slots in the board. Fan controllers often need to be integrated via a USB connection, but advanced fan controllers are usually installed once you learn how to build a pc from scratch.

Step #6 – Install your Storage 

How to Build a PC from Scratch

After the memory and CPU are installed, install the SSD or HDD you will use for storage. Most drives will slide into a modern caddy on a motherboard and be installed with four screws. Larger 3.5 caddies may require a dock on the case. Ensure all connection ports for an HDD are facing toward a cable cutout so you can track your cables and manage them more accessible.

Step #7 – Install your Power Supply

How to Build a PC from Scratch

With most of your PC components installed, you must install the power supply. If you have a PSU bracket for your case, remove it as you install the earlier components and install it when you put the power supply in. Attach the bracket to the back of the case and slide the PSU into place. Install all cables required and orient the fans towards ventilation areas downward and away from the PSU so it can exhaust heat. If you mount a power supply without a bracket, slide it towards the back of your case and secure it firmly against the back wall with four screws.

Step #8 – Connect everything to your Motherboard 

How to Build a PC from Scratch

You must perform proper cabling to ensure all the external buttons work on your PC. Most new motherboards will have plugs facing toward the front of the motherboard. Push the cabling onto the pins from the case’s external buttons, like the power button. Using your motherboard handbook, identify which pins and cables must be connected. LED lights need to be installed with the correct orientation too. Negative and positive pins must be installed into the same pins on the board.

Plugging in the audio passthrough on the bottom left of your motherboard, the USB 2.0 header and USB 3.0 header will need to be connected too. These are often labeled with 3.0 cables being blue. Line up any pins with the holes in the 3.0 cable connections to ensure they work well.

Step #9 – Connect your power supply

How to Build a PC from Scratch

Plug in the remaining power cables and find your 8-pin EPS cable. Slide this cable through the back of the chassis and find the cable grommet to plug the 8-pin power slot into the top of the motherboard. Find the 24-pin line and plug it into the 24-pin ATX port in the motherboard according to your drive.

Connect the SATA power to any storage drives, run the cord through the PSU shroud, and plug in any SATA data cables between your motherboard and storage drives.

Thread the PCI power cable through the cutout or PSU cover to easily install the GPU next.

Step #10 – Install your graphics card

How to Build a PC from Scratch

Find the PCI slot that is closest to the processor. Locate the two PCI slots next to where you want to install the GPU and remove them from the board; this can be done by removing two screws on the slot cover.

Take the GPU from the anti-static bag and line it up with the free PCI slot on the board. The GPU should be facing out the back of the chassis so you can connect a monitor easily. When the gold contacts touch the PCIe slot, you can push it into place gently until you hear a clicking sound. Use the screws removed on the slot to secure the PCI slot cover back into place over the GPU. Plug the PCI power you routed in the last step to the power supply.

Step #11- Turn on your PC

How to Build a PC from Scratch

Turn on the PC for the first time when you have verified everything has been connected. Make sure that all your fans are operating and spinning. Listen for beep codes from your motherboard or LED indication lights for debugging, remaining lit when you turn it on. Wait a few seconds to receive a Power on self-test verification display notification.

Boot your PC in BIOS mode by pressing the F2 and Delete key repeatedly after you turn on the PC. From this screen, you can verify all components are recognized and have the appropriate functioning RAM, Storage, CPU, etc.

If nothing appears on the screen, you hear no beeps or see no lights on the board; you can begin to troubleshoot compatibility or other issues.

After the PC boots and all components are recognized, disconnect the PC, clean up cables, tidy up inside, and close your case to install the operating system and use your new PC.

Step #12 – Install Windows OS

How to Build a PC from Scratch

Set up your computer with your monitor, Keyboard, and mouse in a comfortable spot where you plan on using it. Download a Windows media creation kit using another PC or go to a PC store to get a copy of a fresh Windows installation on a USB drive.

Plug the drive with the Windows operating system creation kit and boot your PC in BIOS mode again. Tell your system to boot from the USB stick and restart your PC. After you start the PC again, you must follow the prompts to install the operating system. You can activate the full version of Windows when you reach the desktop.

What tools do I need to build a PC?

You only need a few tools to build a PC. A single screwdriver is all that many people need to install PC components. Tweezers, needle nose plyers, and a small electronic screwdriver set can help reach challenging areas or perform repairs.

Anti-static wrist straps are unsuitable for protecting components but are not required. As you build a PC, ensure your work area is clear, and you are discharging electricity before touching the case or exposed components.

Have a clear workspace to turn and move your case around comfortably. Ensure the area is clean to prevent dust from entering your new build, and start with your Keyboard, mouse, monitor, and an internet connection ready for setup.

Having an installer USB stick ahead of time can be a big help in installing the operating system without interruptions too.

PC Building Alternatives:

Consider buying a prebuilt PC from various sources, such as a PC company like Dell, or order a PC from a retailer like Walmart. These often come with bundled components designed for more versatile tasks than focused ones. They may need better graphics power and offer different value than a custom-built PC. Some prebuilt companies like Alienware will let you choose some components for your build, but you will need the option to shop around and get the best pricing, and the options are often limited too.

Buying a used PC from an online classified could be an excellent way to get slightly older components at discount pricing; the only downside is you may purchase a PC that has been overclocked, used for mining tasks, or not maintained regularly. It is a cost-saving if you are looking for a budget PC, but it comes with risks such as malicious software, overheated parts, defective components, etc.

Using an online PC configurator:

An online PC configurator is one of the best ways to get a fully custom PC without compromising. You get the same quality of PC as a custom build without the expensive hourly rate to build it and with all the components that you would put into your home build.

Vibox is a company that has been operating since 2009, and in that time, they have become one of the most trusted manufacturers in Europe. They offer fully customizable PCS built to order with guaranteed compatibility and dependability.

They have a whole staff of trained and experienced technicians, and every PC is thoroughly tested before it is marked to ship. Customers can choose the components they want in their build or speak to Vibox experts to build a PC that suits their requirements at many budget levels.

Every PC is built to order, and customers can put their touches on each build, from color lighting to choosing the best RAM and GPUs on the market today. If you want to learn how to build a PC from scratch but need more support with the build and troubleshooting process, leave the work to Vibox.