Biggest PC Building Mistakes From The Community

CPU Mistakes

First up are CPU mistakes. A small note before we get started. In our deliberation we decided to rule out any entries that involved bending CPU pins by mistake, simply because it was just too common.

Our first submission, which is probably the biggest mistake from the Tom’s Hardware community manager, Joe Pishgar, involves him taking a Dremel to a CPU.

“Back when I was in middle school, I sawed an AMD K6-2 CPU in half using a Dremel. See, it was a different pin configuration than the socket for the motherboard I was using, and I wanted it to fit. Yes, there was some peer pressure involved. I think the biggest stupidity was plugging the thing in and pressing the power button. The smell was quite impressive. Since then, I've always associated the scent of computer components burning with a deep sensation of personal guilt. Life lesson: Never take a Dremel to a CPU.”

Joe later reported back to tell us that this was not even his own CPU. That’s gotta hurt to walk in and find half your CPU sitting on the counter and the other half smoking up the room.

The next submission comes from user “weberdarren97,” who went through a series of CPUs and motherboards while pushing for higher clock speeds.

“I tried to get the Asus m5a78l-m/usb3 to power the AMD FX 8350 at 5GHz. Yeah, I burnt out the power delivery systems on the motherboard and bricked the CPU. So I got another 8350 and then got the Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 motherboard and attempted to make it to the magical 5.2GHz, then I couldn't figure out why my CPU burnt up after like fifteen seconds... I forgot to put on thermal paste.So then I got my third 8350 and put it in correctly then I actually managed to get to 7.15GHz just out of luck, I seem to have won the silicon lottery with this last CPU.”

The third submission is from user “Kurz,” and it comes as a healthy reminder to never work on a PC while it is turned on.

“Mine isn't as glamorous. I was lazy and didn't want to turn off the computer to move components around in the case. I think I had a x800 XL AMD card. The screw driver touched the back of the card, Sparks flew and the computer froze up. The computer booted back up just fine. Though gaming performance was impacted...I am not proud of this but I was an teen at the time. I successfully RMA'd the card and get it replaced.”

Next up is a submission from user “urishima,” who made the mistake of leaving the protective plastic coating on his CPU cooler when installing it. I’d say this one came off lucky, because if "urishma" hadn’t noticed it soon enough or applied too much pressure while mounting the cooler, then this could have turned out much worse.

“Forgot to remove the little bit of transparent plastic that covered the base plate of the after-market cooler for my Phenom II. I only realized why the temps of my CPU would skyrocket as soon as I turned it on, when I removed the cooler to reapply thermal paste.There was no lasting damage, but I felt like right idiot at the time.”

Next up is “thedigitaldevil,” who made the mistake of using the wrong thermal paste, which essentially welded his CPU to the CPU cooler.

“This took place when I was about 22 I think which would be roughly 13 years ago. I can't remember the CPU socket type of model but it was a top of the line intel. I was building a new PC and based on the recommendation of my brother, who was great with PCs, I ordered some arctic silver along with my gear. He had sent me the Newegg link. Unfortunately, I never reviewed the one he chose. So after I got the parts and was building it, for some reason I had to remove the CPU. Well, it wouldn't come off. Turns out he had unknowingly picked out the adhesive cement version of the arctic silver. So, after hours of agony, pain and tempers soaring and trying to pry it off the fan using a few screw drivers, I ended up doing some permanent damage to it forcing me to buy a new one. I think in the process I also broke the MB socket that holds the CPU in place... It was a nightmare...I should have reviewed his suggestion in the first just to cover myself. Live and learn.”

User “Astranged” made a similar mistake, except with super glue.

“On my very first budget build gaming pc: I had an i3-3220 from an old pc, so I had to purchase an aftermarket cooler.. I had a little tube of thermal paste and a little tube of super glue which looked almost identical. I ended up squirting a big blob of super glue all over the cpu and needless to say I spent that day trying to perform CPR on that poor little i3... RIP.”


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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.