Disclaimer: The parts for this build were provided by AMD, ASUS, Kingston, EVGA, Noctua, and Fractal.
Editor’s Note: This article contains affiliate links to Amazon. Buying a product through these links supports Niche Gamer.
A few months ago I did a piece on what sort of parts you should pick out when building a PC, along with why you would want them. The long pause was due to the shortage of GPUs and semiconductors, a poor time to recommend parts. Now supplies are better, we’ll be covering exactly how to build an example PC in Niche Gamer’s guide.
For this build, we will be doing a mid-range Ryzen build using a B550 ASUS motherboard, 16GB of RAM, a Kingston 1TB NVME drive, and a GTX 1660 TI GPU in a Fractal Case. But before we get into that, let’s get into what you would need before you get building.
- A Philips Screwdriver
A #2 is for just about everything besides the m.2 NVMe SSD (which uses a size #0 , though you might be able to get away with a #2 depending on the screw). A magnetic tip screwdriver will help quite a bit when installing screws inside the motherboard. You can grab one of these, and these kits for bits/heads, though you very likely have this stuff lying around or can pick something similar up from a local hardware store.
- A ESD Bracelet and Gloves
A live strong rubber bracelet will not be sufficient; you need one of these. More experienced users can feel free to skip this if they’re comfortable, but this is recommended for novices since it can fry components.
Gloves are optional, but can be helpful for some in holding smaller screws and keeping fingerprints off everything. Just make sure they aren’t latex; white cotton ones are what are generally used.
- A Container for Spare Screws
A cup, vitamin containers; just about anything can work again this is optional but very helpful. You want to avoid losing screws or mixing up motherboard standoffs, so your own confidence in that determines how optional this is.
- Motherboard Manual
If you don’t have the physical manual you can always look up the model number on the manufacturers website (ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI ETC) and a digital manual in the support tab. Yet another blatantly obvious step, but worth repeating for cases where your Motherboard is different from the rest.
- The Rest
You need a large clear work area to build your PC on. This may sound obvious to many, but it’s easy to underestimate how much space you’ll need.
A place such as a kitchen table or work bench is ideal, because even though you might not think this is necessary, you’ll have a mountain of boxes. The space also helps avoid static discharge. You’ll also need scissors for cutting zipties, needle nose pliers, or some other object to help open the components. Also avoiding carpet is helpful for the aforementioned static discharge.
- CPU: Ryzen 3600X (Provided by AMD)
- Motherboard ASUS B550 ROG STRIX-F (Provided by ASUS)
- RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 3200 (Provided By Kingston)
- GPU: EVGA Nvidia GTX 1660 TI SC (Provided by EVGA)
- SSD: Kingston KC2500 (Provided by Kingston For Review)
- CPU Cooler: Noctua D15 chromax.black (Provided by Noctua For Review)
- PSU: EVGA 750G+ (Provided by EVGA)
- Case Fans: Noctua chromax.black Fans x4 140mms x1 120mm (Provided by Noctua)
- Case: Fractal Meshify C (Provided by Fractal)
Big thanks for all the companies who were kind enough to supply us with hardware for this build. All parts with the exception of the KC2500 and Noctua D15
Building The Computer
Installing The RAM and CPU
One of the first things to do is unpack the motherboard and remove it from its anti-static bag; put it on top of the motherboard box. The box won’t discharge static, and it’s fine to use to set up the motherboard RAM, CPU and SSD, and other components.
In the gallery above we have the RAM slots on the motherboard. These are where you install the RAM in your system, the two middle images of me flicking the two tabs for the slots are to insert the RAM. When taking the RAM out, you’ll push those tabs down again.
Next, you need to install the RAM. After you’ve flicked the tabs on top and install both sticks like shown, you might have to place them closer or further from the CPU depending on your motherboard. Remember to never align them side by side if running only two sticks, as running in dual channel means you need to give them at least one slot spacing. In either case, make sure to consult your motherboard manual.
Installing the CPU
Now flip up the metal arm on your motherboard. For our example we’re using an AMD CPU, Intel is similar but a bit different.
Next, carefully remove your CPU from its packaging- making sure to hold it from the edges then install as shown below.
When installing the CPU, make sure to line the arrow on the CPU up with the arrow on the motherboard. Typically on AMD CPUs, the top of the CPU should be where the RAM slots are as shown; but different motherboards can place this differently.
Next, push down the arm to lock the CPU in place. If it has a bit of resistance, this is normal. Push the arm down slowly until it goes under the lock. Now before we install the CPU cooler, lets install the NVMe SSD.
Installing the M.2 SSD
Installing the RAM, CPU, and SSD can go in any order; but you should make sure you install these before putting on a CPU cooler or placing the motherboard inside the case. Now on to installing the drive. The M.2 NVMe SSD is about the size of a stick of gum, and looks similar to RAM.
Now your motherboard may or may not have a heatsink for the SSD (a large piece of metal to draw heat away from components), so this step is different with each motherboard. Some motherboards require you to only remove a single screw, others like the X570 Crosshair require you to partially remove the chipset heatsink, and others have none.
In the case of motherboards without, you’ll need to just slot in in like the image above and use a small screw that comes included to screw it into the motherboard. In my case, I could use a regular Phillips head and screw back on the heatsink.
Your heatsink might have some plastic covering the thermal pad, which you should remove and then stick back onto the heatsink. Be careful here, because the heatsink can stick to the SSD, and you might have to install it two or three times in order to make sure its set into the slot properly.
If you have no heatsink, make sure to slot it in and use the tiny screw included with the motherboard to lock it in place.
CPU Cooler Install
Next for the CPU cooler install. In our case, we are using a Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black cooler; which is one of the most premium air coolers on the market right now. While you can use the stock cooler for this build, we decided to use something a bit more premium in case for future builds we would want to upgrade to a 12 or 16 core 5000 series CPU.
If you do plan on using a stock cooler, you can either use the latch method if the cooler you have uses it; or you’ll have to remove this bracket below any ways to screw the cooler directly onto the motherboard.
To get started, we remove the 4 screws and lay the motherboard flat on the box. One of the reasons I left the motherboard on the box was precisely for this reason. Doing this while the motherboard is in the case is a bit difficult, as the bracket on the back of the motherboard tends to fall out.
Install the new metal brackets as shown above, and apply the thermal paste.
Most people in the comments will argue about the most efficient way to apply the thermal paste, but the old pea-sized blob method works pretty well for me. Keep in mind that small blob will spread out as it is smushed down.
Next, place the cooler on top of the retention brackets to line up with the screws on the coolers plate with the brackets below. Make sure to press and screw both sides in a few turns to make sure both sides are both hitting the thread, and to try to put even pressure on both sides. So make sure you alternate sides.
Once the cooler is secure, clip on the fan as pictured on both sides. You can also attach a second fan if included. Next plug the fan into the CPU fan header as pictured above.
Next we have the Power Supply, or PSU. The power supply used here is a EVGA 750 Gold, which they’ve provided for this build. Fully modular power supplies are becoming the norm on more power supplies, where previously it was a more expensive feature.
The cables we need to look at here is the 24pin, which you can’t miss- it’s the largest one. However the cables that are easier to mix up are the GPU and CPU power cables.
The GPU power cables can be called PCI-e cables or VGA cables, which are shown above that are in a 6+2 configuration. The CPU power cables which plug into the top of your motherboard are in a 4+4 configuration, and in the dark can seem similar; but the splitting can make it easy to tell so you don’t break any connectors. The connectors tend to be pretty resilient, so for most people this shouldn’t be an issue.
Next we have the area where the PSU is installed in the case. This case has a lower chamber which separates the HDD and power supply. Some tips are to keep a few extra cables connected; like two more GPU cables if you plan on upgrading from a mid-tier GPU to a power hungry top tier card later, or extra SATA cables for HDDs and SSDs that you plan on installing later.
Now for the PSU, we’re going to make sure we have all our cables in. It’s quite annoying to finish a build, only to realize you forgot a cable and have to re-wire everything. Count the number of cables your GPU, CPU, and storage will use; along with any fan controllers, RGB hubs, or accessories that will need direct power.
For this case, you need to remove to screws for a bracket to secure the PSU to the case; so remove the bracket from the case, screw the bracket to the PSU, then slide the PSU into the case. Then screw the bracket into the case to attach them together.
Despite what some larger publications might tell you, any rubber pads on the bottom of the case aren’t to “keep your PSU from frying parts” or anything dramatic like that. They’re used for anti-vibration purposes, to keep your case quieter so don’t sweat it too much.
The case we were sent is the Fractal Meshify C, but we’re going to swap the fans out with some premium Noctua Chromax fans. Although the fans it come with are pretty decent, the Noctua fans are some of the best on the market, and are still sleek and all black giving you high airflow, low noise and good looks at the cost of… Well, price.
To swap out the fans you need to put your hand underneath the front panel on the case and pull up until it pops out, then pop off around the sides and top. Don’t pull too hard, but make sure to put enough pressure to pull it off safely. After that, you’ll see the exposed front panel. Now we’re going to replace those fans here along with a top and rear fan.
Although you can probably save money and just keep the original fans, we’re going a bit overboard and replacing them all. To do this we’re unscrewing the old fans out of the chassis in an X pattern, then pulling out the old fans. Next we’re going to pop our new fans out of the box and install the new ones in the bottom. We’re going to copy the process for the rest of the case.
Types of Screws And Motherboard Standoffs.
Here’s an assortment of screws, the standoffs on the right will need to be installed into your case so the motherboard doesn’t short out. Make sure to only install as many standoffs as is needed for your motherboard type. For our case, it’s a full sized ATX which uses nine. M-ATX and Mini-ITX uses less, and are arranged differently.
Do this properly, as having too many or too few can result in shorting out your motherboard, CPU, and other components. Which screws are for the motherboard and PSU can get confusing, and can easily strip the screw or standoff; usually in gold or brass that looks like a nut. So if you feel like this screw isn’t going in properly, you may have grabbed the wrong screws.
Now before we take our next step, this is the best time to pop in the GPU and cables, and power on the system outside the case to make sure it boots. You can use a screwdriver to tap the PWR switch on the bottom of the case; just first make sure to connect a monitor and see if it gets into the bios and posts.
You CAN skip this step, but it can save time if you have any issues troubleshooting. Just make sure to not put any of the components on a carpet, and leave the motherboard on top of a box for now. Feel free to skip this if you wish, and we can move on to the next step.
Now you can use the included bit to screw the standoffs into place. Make sure you don’t over tighten them, as this can cause issues that will lead you to needing pliers to pull the standoffs, off, to take it off your motherboard. Though leaving them too loose can cause a similar issue. This is one of my least favorite parts about doing builds.
Installing The Motherboard
Now that you’ve put in all the fans, screwed in all the standoffs (Double check!), and have tried to make sure there are as few fan cables or wires flapping around underneath the motherboard tray in the case; it’s time to install the motherboard.
But first, if you have an I/O Shield that isn’t connected to the motherboard itself, you’ll need to pop it into the case. An I/O shield is a thin rectangular piece of metal which might be a silver steel color, or might have colored plastic with the logos and names for the connectors; depending on what you bought.
Now you might have to pull a fan cable out of the way or remove some wires somewhere, and this is absolutely something you need to do with two hands. Make sure before you screw ANYTHING in to clear out any wires that might have creeped under the mobo. I repeat myself here because it can happen way more often than you’d expect.
After that, make sure to take your time and screw in all screws. Preferably the top left first, to make sure the motherboards I/O shield lines up in the case properly.
A magnetic screw driver is amazing here to keep you from losing screws that flap around in the case. Now, make sure the I/O Shield is lined up. If you drop any screws in the case, make sure to remove them, because they can cause a short in your PC. Now, we’re reaching the finish line.
Installing The GPU
If you have any additional storage to install, now the best time to install it. This is a pretty simple process. You need a power cable from the PSU and a SATA cable to connect to the motherboard. But lets move on to the GPU.
The GPU we’re installing is a GTX 1660 TI. I’m quite happy EVGA was able to sample us something, even if it was last gen due to all the supply issues.
The first step is to unscrew the IO covers as shown on the left in the first image. Next we are going to put the GPU in the top slot. What we’re trying to do here is line up the gold “fingers” on the bottom of the card with the PCI-e slot of roughly equal length below on the board.
Once its been slotted in, you should hear a pop or a click if you’re using a relatively new motherboard. With this, you need to use the two screws you removed and put them in IO for the GPU on the top left- in the same spot where you removed them. This is to secure the GPU to the case. Finally plug in the VGA cables from the power supply we showed you earlier.
And that’s pretty much it for the build! Finally we have some pictures of the system assembled.
Make sure to let us know what you think in the comments section of the article.