ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR PC BUILDING: DON'T GET CAUGHT WITHOUT THESE 10 ITEMS IN YOUR TOOLKIT
PCWorld|May 2021
SOME ARE NO-BRAINERS, WHILE OTHERS YOU’LL BE GLAD TO HAVE ON HAND WHEN TROUBLE STRIKES.
ALAINA YEE

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.

Screw tray

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

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