How to Set Up a PC, the Right Way

Gizmodo by Gordon Mah Ung & David Murphy

All expecting parents have read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, because when that little bundle of joy drops out of mommy, you'd better be ready with lots of paper towels and a whole lot of specialized knowledge about what to do from that moment forward. Though it’s not quite as messy (or scary), setting up a new PC requires a similar sort of informed approach if you want to raise it properly from the moment it squirts out of the Fedex truck and into your life.

You'll be tempted to pick it up and coo, “Who's a widdle PC?,” and then immediately benchmark the shinola out of it. We understand the impulse, and the excitement, but hold your horses, cowboy. You've got to take it slow with a new rig, and get it set up correctly the first time, or else all your future efforts will be for naught. That’s where we come in. We'll show you how to set up a PC the right way!

In this handy guide, we’ll show you what to do with your new PC in those first crucial out-of-the-box moments, and will hold your hand all the way from the first boot until the PC is ready to run its first benchmark. With our help, your bundle of bits will quickly grow from a fragile, schizophrenic rig to a fully up-to-date, crap-free machine that’s secure, tweaked for maximum performance, and ready to make daddy or mommy proud. Sniff—they boot up so fast!

Kick the Tires

You just unboxed your new desktop, all-in-one, or laptop, but do you really know what’s inside of it? After all, like doctors, lawyers, and journalists, system builders make mistakes, too. It’s a good time to grab the spec sheet that came with your PC and do a quick system inventory to make sure that if you paid for a machine with a $230 CPU, you actually got that CPU. You can poke and prod through the specs using tools such as CPU-Z ( and GPU-Z ( and check the Device Manager and BIOS/UEFI for hardware IDs, or just run a system audit using Belarc Advisor (free from Belarc Advisor will query the hardware and software in your PC and present you with a tidy list of everything that’s installed. Pay particular attention to what CPU is in your box, the SSD and HDD models and capacity, as well how much RAM and how many DIMMs are installed. read more...

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