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Homebrew PC troubleshooting 101: Here's where to start if your PC won't

There are few things more frustrating than hitting the power button on your new, do-it-yourself PC — only to see nothing happen.

It’s tricky to diagnose an issue when you can’t reach the diagnostic tools like the UEFI, let alone the operating system. But help is out there.

Now, what happens when you press the power button?

Nothing happens at all

If nothing happens, we’re going to try one simple trick that sounds silly, but is much more common than you might think.

Is the power supply plugged in? Is the cord plugged into the wall?

If so, ensure the power supply is turned on by pressing down the 1 side of the toggle switch on the back.

Okay, just checking. Next we’ll make sure the buttons on the case are working properly. A quick way to make sure that isn’t the problem is by hitting the power button on the motherboard. If the computer starts, double check the front panel controls. These are a small set of thin cables that run from the front of the case (or wherever the buttons are) into the center of the case. The pin location and layout will vary, but it should look like a two-wide row of pins, usually encased in a plastic outer box.

The ends of the cables will say, for example “HDD LED” or “PWR,” and some of them have positive and negative contacts. Make sure these are completely seated on their corresponding pin, which is either marked next to the pins on the motherboard, or in the documentation.

Now that’s out of the way, if the system still isn’t making any sort of visible or audible effort to boot up, the options are a bit more limited. One of the problems could be with the power supply, but the only safe way to find out is to replace it with a properly functioning power supply, usually from a working system. A new power cable, or a different wall outlet, could be options as well, but are less likely culprits.

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