What Tools Do You Need When Building a PC?

When building a PC, especially for the first time, you will need to ensure you have the right tools in hand, or else it will make your PC building experience much harder.

What tools do you need when building a PC?

Here are the primary tools that you will need when building a PC:

  • Philips head screwdriver
  • Anti-static equipment
  • Zip ties
  • Thermal Paste
  • Anti-static cloth
  • Rubbing Alcohol

You will likely use these tools at least once when building a PC.

Here is additional equipment you might want to consider, but is not necessary when building a PC are:

  • Pliers
  • Clean working environment
  • Screw Tray

These can be helpful, but you don’t necessarily need them to build your computer. However, using these additional pieces of equipment will make your life a whole lot easier.

1. Philips Head Screwdriver

Probably the most important thing you will need is a Philips head screwdriver. You will need this screwdriver to screw all of the screws on your PC into place.

Philips head screwdriver being used to build a pc

You will need a fairly small screwdriver as the screw in the PC a very small. You might need to get multiple screwdrivers as depending on what brand and what component you are screwing in, it might have a different sized screw than the rest of the build.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a Philips head screwdriver is to find one with a magnetic tip as it is very easy for you to drop the screws behind the motherboard are other spots in the case.

If your screw falls behind the motherboard it can be very hard to get it back out from behind there and you might have to resort to taking your motherboard apart and putting it back again.

With a magnetic head, you have less of a chance for your screw to fall off the screwdriver which will be very beneficial.

2. Anti-Static Equipment

The next thing you will need is a piece of ESD or anti-static equipment. This can come in a few different forms. The 2 most common are an anti-static wrist strap and an anti-static mat.

Most anti-static mats come with an anti-static wrist strap so I recommend using one of those.

When building your PC the most common reason for it breaking in the building process is from mishandling or dropping parts, but it is actually from electrostatic discharge.

This happens when two objects rub against each other to make static electricity. When sensitive parts of the computer such as the motherboard come in contact with the static charge you risk damaging your system.

You will usually see this effect right away, but it is very common that over the course of weeks or months you will start to see issues with your computer system if it had a static shock happen to it.

To prevent these most people use anti-static equipment. What this equipment does is ground yourself so that the electrostatic discharge gets redirected somewhere else. In this case, it will go through your wrist strap or mat instead of the computer.

Now some say that electrostatic discharge actually doesn’t harm your computer and you will be fine without one. That’s why I wrote an article researching that topic. If you want to learn more here is an article on Are Anti-Static Wrist Straps Necessary For Building a PC?.

However, if you don’t have any anti-static equipment yet I recommend the iFixit Anti-static mat as I have used this and it is very good. It comes with a very portable and well-manufactured mat as well as an anti-static wrist strap.

If you want to look at more options I have also written an article on The Best Anti-Static Mat For Building a PC.

3. Zip Ties

Zip Ties are usually used at the end of your PC build, but many people like to use them as they are building their PC to stay a lot more organized.

When I built my last PC as I was plugging in my cables I would group them up and use zip ties to keep them organized and once I finished building my PC all the cables were well managed and everything looked very organized.

Here is an article I made about The Importance of Cable Management.

Zip ties aren’t just good for making your PC good, but they can help you when building your PC as they will make you map out your cables in a certain way that you can zip tie them together as well as help you if you need to troubleshoot or upgrade anything on your computer because you will already know where each cable is going and what it is used for.

Zip ties are really cheap and can be found at pretty much any store such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. You might also find that certain boxes that came with your computer parts might have zip ties or velcro ties in them.

Use this to your advantage. I especially like the velcro ties because they look really good they can hold extra cables, and if you make a mistake you can always just un velcro the tie and then do it again.

Whereas, if you use the traditional zip ties you will need to cut them and use a new one.

4. Thermal Paste

Holding Thermal Paste from a third party

Thermal paste is something that can either come with your computer build or you have to buy it yourself. Whatever your situation is every computer needs thermal paste.

The thermal paste helps keep your CPU cool and it is very important to Manage Your CPU Heat.

Even if you have a CPU and cooler that comes with its own thermal paste it is very important to have your own as well because you never know when you will need to take part your PC, and/or replace your thermal paste for whatever reason.

If you are changing your CPU, CPU cooler, troubleshooting your PC, didn’t install the CPU right. These are all reasons why you might need to replace your thermal paste. To learn more here is an article about How Often You Should Replace Your Thermal Paste.

Not all CPU coolers come with their own thermal paste, but even the CPU coolers that do come with thermal paste might not be of the highest quality and you will want to have your own if the cooling is not up to par.

That is the reason why you should always have your own thermal paste.

5. Anti-Static Cloth

This tool really just explains itself. if you ever get dust or need to clean something quickly then you need an anti-static cloth. You need an anti-static cloth for the same reason you need an anti-static mat or wrist strap.

If you use a regular cloth or something equivalent then you risk damaging your PC through static discharge.

To prevent this you need to use an anti-static cloth.

6. Rubbing Alcohol

Tools 5 and 6 go hand in hand. Rubbing alcohol is very good for cleaning very stubborn dirt from your PC.

It is also very good for removing old thermal paste. If you want to replace the thermal paste on your PC. You first need to get rid of the old thermal paste. What you need to do is get an anti-static cloth or q-tip apply rubbing alcohol then the thermal paste should come right off.

The reason why we use rubbing alcohol and not water is that it is less likely to damage your computer if it spills.

If water spills onto your PC you will most likely get water damage which means you will have to replace most if not all of your PC.

This is a terrible feeling especially if you just built it.

Using rubbing alcohol will prevent this and it also cleans much better than water.

Additional Tools That Are Optional When Building a PC

There are many different tools that you can see when building a PC. The ones that I just listed above you need to use for basically any PC build. However, there are still some tools that might be a good idea to have just in case but are not necessary.

These tools are more along the lines of helping you stay organized, speeding up the process, and helping with any mistakes you make on the way.

You don’t specifically need these tools when building your computer, but they will help you.

Pliers

Pliers can help you if you accidentally screw in something too tight or accidentally drop a screw or other part into a hard-to-reach place.

The pliers can be used as leverage to undo tight screws and can be used to retrieve any hard to reach screws or bolts that you accidentally dropped, especially if it is behind your motherboard.

A Clean Working Environment

This isn’t so much a tool, but more like a tip of advice. If you are building of computer you should first set up a clean work environment as this will help you stay organized and you will risk making fewer mistakes and losing parts while building.

try to find a room with a good amount of space that way you can lay things out and try to build your computer on a hard wooden desk.

You should also try to stay away from building your computer on a carpet or in a dusty room as this can lead to ESD.

Screw Tray

Once again this tool explains itself. Having a screw tray will just keep you organized while building your PC.

Without a screw tray, it can be hard to keep track of what screws you need to use and what screws you have left. You can easily misplace screws that’s why especially if you tend to be very organized it can be important to use a screw tray.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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