The Ultimate Computer System: Step 1-Pre-build Check List

"This is the third motherboard that is DOA..."
I am constantly NOT surprised about the number of individuals on who post reviews at eTailers with something similar to the above statement statement and yet still feel compelled to rank their "Techlevel" is high. If you are on your third DOA motherboard do yourself a favor (and the rest of us who pay the price of your DOAs) and return everything your purchased; then go out and purchase yourself an Apple product because you have no business building a system.

I'm off my soapbox now...
In all seriousness there is a right way and a wrong way to assemble a computer system. The following is a check list of what you should do BEFORE you begin the assembly of a computer system; additionally this checklist will help ensure that you WON'T be one of the poor saps who have to RMA their DOA motherboard back to the manufacture! 

1) Prepare your work area
    a) find a space that has good lighting and is comfortable to work in
    b) obtain a ESD wrist strap as well as a ESD mat (and use it)
    c) is electrical outlet you are going to use is properly grounded (use outlet tester)
    d) access to another computer for research and downloading of drivers
    e) locate the tools that you will need for Assembly:

        1) Long needle-nose pliers (for setting jumpers)
        2) Phillips screw driver (for installing storage devices inside the case)
        3) Nut driver (for installing standoffs inside the case)
        4) Flash light (self explanatory)
        5) Optional: DVM (to verify operation of switches and voltages)
        6) Optional: IR Temp Probe (to verify heat levels on the motherboard)

2) Review the motherboard manual to locate information regarding important information such as:
    a) determine that the BIOS Jumper is located in the normal/default position
    b) determine the pins used for the Power and Reset Switches on the  Front Panel Header 
    c) determine which memory slots your should install your memory to
    d) determine how the CPU should be oriented for installation
    e) determine which key is pressed to access the BIOS
    f) determine how to locate the Health or Hardware Monitoring Functions with the BIOS
    g) are there special buttons located on the motherboard (present on high end boards)

3) Carefully unpack the motherboard using ESD Precautions in your work area 

4) Inspect the motherboard for physical defects
    a) look for dented corners which indicate that the motherboard may of been dropped
    b) make sure no scratches are visible on the motherboard
    c) look for bent components (or worse yet missing components) such as capacitors

5) Place motherboard back in protective ESD bag/box

Now your are ready for Step-2!