Tools of The Trade – 11 Helpful Tools For Building a PC
If you’re looking for guides on “How to Build a Gaming PC” a simple web search for such will kick back a shameless-kid’s-Christmas-list worth of results faster than you can type, and that’s a good thing. It’s never too late to learn how to DIY your very own PC build. It’s easy and anyone can do it! That’s real talk. No cliché! But it’s also a relationship! The time and effort you put into each build, the meticulous considerations, continued care, and maintenance will largely dictate the quality of the experience over the long haul.
Here we wanted to provide a go-to checklist for exactly what’s needed to help ease the tedium of PC building. The build process goes much smoother when you have all the right tools at your fingertips. We have even included mandatory components, and peripherals needed to complete your build. So let’s jump right in. Here are 11 helpful tools for building a PC.
The title may be intangible but what’s needed to get this done is quite the opposite. You need a clean dust-free workspace. Think “workbench” or at least a table that is at a minimum of 5ft in length and 3ft feet deep (width). It’s also great to have a tray or long receptacle to better keep track of screws, standoffs, and other small mounting and assembly hardware.
Screwdriver Philips #2
This screwdriver uses a #2 Phillips head. This will be your primary tool to service most of your system assembly. These are affordable and super easy to find. A torque or ratchet screwdriver with interchangeable heads is a good investment for this. Lastly, it helps if it’s magnetic to keep a grip on those tiny screws.
Screwdriver Philips #1
Alternatively, this screwdriver features a much smaller #1 head and is excellent for screws used to install small gum stick style M.2 drives in SSD and NVMe flavors.
Wedges and Prying Tools
You often find many of these tools in phone and laptop repair kits like an iFixit kit. These are great for prying open/off front panels of PC cases when installing radiators for liquid cooling and/or removing and installing case fans. You can often use these tools to straighten any bent radiator fins on your Asetek-powered AIO liquid cooler.
These come in handy to pull zip ties in hard-to-reach places. Pliers are also great for managing your motherboard standoffs. When unscrewing your motherboard from a PC case sometimes the standoffs underneath will loosen instead of the screw above. Use the pliers to hold the standoff while you loosen the screw with the Philips #2 screwdriver. This pair also features a wire cutter in the center which can come in handy for more advanced DIY!
All Asetek-powered liquid coolers ship with pre-applied TIM. So no thermal paste is needed. However, if you prefer to use your own or you’re planning to remount that same liquid cooler, you will need to clean the previous thermal compound as best you can. Isopropyl alcohol is clutch for this.
This is a heat-conductive material substance that improves contact between the heatsink of the CPU AIO cooler and helps it dissipate heat. There are a wide variety of thermal compounds to choose from; some better than others. However, we can recommend Noctua’s NT-H2 thermal compound.
High-pressure air does wonders for managing dust and debris. There is often debris from retail boxes and dust on your precious PC components. A few short blasts of compressed air will both help keep a spartan-looking PC rig and help improve component longevity.
These are a godsend for keeping your build nice and tidy. A few choice zip ties in the right place can convert a veritable rat’s nest of scattered cables into a clean and pristine pro-style battle station.
Tweezer or Needle-nose Pliers
I still drop screws! It’s inevitable. Just embrace it and be ready with a set of tweezers to retrieve the elusive little buggers when they roll under the motherboard or any other hard-to-reach area inside your PC.
Illuminated tools are helpful but don’t get the job done like a bright and comfortable headlamp. Light up the dark areas with a steady beam of illumination keeping your hands free so you can work more efficiently.
I almost included an anti-static wrist strap. These are helpful, but honestly, I just stay grounded to prevent electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Ways to ground yourself against ESD
- Wearing rubber-soled shoes to block my connection to the ground
- Using anti-static bags whenever possible
- Touching exposed metal portions of my PC case when building, and…
- It helps if that “organized workspace” mentioned above, is a hard dense surface to minimize the build-up of static.
That’s it! 11 helpful tools for building a PC! You can definitely get your PC-build up and running without these tools. Well, it’s going to be hard to get around having a #2 Philips screwdriver. Nonetheless, these tools make the build process so much simpler.
PC Components & Peripherals Checklist
We decided to toss in an essential component list as well. Now that you have the tools, you can run down this checklist to make sure you have all the necessary components and peripherals to get you up and gaming on your favorite titles in no time.
- Central Processing Unit (CPU) or “Processor”
- CPU Cooler
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
- System memory (RAM)
- Power Supply Unit
- PC Chassis & Fans
- Operating software (OS)