You can build a PC with just a screwdriver or two on hand, but you’ll have an easier time of it if you have all the essentials on hand. That includes tools to get you out of sticky spots, which always occur when you assume they won’t. Keep these 10 items on hand for builds and they’ll keep your assembly woes to a minimum.
We’ve divided the list into the absolute essentials (for the minimalists out there) as well as our recommended additions for a well-rounded kit. But really, there’s no need to scrimp. All of these tools are very affordable.
BARE ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR PC BUILDING Screwdriver (Phillips #2)
Nearly all screws in a computer case require this cross-head screwdriver. Any Phillips #2 screwdriver will do—be it the plain, trusty Craftsman (go.pcworld.com/cfmn) in your toolbox, the fancier ratcheting type (go. pcworld.com/rcht) with swappable bits, or kits with a full array of bits that include a PH2 head.
We highly recommend getting a magnetic screwdriver or buying a magnetizer (go. pcworld.com/wiha) to convert your existing tools. You can get a magnetic screwdriver kit with interchangeable bits (go.pcworld.com/ oria) for quite cheap, usually around $15. Regardless of what you choose, this purchase will save you the time and hassle of fussing with screws that refuse to stay put as you attach them and/or that fall into hard-to-reach places.
If you have hand injuries or tendinitis, look into ratcheting screwdrivers to reduce fatigue. For more torque, get a screwdriver with a fatter handle.
Screwdriver (Phillips #1)
Adding an M.2 SSD to your build or laptop? You’ll need a Phillips #1 screwdriver (go. pcworld.com/phn1), as a Phillips #2 will be too large for the screw drive (the indentations on the head of the screw, used to turn it).
Since M.2 SSD mounting screws are delicate, you won’t need much torque to get them in or out, and a slender or small screwdriver works fine. You should get a magnetized one, though, as screws that take a Phillips #1 tend to be small and easy to lose track of.
For a build without any M.2 SSDs, you can get away with just a Phillips #2, but we’ve found that it never hurts to have a Phillips #1 on hand.
You should put screws in some kind of container as you work—a shallow dish or bowl, a tray, even a cup. (Using more than one is even better, as you can keep track of different screw types more easily.) Placing everything loose onto a table usually results in missing screws, while if you put them in clothing pockets, you run the risk of losing screws as you move around.
For a more tidy solution, use a clear pill case (go. pcworld.com/clpl) or a bead organizer (go.pcworld.com/ bead) to hold and store screws. They range from $2 to $7 in price, take little space, and let you see everything at a glance. If you have a fixed work area, you can instead opt for a larger hardware organizer (go.pcworld. com/hdor), which will have multiple small drawers. Leave one or two compartments free for dumping in screws as you build.
You can also buy a magnetic tray (go. pcworld.com/mtry) or a magnetic mat (go. pcworld.com/mgmt) if you’re concerned about knocking items around on a work surface (or if you have a standard-issue cat who likes to push items off tables). These run between $6 to $10.
Hex nut driver
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Microsoft is killing my favorite Windows 10 feature
Windows 10’s Timeline is losing its cross-device sync, a killer productivity feature, and I’m crushed.
Samsung's new Galaxy Book Pro laptops are thin, light, and smart
AMOLED displays and intelligent settings are standout features.
I've fallen in love with this Asus miniLED 4K panel
Take my money, Asus!
Intel launches 11th-gen Tiger Lake-H CPUs for gaming notebooks
Intel’s latest processors for gaming PCs trim clock speeds a bit, but offer what Intel says are substantial performance improvements and lower power use.
How to spot an online scam: Three dead giveaways
It’s easy to be fooled by scammers online. But it’s just as easy to spot those scams if you’re paying attention.
Hands on: Xbox Cloud Gaming for the web brings Xbox gaming to your browser
Stick to slower, story-driven games for the best experience.
Google to automatically enroll users in two-factor authentication soon
Google hates passwords, so it’s trying to replace them with 2FA.
8BitDo Pro 2: The best ‘Pro' controller for $50
An upgrade in almost every way.
HP Envy 14 (2021) : This budget content-creation laptop does it all
While you can find laptops that outperform the Envy 14, it’s harder to find one that can do so for the same price.
ThinkPad X1 Nano: Lenovo drops the mic with its light, fast, and long-lasting ThinkPad
This ThinkPad hits the sweet spot between power and battery life.
The Next Course
Nearly two decades after influential pastry chef Claudia Fleming left Gramercy Tavern, she returns to Danny Meyer’s restaurant group in a new role.
The Group Portrait: Back on the Decks
The crew of DJs behind the best parties in Brooklyn this summer.
The National Interest: Jonathan Chait
Save the Union by Enlarging It. Hoping to win by coupproof margins is not a strategy.
Rachel Lindsay Has No Roses Left to Burn
When I became The Bachelor’s first Black lead, I thought I could change it from within. Until I realized I was just their token.
Up Where the People Are
A coming-of-age tale that takes the phrase “fish out of water” literally.
SINGING MORMONS (NO, NOT THOSE SINGING MORMONS)
Schmigadoon!’s send-up of musical theater is both wholesome and really, really funny.
Extremely Online: Emilia Petrarca
Occupy the Dating App In today’s marketplace for love, everybody wants to eat the rich.
Caviar, lobster, and New York’s last remaining cheese cart.
71 minutes with … Andrew Giuliani
A failson sets his sights on Albany.
Catch Her If You Can
Doja Cat refuses to be dragged down to earth.