How to Build a PC, Part 3 - Install OS and Drivers

Last Updated: 2023-02-27

Create a bootable usb drive

If you are building a PC in 2023, most likely you do not have a DVD drive, so we need to create a bootable USB drive, which means you need to have at least one working computer in order to install your new computer.

Depending on your current OS and your desired OS in your new computer, there are different tools to create the bootable usb drivers:

Current OS Target OS Tools
Windows Windows Installation Media / Rufus
Linux Windows woeusb
macOS Linux etcher

Windows => Windows

If you already have a Windows up and running, just follow the official guide: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows11

Linux => Windows

If you are using Ubuntu:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tomtomtom/woeusb
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install woeusb-frontend-wxgtk

Then find WoeUSB in your application list, it will start a UI, which is very intuitive to use.

WoeUSB is open sourced: https://github.com/WoeUSB

macOS => Windows

There's no straightforward way to do this on macOS. The workaround is to create a bootable Linux using Etcher (https://www.balena.io/etcher), then use woeusb to create a bootable USB for Windows.

Change BIOS setting to boot from USB

Every motherboard is different, but mostly pressing ESC or Dell or F2 (other other F button) can get you into the BIOS setting screen. Change the booting order so it will first try to boot from the USB drive. Then plugin the USB and reboot.

Install OS

Just follow the instructions to complete installing your OS.


If you have a product key, use it during the installation. If you have a license that is bound to your account, skip adding the product key but login later.

If you do not plan to activate Windows, you can still use it, but

  • cannot personalize the appearance.
  • will have a watermark saying your Windows is not activated.
  • not all updates are available to you.

Install Drivers

On Windows, check Device Manager, check if there are errors. (GPU under display adapters.)

The motherboard usually comes with a DVD for drivers. If you do not have DVD drives, go to the official websites to download the latest drivers.

As you install the drivers, the errors in Device Manager should disappear. Make sure all components are working correctly.

Install other software

On Windows, many applications and games require The Visual C++ Redistributable, which installs Microsoft C and C++ (MSVC) runtime libraries. You can download it from https://learn.microsoft.com/en-US/cpp/windows/latest-supported-vc-redist. The version number is 14.0 for Visual Studio 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2022 because the latest Redistributable is binary compatible with previous versions back to 2015. The key is arm64, x86, or x64 depending on the installed vcredist versions for the platform. The files are named vc_redist.arm64.exe, vc_redist.x64.exe, and vc_redist.x86.exe.