Few experiences are more satisfying than building a PC for the first time. Doing so gives you the chance to pick your favorite parts and craft a unique rig that speaks to you. But as appealing as that sounds, you might wonder how long it’ll take you to do.
Generally, constructing a PC takes three to five hours for a first-time builder. Meanwhile, experienced constructors can put together a computer in as little as an hour to 45 minutes. However, it’s also crucial to consider research, part delivery, and troubleshooting when assessing build time.
How Long It Takes To Build a PC: The Factors
How long it takes to build a PC isn’t set in stone. Numerous factors influence construction time, ranging from experience level to the parts used.
To help clear things up, below are some aspects worth considering as your prep for building:
- Experience level – Most experienced PC builders can construct rigs in a fraction of the time it takes a beginner.
- Research – Before you pick any parts out, it’s crucial to do some research. That way, you can ensure you build your PC correctly and with compatible hardware.
- Delivery time – Especially in today’s market, PC parts may take weeks to ship to your location. This can significantly extend how long it takes to start building your rig.
- Parts used – Certain hardware, such as liquid cooling solutions, can add a considerable amount of build time.
- Troubleshooting and testing – It’s common for first-time builders to encounter issues when constructing their PC. Fixing them may entail backtracking and double-checking part placement.
- Cable management – Once your PC is built and working, you’ll want to organize your cables for easier maintenance.
What Hardware Affects PC Build Time the Most?
How long it takes to build your PC depends heavily on what hardware you use. And one part that has a considerable effect on that time is your cooling solution.
Generally, most CPUs come with a stock cooler that consists of a heatsink and fan. This piece of hardware usually only takes five or ten minutes to install.
However, liquid cooling options are becoming increasingly popular alternatives. They offer superior temperature control but take a couple of hours to implement. So if you opt for a liquid cooling solution, you might be doubling your build time.
If you intend to add eye-catching accessories, that may add a lot of work as well.
Computer enthusiasts are especially in love with RGB lighting. RGB case fans and light strips can turn bland computers into mesmerizing works of art. The only downside is that they require some extra time and know-how to install.
Thankfully, a benefit of building your computer is deciding which parts are worth your time. So if you desire a more streamlined process, ignore the superfluous hardware for now.
Building Your PC: How Long Each Step Takes
Next, let’s take a look at the time each step of building your PC takes.
Remember that experience level affects how long it will take you. Constructing a computer is a lot like riding a bike—after you’ve done it once, it becomes much more straightforward.
Below is a table comparing the build times for each step.
|Step in PC Building Process||Time Expected for a Beginner Builder||Time Expected for an Experienced Builder|
|Unboxing of parts, gathering tools||5 to 10 minutes||5 to 10 minutes|
|Prepping a construction space and opening the case||15 minutes||5 minutes|
|Setting the motherboard up, installing CPU and cooler||30 minutes||10 minutes|
|Mounting the motherboard||30 to 45 minutes||5 minutes|
|Installing the power supply (PSU)||15 to 30 minutes||5 minutes|
|Installing RAM, GPU, and drives||30 minutes to one hour||10 minutes|
|Setting up fans and peripherals||30 minutes to one hour||5 to 10 minutes|
|Final touches and troubleshooting||30 to 45 minutes||5 minutes|
This list only covers the essential steps. So if you plan on adding extra RGB or doing fancy cable management, that may add significant time.
Final Touches and Troubleshooting
After constructing your PC, it’s a good idea to do some final touches for ease of use.
Cable management is one of the most vital things to do. You’ll make future maintenance less frustrating by organizing and zip-tying any loose wires. Not to mention it helps your PC appear more aesthetically pleasing. Here’s a helpful video on how to do it.
Furthermore, you’ll likely need to do some troubleshooting if this is your first build.
Below are some common mistakes you should beware of:
- The CPU cooler is unplugged – Even though your cooler fastens to your motherboard, it also needs to be plugged into it.
- Incompatible hardware – If you notice one part won’t function with the others, you should double-check its compatibility.
- Incorrectly seated RAM – Motherboards often require RAM sticks to go into specific slots for dual channeling. Refer to your motherboard’s instruction manual to ensure you use the right ones.
- Connecting monitors to the motherboard – Your monitors should plug into your GPU, not your motherboard. Otherwise, your PC will boot up without showing anything on your screen.
Troubleshooting may extend your PC construction time by an hour or more. But it’s crucial if you want to avoid problems down the road.
Installing Your OS and Initial Setup
The PC building journey doesn’t necessarily stop once you turn it on. After you construct your PC, the next step is installing an operating system.
Thankfully, installing an operating system is pretty straightforward. Windows 11, in particular, offers a nifty installation media that you can download onto a USB stick.
Typically, it will take about 45 minutes to an hour for your OS to install.
But you’re not done yet! You’ll also want to complete some initial setup. For example, you should create a profile for whoever plans on using your PC. Not to mention implementing trustworthy antivirus software.
Additionally, it’s crucial to download any drivers for your hardware online. Doing so ensures your rig runs at 100%, giving you the most bang for your buck.
So even when your PC is physically built, setting it up might take a couple of extra hours.
First-time builders should expect to spend three to five hours constructing their PC. Although, specific parts like liquid coolers may significantly extend the build time.
To speed up construction, make sure to thoroughly research the parts you buy and understand how they connect.