Five beginner�s mistakes and how to avoid them

Assembling a PC is much more than joining and assembling componentsit is a rather delicate art in which we must take care of the balance of each of them to achieve the best result. We also have to make sure that we have done everything correctly, that we have not left anything out, and that we have completed the previous steps of installation and configuration correctly. If not, you will almost certainly end up with problems and errors that can ultimately affect stability and performance.

It would not be the first time that I meet someone who has dared to set up a PC for the first time, and who is enthusiastic because it was easier than he thought, but who then is discouraged as the computer does not turn onand does not understand what could have happened. There are also often important errors with the configurations, and even with the assembly of some components, which a priori seem to be well placed, but in the end are not.

The truth is that the list of mistakes that we can make when assembling a PC would give for much more than a list of fivebut in this guide I wanted to limit myself to the most frequent and most serious ones, so that the content of the guide will be easy to consult and to assimilate. As always, I will be direct and clear, but if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments and I will be happy to help you solve them. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

1.- You finish assembling a PC and you see that it does not turn on: Wiring errors

Five beginner mistakes to avoid when assembling a PC

Let’s face it, I’m sure it’s happened to many of you. This is one of the most common problems when setting up a PC, and one of the ones that makes us feel the worst. Believing that everything is fine, closing the lid, connecting the monitor, peripherals and so on and see that the computer does not turn on generates a discomfort that is very difficult to describebut totally unforgettable.

Normally, this problem is something very easy to solve, since the main culprit is usually the power button cable in the PC chassis. This cable is a two-pin cable, and connects to the bottom right corner of the motherboard, where the pins dedicated to the front connectors are located.

If after assembling a PC you see that it does not turn on, it is likely that you have connected the cable to the wrong pins, or in the wrong orientation. Take a look, and if in doubt consult your motherboard manual. Don’t worry, it’s very easy, you just have to find the correct location and orientation.

In case the cable is connected correctly but your PC does not understand, check that the power supply button is in the on positionand that the 24-pin power cable is properly connected. I know these seem like obvious things, but we are talking about beginner�s mistakes that, in the end, even the most experienced can make on more than one occasion, so it is good to keep them all in mind.

If you have checked all these points and the PC still won’t turn on, you should check the power supply wiring directly, in case any important wires are not tucked in properly. If none of this works, I am sorry to say that you may have a serious hardware problem.

How to avoid these errors

Check the wiring well before closing the PC chassis, and connecting the various peripherals. Take a good look at the manual and be clear about where to connect everything. To prevent these errors from causing you to waste a lot of time, connect only the power supply cable to the computer and test to see if it turns on. If it does not turn on, you will be able to continue working directly, without having to remove peripherals and reopen the computer.

2.-Abnormal temperatures after mounting a PC: Errors when mounting the cooling system

Five beginner mistakes to avoid when assembling a PC

When we finish assembling a PC it is important to to do a performance test that properly stresses the computer, as this will allow us to check that everything is working stably, and also to assess the operating temperatures and rule out possible errors. If we do not do a stability test that really pushes the computer to the limits of its capabilities, we may not notice these errors, and they may end up giving us a disappointment.

Measuring the temperatures of the graphics card, processor and RAM is essential to check that everything has gone correctly. We can do this in many different ways, since today there are numerous analysis tools that measure the temperatures of the different components of our PC, such as AIDA64, for example, But what can you do if you discover a temperature problem?

If the temperature problem has occurred in the processor, you have probably done something wrong during the cooling system assembly processsuch as:

  • Screwing the contact base wrong.
  • Apply too little thermal paste.
  • Wrongly connect the wires of the fans, or of the pump.
  • You forgot to remove the protective plastic sheet that some contact bases come with.

In case the temperature problems come from the GPU or memory, the thing is much more complex and points to different possibilities. If the internal airflow is good, it may be that the components are defectiveor the graphics card may need a new thermal paste if it has been in use for many years.

How to avoid these errors

It is very simple. The first thing you should be clear about is that it is better to apply too much thermal paste than too little. However, the ideal way to find the middle ground is to use a ball the size of a pea in the center, because when you mount the base of the dissipation system the pressure will cause the paste to spread perfectly all over the IHS.

You should also screw the anchors tightly and make sure that the base makes good contact with the processor. Finally, check the fan cables (and the pump if you use a liquid cooling kit), because if they are not properly connected, the fans may not work, with all that this would entail. Finally, be careful with the thermal paste that is already many years old, since it also loses properties.

3.-You have placed the fans upside down, one of the most annoying mistakes

Five beginner mistakes to avoid when assembling a PC

This is one of the mistakes that can cost you the most time and effort, especially if you have decided to build a PC that will use a considerable amount of fans to create a good airflow. In this type of equipment, not only do we have to deal with the work involved in mounting all those fanswe also have to take over the tasks related to the cable management.

Imagine what I would have had to go through when setting up my new PC if I had put the fans in backwards, only to find out when I had the wiring managed and the equipment shut down. It would have been madness, yes, and i would have wasted a lot of time. On the other hand, if you make this mistake, it may take you a long time to realize that you have mounted the fans wrong, especially if the components can maintain good temperatures in spite of it, and if you don’t usually keep an eye on your computer.

Mounting a PC with the fans incorrectly oriented is also one of the most frequent mistakes among users who are just starting to take their first steps in this world, but you would be surprised how many veterans are still falling into this mistake. What can I say, in the end we can all have a bad day, so it is advisable to be clear, before starting to mount anything, where and how we are going to place the fans.

How to avoid this mistake

You must be clear how the fans you have purchased work. It is very simple, any fan used to assemble a PC has a part through which air enters and another through which it exits. Normally, the “pretty” side of the fan is the one that takes the air, and the “ugly” side is the one through which it enters, it is no mystery.

If we want to use a fan to to bring cool air into the equipment, the beautiful side should be oriented to the outside of the equipment, while if we want to take hot air to the outside, the position should be just the opposite: the pretty side should face the inside of the chassis, and the “ugly” side should face the outside. It is not very complicated, but keep in mind that if you make a mistake you may end up taking air out when you really wanted to put it in, and this will prevent you from creating a good airflow.

4.-Screwing the motherboard in too early: It will only make assembling a PC more complicated

Five beginner mistakes to avoid when assembling a PC

And in some cases it can end up being a real ordeal. I always recommend the same thing when assembling a PC, install as much as humanly possible on the motherboardbut with the exception of the graphics card due to weight and volume issues (it is very large and can unnecessarily complicate the motherboard installation process).

If you disregard this advice because you think it is not importantin the end you will find yourself working in a very small spaceand with the sides of the chassis constantly bothering you. This is especially problematic when working with small form factors, and when you have to mount bulky cooling systems, or liquid cooling kits.

I have also known of extreme cases where some had to unscrew the motherboard and mount the cooling system outside and then screwed it back in. What can I say, anything that makes the process of assembling a PC easier is welcome, and this is one of the most important keys, even if it seems too simple.

How to avoid this mistake

By mounting as much as you can before putting the board in. For reference, i leave you a series of components that you should assemble before putting the motherboard in, and the order you should follow, to make your life easier:

  1. Processor.
  2. Thermal paste and cooling system (anchors and contact base).
  3. If you use a liquid cooling kit, you must anchor the pump before mounting the base plate.
  4. RAM memory.
  5. SSD drives in M.2 format.
  6. Graphics and sound cards if they are small and lightweight. If they are bulky and heavy, it is better to mount them once the motherboard has been screwed in.

5.-Be careful with the RAM memory: Dual channel and XMP profile

Five beginner mistakes to avoid when assembling a PC

You’ve got it, you’ve managed to assemble a PC, but you start running performance tests on it and realize that it doesn’t perform as well as it should, especially in the tests dedicated to measuring processor and RAM performance. You may have made a classic beginnerâ¤?s error, and you may not have enabled dual-channeland it is also likely that you forgot to load the XMP profile.

Activating the dual channel is not complicated, but when we have a motherboard with four slots and we are only going to use two modules we may end up screwing up. If we are going to use four modules we have nothing to worry about, since by occupying all of them we will always activate dual channel, and the same would be true for a motherboard with only two RAM slots if we use two modules.

If we do not enable dual-channel, the memory will will only work with a 64-bit bus, which ends up reducing the bandwidth considerably. This affects system performance, and can create a bottleneck on the processor, but without a doubt the component that suffers the most from this type of error is the integrated GPU. If your computer is using such a graphics solution, it will draw on the graphics memory to use it as video memory, and the total bandwidth will be determined by your configuration.

Thus, if we have installed the memory in single channel, the performance will be seriously affected. On the other hand, the working speed of the memory also affects the bandwidth and overall performance. If we have purchased RAM memory that comes from home at high frequencies, we must always keep in mind that when installing it, it will run at the default speed of DDR4 or DDR5.

For example, a DDR4 kit at 3,600 MHz will start at 2,133 MHz. To make the memory work at that speed, we have to enter the motherboard BIOS and load the corresponding XMP profile. It is very simple, it does not require more than a few clicks, and it is also totally safe because they are profiles that have been tested by the manufacturer, so they will work without any problem.

How to avoid these errors

Fortunately they are also very simple. To enable dual-channel on a motherboard with four memory slots you only have to install the two modules in alternate slots (for example, 1 and 3 or 2 and 4). If in doubt, consult your motherboard manual. Some motherboards, to make this easier, differentiate the dual channel with different colors in each slot. Thus, a motherboard with two black slots and two gray slots is telling you that to activate dual-channel you need to install the two modules in the slots of one colorbut not in different colors.

As for the XMP profile, I have already explained how we can activate it, we just have to enter the BIOS of the PC and load this profile, without further ado. The profile is optimized in terms of latencies and frequencies to guarantee total stability, so you have nothing to worry about.

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