Home > Articles > Hardware > Upgrading & Repairing

Upgrading and Repairing PCs Tip #23: Building Your Own Computer: 16 Steps for Powering on Your System for the First Time

  • Print
  • + Share This
So you've built your computer, but now will it work? In this excerpt from the 22nd edition of Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Scott walks you through 16 steps to powering on your new system.

Find more tips from Upgrading and Repairing PCs here.

From the book

At this point, you are ready to power on the system for the first time. To prepare for this, connect the following:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Display
  • Power

Note that I did not include connecting a network cable. I usually recommend you do that after the OS has been installed, along with any service packs, and after you have ensured you are either behind a router or have the OS’s built-in firewall turned on.

Now that everything is connected, you can power up the system and run the BIOS Setup program. This enables you to configure the motherboard to access the installed devices and set the system date and time. The system POST (power-on self-test) also runs to determine whether any major problems exist. To run the BIOS Setup and configure the system, do the following:

  1. Power on the monitor first and then the system unit. Observe the operation via the screen and listen for any beeps from the system speaker.
  2. The system should automatically go through a POST consisting of video BIOS checking, a RAM test, and usually an installed component report. If a fatal error occurs during the POST, you might not see anything onscreen, and the system might beep several times, indicating a specific problem. Check the motherboard, BIOS documentation to determine what the beep codes mean. A list of POST codes is included in Chapter 19. Systems that use UEFI might create an error log that can be viewed before the system starts or use beep codes for some types of errors.
  3. If there are no fatal errors, you should see the POST display onscreen. Depending on the type of motherboard BIOS or UEFI used, such as Phoenix, AMI, Award, or others, you have to press a key to interrupt the normal boot sequence and get to the BIOS Setup program screens that enable you to enter important system information. Normally, the system indicates via the onscreen display which key to press to activate the BIOS or UEFI Setup program during the POST, but if not, check the motherboard manual for the key(s) to press to enter Setup. Common keys used to enter BIOS or UEFI Setup are F1, F2, Del, F10, Esc, and Ins.
  4. √√ See the Chapter 5 section “Running or Accessing the BIOS Setup Program,” p. 310.

  5. Press the appropriate key to enter the BIOS Setup when prompted. Because the POST in modern motherboards is so fast, it is easy to miss the time you are supposed to press the key, so I usually start tapping the key repeatedly just a second or two after powering on. In some cases this can generate a keyboard error message, which you can ignore as the BIOS Setup screen appears. You should now be in the BIOS Setup. If you didn’t press the key in time, reset the system and try again.
  6. Check the BIOS version reported on the main Setup screen and ensure that it is the latest version. If it isn’t, now would be a good time to install the updated flash BIOS image. The easiest method to do a BIOS upgrade on newer systems is via a bootable CD containing the BIOS image. To do this, on another system visit the motherboard manufacturer website and download the bootable CD image (*.ISO) file. Burn this image to a CD, and then place the CD into the optical drive of the new system and reset it. Follow the prompts on the screen to complete the BIOS update.
  7. Check the various BIOS Setup screens to ensure your processor and memory are being properly recognized and supported. Check CPU type, speed, cache, total RAM, dual channel mode, and so on.
  8. Disable any ports or devices that will not be used, such as serial ports, parallel ports, consumer infrared ports, and so on.
  9. Check to see that all the installed drives are being detected.
  10. Check the Drive Configuration. Ensure that the system is set to AHCI at a minimum, or even better, ensure that it is set to RAID mode. I recommend RAID mode even if you don’t plan to use RAID because it includes all AHCI functionality and allows for a future RAID migration without having to reinstall the OS or drivers. This is called “RAID Ready.” Set the IDE (backward compatible) mode if you are installing an older OS that does not have AHCI or RAID drivers. This will unfortunately reduce driver performance because advanced SATA features such as NCQ (Native Command Queuing) will be disabled. Note: you cannot use IDE mode with an SSD.
  11. Check Fan Control and Hardware Monitoring (called PC Health on some systems) to see that all fans are being recognized and that the fans are reporting proper rotational speeds. Also observe component temperatures. Note that some components such as the chipset ICH (I/O Controller Hub) are “designed” to run from 90°C to 115°C (up to 239°F), so high temperatures are normal and even expected for that chip.
  12. Check Memory Configuration. I recommend leaving the default Auto settings, which will automatically set the memory timing according to the modules you have installed.
  13. Check the Chipset Configuration. If you’re running Windows Vista or newer, I recommend enabling the HPET (High Precision Event Timer) because it is supported in these versions of Windows, but not in Windows XP.
  14. In the Security menu, enable VT (Virtualization Technology) if available. This allows virtualization software such as Virtual PC or VMware to use the hardware virtualization circuitry in the chip, which improves the performance of virtualized OSs and applications.
  15. In the Power menu, check the ACPI Suspend State. Ensure that it is set to S3 (Suspend to RAM) instead of S1 (Sleep). The reason is that S3 uses virtually the same amount of power as being completely off, thus saving you up to $100 per year or more in energy costs per system!
  16. In the Boot menu, check the boot order. Ensure that the optical or USB flash drive precedes the hard disk or solid-state drives, which will enable a successful OS installation from CD/DVD or bootable USB flash drive.
  17. After you check all the settings in the BIOS Setup, follow the instructions onscreen or in the motherboard manual to save the settings and exit the Setup menu.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020