How to build a computer

Building your own PC is the best way to earn geek cred — here’s how to do it

how to build a cheap vr ready pc buildout 2016 feature 720x720

Building a computer used to be a complicated process where careful selection of delicate parts was a necessity. When that collection of components finally booted for the first time, it was a triumphant experience. Knowing how to build a computer made you quite the tech-head.

Nowadays it’s easier than ever, with clear standards of compatibility, obvious choices for performance and value, and an actual building process that’s straightforward and well documented. That said, there are pitfalls to avoid and assumptions experienced builders make that newcomers won’t know.

To help out new PC builders and experienced enthusiasts alike, we’ve compiled this handy step-by-step guide that will take you from a pile of parts to a working computer in just a couple of hours.

Getting started

This guide is all about putting your components together. If you haven’t selected and purchased all the hardware you need, stop reading and go check out our PC build guide, which outlines the recommended components for a variety of builds.

Have your parts? Good. Let’s get started.

PC build-out guide
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Before you dig in, ensure there’s a clean workspace with plenty of room to open boxes and put parts together. Hopefully, there’s already a pile of them in front of you, but if not, our PC build guide can walk you through that process.

There are a couple of safety issues to discuss before we actually start ripping open those boxes.

You can feel it

There’s an invisible risk when building a computer that can crush the most powerful system: Static electricity. The same force that lets you shock your friends when you wear wool socks can also fry components in a heartbeat. Fortunately, it’s easy to all but eliminate with a few simple steps.

One easy solution is to purchase an anti-static wristband. One end wraps around your wrist, and the other clips somewhere on the computer case, keeping the wearer constantly grounded. Touching the case frequently with the PSU plugged in, but turned off, achieves the same effect.

PC build-out guide
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Apart from that, it helps to build in a room with a bare floor — carpets generate a lot of static — and wear rubber-soled shoes rather than socks. Many components are packaged in anti-static bags, and it’s a good idea to leave them there until just before installation.

Need help? Just ask

Building a PC for the first time can be a little tricky, but the good news is there are many resources to help. People who like building computers don’t often get the opportunity. If you have an enthusiast friend, they may jump at the chance to help put it together.

This guide is meant as a general overview of the process, and the instructions your parts came with may vary from our suggestions. When they do, default to the included instructions, and use our guide as a roadmap for the whole project.

Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Convert Review: A simple route to a smart lock

While it lacks the features and overall value of the August Smart Lock, Kwikset’s Kevo Convert offers a simple and friendly route to upgrade your front door’s deadbolt. Learn more in our full review.
Computing

Between Intel and AMD, these are the best gaming CPUs at every price

What are the best processors for gaming you can buy? You don't need to spend a fortune to get an amazing gaming CPU and now that AMD is competitive again, there are more choices than ever.
Computing

Ryzen 3000 chips will be powerful, and they might be launched as early as July

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far, based on both leaks and the recent…
Gaming

How you can share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Computing

RTX might be expensive, but the 16 series could have the best Nvidia Turing GPUs

Set to debut at a step below the RTX 2060 on the price and performance spectrums, the GTX 1660 Ti and its other 16-series brethren could be Nvidia's killer mid-range cards of 2019 — especially with Tensor Core-powered DLSS.
Computing

With no plans for merging operating systems, Apple opts to combine apps instead

Apple is working on combining all of the the apps it offers to iPhone, iPad, and Mac users by 2021. App developers will soon be able to build and submit one version of their apps to be used by Apple product users.
Product Review

Razer just made our favorite gaming laptop even more powerful than before

The Razer Blade, our favorite gaming laptop, is now more powerful than ever before. That’s thanks to the new Nvidia RTX graphics cards inside. Do they help Razer retain its edge over the competition?
Gaming

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.
Computing

Amazon takes $200 off Apple’s latest 13-inch MacBook Air with retina display

Amazon is taking $200 off Apple's latest MacBook Air. This MacBook Air has 13-inch retina display, a built-in FaceTime HD camera, and that classic lightweight wedge shape the Air is loved and known for.
Deals

Samsung drops a solid $100 discount on the Chromebook Pro

If you're in the market for a new laptop, but can't afford to drop $1,000 on one of the best models out there, Chromebooks are an excellent option. Right now, Samsung is offering $100 off the Samsung Chromebook Pro.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Computing

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Computing

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Computing

Get the best of both worlds by sharing your data on MacOS and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
1 of 8