Building a Custom PC in 2021

Hardware Components

The PC hardware market of 2021 offers a huge choice of brands and technological levels to choose from. Getting a complete overview involves reading a lot on forums and magazines, browsing supplier product pages, and reading user comments.

Assembling

On a cloudy day, I unpacked all components and began the assembly. Following example builds in written or video form, incorporating many beginner’s error advices, the individual steps are these:

  • Plan position of CPU fans
  • Plan position of mainboard and graphics card (PCIe Slot)
  • Pry graphics card slot
  • Install fans
  • Insert M2 NVME SSD
  • Insert RAM
  • Install CPU (and cooler since its pre-installed)
  • Insert bolts, attach mainboard, fix with nuts
  • Connect CPU fan to mainboard pins
  • Connect chassis fan to mainboard pins
  • Connect front panel wires to mainboard pins (power button, HDD led, audio)
  • Move PSU into chassis
  • Connect required power cables to PSU (24pin main, 8pin CPU, 6+2pin GPU)
  • Insert bolts, attach PSU, fix with nuts
  • Connect main power and CPU power cable
  • Insert into PCIe slot
  • Insert bolts back panel, tighten with nuts
  • Connect GPU power cable

First Boot

Time for a first test. I connected the PC to a TV via HDMI, added power, switched it on and … saw the Bios screen. Hooray! It worked just as it was. Honestly, I did not expect that, but was prepared to see a blank screen or hear frantic beeps from the motherboard.

Install Windows 10

Let’s continue with the OS installation. Because I want to use the PC also for gaming, I choose to install Windows 10 first, still leaving the option for Linux. Windows10 can be installed from a USB stick — this is a standard experience for me as a Linux user, but feels very new for Windows.

Post-Assembly Steps

Windows10 booted without complaints. Additional drivers for Ethernet and soundcard were required. With a WLSN USB stick I could get the drivers from the manufactures website and install them. With this, all connected hardware was fully operational. Mission accomplished — almost!

  • Cable management: The bulky power cables can be hidden between the mainboard interior hook and the outer wall where also additional SSD drives would be installed.
  • Fan position and cables: Seeing the concrete position of the graphics card and mainboard, I slight re-arranged the fans and also turned them clockwise so that their wires would lead naturally to the nearest mainboard pins
  • Motherboard back panel slot: I forgot to insert the mainboard back panel slot! This required unfortunately to loosen the mother board nuts to get enough room, and then add the slot.

Conclusion

Overall, I had great fun with building my PC. It started with understanding the current technologies for all components: CPU processing power and power consumption, mainboard chipsets and compatibility to other components, M2 NVME SSD and the form factors of builds. Then, I started to draft the component list and made a set of principles how to choose them. In between these steps, the new graphics Card RX 6600 XT was released. Here in Germany, graphic cards prices are still very high, so I was happy to get a new RX 6600 for the vendor price. Once all components arrived, assembly could begin. In total it took me 4 hours for the main assembly, 3 hours for installing Windows 10 and solving the NVME SSD error, and anther 2 hours for the post assembly. The build went flawlessly and worked out of the box — much to my surprise. Now, this machine resides on my desk, and whenever I put it on, colorful RGB lights from the onboard LEDs and the RAM are shown.

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Sebastian

Sebastian

IT Project Manager & Developer