I hope that when you press the power button for the first time your LED’s light up, your case fans start spinning, and your computer boots up perfectly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way. The good news is that the issue is frequently pretty simple, and can be solved with some simple troubleshooting. Here are some common things to try if your PC doesn’t boot up on the first try.

  1. Make sure your case cables are plugged in correctly. Consult your motherboard manual and make sure that you lined them up correctly. Since one of these cables controls your power button, if it’s not in the right place your power button may not work, making it impossible to boot.
  2. Make sure that your CPU cooler is plugged into the connector labeled “CPU FAN.” If you plug it into another connector, your computer may erroneously think that a CPU cooler is not connected, and shut down to avoid overheating.
  3. Disconnect all but one stick of RAM, and make sure that it is seated perfectly. If the computer boots when this is done, you either have a bad stick of RAM or one of the sticks weren’t seated correctly the first time you put it in.
  4. Disconnect the power from your storage drive. If your computer boots when this is done, it usually means that either the power cable or storage drive was faulty. Try with a different power cable if your power supply came with more than one.
  5. If you have integrated graphics, take out the graphics card and try booting. If it boots without the graphics card, reinstall it and try again. Your graphics card may have been incorrectly seated the first time. If this doesn’t work, you probably have a faulty graphics card or power cable running to your card.
  6. Flash your BIOS. Your motherboard’s BIOS may need to be updated to be compatible with newer processor models. Learn how to flash your BIOS here.
  7. If all else fails, unscrew your motherboard and place it on a cardboard box. Try booting your system up outside of the case. If this works, check for anything that could have been touching the bottom of the motherboard. It’s possible that you installed an extra standoff that didn’t belong, and was touching the bottom of the motherboard causing a short.
  8. If none of these options work and your PC still won’t boot, it’s worth ordering a new power supply and trying with that one. If this doesn’t work, it’s likely that your motherboard has been damaged. You can take your build into a shop if you’re willing to spend the money, or order a new motherboard and start from scratch.

If you’re reading this before you build a PC and are thinking twice about trying it after reading about everything that can go wrong, just remember that the majority of the time first-time PC builders are successful. Follow the instructions carefully and be gentle with the components, and you probably won’t have to make use of this troubleshooting section.

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