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I've just put together a computer for the first time. I've found plenty of info online that covered the construction, but now I'm ready - I think - to power it up I'm wondering if there are any checks that I can do to be sure that the machine is safe and ready to turn on. What are the things (if any) that I absolutely must make sure of before turning on?

Just to be clear, I'm sure there are many things I could get wrong that would mean the computer won't work properly, but only a few that might cause serious damage. It's really the latter I'm asking for.

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I strongly recommend powering it up and testing it as you are assembling it. For example, you should check out the CPU and RAM before even connecting things like the hard drive (boot from CD or USB). Otherwise, if you have any issues, you'll have to troubleshoot everything at once. – David Schwartz Dec 1 '12 at 0:46
Ah, too late! My motherboard (Asus P8Z77-V, for what it's worth) does have error LEDs for CPU / RAM though, so hopefully not a problem. Am I right in understanding from your comment that it's probably pretty much OK to power on at any point? – Nick F Dec 1 '12 at 0:51
Assuming all the connected devices are properly assembled, then yes, it should be okay. Double-check all power connections. Make sure nothing is shorting out the motherboard. Double-check CPU assembly, memory insertion. – David Schwartz Dec 1 '12 at 1:04
Subjective, but I'd say this is a good subjective question. See Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. – bwDraco Dec 1 '12 at 1:56
@DavidSchwartz: Thanks. I now have a working computer! Your contribution was the most helpful so if you post your suggestions as an answer I will mark it accepted. – Nick F Dec 1 '12 at 2:01

Yes. Double check every connector be sure it's plugged in where it's supposed to be and that it's properly seated.

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Thanks. I've checked the connectors as best I can, but I'm guessing most of them are not going to cause immediate damage if left unconnected (obviously if the fans don't start up I'll turn off again quickly). Are there any in particular to check carefully? – Nick F Nov 30 '12 at 23:21
Modern CPUs shouldn't get damaged due to lack of adequate cooling. They just throttle down and finally shut off completely if the temperatures rise beyond prescribed limits. Of course, there's no reason one should depend on this instead of always ensuring that a proper cooling system's in place! – Karan Dec 1 '12 at 0:09
I agree with Karan and have reverted dartonw's edit to my answer. Modern CPUs simply shut down when they get too hot. – Nicole Hamilton Dec 1 '12 at 1:44

Before starting your computer for the first time, take a moment to check, yet again, that everything is properly connected and seated inside the box. Make sure the wires aren't blocking the fans. Makes sure there are no screws rattling around, and that you didn't leave any tools inside the machine.

Now look on the back of the computer on the power supply. Chances are that you will see a little slider switch. Make sure that switch is set to the correct voltage for your part of the world. In the United States, the correct power setting will be 110 - 120 volts. In your part of the world, well, I have no idea. Ask someone local if you are unsure.

Plug the power cord into the power supply, and the other end into a surge-protected AC power source or a battery backup. Hook up the keyboard, monitor, and mouse to their appropriate connectors, and press the power button.

And pray.

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Thanks. I'd actually already seen that here. (I'm not sure what the position on unattributed quotes is here, but it's always best to give credit where credit's due) – Nick F Dec 1 '12 at 0:44
Yep, it's always good to mention the source if one's simply gonna copy-paste (which BTW is not encouraged for longer answers, which one should ideally rewrite before submitting here). – Karan Dec 1 '12 at 0:54

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