Build Hardware, setup and test

Hardware assembly:

Once all the components are ready to be assembled, follow the system building information here to assemble the PC system hardware, taking time and care to assemble correctly and carefully and not to rush or force anything together.

Some parts are physically delicate or fragile and easily damaged.  Most parts are very sensitive to static electricity, so ALWAYS use an anti-static wrist strap when handling components or working inside a PC.

 

Initial Testing:

Once complete, check for any obvious mistakes before powering up for the first time.  NEVER turn on a system without a heat sink (cooler) correctly installed on the processor, it WILL overheat in a matter of seconds and well before you can turn it off.

Connect a keyboard, mouse and monitor to the system – but do NOT connect to a network yet. Check the power switch on the back of the power supply is on. If the motherboard has a standby LED, this should be lit BEFORE pressing the power button.  Give the system a few seconds in standby and check for anything abnormal.  On some systems, the fans may run briefly at this time and then stop, this is normal.

If all appears in order, press the power button on the front of the PC case.  The fans should start within a few seconds and an initial display should be seen on the monitor.  Again check for any unusual behaviour in the PC and that all fans are running and not obstructed by or close to cables, which might move.

Reset the system if necessary and use the keyboard to enter the system BIOS options (usually by pressing <DEL> or <F1>) Set the system time and other BIOS options such as the boot devices to allow the system to boot from the optical drive, if present.

Check options such as the hard disk controller interface and ensure it is set to AHCI for single drive installations – or to RAID if required, BEFORE starting to install the operating system.

If a BIOS upgrade is to be performed, do this FIRST and re-check the BIOS settings BEFORE allowing the operating system to boot.  If an operating system is already installed, disconnect the hard disk data cable(s) if required to ensure the settings are correct before loading an existing operating system.

 

Diagnostics:

Many hard to diagnose faults and problems installing Windows relate to memory problems.

This is an excellent time to run a memory diagnostic such as memtest86 from CD and leave the system running for at least 2 hours to ensure no issues are found and the system runs cool and quiet as expected.

Memory diagnostics may take many hours or even days to find intermittent or occasional memory faults due to the complex nature of memory problems that occur, but this is still a worthwhile test as many hardware failures and issues occur within the first few hours of operation.