Building a gaming PC from scratch is the only sure-fire way to ensure that your system is capable of satisfying all of your personal preferences. When you determine everything that goes into your PC from the power supply up, you know that you'll be able to play the games you want at the frame rates you want. In addition, a home-built PC keeps the door open for upgrades—as technology changes, as your gaming tastes and needs change, or as your budget allows.
Though building a PC may seem complex—especially if it’s your first time working inside the chassis—you might find that it’s easier than you think. This comprehensive, step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of assembling your very own gaming PC, providing plenty of tips and tricks from our veteran builders along the way.
PREP 1: PC Build Tools
Before diving into your build, you’ll need to gather some tools. Preparing your materials and workspace ahead of time will help to ensure that the build process goes smoothly.
- Workspace. You will need a large surface to work on, such as a table. To prevent an accidental electrostatic discharge (which can damage sensitive components), make sure you stand on an uncarpeted surface.
- Screwdrivers. You will need a Phillips #2 screwdriver for just about everything. If you're installing an M.2 device, you'll also need a Phillips #0 screwdriver.
Tip: Magnetic screwdrivers help prevent screws from dropping inside the case and shouldn't damage components.
- USB flash drive. You will need an 8GB flash drive, or larger, to store the installer for the operating system you will use.
- Organization system. Most components come with additional parts; some optional, some required for installation in your build. You'll need a way to keep assorted screws, zip ties, cables, manuals, etc. organized by individual components. Without proper organization, these items can easily get mixed up. Tip: For assorted screws, we recommend magnetic hardware trays, or really anything with multiple small compartments, such as an empty egg carton or tackle box.
- Multiple light sources. Build in a well-lit area with multiple light sources. You don't want to have to worry about blocking your only light source when you bend over the chassis.
Tip: A movable light source will help you illuminate the nooks and crannies of your case. An additional light source such as a flashlight, headlamp, smartphone, or desk lamp can prove useful.
- Anti-static wrist-strap. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s useful in helping ensure you don't accidentally damage sensitive components with electrostatic discharge. (Though this isn't a very common occurrence, it’s better to be safe, and anti-static straps are cheap.)
- Zip ties. While these aren’t a must, tying your cables together will make the inside of your PC look neater. If you don't want to buy zip ties, you can tidy things up with twist ties (you'll likely have a surplus from your components' packaging). You can also use Velcro straps—some cases even have them integrated.
- Scissors. Lastly, you’ll need scissors, and potentially a pair of wire cutters, for cutting zip ties and unpacking components.
PREP 2: Gaming PC Cases
Before you start picking out components, you should have a case—or, at least, a case size—in mind.
The main thing to keep in mind when picking a case is where you're going to put the computer.
Your PC's final location will dictate how big you can (or cannot) go, and it will also help determine whether various premium case features are worth splurging on. You probably don't want to pay for a tempered glass side panel if the computer will be hidden under your desk, for example.
Cases typically come in three sizes: Full-tower, mid-tower, and mini-tower. These are very general categories (case sizes are not standardized among manufacturers), but they're based on motherboard size.
- Full-tower cases are designed to fit both Extended-ATX motherboards and standard full-size ATX motherboards. They usually measure around 22-24 inches tall, 18-20 inches long, and more than 8 inches wide. You'll most likely want a full-tower case if you want to use an Extended-ATX motherboard (although select mid-tower cases do fit Extended-ATX motherboards) or if you want to put in an extensive cooling system or additional storage. Though full-tower cases can also house Mini-ITX motherboards, there’s no clear advantage to structuring a build in that way.
- Mid-tower cases are designed to fit standard full-size ATX motherboards. Generally speaking, mid-tower is the most common case size. Their dimensions can vary quite a bit, but these cases usually measure around 18-20 inches tall, 17-20 inches long, and 6-8 inches wide. These cases are usually roomy enough for a gaming setup with a couple of graphics cards, several hard drives, and a modest cooling system.
- Mini-tower cases, or small form factor (SFF) builds, are compact and designed to fit a number of smaller motherboards, such as mini-ITX motherboards. They require extensive organization and cable management—specifically mini-towers using mini-ITX motherboards—so your build and cooling system will need to be meticulously planned. You may also need to use components specifically made for small builds, and keep in mind that little room will be left for upgrading when the build is done. However, while not recommended for new builders, SFF builds can be a fun challenge once you have a build or two under your belt.
Once you figure out how big you want to go, look for a case that's close to that size. If you're not set on a specific size, it's better to err on the larger side. You’ll likely find that it’s easier to work with a bigger case and will have a smoother time upgrading your PC in the future.
That said, while a little bigger is good, significantly bigger isn't necessarily better: Large cases can end up with hotspots if not properly cooled.
All case sizes are available at different price points, so finding a case that fits your budget shouldn't be difficult. More expensive cases may have premium and convenience features such as noise dampening, higher-quality build materials, removable drive cages, and more attractive cable management, but these features typically won't noticeably affect performance.
PREP 3: Gaming PC Parts
Now it's time to get your components together. This step can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you like; you can thoroughly research each individual component on your own and create a custom build from scratch, or you can find a pre-made build online and adjust it to suit your specific budget and needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started:
- Budget. We definitely recommend coming up with a budget before you start picking components. You can always upgrade individual components later.
- Compatibility. Make a build list before you make any purchases—all components need to be compatible with all other components.
- System requirements. If you're building this PC because you want to play a certain game, check that game's recommended system requirements and plan accordingly.
In addition to your case, here are the components you need to build a gaming PC:
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
- Memory (RAM)
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
- System cooling
- Gaming peripherals
- Operating System (OS)
Let's take a look at what each component does, why it's necessary, and what you need to look for while shopping around.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The brain of your PC, the CPU is responsible for executing instructions that are required for programs to run, dictating tasks to all other components. It impacts every facet of your experience, including gaming, streaming, content creation, and multitasking. Choosing the right CPU is essential when building a gaming PC.
When selecting a CPU for gaming, look for an Intel® Core™ processor with a high Max Turbo Frequency—which determines the fastest clock speed it can achieve using Intel Turbo Boost technology—as well as a high number of cores and threads. Both metrics can have a significant impact on performance.
- A CPU with a high Max Turbo Frequency excels at single-threaded performance, boosting your FPS in demanding games.
- More cores and more threads, meanwhile, enable you to do more at once, keeping your system smooth and responsive as you juggle multiple apps (e.g., your game, Discord, and streaming studio software). They also help you achieve smooth gameplay on games that are optimized for multithreaded rendering, like Valorant1 and Fortnite, and games with extensive geometry, like Minecraft.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Discrete graphics cards—such as an Intel® Arc™ A-series GPU—are large, powerful components that plug into the PCIe x16 slot on your PC’s motherboard. Together with the CPU, the GPU has a direct effect on your in-game FPS and is a must-have for anyone who wants to play demanding, graphics-heavy games.
Intel® Arc™ A-series GPUs are also capable of performing advanced rendering techniques like ray tracing and XeSS upscaling, the latter of which upscales 1080p resolution to 4K, delivering high-fidelity visuals with smooth performance.
When comparing GPUs for your build, research benchmark scores online, or look up the recommended system requirements for some upcoming games you’d like to play and go from there.
Learn more about Intel® Arc™ A-series graphics.
The motherboard is the main circuit board and is connected to everything. The CPU sits directly on the motherboard and every other component—graphics cards, hard drives, memory, optical drives, wireless cards—integrates into the motherboard.
One way to narrow down your selection of a motherboard is to shop by size. The most common form factors are Extended ATX, ATX, microATX, and Mini-ITX.
- Extended ATX motherboards are the largest (12 by 13 inches or 12 by 10.1 inches) and can often have eight RAM slots (for up to 128GB of RAM).
- ATX motherboards are only slightly smaller (12 by 9.6 inches) and usually top out at four RAM slots.
- microATX motherboards (9.6 by 9.6 inches) can also have up to four RAM slots.
- Mini-ITX motherboards sport the smallest form factor of the four (6.7 by 6.7 inches) and often have two RAM slots.
As all the components plug into the motherboard, it’s important to pick one that's large enough to fit current and future hardware.
Size alone is not the sole factor. Your motherboard needs to be compatible with the components you’ll connect to it, both for your current build, and with any hardware upgrades you make in the future. (The Intel® Desktop Compatibility Tool can help.)
Newer motherboards have the advantage of supporting the latest, cutting edge technologies and standards. Select Intel® 600-Series Chipsets, for instance, support powerful next-gen components, including DDR5 RAM, PCIe 5.0 graphics and SSDs, and integrated Intel® Killer™ Wi-Fi 6E.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is your PC's short-term memory. It’s where applications store temporary data that needs to be accessed quickly—those "instruction lists" that the CPU reads and executes.
For gaming as of 2022, you’ll need at least 16GB of RAM. If you plan on running multiple simultaneous processes, like streaming your game, or heavily modding your game, you’ll need more.
The most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for RAM is what your motherboard and processor can support. RAM that's faster than what your system supports will downclock to run at your system's capabilities.
Tip: It’s not recommended to mix RAM kits from different manufacturers, even if they are advertised with the same speeds, as the specifications can vary.
Tip: If you decide to go with high-speed RAM, look for RAM with Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (Intel® XMP) support. High-speed RAM will run at a standard (lower-than-advertised) speed unless it's overclocked2, and Intel® XMP makes this easy to do with predefined and tested profiles.
Check out our comprehensive RAM guide ›
Storage: Solid-State Drives (SSDs), Hard Disk Drives (HDDs)
There are two main types of storage: Solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). Each has its pros and cons, though the good news is that you don't have to choose just one.
You’ll most likely want an SSD in your build. They are much faster and less prone to mechanical failure than HDDs, and some modern games have begun to require them. You’ll find SSDs in two protocols:
- Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA), which is the older protocol of the two and operates with higher latency and lower peak bandwidth.
- Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), which uses the PCIe interface to achieve higher performance.
You may also want to include an HDD in your build. The advantage of HDDs is their lower cost and high storage capacity, meaning you can store large quantities of data relatively inexpensively. HDDs come in two form factors:
- 2.5 inches, which are more common in laptops and usually spin at a rate of 5400 RPM (revolutions per minute).
- 3.5 inches, which are more common in desktops and spin at faster rates, often upwards of 7200 RPM.
You don't necessarily have to pick just one type of storage. Many people use a small SSD as a boot drive (for the operating system, games, and other programs) and fill the rest of their bays with cheaper HDDs for maximum storage capacity.
Learn more about selecting SSDs and HDDs for your build.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Selecting a power supply unit (PSU) is a critical step in any build. The PSU needs to be well-made and powerful enough to handle all current and future components, and it doesn't hurt to have a warranty.
PSUs come in non-modular, semi-modular, and full-modular styles.
- Non-modular PSUs have all cables permanently attached. This is the cheapest option, but you'll need to find a place to store all the cables that you know you’re not going to use. Too many unused cables result in poor cable management, which can obstruct airflow and end up affecting your PC's performance.
- Semi-modular PSUs are the best option for most people. These units come with a handful of essential cables attached and are cheaper than full-modular styles.
- Full-modular PSUs are even easier to work with than semi-modular PSUs, but the added convenience usually comes shouldered with a higher cost.
Tip: A PSU Wattage Calculator can help you figure out how much wattage you need.
Learn how to choose the right PSU.
System Cooling: CPU Cooling and Chassis Airflow
There are two main ways to cool your PC: Air cooling and liquid cooling.
- Air cooling uses fans to funnel hot air through your system and away from components to prevent overheating. The main benefits of air cooling are cost and ease-of-installation (fans are smaller and easier to fit inside a crowded chassis). The biggest drawback to air cooling is that it can be inefficient: It depends on unobstructed airflow inside the case to move hot air away from components, so any airflow restriction can be problematic.
- Liquid cooling uses a liquid coolant (such as distilled water) to soak up heat from components and move it to an area that's less restricted (where the radiator is placed). Liquid cooling is less dependent on airflow inside the chassis, and therefore more efficient at cooling specific components. The downside to liquid cooling is that liquid cooling systems are contained, which means they're usually larger and more difficult to install than a typical air-cooled setup (they're also more expensive).
When building a liquid cooled PC, you generally have two options: an All-in-One (AIO) liquid cooler, or a custom cooling loop.
- AIOs are self-contained, pre-assembled units that come ready to install out-of-the-box and require minimal maintenance.
- Custom cooling loops are an advanced customization option that gives you greater control over your system’s operating temperature (and, thus, its performance) and aesthetics. It requires some in-depth research, as you’ll need to plan out the route of the cooling loop through the case, and to assemble the loop yourself from custom parts.
Whatever type of cooling system you go with, you'll need a dedicated CPU cooler. CPU coolers come in both air and liquid form factors and mount directly onto your CPU. When shopping for a CPU cooler, it's important to make sure it's compatible with your CPU and sized to fit your build.
Keep your PC cool.
Learn more about liquid cooling vs air cooling.
Monitors, keyboards, mice, headphones, and other peripherals mostly come down to personal preference. You don't need to purchase these items with your components, but you will need a display, a keyboard, and a mouse to set up your system after you build it.
Tip: Keep build balance in mind when picking peripherals—if you've got the best components in the world but you're still using a 1080p, 60Hz monitor, you won't be taking full advantage of your hardware.
What to look for in a gaming monitor ›
Operating System (OS)
Last but not least, you’ll need to prepare to install an operating system once all the other components have been assembled in the case. To prepare your PC’s OS ahead of time, determine which OS you want to install on your PC and download the installer on a USB flash drive. Windows 11 is recommended to unlock the full potential of the latest Intel® Core™ CPUs and Intel® Arc™ GPUs. You can download the installer here.
STEP 1: Install CPU
Parts/tools: Motherboard, CPU
Take the motherboard out of its antistatic packaging and put it on your work surface. Find the CPU socket, which will be covered with a protective plastic cap. In one corner of the plastic cap, or more commonly, on the socket itself, you'll see a small arrow—take note of where this arrow is.
Next to the CPU socket, you'll see a small metal lever. Press down on the lever and pull it gently to the side (away from the socket) to open the socket tray.
Open the CPU and remove it from its packaging. Be very careful when handling the CPU as both the CPU and the CPU socket are extremely susceptible to physical damage. Hold the CPU on the edges—never touch the pins on the bottom of the chip since your fingers can imprint them with dust or oil, and try not to touch the top of the chip either.
In one corner of the CPU, you'll see an arrow. Line this arrow up with the arrow on the socket and gently place the CPU onto the socket.
Once the CPU has been gently seated, you can lower the retention lever down and push it back into place. Lowering the lever may require some force, but seating the CPU will not!
Tip: You do not need to remove the plastic cap. When you install the CPU, the tension of the installation will cause the cap to pop off. If you try to remove the cap yourself, you could end up hitting and damaging the fragile pins underneath.
Tip: The CPU only fits one way, and does not require any force to be seated. You can gently move the CPU to seat it, but do not jostle, push, snap, or otherwise try to force the CPU into the socket.
STEP 2: (Optional) Install M.2 SSDs
Parts/tools: Motherboard, M.2 SSD, Phillips #0 screwdriver, motherboard user manual
If you want to install an M.2 SSD, now is a good time to do so. First, find the M.2 slot on your motherboard. It's a small, horizontal slot with a tiny screw across from it. If you can't find it, if you find multiple M.2 slots, or if you are planning on installing more than one M.2 SSD, consult the user manual that came with your motherboard.
Remove the tiny screw with a Phillips #0 screwdriver. Don't lose it.
Slide the M.2 SSD gently into the slot. When it's fully seated, it will stand off the motherboard about a 35-degree angle. Push the SSD down and replace the tiny screw to lock it in place.
Tip: Installing a M.2 SSD may limit other storage configurations (especially SATA-based and PCIe AIC storage), so consult your motherboard's user manual while planning storage.
Troubleshooting: If your motherboard doesn't recognize this newly installed M.2 SSD as storage, you may need to manually configure it in BIOS (consult your motherboard's user manual for BIOS instructions).
STEP 3: Install CPU Cooling
Parts/tools: Motherboard with installed CPU, CPU cooler, thermal paste, CPU cooler manual
There are different types of CPU coolers. For exact installation instructions, we recommend you consult the manual that came with your CPU cooler.
Some coolers require a mounting bracket. The motherboard may have a bracket pre-installed; you may need to remove this bracket if your cooler doesn't need a bracket, or replace this bracket if your cooler uses a different bracket. Do this before putting the motherboard inside the case.
Some coolers come with thermal paste pre-applied to the conductive material (which sits on the CPU) and some coolers do not. If your cooler does not have pre-applied thermal paste, you will need to manually apply thermal paste before you seat the cooler. To apply thermal paste, squeeze a small dot (no larger than a grain of rice) onto the middle of the CPU. Then, place the cooler on the CPU—the pressure will spread the thermal paste adequately.
Tip: The first squeeze of thermal paste should be onto a piece of scrap paper, just in case a big glob accidentally comes out.
Tip: If your cooler has pre-applied thermal paste and you want to use a different thermal paste, you can remove the thermal paste with 90% isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth—we recommend an automotive-grade paper towel.
Tip: When attaching the cooler to the motherboard, tighten the screws in a cross pattern to ensure evenly distributed pressure. If you get confused, this process will likely be described in detail in your manual.
Troubleshooting: If you mess up the installation, don't panic. Clean off the thermal paste (from both the CPU heat spreader and the cooler) and reapply, then install again.
STEP 4: Install Memory (RAM)
Parts/tools: Motherboard, RAM, motherboard user manual
Determine how many RAM slots your motherboard has (most have either two or four). If you're going to fill all available RAM slots, simply snap the RAM into place. If you're not going to fill all of the RAM slots, consult the user manual to find the correct configuration and populate the RAM slots accordingly.
Tip: The notch between the gold fingers is not centered. Make sure you're aligning the RAM correctly using this notch to determine which side is up versus down.
Troubleshooting: While RAM is relatively easy to snap into place, it doesn't always snap in perfectly the first time. If you try to turn your PC on and it doesn't turn on, the first thing you should do is reseat the RAM. Some motherboards have a captive tab (one you don't have to move) that helps with installation. All motherboards have at least one tab that does move—usually, it will snap into place and attach onto an indent on the side of the RAM.
STEP 5: (Optional) Do a Test Run Outside the Case
Parts/tools: Motherboard with CPU and CPU cooler installed, RAM, GPU, PSU, screwdriver, motherboard user manual, PC monitor (attached to GPU)
Now that you've installed the CPU and the CPU cooler, you may want to perform a quick test run of your components just to make sure they all work. This test is much more difficult to perform (and troubleshoot) once everything is installed in the chassis. To do this, install GPU and connect everything to the power supply (if you don't know how to install the GPU, see section below). Make sure the power supply is connected to the motherboard (both CPU 8pin and 24pin) and GPU, then plug it in and turn it on.
Some higher-end motherboards have power buttons, but many do not. If you don't see a power button, locate the power switch pins—small pairs of prongs sticking out of colorful nodules. The power switch pins may be labeled (something like "PWR_ON"). To turn the motherboard on, use a screwdriver to tap both power switch pins at once.
You should now be able to tell if any of your components are dead or otherwise malfunctioning. If the motherboard’s lights are blinking or it’s beeping, there’s likely a reason for it. Some motherboards have a post code display (two digits) to help you identify what the problem is. To figure out what it's trying to tell you, consult your user manual. If your motherboard has no post code display, connect a display to the GPU and see if your system POSTs (does a power-on self-test), or starts up and displays the motherboard's logo.
When you finish the test run, turn off the power supply and wait for any LEDs on the motherboard to go dark to ensure there's no residual power in the system. Then, uninstall the GPU and unplug all power cables before proceeding with the next step.
STEP 6: Mount the Power Supply
Parts/tools: PSU, case, PSU cables, Phillips #2 screwdriver
Unpack the PSU (or unplug it from the components if you opted for a test run) and set its cables aside (if it’s a full or semi-modular unit).
Take a look at your case and figure out where the PSU is supposed to go (probably on the bottom, near the back) and how it can be oriented. Ideally, you want to orient the PSU so that its fan faces outside the case (via a vent). If your case has a vent on the bottom, you can mount the PSU upside down, so long as the bottom vent will receive decent airflow when the PC is finished.
If your case has no vents, mount the PSU so the fan is facing up (into the case) and make sure it has enough clearance.
Attach the PSU to the case using the four screws that came with the PSU.
If you're using a non-modular or semi-modular power supply, now is the time to run the attached cables through the case to where they'll need to end up (make use of cable management features if your case has them).
STEP 7: Install Motherboard
Parts/tools: Case, motherboard, I/O shield (if not attached to the motherboard), Phillips #2 screwdriver, screws, motherboard user manual
If your motherboard came with an unattached I/O shield—a rectangular sheet of metal with cutouts for the motherboard's ports—you should first snap it into place in the back of your case (make sure it's oriented correctly). I/O shields usually have sharp edges, so watch your fingers.
Once the I/O shield is in place, you can install the motherboard. Double-check to make sure your cables are all threaded through to the correct place, and then place the motherboard (align it with the I/O shield, first). Using a Phillips #2 screwdriver, mount the first screw—the center screw—to hold the motherboard in place. Make sure you do not drag your motherboard across the standoffs attached to the chassis.
The number of screws that you will need to mount the motherboard will vary based on the board, but a full-size ATX motherboard usually takes nine screws. Fill all available screw holes.
Connect the power supply to the motherboard. There are two main connections—an 8-pin CPU connector toward the top of the board and a 24-pin connector from the side.
Tip: Before you mount the motherboard, check to make sure that the case has motherboard standoffs installed. These usually look like a nut with threading on the end. Do not insert unnecessary standoffs.
STEP 8: Install GPU
Parts/tools: Motherboard, GPU, Phillips #2 screwdriver, screws, motherboard user manual
Find the PCIe x16 slot on your motherboard. It will be the longest PCIe slot and may be a different color than the others. If your motherboard has more than one PCIe x16 slot, check the user manual to see if one slot needs to be prioritized. If any slot can be used, determine which slot you'll be using based on where other components are placed—you want your GPU to have some breathing room.
Depending on your case, you may need to remove I/O covers (small metal tabs blocking the back panel of your case) to accommodate your GPU's I/O (HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, etc.) and make it accessible to the exterior of the chassis.
Remove the GPU from its antistatic packaging and carefully align it with both the rear retention bracket and the slot itself, and then gently push it into the PCIe x16 slot (you may hear a click). The PCIe tab on the motherboard may move into a locked position should you need to reseat the GPU.
Once the GPU is fully seated, secure it to the back of the case using one or two screws. If your GPU requires auxiliary power connectors, connect it to the power supply.
STEP 9: Install Storage
Parts/tools: Motherboard, SSDs, HDDs, Phillips #2 screwdriver, screws, case/chassis user manual
Firstly, inspect your case. Every case is a little different when it comes to drive bays.
You should be able to find a stack of bays in different sizes somewhere inside your case. They may have little plastic switches, in which case they are tool-free bays, or they may just look like metal brackets.
Storage generally comes in two sizes, 2.5-inch (HDDs and SSDs) and 3.5-inch (HDDs). Most 3.5-inch bays can accept 2.5-inch drives, but not vice versa (some 3.5-inch bays will have trays that aren't designed for 2.5-inch drives, but they can still fit 2.5-inch bays). You may also see larger bays in your case—these are for larger drives such as optical drives and are usually located in the front of the case, near the top.
If you have tool-free bays, each bay will have its own plastic lever or switch. Open or unlock the lever or switch and you should be able to pull out the tray. Place your drive in the tray—some 3.5-inch trays will be designed to accept 2.5-inch trays. If they are, you'll need to screw the 2.5-inch drive to the 3.5-inch tray so it doesn't move around.
Slide the tray back into the bay. It should click into place.
If you don't have tool-free bays, you'll see a metal bracket (it will be big, like a sheet), with slats or holes in it. To put a drive in one of these "bays," all you have to do is slide the drive between the metal bracket and the side of your case and screw it into place. Use as many screws as the chassis manual recommends, but if you don't have enough screws most drives will be fine with just two screws.
Once your drives are all in place, connect them to the motherboard (using a SATA cable, which should have come with either your drive or your motherboard) and to the power supply.
Tip: If you have trouble finding the bays or figuring out what type of bays your case has, consult your case's user manual.
STEP 10: Install Operating System
Parts/tools: PC, monitor, mouse, keyboard, OS saved to a USB flash drive
If you haven’t already prepared your operating system (OS) on a USB flash drive, now is the time to do so. (See the above section on operating systems under “PREP 3: Select your components” for more details.)
Plug in the USB flash drive that contains your OS, as well as a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and turn on your PC.
The first screen you see will tell you to press a key to enter the system setup or BIOS. Press the key to open BIOS. (If the screen flashes off too quickly for you to see the key, consult your motherboard's user manual.)
First, you'll want to check to make sure your components are all installed and being recognized. Find the page in BIOS that shows your PC's system info (different motherboards have different BIOS setups, but you should be able to find a screen that gives you this information) and check to make sure the system is recognizing everything you've installed so far.
Next, poke around BIOS until you find the Boot page (may be called "Boot Order" or "Boot Priority"). Change the boot order so that your USB flash drive is first and the drive you want to install your OS on (if you're using an SSD as a boot drive, you will want to install the OS here) is second.
Restart your computer. Your computer will boot from the USB and the OS installer will pop up. Follow the instructions to finish the installation.
Troubleshooting: If the PC doesn't turn on at all, you might have a problem with your power supply.
Troubleshooting: If the PC turns on but you don't see anything on the screen, or it doesn't seem to start up, check to make sure all cables, especially power cables, are connected.
Tip: If you're trying to enter BIOS with your keyboard and it's not working, it's probably your keyboard that's not working. Check your peripherals to make sure they're working before you panic.
Troubleshooting: If you have trouble booting to the USB drive, ensure the motherboard is set for the installation type you are attempting. Most UEFI-enabled platforms will boot to the UEFI partition scheme first before attempting Legacy.
It Doesn’t End Here
If you’ve made it all the way through our guide, congratulations on finishing your build (especially if this is your first time)! The work, however, doesn’t necessarily have to end here.
One of the best things about building a gaming PC is that the job is never truly finished. You can further customize your build to meet your needs and update it with the latest hardware as gaming system requirements advance. The custom PC you just built will serve as your foundation for all the gaming experiences ahead, and fine-tuning your components is all part of the fun of owning it.
Now that you know how to build a gaming PC, you can focus on getting the most performance from your custom build. After everything is up and running, be sure to:
- Explore all the possibilities your new system has to offer.
- Update your GPU with the latest drivers.
- Support faster memory speeds if you installed high-speed RAM.
- Overclock your CPU if you installed an unlocked K-series Intel® Core™ CPU.
- Optimize your system settings for peak gaming performance.