Building your own PC is one of the best ways to get exactly what you want in your computer, but it’s a detailed process. Before you start building, you’ll need to get all the necessary tools for attaching components and staying organized. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up everything you’ll need.
A single screwdriver will do for a PC build, but having multiple size options (especially of the near-universal X-shaped Phillips head screwdriver) makes things a lot easier. For this purpose, we recommend the iFixIt driver kit, as we have for years. These kits are so good that Apple’s been known to use them to help design new computers. The primary screwdriver is a super-sturdy hunk of steel with kerning for grip, but this kit’s 64 high-quality magnetized steel drivers will cover almost any kind of small screw imaginable.
By the way, if you’re thinking about using a drill or electric screwdriver, don’t—using a lot of speed or torque for the screws inside a PC case might break circuit boards or thin steel sheets. Stick with your trusty fingers and this incredible driver kit.
iFixit Mako Driver Kit
This excellent little toolkit should have a designated home in of every gadget nerd's desk drawer.
Many modern builders consider anti-static equipment overkill—so long as you’re working in a cool, dry place, you probably won’t short any parts out with a static discharge. But if you want to play it safe—and you should if you’re building an expensive high-end rig—consider picking up an old-fashioned anti-static bracelet, like this one from KingWin. Put one end around your wrist, clip the other to a piece of grounded metal, and you’ll be free from worry about any static electricity mishaps.
KingWin ATS-W24Y Anti-Static Wrist Strap
This simple tool can keep tiny, electronics-wrecking static shocks out of your computer.
One thing that might surprise you about building a PC is how many screws you have to manage. You can use cups or bowls from your kitchen to keep them straight, but this handy silicone mat is even better. It has built-in dividers for keeping things organized, backed with magnets to make sure they don’t go flying. The silicone material also means that you can rest components directly on the mat without worrying about static discharges.
Soldering Mat Heat Resistant 932°F Magnetic Silicone Electronic Repair Mat for Cellphone, Computer, PCB board, Heat Insulation Pad for Soldering Station Iron Gun with Size 15.9” x 12” Grey
This silicone sheet can keep your loose screws organized with dividers and magnetic backing.
If you would prefer to have separate, moveable screw trays, we love this set from OEMTOOLS. They’re an easy way to keep from losing any loose screws from opening up your electronics; plus, they can help you stay organized even as you move things around in your workspace. It comes with four different trays, which is nice if there are different size screws in the PC, which is almost guaranteed.
OEMTOOLS Magnetic Foldable Tray
The OEMTOOLS Magnetic Foldable Tool Trays collapse for discrete storage and expand to increase tray depth for adding additional objects to each magnetic tray for fasteners, nuts, bolts, and more.
We’ve all been there: getting a fiddly little screw down perfectly into a case goes wrong, and the screw is now lodged somewhere your pudgy fingers can’t reach. This telescoping magnet can grab them without the need to remove entire components … or abandon them to rattle around the bowels of your PC case forever.
Slim 25” Durable Telescoping Magnetic Grabber/Retrieving Magnet with Pocket Clip (07228)
This handy tool helps you track down lost screws without removing any components.
Cable management is essential when building a PC. When you need to organize inside your PC case, zip ties can help keep things tidy. Zip ties may not be a reusable option, but they can secure cords in the PC a little tighter than the cable ties. Anything loose in the PC tower may prevent the case from closing properly or obstructing the fan, so these can be nice to have. Using these Amazon Basics zip ties will also look sleeker if your case is transparent, and they’re less pricey than the velcro straps.
Amazon Basics Reusable Cable Zip Ties
These handy little ties will keep the power and data cables inside your PC nice and tidy.
A new case and fans should come with all of the mounting equipment you need, but if you manage to lose something—or if you’re working on upgrading an existing build—you might be short a screw or two. This 450-piece kit includes spares of pretty much everything you could ever need, including the hard-to-find motherboard standoff pegs, fan mounting screws, and thumbscrews.
HELIFOUNER 450 Pieces Computer Standoffs Spacer Screws Assortment Kit for Hard Drive Computer Case Motherboard Fan Power Graphics
This kit will give you spare copies of every one of the weird little screws you might use in your PC build.
Having a headlamp will make the process a lot easier. It’ll help you see a little better when you’re putting a screw in the motherboard of the PC or simply tucking the CPU under your desk where there is very little light to see where to connect the cords. This simple headlamp will keep your hands free, allowing you to work on the PC without having to hold a flashlight or squint to see if you’re putting in the parts correctly.
COSOOS Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight
The headlamp flashlight lights up your surroundings and eliminates the need to move your head to illuminate the work area.
Wire cutters are handy to have when connecting wires on the motherboard of your PC, and if you need one, we recommend this pair from WGGE. They can strip the ends of the wires to connect from one end to another better than scissors can, as those are not quite as precise when cutting, nor can they strip a wire as easily. Some may not be quite as sharp either. These are also easier to cut the zip ties we mentioned previously.
WGGE WG-015 Professional 8-inch Wire Stripper
Unlike conventional wire stripper, high carbon alloy steel lift-time with such accurate stripping.
Canned air is a favorite for PC builders who are upgrading or simply cleaning their machines. But it’s not ideal: Those cans are basically built to be disposable, and the chemicals inside are unfriendly to the environment. Instead, use this tiny electric canless air duster: it’s basically a leaf blower for the inside of your PC. It’s great for cleaning off your nasty keyboard, too.
AFMAT Cordless Air Duster
This pricey but handy rechargeable air jet can help you dust your computer (or anything else) without wasteful canned air.
If you need a more direct way to clean problem spots in your computer, especially the crucial electrical contacts on plugs and circuit boards, isopropyl alcohol is the way to go. Use Q-tips to gently apply the alcohol in a thin sheet. It’s sterile and will clean off any gunk, then evaporate, leaving your components ready for action.
MaxTite Isopropyl Alcohol 99.99% (16oz)
This cleaning agent is ideal for getting dust and other gunk off of electrical contacts and wires.
A thermal paste removal kit—like this one from ArtiClean—is only an optional product and not completely necessary unless you’re changing out CPU cooler and wanting to remove any old thermal paste off your processor. You can dab a bit of this liquid on a paper towel to clean off heat sinks. The removal doesn’t have an outrageous odor, which is a plus.
ArctiClean Thermal Paste Compound Remover Kit
Some spare thermal paste removal is always a good thing to have around, in case you need to remove the old thermal paste off your processor.
All in all, it’s not as difficult as it sounds to build a PC on your own. With the right tools, you’ll be on your way to creating the most cost-efficient and a great quality PC. Just remember to take your time and get the right tools. In the long run, building a PC will actually save you money. You will not have to repair or replace the PC components as with a pre-built machine. Also, the warranties on most individual items are much longer than on a pre-built machine.
If you still need help selecting the actual PC components of the computer you want to build, be sure to check out these online tools to help you nail the compatibility and pricing. And of course, if you want a step-by-step guide on every single part of building the PC itself, check out How-To Geek’s exhaustive guide.