You’ve put all the components of your PC together masterfully, but there are still a few more steps before you’re ready to jump into the expansive library of games available to you. Here’s our guide on how to get your PC set up and optimised so you don’t have to waste a second fiddling in the menus.
Check all your cables, make sure your PC is in working order, and definitely turn the PSU on at the back of the chassis. Who would forget to do that, you ask? Watch the accompanying video for the answer. Here’s our guide on how to get your PC up-and-running without the hassle.
If you are staring at a jumble of PC components on a table, and want to know how to put them together in a fairly concise fashion, then you may benefit from the first part of our gaming PC build guide. After you’ve got those parts slotted together, come back here for the guide on the final steps to get your PC build completed.
This might be the least exciting part of the build, but it’s essential in getting the most out of the expensive components you’ve just lovingly built into your brand new gaming PC. But don’t worry, it won’t take long to get you up and gaming again.
Step 1 – Motherboard BIOS
Get the backend of your PC up-to-date and optimised
Firstly, you’ll want to get that motherboard BIOS update in case any gremlins still lie within the software build that is included in the box. Download the latest BIOS onto a USB stick from another device – these should be easy to find from the motherboard product page on the relevant manufacturer’s website.
Fear not, if you don’t have another device available to hand, you can always come back to this route once you’ve got the PC up and running. Just don’t forget!
Unfortunately, every BIOS is a little different, but the steps are mostly all the same, albeit with a few different names here and there. Depending on your motherboard of choice, you may need to look for: M-Flash for MSI, Flash Utility for Asus, Q-Flash for Gigabyte, or Instant Flash for ASRock.
Locate the USB drive on the list of available devices and select the new BIOS file. The system should take care of installing everything needed from this point. A little wait and you’re done. Some high-end motherboards are able to update your motherboard BIOS using USB flash utilities straight through the board, all without plugging in a monitor or keyboard. Check your manual if this is an option for you – this feature may be required if you plan on installing a Kaby Lake chip into a Z170 board.
While you’re in the BIOS, it is also a good idea to get your memory running at its rated speeds. Out of the box, it likely won’t be utilising XMP profiles, which are essentially factory overclock settings, which your memory should have no issue running at all. Head over to the overclocking tab, and ensure that the correct XMP memory profile, that corresponds to the speed on the memory box, is selected.
Before you save and exit, you may also want to check out the CPU and chassis fan speeds. Depending on whether you’ve taken the liquid cooling or air cooling route, your tweaks here will differ. For liquid coolers, make sure your pump is running at full whack, as the manufacturer intended, in the BIOS. The radiator fans will likely be controlled through some proprietary software, but if not, and you are one of the lucky ones, then take a look at the fan curves for these as well. For air coolers, you can adjust the CPU fan curves to your preferred speeds and noise preference – depending on whether you plan on overclocking anytime soon.
Step 2 – Windows
Get the operating system installed
Inevitably the most exciting part of a PC build – installing Windows! That’s a lie, it’s menu after menu, but it is simple at least. As with the motherboard BIOS, you’ll need some form of Windows installation media to get the process started. This is easy to get hold of through the Windows Media Creation Tool on another device, otherwise you can always use a disk… it is nearly 2018, though.
With the machine booted, it should automatically recognise the installation media and boot into the Windows installation process. If your PC boots straight to BIOS, then head over to boot priorities and select the USB to force the PC to boot from your installation drive.
The installation process is fairly self-explanatory, although it will remove any other data on a drive, so make sure you’ve backed up any previous important files on your potential C: drive. If you have both a HDD and an SSD in your build, you’ll want to make sure to install Windows on the speedy SSD. You’ll also need a license key to install the complete windows package, so make sure you have this to hand.
Now watch the installation bar intently until it reaches 100% – or go do something else in the meantime, I suppose. Here’s the best gaming headsets for your browsing pleasure.
Windows will want to clarify your stance on privacy and location services, so make sure you choose wisely. I prefer to refuse to set Cortana up at this point, not that it stops this zealous AI assistant for long.
Step 3 – Drivers and software
Get your peripheral software and drivers up-to-date
Now this is the really interesting part (that was also a lie) – updating your drivers. You’ll want make sure your PC is all up and running on wi-fi or ethernet cable for this next step, unless your trusty USB is still to hand.
First up, the graphics drivers. You’ll want to head to the relevant manufacturer website and get downloading. You want to ensure your graphics drivers stay up-to-date, as they often offer new features, bug fixes, support for the latest games, and sometimes even performance updates. Depending on whether you are team red or green, you’ll have to fill in a few different steps along the way to access either the full Radeon software or GeForce Experience software. To register or not to register, that is the question.
Also, open up your graphics settings once they are installed and change them from limited RGB to full. You won’t regret it.
Now is also the best time to pick up drivers and software for your peripherals, SSDs (such as Samsung magician), liquid cooler software (if you must), sound card software, and any other component-specific software you may require depending on your PC’s loadout.
Of course, you can’t game on your machine without the usual collection of game distribution platforms, such as Steam, Origin, Uplay, GOG, or whichever other platform is your preferred choice. Now is also the time to decide on your browser of choice, whether that be the supreme Firefox, or one of the others… (editor’s note: I do not endorse this choice of browser – Dave.)
Speaking of peripherals, if you have any RGB peripherals, you may also want to download the software that allows these parts to really shine. We have a few MSI Mystic Light compatible parts in our build, so we’ve downloaded this software from the MSI site and have set our build to full rainbow twinkle in complete unity. Beautiful.
If all has gone well then you should have a gaming PC sat in front of you, ready to game on. I can only assume that by this point you’ve also closed this tab and are downloading the latest titles. Fair enough, I’ll just fade away into the shadows then, back from whence I came… have fun!