Tom’s hardware pc build: Best Gaming PCs 2022 | Tom’s Hardware

How to Build a PC

There are plenty of great pre-built gaming PCs on the market, but there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of using one that you create yourself. While the process of assembling a computer isn’t difficult, it’s daunting the first time you do it. For those embarking on their first build, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to building a PC.

Before we start, know that this is a guide exclusively dedicated to assembly. That means you’ll need to pick out your parts first. Our list of recommended cases, CPUs,GPUs, motherboards, SSDs, power supplies and RAM, along with our buying guides can help you choose key components.

The other thing to know is that no two builds are identical. The order we’re going in here is based partly on preference and also based on the needs of the build. For instance, if you have a large aftermarket cooler that blocks the DIMM slots, you may have to go in a different order than we did, or backtrack and pull out a part here or there to to make room for a particularly bulky part or cramped case. More advanced options like liquid cooling and RGB lighting, as well as high-end CPU platforms like Intel’s Core X and AMD’s Threadripper also aren’t covered in this guide.

Be Prepared

Before you start building a PC, you need to get your workspace ready. Make sure that you have all of your parts and tools at the ready. At the very least, you’ll want:

  • Phillips-head screwdrivers (#1 and #2 should do the trick)
  • Zip ties and/or twist ties for cable management
  • Flashlight (it can get dark in the corners of a PC case)
  • Thermal paste (although stock coolers usually have this pre-applied)
  • Something to hold your screws
  • Band-aids (just in case)

Some builders swear by anti-static equipment, including mats or wrist straps. But as long as you don’t live in a particularly dry environment, you’re not building on a metal surface (opt for wood or plastic) and you aren’t rubbing your socks on a carpet while building, you should be able to avoid shorting out your PC or parts. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing things safe. So if you’re worried about static, take the appropriate precautions.

Connect Components to the Motherboard

While some prefer to mount the motherboard in the case before they do anything else, it’s easier with many builds to connect key components like the CPU and the RAM, without leaning over inside the chassis.


Whether you’re going with an Intel or and AMD build, the first step is to release the tension lever on the CPU so that you can drop the processor into the CPU socket . (The big difference here is that on Intel builds the pins are on the socket while in AMD’s case, the pins are on the CPU.)

The arrow/triangle on the top of the CPU needs to line up with one on the socket or the socket cover. Don’t attempt to install a CPU with the arrow facing the wrong direction, or you could damage your chip, your board, or both! Once your CPU and socket are properly aligned, you can drop the chip in place, and it  will settle into the socket under its own weight. If it doesn’t, pick up the CPU and re-seat it. Don’t force the processor into the socket or you’ll almost certainly damage something. Once you’ve got the CPU settled correctly in the socket, press the tension lever back down (on Intel motherboards like the one in the image above, this will also include a metal plate that holds the CPU in).

Note that the above instructions pertain to the mainstream platforms for AMD (the AM4 socket) and Intel (socket LGA 1700). Enthusiast platforms like Intel’s Core X (LGA 2066) and AMD’s Threadripper (sTRX4) have different/more complex CPU installations, with the Intel chips involving two levers and Threadripper requiring Torx screws and a slide-in plastic bracket. The Threadripper CPU install process in particular is tricky and, given the price of chips and TRX40 motherboards, we would not recommend Threadripper as your first PC build platform.

Once the cooler is installed, plug the fan connector into its header on the motherboard. This is usually somewhere close to the CPU socket and labeled something like «CPU_FAN. » 

The Cooler

Many processors come with coolers in the box. If you’re not doing any heavy overclocking, those may be good enough, though lots of builders also like to buy more powerful (and often quieter) aftermarket coolers, which may also just be more attractive.

If you decide to use the stock cooler, you’ll find that it already has thermal paste applied. With aftermarket coolers, you’ll generally need to apply your own thermal paste. You don’t need much—just a pea-sized amount applied to the center of the CPU will spread when you put the cooler on. Again, serious overclockers and PC build veterans will have techniques for evenly spreading thermal compound. But for novice builders and those not looking to achieve the maximum possible overclock speeds, dropping a small amount in the center and letting the CPU cooler spread the thermal paste works just fine. Just make sure you don’t add too much paste; you definitely don’t want it squirting out the sides onto the socket and surrounding PCB.

Stock coolers for Intel processors use push pins that go through holes in the motherboard. We recommend pushing opposite corners in to evenly spread the thermal paste, and to keep from putting uneven pressure on one side of the CPU. AMD stock coolers have metal arms that snap into notches on a plastic bracket on either side of the socket. Aftermarket coolers mount in various ways, so be sure to consult the instruction manual, as mounting aftermarket coolers can be surprisingly complicated, often involving a large backplate that has to be mounted behind the motherboard.


Installing RAM is a snap—literally. First, make sure that the latches for each memory slot are open. Some boards have latches on both sides of a RAM slot, while others—often budget boards—have a latch on one side, with the other end fixed in place. Once your latches are opened, look at each DIMM and position it over the slot such that the small divot on the bottom of the RAM stick is aligned with the matching bump on the board. Finally, push down on the DIMM on each edge until it snaps into place, causing the latches to close on their own. The process requires a bit of force, but if you’re having trouble, make sure that you’re not putting the module in backwards.

If you’re installing two RAM sticks in a board that has four slots, check the motherboard manual to make sure you’re installing your DIMMs in the right slots. If you put them in the wrong slots you may not get the best performance possible, or one of the sticks may not be recognized by the motherboard/operating system.


If you’re using an M.2 SSD, now is as good a time as any to install it, because later on other parts may get in the way.

If it’s already installed, remove the screw located across from the M.2 slot and slide the SSD in at an angle. Make sure the notch lines up with the slot, similar to RAM installation. If the notch doesn’t line up, your drive may not be compatible with that slot. Slowly lay the SSD flat and secure the mounting screw. This tiny screw is easy to drop, which is another reason to install M.2 drives before putting your motherboard into the case.

Putting the Motherboard in the Case

Now that we’ve built the core platform (minus the graphics card, which we’ll do later), we’re going to install the CPU and RAM-equipped motherboard in the case. If you haven’t yet, remove the side panels on your chassis. Most cases have thumb screws holding their panels in place, which makes it easy to remove them.


First, gather the standoffs that came with your case and find the proper place to install them. They’re likely marked on the case based on the size of the motherboard you chose. Many cases have standoffs preinstalled, so you may be able to skip this step. If standoffs are preinstalled in the wrong spot for your motherboard, you can use needle nose pliers to get  them out.

I/O Shield

The I/O shield, which covers the area around your rear ports, comes with your motherboard. You’ll need to fit the shield into the chassis before you install the motherboard itself, making sure it’s the right-side up so that your motherboard ports will fit through the holes once both are installed. You’ll have to use some force to snap all four corners into place. Be careful of sharp edges (that’s why you have the band-aids) as well as metal bits that can block the ports—especially if you have a budget motherboard.

The exception are some premium boards, which ship with this shield pre-attached, but you won’t find that on most boards.

The Motherboard

Now, it’s time to put the motherboard in. Make sure the holes on the motherboard line up with the standoffs you installed and that the ports line up with the cutouts on the I/O shield. Once the board is in, put the screws into the standoffs to anchor the motherboard in place.

Adding the Power Supply and Traditional/SATA Storage

Now for a few parts that aren’t attached directly to the motherboard.

Power Supply

The PSU is usually mounted to the back at the case. Sometimes you’ll find it at the top, but it’s usually mounted at the bottom, where it can pull in cool air from under the chassis. Once you put it in place, it’s generally as simple as screwing it into place with four screws at the back of the case. Then, plug in the 24-pin power connector and supplemental/CPU power connector into the motherboard.

SATA Storage

We added M.2 storage earlier, so now it’s time for SATA drives, which could be a 2.5-inch SSD or hard drive, or a traditional 3.5-inch hard drive. Connect the SATA data cable to the motherboard and your drive or drives, then connect the SATA power connector from the PSU to your drive(s). Mount the hard drive or SSD in the appropriate bracket and screw or snap it into place. Note that bracket/drive mounting methods and placement vary by chassis model.

Inserting the Graphics Card

This is an optional step. If you’re using an Intel or AMD CPU with integrated graphics and don’t plan on serious gaming, you may not need or want a discrete graphics card. Many AMD CPUs, as well as high-end Intel models, don’t have on-board graphics, though, and will require a graphics card in order to connect and output to your monitor.

To install the GPU, you’ll likely have to remove some slot covers on the back of the case, so that the HDMI, DVI and other ports show through, letting you can connect your monitor(s) later.

Connect the GPU into the PCIe X16 slot on the motherboard (it’s the long one, and you’ll want to use the topmost one if there’s more than one on your motherboard). If necessary, plug the PCIe power connectors from the power supply into the card. (You may not need to do this on lower-end cards).

Add a Wi-Fi Card (if necessary)

Most motherboards come with an Ethernet port on them and many also have Wi-Fi built-in. However, if you need wireless access and your computer doesn’t come with a Wi-Fi card, you’ll need to install one in one of the PCIe slots, a short M. 2 slot, or attach a USB Wi-Fi dongle. If you’re gaming, an Ethernet connection is probably your best bet for reliable connectivity.

The Last of the Cable Connections

OK, just a few more cables to go until we try turning the PC on. Make sure the connectors for any fans are plugged into the motherboard fan headers. Then, attach the front-panel audio cable, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 case connectors to those headers. You’ll want to consult your motherboard manual for this, because their location varies by motherboard model.

Lastly, there are the tiny front-panel connectors, including power, reset, HDD activity light, etc. Those need to go to the appropriate pins on the motherboard (usually in the bottom-right corner if your motherboard is mounted in the traditional orientation. You’ll need to consult your motherboard manual to see where each should go, as this also can differ based on board make and model.

Double check that you’re using the right headers. These things are small (and so are their labels), so it’s easy to mess them up if you’re not paying close attention.

Turn the Computer On

Once all that’s done, it’s a good idea to double check to make sure there are no extra fan headers or power cables still waiting to be routed to the right connector. Then plug the PC in, plug in and connect your monitor (to one of the ports on the graphics card, if you’ve installed on) and your keyboard and mouse.

Hit the power button on your monitor, then turn the power supply switch on (on the back of the power supply) and then press your PC’s power button. If everything is working, the PC should turn on and run its POST (power-on self test). Since your operating system isn’t installed yet, you may get an error message about a missing boot drive, or you may get sent straight to the UEFI/BIOS.

Cable Management

This is where you make your case pretty and ensure better air flow. We’re doing this after we know that the system boots properly, because we’d hate to tear apart all of the careful wiring and cut a bunch of zip ties just to have to re-seat a component or reroute a cable. You could of course install your operating system before this step. And clean cable routing is of course less important if you don’t have a case with a window. But we like things neat and pretty, so it’s time to shut the system down, unplug the power cable and clean things up.

Routing some cables through the back of the case during the build process is a good first step toward a clean build. But this is where we’ll shove any extra cable slack through the back panel, break out the zip ties to neaten things up and then, put the side panels back on. You could spend hours making your cable routing as perfect as possible. But just spending 15 minutes making an effort to clean up your cables can make a huge visual difference in what your final build looks like.

Install an Operating System, Drivers and Updates

Preferably before the build process, you’ll want to make a USB install drive for either Windows 10, Windows 11, or the Linux build of your choice. For Windows 10 or Windows 11, simply navigate to Microsoft’s Download page and click the “Download Tool Now” button. You’ll download and run the Media Creation tool which will turn any 8GB or larger USB drive into a Windows install disk. If you don’t already have a Windows 10 or 11 key, you can get one cheap or for free. If you have a problem with the OS, you can try to reset Windows to factory settings.

Those who install Windows 10 now can update to Windows 11 later as a free upgrade.

Plug the USB drive into your new computer, power on and you should boot into your operating system installer, which will step you through the process. If the system doesn’t access your drive, you may need to navigate to the BIOS and make sure your USB key is available as a boot device and that it’s placed in the boot order before your internal drive or drives.

Once you’ve installed your operating system, when you first connect to the internet, Windows 10 and Windows 11 are pretty good these days at getting device drivers. However, you should still go to the manufacturers’ product pages for your parts to make sure you have or get the latest updates.

Finally, when your OS and drivers are all updated, it’s time to start using your PC! The one that you built. Install some games, stream some movies, edit some photo or video, chat on Discord — whatever it is you like to do with your PC. And remember: Whenever you’re ready to add more features or performance, you can always upgrade.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom’s Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom’s Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE


PC Builds

How to Build a Gaming PC for Under $500 With GPU

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware, Corsair, Intel, MSI, XFX)

The global economy may be experiencing inflation, but the price of key PC components is actually quite low and, in many cases, going lower. Because GPU prices are dropping rapidly while SSDs, RAM (at least DDR4 RAM) and power supplies remain inexpensive, there has rarely been a better time to build a low-cost gaming PC than right now. With today’s prices,you can configure a solid, 1080p-capable gaming PC for under $500 that includes both discrete graphics and a 12th-gen Intel CPU. We’re also able to configure a very-capable gaming PC for under $400 using AMD integrated graphics.

Below, we’ll show you how to build a gaming PC for under $500, or even under $400 using parts available from major U.S. retailers today. Please note that the prices we list were current when we wrote this, but may go up or down slightly by the time you read this. Because these lists are based primarily on pricing, we have not tested every specific part listed, nor have we tested them all together. The cost of an operating system is not included, but you can get Windows 10 or 11 for free or cheap. And, if you are willing to spend much more than $500, please check our list of the best PC builds for more powerful recommendations.

Gaming PC Under $500 With Discrete Graphics

Component Type Product Name Price
CPU Intel Core i3-12100F $98
CPU Cooler N/A  
Motherboard MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4 $89
GPU XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400 $159
RAM Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4 3200 $29
Storage TeamGroup MP33 (512GB) $38
Case Rosewill FBM-X2 $44
PSU Thermaltake Smart 430W $29
Total   $486

Our under $500 gaming PC is built around two key components: an Intel Core i3-12100F CPU and an AMD Radeon RX 6400-powered graphics card (ours is from XFX but any RX 6400 should perform similarly). While the other parts are good values for the money, you can easily substitute a similarly specked PSU, SSD, RAM kit or H610M motherboard and get the same performance.

With 4 performance cores, a 4.3-GHz boost speed and a budget price, Intel’s Core i3-12100 is the best cheap CPU right now and the Core i3-12100F is a variant that comes without integrated graphics (which we won’t need). In writing our Intel Core i3-12100 review, we put Intel’s processor through a bevy of benchmarks and found that its single-threaded performance – the type which matters most for gaming – was better than processors which cost twice as much, including the Ryzen 5 5600X and Intel’s last-gen Core i5-11600K. The Core i3-12100F also comes with a CPU cooler in the box, so you don’t need to spend more money there. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

We’re going with the Radeon RX 6400, because it’s the cheapest current-gen GPU on the market, not because it’s one of the best graphics cards. In our tests, the RX 6400 averaged a very-playable 56 fps when we benchmarked it in 8 popular games at 1080p resolution with medium settings. That’s not blazing fast, but it’s good enough to play AAA titles without stutter.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

We chose the RX 6400 so we could configure a gaming PC for under $500, but if you can stretch your budget just another $20, the much-faster Radeon RX 6500 XT is available for as little as $179 and is 30 percent faster and a much better buy. Both GPUs have a boost clock of 2.8 GHz and 4GB of VRAM, but the 6500 XT has 1024 GPU cores to the 6400’s 768, and its VRAM operates at 18 Gbps instead of 16 Gbps.

To support our 12th-gen Intel CPU, we need an inexpensive motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket. The lowest-end chipset with that socket is Intel’s H610 and we found it cheaply in the $89 MSI PRO H610M-G. This is a basic board with just two RAM slots and a single M.2, PCIe Gen 3 slot for storage. We saw a board that was $10 cheaper but iy didn’t have the M. 2 slot we needed for our choice of SSD.

Our storage drive of choice is the TeamGroup MP33 at 512GB capacity. We reviewed the TeamGroup MP33 back in 2020 and found that it offers really good performance for the money, and it’s more affordable now than it was back then. This NVMe SSD boasts rated sequential read and write speeds of 1,700 and 1,400 MBps respectively, about triple what you get from a SATA SSD.

To hit our $500 price, we had to stick with a modest 8GB of RAM, in the form of a 2x4GB DDR4-3200 kit from Crucial. Any low-cost kit of DDR4-3200 RAM would fit the bill here. However, if you can splurge just another $15 to $20, you can get 16GB of RAM as we spotted TeamGruop’s T-Force Zeus DDR4-3200 RAM in a 2 x 8GB kit for just $48. Considering that the motherboard only has two RAM slots, you’d be wise to spend a little extra now rather than upgrading later.

Our case is the Rosewill FBM-X2 which was $44 at Newegg at the time we wrote this. Admittedly, this is a very low-end case as it has no window for viewing your components. However, it does have enough room for four 120mm fans  or two 120mm fans and a 240mm radiator. Its slick, gunmetal gray color is, at least, solid-looking and you have to make some sacrifices to build a gaming PC for under $500.

The final piece of our under $500 gaming PC is a 430W power supply from Thermaltake. Any 400 to 500W power supply from a reputable brand will get the job done here. The Thermaltake Smart 430W is 80+ certified, though not Bronze or Gold, which means it has some degree of efficiency considerations.

Component Type Product Name Price
RAM TeamGroup T-Force Zeus DDR 16GB Kit (2 x 8GB) 3200 MHz $49
Storage TeamGroup MP33 (1TB) $72
GPU XFX Speedster QICK210 Radeon RX 6500XT $179

If you can stretch your budget just a little bit father, up anywhere from $20 to $80, we recommend swapping out the RAM, GPU and storage for slightly better parts. Our first priority is going from 8GB of RAM up to 16GB, because the motherboard only has two DIMM slots so you’d have to throw away your current RAM if you wish to upgrade later on. Moving up to TeamGroup’s $48, 16GB (2 x 8GB) kit costs less than $20 more and will make all aspects of your computing life easier, from surfing the web to document editing and gaming.

Adding another $20 to move up to a Radeon RX 6500 XT from the RX 6400 is another no-brainer. You gain about 30 percent more performance for a very minimal outlay. 

The lowest priority upgrade, though still a good one, is moving from a 512GB SSD to a 1TB capacity, which in the case of the TeamGroup MP33, is just $30 more. You can certainly get by with a 512GB SSD, but if you plan to install more than three or four AAA games, you’ll likely need the extra storage.

Gaming PC Under $400

Component Type Product Name Price
CPU Ryzen 5 5600G $150
CPU Cooler N/A  
Motherboard ASRock B450M-HDV R4. 0 $75
RAM Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4 3200 $29
Storage TeamGroup MP33 (512GB) $42
Case Rosewill FBM-X2 $44
PSU Thermaltake Smart 430W $30
Total   $370

If you want to build a gaming PC for under $400, there is no way that you can afford a graphics card. That’s why you need a relatively-cheap CPU with excellent integrated graphics, in our case the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G. The $160, 65-watt CPU has 6 cores, 12 threads and a maximum boost clock of 4.4 GHz. It also comes with a cooler in the box so you don’t need to spend money on one. 

In our multi-threaded application tests, the Ryzen 5 5600G beat the pants off of many competitors including the quad-core, Core i3-12100 we use in our under $500 gaming PC.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

More importantly, the Ryzen 5 5600G’s integrated RX 7 Vega GPU is good enough to play games well at 720p and passably at 1080p. On our 720p gaming test suite, the 5600G averaged 75.4 fps, which is more than playable. When we bumped the resolution up to 1080p, the average fps dropped to a still-respectable 43.5 fps. But on many games, you’ll be able to dial down some more settings to get the frame rate higher.

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Our motherboard for our under $400 gaming PC is the ASRock B450M-HDV R4.0. It’s important to note that, as the B450 chipset is older than Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, not all B450 motherboards will work the 5600G out of the box. All will support these CPUs after a BIOS update but, if you don’t have an older Ryzen CPU lying around, you’ll likely have no way to boot up and perform that update. However, the B450M-HDV R4.0 (make sure it’s R4.0) promises compatibility at first boot.

ASRock’s board has only two DIMM slots, so keep in mind that, if you go with the 8GB of RAM we need to stay under $400, you won’t be able to upgrade without replacing the memory. However, aside from that limitation, the B450M-HDV R4.0 has other basic features, including support for M.2 PCIe Gen3 SSDs.

Our case, RAM, storage and power supply are the same as on our under $500 gaming PC. That means we’re going with just 8GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, a modest 512GB SSD and a 430W power supply. The Rosewill FBM-X2 is a less-than-ideal case so, if you see another case on sale for less than $60, it would be well-worth considering.

As with the under $500 gaming PC build, the sub-$400 configuration will be significantly better if you spend another $20 to upgrade to a 16GB (2 x 8GB) kit or, less important for performance and more for game storage space, an extra $30 to move up to a 1TB SSD.

Related Content

  • How to Build a PC
  • Should You Build or Buy Your Next Gaming PC?
  • Best PC Builds for Gaming

Avram Piltch is Tom’s Hardware’s editor-in-chief. When he’s not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you’ll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.


Gaming PCs

How to Build a $350 Gaming PC That Can Play AAA Games

While the budget you need to get into PC gaming is not astronomical, even a cheap gaming PC is more expensive than most modern consoles. We’ve shown that you can build a sub-$500 gaming rig, but what if that’s beyond your budget? Using a combination of new and used parts, you can build a very capable gaming PC for only $350. 

So…how exactly do we build a gaming PC for only $350?

The answer to that question is simple! We buy  a preowned desktop computer that’s several years old and upgrade the main components. Most of the affordable pre-owned desktops you’ll find are office computers utilizing the Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, or Haswell platform. 

Although these architectures have aged, they still offer adequate performance at a great price. $100 often gets you an i5 2000 or 3000 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a hard drive all enclosed in a case. Throw in an SSD and a modern video card, and you have yourself a solid gaming computer without breaking the bank! 

We ordered an HP Compaq Elite 8200 for $145 shipped on eBay. This serves as the base for upgrades, but it is in amazing shape already. Other great alternatives are the Dell Optiplex Series and the Lenovo Thinkcentre series. Just make sure the case is a mini-tower (MT) model if you want to use full-height video cards. 

Here are the components we used for our $350 gaming PC. Some came with the HP Compaq Elite 8200 and others we bought separately as upgrades.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Components of $350 Gaming PC

Component Type Model Price
CPU Intel Core i7-2600 N/A (in $145 PC)
Graphics Card Nvidia GTX 1650 $160
Cooler  OEM HP Compaq Cooler N/A (in $145 PC)
Motherboard Q67 OEM Board N/A (in $145 PC)
RAM 16GB (4×4) DDR3-1600 N/A (in $145 PC)
SSD Samsung 850 EVO (250GB) N/A (in $145 PC)
Hard Drive HGST 1TB 7200 RPM + $30
Case HP OEM CMT Case N/A (in $145 PC)
Power Supply 320W OEM PSU N/A (in $145 PC)
Adapter SATA to 6-pin Adapter $3
Total $338

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600

The processor is the hyperthreaded quad-core i7 2600 processor — a behemoth during its reign in the early 2010s. It’s been a few years since then, but it can hold its own today even on the toughest titles with the proper expectations. The Core i7-2600 carries a base clock speed of 3.5 GHz with a boost up to 3.9 GHz and a 95W TDP.

CPU Cooler: OEM HP Compaq Cooler

A no-name, OEM cooler seems like a downside, but the cost saving metric works perfectly for this computer. It adequately cools the i7 processor (as you will see later) and stays quiet enough for an enjoyable PC gaming experience. It has no extra bells and whistles, no RGB, and the heatsink’s copper slug shines as its most prominent feature; but it does its intended job well. The cooler also uses a standard mounting system, so you can upgrade to a better cooler in the future.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Motherboard: Q67 OEM Board 

Our  pre-built machine comes with an OEM Q67 chipset board which supports up to an i7 2600 processor. It has the basic necessities for a motherboard such as 3 PCI full height slots, a full height PCIe 2. 0 x16 slot, a full height PCIe 2.0 x4 slot, and PCIe x1 slot. 

Thankfully, there’s no noticeable difference between PCIe 2.0 and 3.0 for most video cards under $400 right now — so the lack of USB 3.0 and lack of overclocking are the only major drawbacks. PCIe to USB 3.0 adapters are available for only $10 shipped and our CPU does not support overclocking, so we can circumvent or ignore these downsides.

RAM: 4×4 GB DDR3 1600 (16 GB)

Given that Intel has locked the Q67 board, fast and well tuned memory only results in wasted money. The 16GB of RAM the pre-built machine comes with works out wonderfully. Modern games (looking at you Warzone) comfortably use more than 8GB of RAM nowadays so 16GB of memory gives it an edge.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB

Most pre-built machines do not come with storage, let alone an SSD. Finding a machine with an 850 EVO already inside worked out very well. It is an older model, but the 3D NAND technology provides both solid performance and peace of mind. 250 GB is an awesome starting point for budget gaming. It gives ample room for a few frequently used applications and a couple of games.


The beefy, large CMT case offers lots of room and space for components, including long video cards. It supports the standard ATX form factor, uses a top mounted power supply configuration, and has three bays that can accomodate either optical drives or storage devices.. The mostly metal design is not flimsy and safely houses the components. There is no room for fans in the front nor the top, an unfortunate sacrifice one must make at this price point. Thankfully, a case transplant is possible in the future if necessary.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)


The power supply definitely limits the build’s upgrade options, but as AMD and NVIDIA build more efficient video cards, power supplies like this model live on. This model is 80+ Bronze certified and pushes 16A on the 12V Rail. That’s enough for up to a 120W video card. It houses (list of connectors here) connectors.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

GRAPHICS CARD: Gigabyte Windforce OC GTX 1650 Super — $160

Upgrading the video card is the most important step we took. . We chose the GTX 1650 Super for a number of reasons. It offers phenomenal performance per watt value and will run fine in our system. It uses NVIDIA’s next-to-latest architecture (until Ampere) and it uses NVENC — NVIDIA’s encoder that works great for streaming. It offloads the computing tasks from i7 to the GTX 1650 Super without noticeable performance drops. And lastly, it fits great in our budget.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Because the 1650 Super uses a 6-pin port, buying a SATA to 6-pin adapter for $3 is necessary. Although a better power supply is always the ideal option, for the efficient GTX 1650 Super, the adapter will work fine. The 75W from the PCIe slot and the up to 54W (though under 40W is usually the safer range) will adequately power the 1650 Super. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

HDD: HGST 1TB 7200 RPM — $30

We threw in a 1 TB hard drive for extra space. Mechanical disks are not ideal but there is no denying their storage value. For a machine of this caliber, it fits perfectly. This particular drive is new and has a warranty to ensure reliability.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Part Installation

Because most of the components are already installed, building the rest of the computer won’t take long. Remove the side panel by unscrewing the two screws on the rear and pulling on the flap. Plug one end of the SATA data cable into the motherboard and the other end into the storage device. Take the SATA power cable from the power supply and plug it into the storage device. Slide out a drive bay and place the hard drive in one of them and then slide the sled back in the bay.

Next, take your SATA to 6 pin adapter and insert a SATA power cable from the power supply. Remove the same number of video brackets from the case that are on the video card. For the 1650 Super, it’s two. Insert the card in the top most PCIe slot and you’re done. Congrats gamer! 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

You can use Windows 10 Pro Unactivated for completely free or purchase an inexpensive key 

Cosmetic Facelift for the $350 Gaming PC 

Building the computer itself is simple and straightforward, but we want to clean the machine and spruce up the build to give it a modern look. If you are satisfied with the current design, you can skip this section and move to “Parts Installation» and save yourself some money and time.

The tools we need for this total to about $42 and are not included in our $350 total. You will need:

18” x 24” OPTIX Clear Acrylic Sheet for $13.50 Clear Side Panel
4 Master Magnet Disc Magnets with a 1” Diameter or Smaller — $2. 75 for 6 Magnets Connects the side panel to the case
Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Semi-Gloss White Spray Paint — $4 Each Gives the case a new color
Superglue (0.14 oz) — $3 Connects the magnets to the side panel
Hobby or Exacto Knife — $4 Cuts the acrylic panel to size
Painter’s Tape (60 yards) — $4 Masks areas of the case for painting
Straight Edge — $1 Cuts straight lines

All the prices are taken from Home Depot.

Firstly, we removed all the motherboard connectors and cleaned the inside of the case with isopropyl alcohol, paper towels and cotton swabs. The case’s original office computer look works well for a sleeper machine, but that is not the intention here. Let’s give it a glossy, white coat. We slipped on the side panel, and masked the removable side panel, the front panel filters, and the HP logos with painter’s tape. Masking can hurt a paint job if rushed so take your time here. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Once masking is finished, shake the Rust-Oleum spray paint can and start painting the top panel, front panel, and back panel. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area like an open garage. Stay 6 to 12 inches away from the workpiece and move in a horizontal fashion and start painting the front panel. Aim for 2-3 light coats for the best results and wait 15 minutes between each coat.

Once the painting is done, we can make the side panel. Measure the length and width of the removable side panel and add markings to the acrylic sheet. With the ruler, draw straight lines resembling these dimensions. With the knife, line up the ruler to the drawn straight lines and make grooves in the acrylic sheet. Bring the sheet to the edge of a table and snap off the grooved section.

Lastly, superglue one disc magnet to each corner of the acrylic sheet (the side without the spray paint). Connect the sheet to the case and you now have a DIY window and a stellar looking computer.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Benchmarking the $350 Gaming PC

The GTX 1650 Super is an entry level video card and the Intel Core i7-2600 is an 8 year old processor, so we set reasonable expectations: 60 FPS using low to medium settings with a combination of eSport titles and demanding, AAA games. We compared our results against systems with Core i3-9100F and Core i5-9400f processors with the same graphics card to see how much we lose by having an old CPU..

The games we ran were:


Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Borderlands 3

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)


Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Metro Exodus

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The $350 gaming PC offers 60 FPS gaming at 1080p across all the games tested, but it does not come without its bottlenecks. GTA V depicts the worst case scenario for the computer, touting a 59 FPS average while the modern Core i3-9100F and Core i5-9400F nearly double that number. It goes to show that, although Sandy Bridge provides acceptable performance, its low IPC holds back even budget video cards. On the bright side, the system has acceptable minimum frame rates without noticeable stuttering. The games will not jitter or skip thanks to the Core i7-2600’s hyperthreading. That at least permits some breathing room.


(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

For less than the cost of some Chromebooks, this $350 gaming PC build provides affordable gaming. No deal hunting is necessary and there is no shortage of pre-owned office computers at similar prices and configurations to the $145 HP . While used components do not have the same guaranteed reliability as brand new components, you save money and fight electronic waste by providing a great home to a functional computer. Modding the system is not necessary, but these pre-built computers are a blank canvas that leaves room for creativity.

There are downsides to this method. For $150 to $200 more, there are modern platforms with phenomenal upgrade options that won’t bottleneck future offerings from NVIDIA and AMD. The proprietary hardware and power supply limitations do not help either. But, if you’re looking for solid immediate performance for yourself, your kids, or a friend then, this is an option worth looking into.



PC Builds

How long does it take to build a PC — a beginner’s guide

If you are building a PC for the first time, you might be wondering how long the process will take. You may have seen people perform the procedure effortlessly in minutes, but you’ve also heard horror stories about how it can take days when minor issues arise.

So, how much time should you allocate to the PC build process? In addition, what about the choice of components and planning for their installation? How long?

In this article, we will look at all these questions and more; going through a timeline of planning, buying a , and building a brand new computer to suit the various preferences of the .

We then come to a conclusion about how much time you can spend to complete the entire PC build process.

What affects PC build time

Before we get into specific metrics in terms of how long it takes, let’s first look at the factors that will determine, how laborious the project will be .


Perhaps the most important step of all : research is a key element in creating the best machine for your needs.

It is essential to ensure that there are no compatibility issues between components, the quality and durability of the equipment and, of course, the overall price. This is especially important when it comes to making sure you have the parts you need, as you don’t want to sacrifice either cost or quality.

Since this step is so important, it can also be the most burdensome. How long it takes depends on the purpose of the PC, the budget, and the desired performance result.

Delivery time for parts

Depending on where you live and the availability of parts, delivery times can also vary significantly.

Today, marketplaces come to the rescue (with same-day, next-day, and due date delivery), so chances are you can get through the process fairly quickly; depending on your expected characteristics.

Your experience in building a PC

Another factor that can play a decisive role in creating a desktop is your personal experience in this matter .

PC assembly may experience minor issues which can be found and fixed in minutes by an experienced PC builder, but may take hours for a novice.

Also, knowing the correct sequence of steps to follow to build a PC can save you a significant amount of time as you don’t have to constantly refer to your motherboard manual or online videos to continue.

To reduce the impact of inexperience in this matter, you can:

  • Learn PC assembly techniques while you wait for the components to arrive. You can refer to a beginner’s guide on the subject to guide you through the planning and build process, or YouTube/RuTube channels that walk you through the process step by step.
  • Ask a knowledgeable friend or colleague to be present during assembly.
  • Hire a professional PC assembler or IT specialist to build your PC.

PC Assembly Questions

Many minor problems can arise when assembling components. They range from the completely unpredictable (such as a failed component) to a simple oversight in the cabling.

Some of the most common problems include:

  • Incorrect connection of power supply cables
  • Insufficient RAM clearance from CPU cooler
  • Power cables too short to access certain components
  • Components incorrectly installed or secured in place
  • BIOS and processor incompatibility
  • Computer won’t turn on for a variety of possible reasons, ranging from improper cable installation to bent processor pins.

Troubleshooting the problems themselves can be a lengthy process if the errors are related to hardware incompatibility; which, in turn, may require replacement.

Minor build errors can be fixed quickly if you can determine where the error is coming from, which can take a lot of trial and error.

Custom build

Some PC cases are harder to assemble than others; which is especially true when it comes to small installations.

For example, small form factor (SFF) builds can take an incredibly long time because the space inside is limited and everything has to fit perfectly.

Therefore, if you are planning to personalize your PC, be sure to take the extra time to make changes that will make your customization unique.

Cable Management

Many will agree that beauty lies in the simple things, and few things are more satisfying than properly aligned and neatly packaged cables.

It’s almost art, and like all art, it takes time to do it properly.

Of course, others will argue that functional cable management is enough, which is much easier and saves you a lot of time when it comes to building a PC.

Indeed, proper cable management can be done in several ways and should not take hours to perfect.

Water cooling

Cooling can be of two types: air or liquid . Liquid cooling requires the creation of a special circuit, and this process must be carried out meticulously.

This process will take a couple of days on average to properly plan and complete; to avoid any leaks that could damage surrounding equipment.

RGB lighting

Adding RGB lighting is usually a straightforward process; depending on the level of customization you want to achieve. RGB fans or strips simply need to be connected to the motherboard via the RGB connector and they are ready to go.

The only problem that may arise in this process is that there are not enough available RGB headers on the motherboard, in which case you will need the RGB splitter .

To avoid having to wait for it after the fact, make sure your specific motherboard model can accommodate all of your RGB components, and if that’s not possible, purchase an RGB splitter or controller first.

Case airflow

Optimum airflow can be achieved quickly and easily if the fans are properly planned.

The fans themselves can be installed in minutes and no additional maintenance is required until they need to be cleaned.

Typical PC build timeline

Now that we have an idea of ​​what factors influence PC build time, let’s move on to the timeline you can expect for each individual step in the build process.

Of course, the time each step takes depends on the experience of the assembler.

In the timelines below, the lower limit will be the time required by an experienced builder, and the upper limit will reflect the beginner’s build time.

Unpack and prepare the necessary tools — 5-20 minutes

Before you start building your PC, take the time to collect all the materials you need for the build itself.

Ideally, you should have a clean desk with an antistatic mat, pliers, cable ties, a screwdriver, thermal grease, and an antistatic strap.

Most of these tools are optional, of course, but can make the build process faster and safer. Then you need to unzip the components so they are ready to be installed.

Motherboard setup — 8-40 minutes

The very first step in building a PC is to install the appropriate hardware components on the motherboard.

These settings are quite easy to make.

They mainly consist of mechanical joints, so you don’t have to worry too much about the process.

Motherboard setup includes:

  • CPU installation
  • Installing RAM
  • Installing an M.2 drive
  • CPU cooler installation

Placing the motherboard in the case — 12-60 minutes

Now that the motherboard has all the necessary components, can be placed in the case itself. Before installation, you must prepare the case and route the cables accordingly.

This is where most of the cabling will take place, as the cabling of the chassis will determine how the power supply cables will be connected.

The specific steps are as follows:

  • Body preparation
  • Enclosure pre-wiring
  • Setting the I/O screen
  • Installing the motherboard in the case
  • Connecting Chassis Cables to Motherboard
  • Install any 2.5-inch/3.5-inch SSD/HDD (optional)

Power supply installation — 8-40 minutes

Depending on your PC case, the installed power supply may be easily accessible for cable connection. It is usually best to connect all necessary cables before reinstalling.

If proper cable management has been applied, this step will already be planned and easy to complete.

However, this is not an operation to be done in a rush, as incorrectly connected power supply cables are often the cause of great frustration when a component (or the PC as a whole) does not turn on.

  • Installing the power supply in the chassis
  • Connecting Power Supply Cables to Motherboard and Peripherals

Installing the graphics card — 4-15 minutes

Another simple process that can be done without much effort is installing the graphics card. You might be wondering why wait so long for a GPU to install? Why not do it sooner?

The answer is that the video card is a bulky component, and therefore it can become an obstacle when connecting smaller cables (for example, front panel connectors).

  • Unscrewing PCIe slot covers
  • Installing video cards in the PCIe slot
  • Connecting PCIe cables

Preparing the case and testing — 2-5 minutes

The fastest step — but also the most nervous — close the case and turn on the PC for the first time. This will determine if the previous processes were successful or if you need to start troubleshooting.

  • Connecting the monitor, peripherals, and power cable
  • Case closing
  • Starting BIOS

Any additional troubleshooting — 30 minutes to several hours

If there is a problem (for example, the PC does not turn on or a certain component is not displayed in the BIOS), the best way to check the cause of the error is the EZ debug LEDs on the motherboard . .. if they are .

If it doesn’t, you’ll have to manually check the components to see what adjustments you can make to fix the problem.

How long does it take to build a PC

To return to the original question of the article and summarize, let’s see how long does it actually take to build a PC .

Based on research and delivery, this can take from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on the availability of the desired components.

When it comes to actually assembling the computer, it will take an experienced assembler 40 minutes to an hour for a simple assembly.

For a novice or inexperienced PC builder, this will take three to four hours; if all the steps are followed carefully, so that no problems arise.

If errors have occurred, it may take several hours to find the source of the problem and resolve it; time, which is exacerbated by the above 3-4 hour setting.

In general, if you’re wondering how much time you have to spend building a PC, it’s always best to give yourself some leeway so you don’t rush the process.

Impatience may eventually haunt you in the form of unwanted problems requiring disassembly and reassembly of components.

This may happen immediately or later.

Many people find pleasure in the process of assembling PC parts, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime process and the result will be with you for years.

Perhaps it’s best to treat this as an enjoyable experience, especially if you’re a beginner, so you can get used to the process and learn how to do it quickly and accurately.

Computer upgrade (PC upgrade), laptop upgrade — Start.RF

How does the concept of upgrade differ from the concept of modernization?

These concepts are identical in their meaning. It so happened that the Russian language is famous for its borrowings from other languages. Upgrade (Upgrade — English) — borrowing from the English language. The essence of these concepts is the same — the replacement or addition of new, more modern and powerful elements in the PC.

What is the difference between hardware and software upgrades?

A hardware upgrade is the physical replacement of old components with new ones or the addition of new ones. Software upgrade is the installation of new, more advanced software.

How can I upgrade my computer online?

In this context (online upgrade or upgrade), for a more accurate understanding of the process, it is imperative to distinguish between the concept of hardware and software upgrades.

Online hardware upgrade cannot be performed remotely, the specialist must physically change the components in the system unit (it’s a pity that specialists with telepathy and telekinesis abilities have transferred 😉 You can only carry out preparatory procedures — connect to your PC via the Internet and find out the characteristics of the system for selection of components.

The software part of the system upgrade, with the exception of reinstalling the operating system, can be easily carried out online. This will require a stable Internet connection and a remote access program, which can be downloaded for free from our website in the Soft section.

What can be upgraded in a computer and/or laptop?

Any part of the system unit of a computer or laptop can be upgraded if there are compatible components (processor, motherboard, video card, memory modules, hard drive, power supply, cooling system, sound card, drive, floppy drive, TV tuner, case , network card, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, controller, hub).

Some people ask the question, «Is it really possible to upgrade a laptop?» As we noted above, yes, you can. You can upgrade laptops of any brand and model (HP, SONY, Lenovo, ACER, ASUS, APPLE and all others). The peculiarity lies in the limited upgrade options due to the small availability of compatible and more powerful components for laptops on sale than for desktop computers.

Can we upgrade a computer or laptop in your home or office?

Of course we can. After you contact us, a specialist will come to your home or office, diagnose the system, determine possible options for improving your PC, select and bring the necessary components, replace old ones with new ones, install the necessary software for their correct operation, and you will enjoy the work of your improved computer.

How much does a computer upgrade cost?

The final cost of upgrading a computer is purely individual and consists of the cost of purchased components and their installation/dismantling. After diagnosing the system, the specialist will offer you all possible upgrade options, which you will discuss with him and make the best decision for you.

Can a very old computer be upgraded?

Probably not, and we’ll tell you why. The fact is that components for desktop computers and laptops have been on sale on the market for three, maximum four years, then manufacturers stop producing them and, as a result, they disappear from open sale on the goods market. Such components can be found in rare cases in a used condition in the secondary market. We can certainly purchase such components, but we will not do this for the simple reason that we can not provide you with absolutely no guarantee for their performance. If you have an old computer and want to upgrade it, you can, of course, «Cook porridge from an ax», but the best option in this situation would be either optimizing it or purchasing a new computer.

Why is it impossible or necessary to choose the right components yourself?

If you set out to upgrade your computer yourself, then before buying something in a computer store, be sure to consult with a specialist on this issue. There are frequent cases when a person, out of ignorance, acquires incompatible components and, having found out that they are incompatible with his PC, tries to return them to the store, but is refused. In the Russian Federation, there is a law (Article 25 of the RFZPP), according to which computer components are technically complex goods that cannot be returned or exchanged if they are in good condition. Consider this fact.

What will be the effect of replacing certain components?

Any part can be replaced in a computer, from a button to a processor. We will not describe in detail each effect of replacing a particular part. Let’s be brief. By replacing the processor, video card, RAM, motherboard, hard drive, you will get an increase in the speed and quality of your PC. By replacing or adding other components, you will expand the technical capabilities of your PC.

What kind of warranty do you provide for the computer you upgrade?

When replacing old parts with new ones, we provide a guarantee of 6 to 36 months for new parts, depending on their type and kind. When upgrading a PC, we provide a guarantee for the operation of the software from 14 days to a year, depending on the type and type of upgraded or newly installed software, provided that no modifications were made to its software part.

Modernization of a computer is an improvement, updating, bringing computer hardware (component parts) and software in line with individual user requirements, as well as technical conditions and quality indicators. Modernization of the computer is necessary in case of moral and physical obsolescence of hardware (component parts) and software (software), as well as, if necessary, «squeeze out» the maximum of its capabilities from the existing model, resorting to replacing only some of its component parts, and not the entire complex as a whole . This allows you to significantly reduce costs compared to purchasing a new computer or laptop.

Some computers are sold with a significant imbalance in the characteristics of their component parts and do not always meet all user criteria. For example, a computer sold in a store has a powerful processor and a weak video card, or a powerful video card and processor too, but there is not enough RAM. In such cases, the best solution would be a point operation to modify or replace individual components. This will be a less expensive decision than buying a new computer.

In today’s highly dynamic computer hardware market, new hardware appears almost every day. This equipment has a great variety of characteristics and not every motherboard is suitable for certain video cards, RAM sticks, processors and other components. There are unified standards, but there are a lot of such standards, and sometimes it is impossible to combine a processor and a motherboard that you like and are suitable for the cost.

Here are the dry numbers. The motherboard has a connector of a certain type for connecting a processor to it (there are about twenty such types in total), the so-called socket and each such connector supports from one to six types of processors (up to three on average), and there are currently about twenty types of processors ( there are about forty models). Therefore, not every processor can be connected to any video card you like and vice versa. And with the release of additional components, such as power supplies, hard drives, drives, video cards, sound cards, ventilation and cooling systems, RAM modules and cases, new ones appear many times more difficult with each new device of the chain in the logical system of compatibility of all these devices. Definitely, an ordinary user cannot combine all the necessary details into one system. Entrust this work to true professionals.

Such diversity has its positive and negative aspects. Let’s start with the positives. The positive side of the variety of components and their compatibility is the ability to assemble a unique hybrid system that meets all the necessary needs of the user. The negative sides, as already described above, are the incompatibility of many components with each other and, as a result, the difficult selection of compatible computer components.

The modernization process starts with understanding the customer’s needs. Here are a couple of such options for customer needs. The client can know exactly which part he needs to upgrade and accordingly he places an order for this particular part. The client wants to build a computer to perform a specific range of tasks. In most cases, the user does not know what he needs, he wants to get the most out of his computer. In this case, the components of the computer are diagnosed, the wizard offers several optimal configuration options to choose from, taking into account the wishes of the client. After the client has decided on one or another option for upgrading the computer, he is satisfied with all the conditions, all technical and financial aspects are agreed, the technical part of the upgrade begins. All necessary compatible components are selected and installed in the computer system unit. After that, if modernization work is carried out in our service, they are tested within a day. After successful testing results, the already upgraded personal computer or laptop with all accompanying documents and a guarantee is returned to the client.

Zapuskay.RF provides services for the modernization of computers and laptops in Moscow and the Moscow region, to individuals (individuals) and companies (legal entities) for cash and non-cash payments. We render our services in any places of the indicated regions, private houses, houses and offices. Prices for computer upgrade services are indicated in our price list. The actual cost of component parts is paid before or after the modernization work, depending on the total amount of the order, and is set on an individual basis. All components are provided with a company warranty from 6 months to two years, depending on the type and type of component. The upgrade process in our service takes on average from one to three days. We guarantee the quality of components, high build quality and a professional approach to upgrading your computer.

What to do after assembling the computer — Launch.RF

A minute of attention! We do almost everything about computers: assembly, tuning and repair. If you need our help — contact us, we will send a competent master to you.

Caution. In this article, we have described everything in a simplified form for a general understanding of the complex / sequence / algorithm of actions after assembling a PC. This article is for informational purposes only. If you want to know more about any stage, then you can always ask us about it in the comments or search for information on the net.

1. Checking the security of fasteners

Do not rush to turn on the newly assembled computer. Check everything again carefully. Make sure that the expansion boards, radiators and coolers are installed without distortions, nothing shorts anywhere, all the screws are well tightened, the cables are tightly inserted into the connectors, and the latches are latched. Even the most experienced assemblers have situations when the computer does not turn on the first time due to some little thing. Anything happens.

2. First start and BIOS setup

Connect the power, but do not rush to put the side cover on the system unit. Start your computer for the first time without it. So you without unnecessary manipulations make sure that all the fans work correctly. And if something goes wrong during the first start, you don’t have to remove the newly installed cover to find the cause of the problem.

After a successful launch, you can go into the BIOS and, to celebrate, change about a dozen settings there. Usually you can get there by pressing Del or F2 , but other options are possible. However, if you do not, most likely, nothing terrible will happen. Most importantly, do not forget to change the boot priority from the media before installing the OS. More importantly, do not mess with the BIOS again if you are not 100% sure what you are doing.

Important! If you have an old BIOS and a new SATA drive, you may need to enable AHCI mode. In the new UEFI, it is probably enabled by default.

What can be done in UEFI (not necessarily all options will be available, especially if the motherboard is «a hundred years old at lunchtime»):

  • Check CPU temperature. If the processor heats up to 70 degrees in the BIOS, under heavy loads on the hardware, problems will most likely begin, starting with the unstable operation of the system and ending with reboots, turning off the PC and failure of the central processor. Consider a more powerful cooling system (or fixing the deficiencies of an existing one).
  • Locate XMP partition and activate DRAM factory settings. Oddly enough, even on new «motherboards» with new «RAM», with default settings, the memory can operate at a lower frequency.
  • Disable devices that you do not use or intend to use. For example, obsolete serial and parallel ports, an integrated video adapter.
  • Configure wake up on a specific event (key press, mouse action, and so on).
  • Set the PC to turn on automatically when power is restored.
  • Correlate fan speed with processor temperature, if available. As a result, the computer will run quieter, and at the same time, cooler wear will decrease.

However, without all this (except for the first and second points) it is quite possible to do without. This will have little to no effect on the performance of the PC.

3. Preparing to install the operating system

Question : Should I install pirated assemblies?

Answer : Pirate assemblies are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, in such an assembly there can be a bunch of «bonuses», starting with the optimization of the operating system and ending with the automatic installation of additional software. On the other hand, there is always a risk that something will go wrong with the installation on your computer. Pirated assemblies, as a rule, are “sharpened” for a certain configuration and tested on a maximum of several computers before being released. And this is not the only drawback.

Question: Is it better to install Windows from a disk or from a flash drive?

Answer: If the disk has been used frequently, there is always a chance that at a certain stage of the installation the installer will gladly inform you that it cannot copy some system files. As a result, you will kill thirty minutes of your precious time, but you will not install Windows. And it is far from a fact that the problem can be eliminated by cleaning the lens of the CD / DVD drive and polishing the disc with GOI paste.

If you don’t already have bootable media, you can’t do without a computer with an operating system already installed. To make a Windows Installer flash drive:

  1. Burn the ISO image of the desired version of Windows onto your computer. Naturally, the hardware of the PC you have assembled must correspond to the release of the operating system. If the components are «a hundred years old at lunch», the latest versions of Windows may either slow down or not be installed at all.
  2. Insert the flash drive that you want to install Windows into the computer with the OS installed.
  3. Download and run the latest release of the Rufus utility from the official website.
  4. In the Rufus program:
    • In the drop-down list of the Device section, select the flash drive.
    • Under Boot Method , click Select .
    • Specify the location of the pre-captured Windows installation image.
    • In sections Partition scheme and Target system , specify GTP and UEFI (for PCs from new and relatively new components), BIOS and MBR (for computers from «ancient» iron).
    • Click the button Start and wait until the bootable flash drive is created.

If you have the original assembly and have a key, use the official Media Creation Tool. You can download it from the official Microsoft website.

4. Installing Windows

First you need to put the first USB boot device (or CD / DVD drive, if you did not make an installation USB flash drive, but a boot disk).

Important! If there is more than one HDD/SSD on the PC, the order of drives in the system matters. So, for example, if you install Windows on an SSD, the installer may drop the bootloader onto the HDD. After that, the performance of the OS will depend on the HDD, and not on the SSD. If you remove it or it fails, Windows will stop loading. To prevent this from happening in principle, change the order in the BIOS or turn off the HDD during the installation of the operating system.

There are two ways to change the download priority:

  1. By changing the BIOS settings (then you will have to change them again so that every time you turn on the PC it does not try to boot from the first flash drive that comes across).
  2. One-time changing the boot priority in the boot menu. You can get to the Boot Menu by pressing the key F12 , F11 , Esc , but other options are also possible.

When we looked at the preparation for installation, we did not talk about partitioning and formatting disks. Well, that’s right, the Windows installer will perfectly cope with this task. Slice physical disks into logical ones as you please. Just do not be too greedy on the volume of the system disk. Free space quickly runs out, no matter how much you have to add the missing gigabytes from other partitions.

Otherwise, everything is simple: press «Yes», «Yes», «Accept», «OK». In general, agree to everything, nothing more is required of you. And do not rush to turn off or restart the computer if the installer «thinks» about something for a long time. It happens to him.

5. Stress test

It is not known what manufacturers and retailers think, but boxed processor coolers are often designed only for office tasks and surfing the net. Yes, we’ve already checked for processor heat in the BIOS, but this check is almost idle.

Therefore, first of all, let’s determine the maximum allowable temperature of the processor and conduct a stress test to evaluate its heating at maximum loads.

In the CPU specifications we find the maximum operating temperature. However, long before this value is reached, the processor begins to «throttle», skipping cycles and degrading faster. The maximum allowable temperature will be equal to the maximum operating temperature minus 20–25%. Optimally, when the processor heats up to about half the maximum operating temperature.

Stress testing programs:

  • AIDA 64 . An excellent utility with many useful features. The only downside is that the full-featured version is paid.
  • IntelBurnTest . Don’t be fooled by the name. The program works fine with AMD processors as well. And the name is because of the developer’s statement about the use of proprietary Intel algorithms. The utility is good for everyone, but it lacks visualization — there are no visual indicators and graphs, only “naked” numbers.
  • OCCT . Several options for stress tests, an intuitive interface, also checks the video card. Unfortunately, it may not work correctly with some new CPUs, and the developers are in no hurry to correct the situation.
  • Prime 95 . The utility is regularly updated, but, alas, the graphical interface remained the year in 1995. It ideally tests the stability of the processor, but at what temperature the CPU starts to “fail” will have to be determined using third-party software. For example, HWMonitor.

If the temperature turned out to be indecently high at high loads, something will have to be done with the cooling system. If it is much lower than optimal (50% of the maximum), then you can think about overclocking.

6. Installing drivers

The Windows installer tries to install drivers automatically, but it doesn’t always succeed. If no action is taken:

  • Some devices may not be detected at all. Often this happens with sound and network cards, including built-in ones. In this case at Device Manager Windows they will be signed as Unknown device .
  • This happens to video cards at least as often, but there is a significant difference. The software is installed, but not «native», but a standard VGA driver, which significantly limits the capabilities of the graphics adapter.
  • Even if the device is detected normally, outdated drivers are installed on it. This happens both when automatically installed by the operating system, and when using the disk that came with the motherboard or expansion card.

You can search the manufacturer’s website for the latest drivers, but this will take a long time. It is more convenient and faster to use specialized programs, like DriverPack Solution, DriverHub or Driver Genius, , but solely at your own peril and risk, since sometimes there are such problems with them that will not seem enough. This software automatically finds and installs the latest drivers for any device.

7. OS basic setup

Now it doesn’t hurt to bring the system into a divine form. Setting up Windows, an example program of actions:

  • Wherever you get the ISO image, the operating system is probably a little outdated. Therefore, first of all, we check and install fresh updates ( Update Center > Check for updates ).
  • Disable tracking features: Win + I > Settings > section Privacy . Disabling everything on the tabs General , Voice Functions , Personalization ... . In Diagnostics and feedback we switch to sending only basic information, and in Activity log we uncheck the checkbox Send my activity log ... . Will manage in Microsoft and without magazine.
  • Change the default programs. It is better to do this after installing programs in Start > Settings > Applications > Default applications .

8. Installing the main and additional software

Built-in OS tools are designed for a limited range of tasks. And the available system utilities, as a rule, provide more modest opportunities than analogues from third-party developers.

Here is a short list of basic and additional software with sample applications (the list goes on and on):

  • Anti-virus program to replace Windows Defender (Avast, Dr.Web, ESET, Kaspersky).
  • Web browser replacement for Microsoft Edge (Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Brave). Brave has the ability to surf through Tor. Opera has a built-in VPN. Don’t forget to install the required extensions. For example, AdBlock ad blocker.
  • Office suite to replace WordPad (LibreOffice, MS Office, OpenOffice).
  • Archiver (WinRAR, 7-ZIP).
  • Players (VLC media player, AIMP).
  • PDF viewers (Foxit Reader, Sumatra).
  • Skype and Telegram messengers.
  • Password manager (KeePass, LastPass).

At the same time, install some kind of computer maintenance assistant program, for example, Auslogics BoostSpeed, BleachBit, CCleaner or something similar to them. Such tools sometimes help to do something useful (quickly uninstall a program, clear history, find duplicate files, and much more).

9. Setting up backups

To paraphrase Woland’s words from Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, we can say «Disks sometimes suddenly die.» And it will be true! All vaunted self-diagnostics are just dancing with a tambourine. SMART can sort of say that the drive will last at least another couple of years, and it can «cover up» the next day.

And here the user is waiting for two not very funny discoveries:

  1. It is far from a fact that the information will be recovered.
  2. If the data can be pulled out, it is possible that the cost of this procedure will cost much more than the price of a new HDD or SSD.

So it never hurts to have backup copies of valuable files (work documents, collections of personal photos, and so on), and along with the system.

10. Setting up a backup using regular Windows 9 tools0023

There are two options here — through the command line or the graphical interface. Choose the one you like best.

Command line backup:

  1. Go to Start .
  2. Enter Find... cmd in the text box.
  3. Right click on the command line utility and select Run as administrator from the context menu.
  4. Enter command wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:x: -include:y: -allCritical -quiet , where
    1. x is the drive letter where the backup will be placed. For example, an external HDD or SSD drive.
    2. y is the system drive.
  5. Press Enter . Wait. The process is slow. Upon completion, the command line window will display something like The backup completed successfully , which will list all the disks and folders written to the backup.

If you plan to include the contents of other disks in the backup, enter their letters after y separated by commas (…-include: c, d, e…). Here you can also register individual folders (for example, directories with documents and media files).

GUI Backup:

  1. Go to section Backup Service in Settings > System and Security .
  2. Here you can specify the target disk or cloud storage for backups, set the frequency of backups or restore data from a backup made on another computer and/or another version of Windows. However, in section Archiving Service everything is intuitive and without further explanation.

Restoring from a backup when Windows won’t start:

  1. Connect a bootable flash drive or insert a boot disk.
  2. Boot through the Boot Menu from the installation media.
  3. Go to System Restore .
  4. Go to Diagnostics > Advanced settings (in different versions of Windows, the steps are similar, but the location and names of the items may vary slightly.