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Part 3: Putting It All Together

Best Of Tom’s Hardware: How To Build A PC
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Final assembly is usually the quickest part of a build. Component selection may require days of consideration, and finding the "best" seller can take up the better part of a day, but plugging connectors and inserting screws shouldn't take more than a couple hours, even for the most inexperienced builder.

An average person familiar with a few simple hand tools could assemble a complete system in less time than it takes to read this guide, but figuring out what he or she may have done wrong could slow things down significantly. Phobias aside, you're unlikely to damage your hardware or yourself if you follow a few very easy precautions, and we hope this final segment will eliminate hours of post-build troubleshooting.

First Precautions

Nothing creates a sinking feeling more effectively than damaging a component before the build is finished. Major concerns include electrostatic discharge, dropped parts, and breakage caused by force fitment or scratched circuits.

Electrostatic Discharge

An accidental electrostatic discharge (ESD) could destroy a component, a fact that has caused many building guides to exaggerate this danger. In all truth, few experienced custom PC builders take more than the most basic precautions against ESD; even when it does occur, it's likely to follow the component's ground plane rather than zap its most sensitive parts.

The most basic precaution is to occasionally touch a ground, such as a large metal office desk or the metal case of a plugged-in system, to discharge your body. Additional ESD risks come from the use of carpeted workspaces and extremely dry environments, so another level of protection may come from the use of an antistatic mat under the chair and a humidifier for extremely dry rooms. Grounded wrist straps are an over-the-top method of protection rarely used outside of production environments, yet the extra-cautious will attain peace of mind when wearing one.

Fallen Components

It seems easy to prevent in theory, but damage from falls is a far more likely cause of broken components than the previously mentioned ESD. Hard disk drives are often dropped during installation and other parts can be easily knocked from a desk. Reducing drop distance is as easy as moving work away from the edge of a desk, and reducing damage from parts getting knocked to the floor is as simple as leaving them in the box until they're ready to be installed.

Assembly Damage

Most components require a small amount of force to seat the connector, but a few don't. We'll cover the specifics for each part as we install it.

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