How to Build a Desktop PC

Too much dust will eventually clog your PCs ventilation system, in both your case and components, making it choke on hot air and dirt. 

PSU

Refer here for further info: https://blog.nzxt.com/psu-cable-connections/

Motherboard

The most basic test is:

  1. Ensure CPU connected to motherboard
  2. Connect PSU’s CPU & power cables to motherboard
  3. Short the +ve & -ve switch pins by tapping (not holding) them with a screwdriver
    1. If PSU & CPU’s cooler fans run, that means motherboard is working fine

When handling a motherboard, 

1 person’s experience

2 ways they can be damaged:

  1. Bending or breaking them off
  2. Static electricity

If neither issue happened, you’re fine.

Another person’s experience

Never have I ever fried anything, just ground yourself, I never used an anti static wristband in my life.

CPU

1 person’s experience

I have never seen a CPU “age” to the point of not working. I have seen CPUs overheat, which is fixed by removing all dust and lint from the PC, or potentially unseating, cleaning, and re-applying thermal paste to the CPU. I have seen CPUs suddenly fail permanently from lightning strike. And I have seen CPUs fail when Fumblefingers put it in cockeyed and bent the pins (that was me. I was Fumblefingers). Other components do fail – HDDs, RAM, and especially SSDs have suddenly failed without explanation after service.

Another person’s experience

Signs of a dying cpu are that it starts to make more mistakes. A bit flip here. Some corrupted cache there.

The symptoms can range from blue screens of death to the occasional retransmit of a network frame or miscolored pixel. Basically everything has bit that could fail, and the function will determine the severity of the symptoms.

To make matters worse, this is also the same behavior when the power supply is unstable, the clocks are too fast, or its running too hot.

The symptoms are most often linked to bad memory, which is more likely to suffer from problems due to being on a separate board, build to a price and often lacks self correcting mechanisms. (ECC)

Thermal Paste

When Do You Need to Apply Thermal Paste?

Thermal transfer material is used when installing any cooling solution. 

When people think about thermal paste in the context of building a PC, they’re probably referring to the process of installing a CPU cooler.

When you buy a graphics card, for example, the thermal solution is already integrated. You don’t usually have to worry about installing a cooler onto a GPU, unless you are interested in like custom liquid cooling. With a CPU cooler, you have the option to choose the one you want, but that means you’ll usually need to install it yourself.

Preparations for Thermal Paste Application

A few things to keep in mind before starting . . .

  • Make sure that the CPU is clean, and that there isn’t any old thermal paste on it. If there is, carefully remove the old paste from the lid of the CPU with isopropyl alcohol and a microfiber cloth or paper towel that doesn’t shed, and let it dry before continuing.
  • Before you start applying the thermal paste, make sure the rest of your CPU cooler is ready to install. Consult the instructions, ensure that every step has been completed up to attaching the CPU cooler, and make sure you have any necessary tools close at hand.

Situations to Avoid

Make sure to use the correct amount of thermal paste, which is roughly the size of a pea or a grain of rice. An insufficient amount might not cover the surface area needed in order to be effective. Too much reduces the efficacy of the paste, due to the metal surfaces being too far apart, and also risks spilling out onto the motherboard during installation.

How to Apply Thermal Paste – Step by Step

  1. Read all relevant instructions before starting. This includes those that come with your CPU cooler and thermal paste. Every brand of thermal paste and CPU cooler is a little different, and knowing the particulars of yours before starting will help the process go smoother.
  2. Apply thermal paste onto the center of the CPU’s IHS. (If you already have thermal paste pre-applied on your cooler, you can skip this step.) You only need to apply a small amount — roughly the size of a grain of rice or a pea — onto the center of the integrated heat spreader.
  3. Install CPU cooler. Use light, top-down pressure to place the base-plate or waterblock of your cooler onto the CPU, and hold that pressure while attaching the cooler to the mounting mechanism. You’ll want to use enough force to keep the cooler from sliding, and to evenly distribute the thermal paste, but you don’t want to push hard enough to bow the motherboard or damage the CPU. Keep the cooler in place as you attach it to the motherboard in a diagonal pattern, securing the screws (assuming you are using a screw mechanism) as if you were drawing an “X” with them. Do not fully tighten the screws until you have attached all four, then turn each a few times before moving on to the next in order to ensure even pressure.
  4. Double-check your work. Once the base-plate or water-block of the CPU cooler is firmly attached, check your work to make sure everything looks correct. There shouldn’t be any thermal paste spilling over the edges of the CPU, or anywhere on the motherboard. If there is, it means you used too much paste, and should clean it off with alcohol and start the process again. If everything looks clean and the cooler doesn’t move when you touch it, then congratulations! You’ve completed this critical step.

How Often Should You Replace Thermal Paste?

In most cases, you shouldn’t need to reapply more than once every few years, though you should replace your paste if you remove your cooler for any reason. You may also want to consider reapplying thermal paste if you find your CPU temperatures are climbing.

If in doubt, consult the thermal paste manufacturer, and follow their recommendations.

RAM

Thats pretty normal with a lot of boards now, just make sure you push it into the non locking side first, then down into the locking side, not straight in the way you are trying to do it. if you look closley at the bottom of the RAM stick, you’ll notice the PCB isnt actually straight, its concave, walk / step it in, a little bit on each side at a time, as long as the non locking side goes all the way in first.

Once you get it in, just double check the non locking side is pushed right in.

Cleaning MOBO, RAM, etc…

Use WD-40 Contact Cleaner (or equivalent, NEVER others like the original WD-40)


Reference

  1. Nelius, J. (2019, September 20). How can I tell if my motherboard is dead? Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://www.pcgamer.com/how-can-i-tell-if-my-motherboard-is-dead/
  2. Seasonic m12ii 512w evo – Can’t find pinout. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/seasonic-m12ii-512w-evo-cant-find-pinout.3214935/
  3. Here’s what you need to know when choosing between liquid cooling vs air cooling, I. H. (n.d.). CPU Cooler: Liquid Cooling Vs Air Cooling. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://www.intel.sg/content/www/xa/en/gaming/resources/cpu-cooler-liquid-cooling-vs-air-cooling.html
  4. JeffJeff 45433 gold badges88 silver badges2222 bronze badges, Christopher HostageChristopher Hostage 5, & Jeroen3Jeroen3 13155 bronze badges. (1963, May 01). What are the signs of a dying CPU? Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://superuser.com/questions/839636/what-are-the-signs-of-a-dying-cpu
  5. Here’s all the info you need when it comes to thermal paste: What it’s for, A. H. (n.d.). How to Apply Thermal Paste. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://www.intel.com.au/content/www/au/en/gaming/resources/how-to-apply-thermal-paste.html