Common Mistakes in PC Building

1. Not Putting The I/O Shield On

Motherboard I/O Shield
Probably the most common mistake for beginners is forgetting to put the motherboard’s I/O shield on before inserting the board into the case. Some say the I/O shield is used to keep the EMI (Electromagnetic interference) out of the case, some say it serves as a dust filter or cover. Though your system will still run, it looks ugly without it. It only takes a couple of seconds to put it on first, but it may take hours if you have already installed everything else. You have to take the whole motherboard out of the case to put it on. If you don’t care about the looks, it’s okay not to install it. And don’t be ashamed if you forget to put the I/O shield on, even experienced PC builders commit that mistake.

2. Not Removing The Clear Plastic From The Cooler Before Installing

This is common among beginners. Some coolers have thin plastic under the cooler. So thin, in fact that you may not even notice that it is there. This piece of plastic, if not removed before installation, will hinder the cooler’s ability to dissipate heat from the processor, resulting in high temperatures. Remove it and don’t forget to add thermal paste if it’s not pre-applied.

3. Too Tight / Loose Screws

Too tight screws can result in almost impossible removal of the component when it needs to be replaced, upgraded, or when you want to clean up your case. There are some tricks to loosen too-tight screws – by using rubber, pliers, or screw extractor.

Loose screws may fall off into your case and may short other components. Components with loose screws may also fall out of their position and may cause them to malfunction, like hard drives and fans.

4. Wrong RAM Orientation For Dual-Channel

This is another frequent beginner mistake, especially on motherboards with four or more RAM slots of the same color. Some motherboards have color-coded RAM slots to make it easier to identify where to put the memory modules to enable dual-channel mode. But there are many exceptions, so it’s best to check the motherboard’s manual before installing the memory modules. If the motherboard has only two RAM slots, dual-channel mode will be enabled automatically when both RAM slots were populated.

5. Wrong AIO Orientation

The reason why AIO orientation is important is that some air is still in the system. AIOs still have some air in them for some reasons, one is to prevent the outburst of liquid in a weak seal due to liquid pressure caused by high temperature. You want the air to stay out of the pump and CPU block because when there’s air in the pump, the pump will have to work harder to push and pull the liquid causing it to have a shorter lifespan. To prevent this, position the pump lower than the radiator’s highest part. In this position, the air will be stuck at the highest part of the radiator.

These positions apply to the pumps inside the CPU block. There are some AIOs where the pump is outside the block and in the different parts of the AIO, in the radiator, or in the tubing. If you have these types of AIOs, remember that air will always end up at the highest point of the AIO, and you don’t want air to stay in the pump or CPU block.


6. Using Pigtail Cable For Graphics Card Power Connector

The PSU’s pigtail cable is the cable that has the two 8-pin connectors (1×8 + 1×6-pin connectors) for the graphics card.

The power rating for the 8-pin connector is 150w while the 6-pin is rated at 75w, or 225w when combined (300w if both 8-pins were used). So if your graphics card draws less than 225w of power, 200w for example, a single 8-pin (150w) is enough as the PCI-E slot also provides 75w for the graphics card. But if your graphics card draws more than 225w, 275w for example, the combination of 8-pin and 6-pin connectors and the PCI-E slot is enough to provide power for the graphics card (150w + 75w + 75w = 300w). You can use the cable that has both the 8-pin and the 6-pin to connect to the graphics card. But if the required power exceeds 300w, it is recommended to use separate cables that have 8-pin to connect to the graphics card. This is to minimize the wattage running through the cables to avoid a meltdown.

Image by Seasonic


7. Not Removing Other Drives When Installing Windows

Not really a mistake but sometimes it’s the cause of the problem, especially when there are multiple drives with the same capacity and the same brand. It creates confusion as to which drive is the drive where you want the operating system installed. You might install the operating system on the wrong drive, like one where you already have files.
Another problem resulting from this is that sometimes the bootloader will be installed in another drive, and when you remove that drive, Windows will go into recovery boot loops.


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Though started gaming win NES Classic and Famicom, my love for PC gaming started in the late 90s with Command and Conquer Red Alert, Warcraft II, and PC versions of Golden Axe, Street Fighter, Prehistorik, Prince of Persia and many others. It also started my interest in PC hardware and software starting with DOS and Windows 3.11. I have been a computer technician for several internet cafes and retail stores in 2010s and that's also when I started writing for

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