If you’re putting together a new PC for the first time, then you’re probably wondering how long the PC building process usually takes overall. And as you might have guessed, the answer depends on a number of factors, so it’s difficult to narrow it down to any specific time frame.
So, what stages are there to the PC building process, and roughly how long does each stage take? That’s exactly what we’ll present to you in this guide, so keep reading.
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Physically putting a PC together might end up being the fastest step of the DIY PC building process, but before you can assemble your beastly new gaming rig, you have to buy the components. And before you can buy the components, you need to figure out what components you should buy.
And so, the first step is research.
From a technical standpoint, PC building is simpler than it has ever been because hardware manufacturers follow a variety of universally-accepted standards. Therefore, making sure that your components are compatible won’t be too big of a hassle, but a certain degree of research is still necessary if you want to put together a build that is well-balanced and provides good value for your money.
So, here are the basic steps:
- Determine how much you are willing to spend overall
- Pick the graphics card that suits your needs best, performance-wise and price-wise
- Make the choice between AMD and Intel
- Find the CPU model that fits your budget and is powerful enough to not bottleneck the GPU
- Pick a motherboard with the appropriate socket and ports
- Determine how much RAM and storage you need
- Find a PSU that can safely power it all
- Pick out a case that can physically fit everything
Keep in mind that we update our buying guides on a regular basis, so if any of the articles above seem to have some outdated information or outdated products, then the article is most likely slated for an update in the near future.
In any case, doing all the research can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks until you settle on what components you want in your new PC. You can check out our full PC building guide here.
If you’re a beginner, all the information involved may seem overwhelming, though it’s nowhere near as complicated as it might seem at first glance. After all, it’s easy to find all the information you need on the internet, and we’ve probably already answered many of the questions you might have!
You can check out our knowledge base articles, but you can also take a look at our own recommended gaming PC builds. Our $600 build is good if you’re on a budget, the $1000 one is a great mid-range setup that is bound to keep most gamers happy, but if you have extra cash to invest, then the $1500 one might be more to your liking.
All in all, how long the research will take depends on how familiar you are with the current state of the industry and how familiar you are with hardware in general. If you know next to nothing about building a PC, it would be a good idea to take a few days to get proper bearings before your rush to invest hundreds of dollars in a new PC.
Getting The Hardware
After you’ve decided on what parts you want, it’s time to actually buy them. This, you can do the old-fashioned way by going to any reliable local tech store near you, and if they have all your desired items in stock, you’ll have all the parts in no time. Alternatively, you could take the easier but more time-consuming path and just have everything delivered to your doorstep by shopping online.
Sites like Amazon, Newegg, and BHPhotoVideo are among the more popular and reliable online stores when it comes to computer hardware, but exactly how long the delivery will take depends on which site you go through and where you live.
Now, loading all the components into your virtual cart and clicking “buy” is the easy part, but you shouldn’t just blindly rush to make the purchase immediately. Why?
Well, the thing with PC components is, the prices always fluctuate. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as high or low supply, or upcoming new releases. Add to that the fact that a sale might be just around the corner or that another store might be selling that pricey GPU for a little bit less, and it’s obvious as to why you might want to do a bit of market research too.
We’ve already discussed what the best time to buy PC components is, so we suggest you check that article out. There might be a sale coming, or a new generation of GPUs might be arriving soon and the retailers could drop the prices on some good previous-generation models.
But if there are no predictable imminent price drops, you might as well just get your components right away.
As mentioned above, ordering the hardware is the easy part that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, but the shipping will take significantly longer. Moreover, there could be some additional roadblocks in the way: lack of stock, shipping delays and mishaps, you might get the wrong product or a defective model, which will only slow the process down further.
Fortunately, big companies such as Amazon don’t take too long to deliver and are known for good customer service, so delays or damaged goods shouldn’t prove to be much of a problem. Still, if you’re ordering the parts online, waiting for them to arrive will probably be the longest stage in your PC building adventure.
Unboxing And Building
And now, we get to the fun part – unboxing the components and putting the PC together.
Naturally, unpacking doesn’t take long, but packing everything properly inside the case is a different story. Someone with experience and all the right tools would probably be able to assemble a PC within an hour, but if you’re a beginner and are being extra careful while referencing guides on YouTube, the process could take up your entire afternoon.
The case size will be an important factor here, as you’re bound to have an easier time fitting everything properly if there’s more breathing room. As such, a Mid Tower, Mini Tower, or a small form factor case is bound to give you a harder time than a more spacious Full Tower case would.
Cable management is also a big deal, especially in this age of transparent cases and RGB lighting. You’ll want the inside of your PC to look neat and tidy, especially if you’re going with a transparent or open case. But even if you’re not, proper cable management is still important in order to allow for optimal airflow and efficient cooling.
All things considered, putting a PC together probably looks scarier than it really is, but if you really don’t want to risk damaging your pricey new hardware, keep in mind that some stores can assemble the PC for you, and there are also online shops that build and sell custom PCs on order.
If you were to buy your PC from one such service, you’d be saving yourself some time and effort but you’d also be paying a little bit extra for the service. Moreover, some PC building services offer fewer customization options than others, so there’s that as well.
We’ve all been there – you’ve put everything together properly, the cables are organized, and the new PC is a sight to behold. You press the boot button and… nothing.
This is where the not-so-fun part comes in: the troubleshooting. Somewhere along the way, you made a mistake. Maybe you didn’t connect some cables properly, maybe you mismatched some pins, maybe you just forgot to turn on the power supply, or maybe one of the components was dead on arrival.
Whatever the case, there could be any number of issues with the new PC, along with any number of solutions. This is probably the most unpleasant part of the process, and figuring the problem out could take anywhere from a couple of minutes to several hours, depending on what the issue is.
Installing The Operating System And Other Software
Praise be, the PC is working properly, the hardware is in place, and now we get to the software.
The first step is, obviously, to install the operating system. For gaming, Windows 10 is the most popular operating system at the moment, and while the initial install is fairly quick (10-20 or so minutes), we all know how annoying all the updates can be. And if you’re installing an older version of Windows 10, you might have to wait for upwards of an hour for all the updates to download and install.
But luckily, you can download and install other software while the OS is downloading updates. Many of us often underestimate as to how long setting everything up would take, so don’t think that you’ll get everything ready in less than an hour. In fact, if you have a slow internet connection, this process could take up a few hours of your time, too.
So, in the end, building a PC could take anywhere from a single day to over a month, depending on the circumstances.
If someone knows what they’re doing, they could pick out their components in a jiffy, swing by their local tech store, bring the parts home, and get everything running that same day.
Meanwhile, if you’re new to PC building, the research and the actual PC building process are bound to take a few days, as you’ll want to ensure that you’re buying the right hardware and that you’re assembling your new gaming machine properly. But ultimately, if you’re ordering the parts online, the delivery time will probably be the most time-consuming process if you’re a beginner.