How to avoid upset on Christmas Day:

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First of all would like to say this is post is mainly that of @ubuysa from last year, that I thought we best now put up this year to help you all avoid a very disappointing Christmas morning.


This post is to help avoid the disappointment of a PCS build being given as a Christmas present developing issues on Christmas Day. By using this checklist you will be able to avoid the common problems and issues spoiling what should be an exciting present!

Even if you want the joy of watching the recipient open the PCS box on Christmas Day it's important that you check that the PC or laptop is working properly as soon as you receive it. You can always return it to the box once you know it's working as expected.

Before Christmas Day

1. In this wintery weather it's important to allow a PC or laptop to acclimatise to the room temperature in order to avoid condensation building up inside and causing problems. If it's hidden in a shed or garage for example, give it a good two hours inside to acclimatise before giving it as a present. If you can, it's far better to store it in a normally heated room for the days before Christmas Day - or before you switch it on for the first time.

2. Many PCs will have packaging material inside the case to support graphics cards or coolers and you MUST remove this before switching on for the first time. Be careful not to disturb components or connectors as you remove this packing. (Not applicable to laptops).

3. If your PC has WiFi then the two antennae (which are made of a rubber like material and about 4 inches long) will be shipped separately in the Welcome Pack box (to avoid damage). These must be screwed into the two largish brass coloured sockets on the back. Failure to do this will result in very poor WiFi reception and frequent dropouts. (Not applicable to laptops).

4. WiFi reception can vary from house to house and room to room. It would be wise to have a longish Ethernet cable to hand in order to temporarily connect the PC/laptop to your home router in the event that WiFi reception is poor or if you have WiFi problems. Although only a temporary workaround it may avoid a lot of disappointment on Christmas Day.

5. If you have a separate graphics card in your build then when you plug in the monitor be certain to plug it into the graphics card port and not the motherboard port. Not applicable to laptops.

6. If you have bought a copy of Windows with the PC/laptop then when you first switch on, the PC/laptop will start the Windows OOBE (Out Of Box Experience). This is where you specify language, region, userid, etc. and it's important to take your time over this ensuring that you select the appropriate options. This isn't something you want the recipient doing on Christmas Day - they will be way too keen to get to play and may well rush through the OOBE.

7. If the OOBE glitches out for any reason (as it might if the recipient is rushing through it on Christmas Day) then the only way out is a fully clean reinstall of Windows from bootable media - so ensure you have bootable Windows install media to hand on the day. You can make a bootable USB stick (8GB min size) containing the Windows installation files by using the Windows Media Creation Tool.

8. Once the OOBE has completed normally, ensure the PC/laptop is connected to the Internet and run Windows Update. Keep re-running Windows Update, across reboots if necessary, until no more updates are found. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

9. Any additional data drives (both SSDs and HDDs) are supplied unformatted by PCS. Before you can use them you need to go into Disk Management in Windows, create a partition on the drive (the size of the entire drive) and then format that partition. These additional drives will not appear in Windows until you do this.

10. If you bought the PC/laptop with no-OS then you MUST install your own OS. It will arrive with a Windows system already installed that PCS used for testing. DO NOT simply activate this system with a product key you have. We've had a great many people run into all manner of niggly problems through doing this. If you didn't buy Windows with the PC/laptop then install your OS of choice before Christmas Day (you really don't want to be doing this on the day!).

11. If you do need to reinstall Windows, whether because you bought with no-OS or because the OOBE glitched out, always choose a Custom Install and delete all partitions on the system drive - install Windows into the unallocated space that results. Always run Windows Update immediately after the OOBE, even across reboots, until no more updates are found. The very latest Nvidia driver should be obtained from the Nvidia website, other control software can be found under the Tech Support/Download section of the main PCS website after logging in there.

12. If it doesn't boot at all take a careful note of any beeps you hear on switch on. There is always a single beep, that indicates that the Power On Self Test (POST) has completed. If you hear other beeps note whether some are long and some are short and count the number of beeps. This is a code that helps identify what the hardware problem is.

13. The most common beep code you'll hear is one long followed by three short - followed by the normal POST complete beep. This code indicates a problem with the graphics card (on some PCs/laptops it indicates a problem with the RAM). The solution is the same in both cases - remove the graphics card and RAM and reinsert them fully (sometimes stuff does work loose in transit when it's bounced around in the back of a van). BE SURE to ground yourself properly when working inside the case. (Not applicable to laptops.)

Some DOs and DON'Ts

1. Do post on the forum as soon as you have a problem. Be as descriptive and complete as you can, including listing what you've done to try and solve the problem. Many of us do visit the forums a few times on Christmas Day (yes, we're really sad people) to help out if we can.

2. Do be calm and polite when you post. We realise that it's going to be an enormous disappointment if you get issues on Christmas Day, but we're all volunteers, none of us work for PCS. If you feel the need to complain to PCS please save that until they reopen.

3. If you get a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) do make a note of the error code (IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL for example) and what you were doing when it happened. A BSOD generally writes a memory dump, these can be found either in the folder C:\Windows\Minidumps or in the file C:\Windows\Memory.dmp - upload any dumps you find to the cloud and include a link to them in your post on here. We can use the memory dumps to help localise the problem.

4. DO NOT run any kind of registry cleaner, tune-up tool, nor (especially) any downloaded tool that allegedly fixes a problem you think you may have.

5. DO NOT follow the advice on any website to fix a problem you may have unless you know it's an authoritative website (Microsoft for example).

6. DO NOT run any kind of driver search and install tool. Drivers should all be found by Windows Update, though the very latest Nvidia driver may need to be downloaded from the Nvidia Website.

7. DO NOT use the drivers you'll find in the Tech Support/Downloads section of the main PCS website (after logging in) unless Windows Update is unable to find them. The PCS drivers are likely to be outdated compared to the ones found by Windows Update. Control software found in here (such as Gaming Center on laptops) can normally be safely installed (because Windows Update doesn't handle this type of software).



Just to add PCS festive opening times to this post (as @moosEh already did on the other post)
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