If you’re new to the world of PC gaming and have decided to build a gaming PC, one of the first questions on your mind will likely be, ‘How long does it take to build a PC?’
Knowing how to build a gaming PC is one thing but knowing how long this will take is something else.
If you’re a beginner, it’ll likely take you three or four hours to build a PC, but this can vary from build to build and person to person. This isn’t including preparation or troubleshooting time, however.
An experienced builder might take less than an hour to build a PC, but, again, this can vary. When you’re experienced, you know what goes where and how it fits together. A beginner will probably spend more time figuring things out.
The best way to increase your build time is to be thorough and plan things from the very beginning. The fewer mistakes you make early on in your build, the quicker and easier it’ll be down the line.
Is Building a PC Hard?
Building a PC isn’t hard, but it can require a lot of planning. Over the years, component manufacturers have streamlined the building process and made things much easier to install and set up.
Cases, motherboards, and power supplies all have standardised dimensions and installation procedures, so, providing you’ve bought the correct parts, everything should slot together easily. The same is true for graphics cards, memory, and storage. And if you buy a modular power supply, this will allow you to disconnect all the cables you won’t need before you start building.
Once you’ve got the right parts and you know how to install them, the only difficulty should be troubleshooting should something go wrong. It’s important to prepare thoroughly for your build to prevent such problems down the line.
The first step to building a PC is preparation. This preparation itself takes time, but if you’re well-prepared you should run into less problems while building, which will shorten your build time. Depending on how experienced you are, this step can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
If you’re a beginner, it will likely take you a couple of hours because you’ll have to take your time comparing components and checking for compatibility issues. You should also consider the time it takes for your new components to be delivered.
First, figure out your budget and then decide which components to buy within this budget. Ensure that all these parts are compatible with each other, which you can do by using a website like pcpartpicker.
There are several parts needed to build a gaming PC:
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Solid-State Drive (SSD)
- Graphics Card
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
You’ll also likely want Windows USB installation media, screwdrivers (usually just one Phillips head screwdriver will suffice), cable ties for cable management, a WiFi adapter, and an anti-static wrist strap if you want to keep yourself grounded.
Also, having a good idea of what NOT to do will help you avoid running into problems. Check out this list of 31 Common PC Building Mistakes to help your build go smoothly.
Building the PC
Once you’ve prepared for the build and all your parts have arrived, you can start building the PC. Putting your PC together will probably take three or four hours if you’re a beginner, but future build times can drop to about an hour as you become more experienced.
We have an entire guide on how to build a gaming PC, but the general process looks like this:
- Unpack your components and check you have everything you need
- Install the CPU, RAM, and CPU cooler onto the motherboard
- Perform a pre-build power check
- Fit the PSU into the case
- Fit the motherboard into the case and install the I/O shield
- Install the graphics card and mass storage
- Connect everything to the motherboard
- Connect all PSU cables
- Connect the monitor and peripherals
- Boot up the PC and check it boots into BIOS
It might take a while to connect all the cables, especially those that connect to the motherboard like your case’s front panel connectors. If you’re a beginner, you’ll have to follow your motherboard manual’s diagrams to figure out where everything should go.
It might also take a while to connect all your PSU’s cables, depending on how much you care about cable management. Managing your cables will take longer if your case is less spacious, too.
Installing the Operating System and Software
A newly built PC booting into the BIOS with no issues is a wonderful thing, but you can’t do much with a PC without an operating system and software installed.
Once you’ve confirmed all the hardware is registering correctly in the BIOS, you’ll probably want to install Windows and other software. This should only take an hour or so, but this depends on how powerful your PC is and how fast your internet connection is.
As a minimum, you’ll want to:
- Install Windows
- Install Windows updates
- Install chipset drivers
- Install graphics drivers
On a powerful PC with a fast internet connection this should only take about 30 minutes. On a slower connection it might take an hour or two.
After this, you’ll want to install your games and software, and how long this takes depends on what you want to install.
If you’ve prepared thoroughly and built your PC carefully, you shouldn’t run into any issues. But even the most seasoned PC builders sometimes have to troubleshoot. Troubleshooting is when you notice that there’s a problem with your build and you must diagnose what’s causing it and how to fix it.
Most troubleshooting will be quick and painless. For instance, you might notice that only half of your memory is showing up in the BIOS, so you re-seat both RAM sticks and the problem is solved. Or maybe your PC doesn’t boot, and you realise that your CPU fan isn’t plugged into your motherboard’s CPU_FAN header—you connect it, and it boots.
But sometimes troubleshooting can take more time and energy than this. In cases where there’s no simple fix, you’ll have to peruse your manuals, or the internet, for a solution. Or, if worst comes to worst, you can re-build the entire system with extra care.
There’s no way of knowing how long troubleshooting will take, but if you’ve done your due diligence by preparing and building your PC carefully, you likely won’t have to troubleshoot at all.
How to Speed Up your PC Building
It might sound counter intuitive, but the best way to speed up your PC building is to plan, prepare, and build your PC thoroughly and carefully from the start.
If you make sure there are no compatibility issues between any of your parts before you order them, building your PC will be much easier and you won’t be as likely to run into problems.
Similarly, if you take your time building your PC and ensure everything’s connected properly, you’ll be less likely to run into a problem that requires hours of troubleshooting to fix.
Summary: How Long does it take to Build a PC?
Building a PC might take a beginner three or four hours. If you include preparation and software installation time, it might take six or seven hours—not including the time waiting for component deliveries, of course.
A seasoned PC builder might build their PC in an hour or so, and only take an extra hour to prepare and install software. This speed is something that comes with time and experience. As a beginner, you shouldn’t try to build your system this quickly, because if you rush your build, you’re more likely to run into problems that take a lot longer to fix.
Troubleshooting problems can take anywhere from minutes to many hours. But if you’re thorough and careful in your planning and building, you shouldn’t need to do any troubleshooting at all—and if you do, it’ll likely be a quick fix.