4 stupid PC building mistakes I’ve made (and how to avoid them)


It’s time for confession. Anybody who has built a few computers is aware of that the method usually isn’t fairly, and small errors can have large penalties.

Through the years, I’ve gone by means of all the widespread PC constructing errors you could possibly consider — utilizing low-cost energy provides, making use of an excessive amount of (or too little) thermal paste, wiring every thing up incorrectly, and far worse. Right here, I wish to cowl the errors I made out of carelessness, not as a result of I used to be a newbie, so hopefully you’ll be able to keep away from them.

Not totally mounting a CPU cooler

A liquid cooler installed on a CPU.
Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

That is one in every of my most up-to-date and embarrassing errors. I had simply completed making an improve to my private rig, together with a brand new 240mm EK all-in-one liquid cooler. I mounted it, followers have been spinning, and I booted into Home windows like I didn’t have any issues.

The machine crashed inside a few minutes, and on subsequent reboots, I noticed temperatures nearing 100 levels Celsius. I ripped every thing out to search out that the AIO block was mounted above my CPU — about half of an inch from making contact. I had run my pc with none lively cooling on the CPU.

It seems that the motherboard I used to be utilizing, the Asus Tuf Z490-Plus, is designed in order that the RAM slots are barely nearer to the CPU socket. My RAM modules have been blocking my AIO from totally reaching the CPU, so despite the fact that I cranked down on the mounting screws, I wasn’t cranking towards the processor.

I pulled off the cooler, noticed a tiny dot of undisturbed thermal paste on my CPU, and swapped out the cooler with one other one.

The takeaway

Intimately know your parts. You received’t examine a slight change in RAM slot placement — which is finished to cut back the gap between the reminiscence and CPU — on a spec sheet. It’s important to know not nearly any Z490 motherboard, however in regards to the particular motherboard you’re utilizing. The identical is true on your different parts.

The opposite takeaway is to test that your cooler is mounted accurately. Guarantee it’s making contact, not simply tightened down. I used to be fortunate that the CPU didn’t fry after briefly working it with out lively cooling. It’s higher to keep away from that threat by checking if every thing is copacetic visually.

Ripping a CPU out of its socket

An AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor sitting on a motherboard.
Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

I’ve a mini ITX PC that I transfer between my lounge and bed room. A number of years in the past, I used to be upgrading it to a Ryzen 7 1700X, and I used the inventory cooler to maintain every thing as small as potential. A number of weeks after the improve, I went to remount the cooler with new thermal paste to assist with temperatures.

As I used to be unmounting the cooler, catastrophe struck. The cooler got here off with the CPU nonetheless pasted to the underside, full with a number of bent pins. It was ruined. I needed to go decide up an open field substitute at Micro Heart to get my mini ITX construct so as.

The takeaway

The skinny layer of thermal paste you discover on CPU coolers normally isn’t nice. Within the case of AMD’s inventory coolers, the paste tends to be stickier than utilizing your individual thermal answer. That was the issue with my Ryzen 7 1700X.

I used to be too keen, and I utilized an excessive amount of strain to get the cooler off. The answer is to be light till you’re sure that you just’ve damaged the bond between the cooler and the CPU. Gently swap off between rotating the cooler and rocking it backwards and forwards, by no means making use of sufficient strain to full dislodge it. That provides you extra management over breaking that bond so that you don’t accidently rip your CPU out along with your cooler.

Breaking a USB header

A USB 3.0 header on a motherboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

The USB 3.0 header is a chunky beast. I used to be transferring a construct from an NZXT H510 to a Be Quiet! Darkish Base Professional 900, and every thing was going easily. I completed the swap, however I shortly found that the entrance panel USB 3.0 ports weren’t working, even supposing I had the connector plugged in.

I pulled out the connector and located the issue — the USB 3.0 header on the motherboard was lacking a pin that was lodged within the connector on the NZXT case. Sadly, there wasn’t an answer for this one. I went on with out entrance panel USB 3.0 till I finally upgraded the construct.

The takeaway

Constructing a PC isn’t a fragile course of. In quite a lot of circumstances, it’s a must to apply strain, crank down on screws, and stuff cables by means of routing channels. There are components it is best to deal with delicately, although.

Take the USB 3.0 header as a main instance. It’s a cumbersome header with a giant connector, however it has uncovered pins. That’s normally not a problem with different entrance panel connections, however the threat continues to be current. Everytime you’re coping with uncovered pins, take further care to not bend or break them whereas constructing.

Not utilizing an antistatic wrist strap

An antistatic wristband on a man's wrist.
Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

For this one, I’m confessing, not apologizing. I nonetheless don’t use an antistatic wrist strap. I by no means have. Static electrical energy poses an actual risk to your parts, however that risk isn’t related when you hold just a few precautions in thoughts. Antistatic wrist straps work, and when you’re fearful inflicting a brief, it is best to use one. You simply don’t want to.

The danger is that you just’ll construct up a static cost and switch it to your parts whereas dealing with them. If that cost is massive sufficient and might journey to the fitting level, it could brief your parts. That is primarily a problem with motherboards, the place chances are you’ll want to the touch uncovered parts of the PCB.

The takeaway

The purpose with an antistatic wrist strap is to floor you, which you may as well do by touching any steel object with a path to the bottom — together with your PC case. Earlier than that, there are quite a lot of issues you are able to do to cut back the possibility of increase a static cost:

  • Don’t put on socks whereas constructing.
  • Don’t construct your PC on carpet or whereas standing on carpet.
  • Don’t put on fuzzy pajamas, sweaters, or any garments which can be susceptible to increase static.

So long as you observe just a few widespread sense practices to cut back increase static electrical energy, you’ll be able to construct a PC whereas solely grounding your self with the case. I’ve executed it numerous instances, and I do know dozens of others who do the identical. To be clear, I’m not saying antistatic wrist straps don’t work. They do, and it is best to use one when you’re fearful about shorting your parts.

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