Building and buying the PC is the easy part for many people. But what should you do after you have your PC?
What To Do After Building/Buying A PC
After you build or buy a new PC, you should:
- Make sure your PC POSTs
- Install Windows / OS (if necessary)
- Update Windows
- Update Drivers
- Download Graphics Card Software (GeForce Experience, etc)
- Make Sure You Are On The Correct GPU
- Verify All System Information Is Correct
- Set Up Your Monitor (Adjust Hz)
- Enable X.M.P. (Uncap RAM Speed)
- Update Motherboard Drivers
Make sure your PC POSTs
POSTing is a fancy term for making sure that your computer actually turns on. If you have your PC and it’s plugged in, the first thing you should do is POST. To POST, just simply press the power button!
The POST (Power-On Self-Test), is the process your computer goes through after you hit the power button. It checks all of your components to make sure you have the right ones and that they are working.
If your computer POSTs, it will turn on. Otherwise you will probably hear a series of beeps, and some lights on your motherboard may light up.
If your computer does not POST, then you will need to figure out which BIOS is installed on your PC and figure out what the beeps and the lights mean so that you can fix the issue(s).
Install Windows / OS (if necessary)
If you built your computer you’re probably going to need to install Windows on it. Even if you bought your computer, you still may need to install Windows depending on where you bought it from.
If you turn your PC on and it has Windows (or any other Operating System) already, then you can skip this step!
Otherwise, you’re going to need a flash drive and another computer that is connected to the internet. Once you have your computer and a flash drive, you can download the Windows creation tool directly from Microsoft.
Do note, you’ll also have to pay for Windows if you do not have a key. Once you download the installation tool from Microsoft, plug in your flash drive and run the tool to create a boot drive.
Once you have created your boot drive, plug it into your new computer, and enter into your BIOS (repeatedly press the Delete key as your computer is starting).
Your BIOS should have a “boot drive” or “boot option” or something along those lines listed somewhere. It will be different for every BIOS, so you may need to do some Googling for how to change the boot drive for your specific motherboard / BIOS.
Select the USB flash drive as your boot drive, then save your settings and restart your PC. When the PC starts up, it should enter into the installation wizard for Windows.
Once Windows is installed, you’re going to want to immediately check for any updates and install any of them available. We do this step because we’re going to be updating a few more things below.
Some of the things that we’re downloading require certain versions of Windows to be installed in order to work properly.
Overall, updating Windows before installing any software or drivers is best practice and will help dodge any potential problems.
To update Windows, you just have to press the Windows Key on your keyboard, or click the logo in the bottom left corner of your screen.
Then just type in up “Update” and click “Check for updates”. This will automatically detect and install any Windows updates that are available (as long as you are connected to the internet).
Install / Update Graphics Drivers
If you have a dedicated GPU like an NVIDIA card, then the card probably has some kind of drivers available for you to download.
You can check what kind of GPU you have by going to System Information > Components > Display.
If you do have an NVIDIA GPU, then you can head over to NVIDIA’s website to download the official drivers for that GPU.
After you download the .exe file from NVIDIA (or AMD, depending on your specific GPU), you can run the .exe to install the drivers onto your computer.
This is an important step because if your drivers are out of date, your GPU won’t perform as well as it should and you may even have problems in certain games.
Make Sure You Are Using The Correct GPU
This may sound a bit silly but it’s actually an incredibly common mistake people make, especially after buying their first pre-built PC.
Take a look at which port your monitor is plugged into on the back of your PC. Your monitor should be plugged directly into your dedicated graphics card (if you have one).
Many PCs have integrated graphics on the motherboard, so you may see two different places on the back of your PC where monitors can be connected–one spot for plugging a display into the motherboard, and another spot for plugging displays into the graphics card.
Generally, you can tell the two apart by their location. The monitor ports for your motherboard/integrated graphics are usually grouped with the other ports of your motherboard, like USB, audio, and ethernet ports.
By contrast, the ports of your graphics card are typically lower on your PC case in their own dedicated PCI bay. The ports won’t be grouped together with USB or other miscellaneous ports.
If you accidentally plug your monitor into your motherboard, and not your graphics card, you won’t be using the power of your graphics card.
Instead, you’ll be getting the integrated graphics of your processor, which is not suited to gaming and will produce inferior results.
Verify All System Information Is Correct
Now that everything is set up and plugged into the right place, it’s time to make sure everything is looking good in our operating system.
Open up “System Information” by pressing the Windows Key on your keyboard or by clicking the Windows logo in the bottom left corner of your screen. From here, type in “System Information”.
Once you’re in the System Information screen, there are a few things to look for:
- Make sure that your Processor is correct in System Summary
- Make sure that “Installed Physical Memory” matches your RAM size
- Take note of your BIOS version (literally note it in case you ever run into issues)
- Click Components > Display on the left pane of the screen and ensure it matches your GPU
We do these steps just to double check that the system is using the correct GPU as well as to make sure our computer has the parts that were advertised (if it is a pre-build).
This also helps make sure that everything is installed properly and working correctly.
If you want an example of how this can save you, I helped my friend build his first PC and after we installed Windows and had everything running, I opened up System Information to take a look.
While we had two 8GB RAM sticks installed, his System Information only showed 8GB installed. Turns out, the RAM wasn’t pushed in all the way…
So, checking System Information is just a good way to do a quick sweep of everything to make sure there are no funny issues.
Set Up Your Monitor (Adjust Hz)
Alright, next up is getting your monitor ready for gaming, streaming, etc. All monitors have a maximum refresh rate, which is just how fast the monitor is able to refresh. In human terms, a higher refresh rate means a smoother picture.
If you’re familiar with gaming performance, then you know that having a high FPS (frames per second) is good. However, you can only see the number of frames that your monitor can display.
So if you’re playing a game at 200 FPS, it doesn’t matter if your monitor only goes up to 60 Hz. You will only see 60 FPS.
Most normal monitors have a maximum refresh rate of 60 – 75 Hz, but high-end and gaming monitors can go up to 144 Hz and beyond. Generally, the higher the better, because your games, movies, and videos will all look much smoother on higher refresh rates.
Pay attention here because, for some reason, most monitors are not set to their highest refresh rates by default. They’re usually set to 50 – 60 Hz by default.
So when you’re first setting up your computer, you need to go into your Windows settings and manually increase the allowed refresh rate to your monitor’s maximum.
To increase your monitor’s refresh rate in Windows:
- Right click on your desktop and then click “Display settings”
- Scroll down and click “Advanced display settings”
- Scroll down to “Refresh Rate”
- Click on the box with “X Hz” selected (where X is a number)
- Select the highest refresh rate available
- If a popup appears, click “Keep changes”
Great! Now you’re getting the refresh rate that you paid for and all is good in the world! Hopefully you can already tell that your display looks much smoother.
If you’re jumping from 60 Hz to 144 Hz, then the difference will be astounding. Jumping from 60 – 75 Hz won’t make much of a difference, but the more frames the better, as they say.
Benchmarking is pretty much a way to test just how powerful your PC actually is. A good benchmark will put some stress on your CPU, your GPU, and your RAM.
It’ll show you whether you should be playing on low graphics settings in game or whether you can turn those bad boys up to fancy.
Even if you’re not a gamer and don’t plan to game on your new PC, it’s always a good idea to have an idea of how powerful your PC is. You never know when you’ll want to pick up a new hobby that requires a beastly PC.
Benchmarking is also good for showing you your PC’s weak points, especially in a pre-build. This way you have an idea of what to upgrade first when the time comes (hopefully a few years down the line).
Alright, so to benchmark your PC, you’re going to want to download benchmarking software. I recommend:
Both of these are great and have plenty of free features. 3D Mark is probably easier for most people to use, but the free version is a little limited.
Unreal Engine’s tool is fantastic overall, so if you don’t want to spend the cash or find that 3D Mark doesn’t do the job, then try it out as well.
Enable X.M.P. (Uncap RAM Speed)
I’m about to give you a pro tip that even your most hardcore computer nerd friends may not know. All RAM is actually limited by the BIOS unless you turn a setting off.
So even if you buy RAM that is rated for 3200 MHZ, you’ll still only get 2139.46MHz worth of speed. I’m going to teach you how to get the speed that you paid for with your RAM.
To do this, we have to go back to the BIOS. To get into your BIOS, you have two options.
The first option is to restart your computer while mashing a specific button (usually it is delete, but it depends on your computer.)
However, now that we have Windows installed, there is an easier way to get into your BIOS:
- Press your Windows key on your keyboard or click the Windows logo in the bottom left corner of your screen
- Click the power button, then hold shift and click restart
- A special restart menu will pop up, click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware Settings
These steps should get you to your BIOS on most modern Windows computers, but if it doesn’t work for you then you’ll have to rely on restarting while pressing a key repeatedly (Delete, F12, or something similar – depending on your PC.)
Alright, now that we’re in the BIOS we can take the limit off of your RAM. Find something along the lines of “Advanced Memory settings” or “memory settings” – something about memory.
Next, you’re going to look for a setting called “X.M.P.” or Extreme Memory Performance (may also be called D.O.C.P.).
Most of the time this setting will be on Auto and show a specific speed (ie 2139.46Mhz) Just change the profile to another setting and you should see that number shoot up.
We do this last because in some rare cases, this could cause your PC to randomly shutdown. If your CPU and RAM are not very compatible with your RAM at the higher speed, for example.
This doesn’t happen often but it’s not unheard of. So it’s safer to do it after Windows is installed, updated, and everything else is working.
Update Motherboard Drivers
Now, one final touch – you’re going to want to go to the website of your motherboard manufacturer and install the latest drivers. There should be chipset drivers, ethernet drivers, maybe even RGB software, etc.
This isn’t completely necessary, but it’s a nice thing to do because it makes sure that everything in your PC is up-to-date and may help avoid future obstacles.
Run A Game
Now we’re finally at the fun part! We sort of covered this with benchmarking, but we’re going to test our PC one more time in a real-world scenario.
Benchmarking is like the driver’s test, but now we’re finally taking the car for a spin. So start downloading the first game you want to run on your PC, then launch that bad boy and take a look at your framerate.
Most games have an option to enable performance monitors, so you can check your framerate and other stats while gaming. Run a game, tweak the graphics settings, and see how your PC holds up!
These programs are pretty simple to use. You’re just going to want to make sure that your CPU and GPU stay under 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit), and preferably in the 70-80 degrees range.
If your temps are within those ranges, then you’re good to go! If they get higher, then make sure all of your fans work, and that they are properly located (one in the front-bottom, one in the back).
If your fans are working properly but your components are still overheating, then check for dust, cracks, and other issues that could be hampering the fans’ performance.
How Do You Know If You Built Your PC Correctly?
You know that you have built your PC correctly if it turns on and you are able to install Windows. If your computer boots into the BIOS, then it is probably built correctly, but installing Windows is the best way to know for sure because if anything is wrong, Windows is unlikely to work.
When building a PC, the moment I plug in a boot drive and have Windows start installing onto my hard drive is one of the most anxiety-filled moments of the entire process.
Just watching the little spinning logo with my fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t get stuck on anything fills me with so much dread and anticipation.
The good news is that if you do not get stuck on your Windows installation, then you’re pretty much good to go!
You may still run into a problem or two while updating, but most of the time they will be easy fixes and have nothing to do with how you built your PC.
Booting to your BIOS is a good sign, but installing and booting to Windows is the ultimate test of whether you built your PC correctly or not.
Interested In Gaming? Check Out My Recommendations!
|Best GPU||RTX 30390 (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Processor||i9-12,900K Processor (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best RAM||Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 16GB (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming Monitor||Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor – AW2518H (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Cooling||NZXT Kraken X73 RGB 360mm (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Power Supply||Corsair RMX Series, RM750x, 750 Watt (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Motherboard||GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO Gaming Motherboard (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best PC Case||Cooler Master Cosmos C700P (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming Keyboard||Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Gaming Keyboard (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming Mouse||Razer DeathAdder V2 Gaming Mouse (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming PC||CUK MPG Velox by MSI Gaming Desktop (click to view on Amazon)|