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7 things I learned once I built my first PC

Ben Patterson | July 7, 2016
Let my minor traumas be your teachable moments.

Tempted by the idea of fewer loose cables in my case, I eventually took the leap for a semi-modular PSU, and I’m glad I did. After all my worry, it turned out the optional detached power cables (like those for the case fans and the hard drives) were easy to identify and connect. As with the motherboard, the PSU came with a manual that mapped out which cables go where. Best of all, I used only the power cables I needed, making for easier cable management in the end.

Of course, that’s not to say my PSU installation went perfectly. I made a crucial mistake when it came to plugging in a main power cable, which leads to my next point...

6. Don’t panic when your PC doesn’t turn on

So there I was, all systems go—or so I thought. My motherboard was screwed in and wired up, ditto for the hard drives and front-panel controls, my power cables were plugged in and even my monitor was ready. Taking a deep breath, I flipped the main power switch.

At first, good news: The system fans whirred to life, meaning I’d done something right. But the monitor stubbornly displayed a “No Signal” error, and a telltale red light flashed on the motherboard’s “debug” panel. Then, the bad news: It was the CPU error light that was lit, meaning some kind of processor failure.

Uh oh.

The temptation to panic was strong, but I tried to stay cool as I retraced my steps. The motherboard wiring had been complicated, but I’d followed the manual’s directions carefully and a second look revealed no missteps. The power supply, though, gave me pause. I’d been a little sketchy on where the main power cables plugged into the motherboard, and I began to suspect my problems lurked there.

And I was right: I’d ignored a four-pin power socket in the motherboard because I couldn’t find a matching power supply cable, but a closer look at the PSU’s manual revealed the answer: an eight-pin plug that could be snapped apart into a pair of four-pin plugs. I split the plug in two, connected the correct four-pin section into the motherboard, hit the power switch, and—it worked! Never in my life had I been so happy to see a BIOS screen.

7. You’re going to want to build another PC

Perhaps my biggest surprise about building a PC was how quickly I’d finish building it—and indeed, I was a bit bummed it was so easy. After spending weeks agonizing over my parts list and painstakingly assembling my components, the actual build took only a few hours over two days. I hoped that installing and configuring Windows 10 would be something of a challenge, but that turned out to be easy, too.


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