Your first boot is really easy, and the simpler you make it, the better!
First off, do your first boot on a striped down PI, so that if problems do arise, they are not compounded by potentially multiple issues. So, don’t install your new PI4 in a case yet, or put on the heatsinks. And, don’t attach any other USB devices other than a keyboard or game controller. Start with one HDMI monitor plugged in. And, start using the HDMI port next to the power supply jack. This will eliminate any problems that could arise from the other devices.
The simple first boot up:
1. Plug in your monitor (plug it in to the Micro HDMI port next to power supply plug in. This port is the only HDMI port that supports sounds over HDMI)
2. Plug in your USB game controllers (or keyboard)
3. Inserting your new RetroPI SD Card in the SD Card slot
4. Plug in the power and wait for boot…
A normal RetroPI boot usually takes about 30 seconds. It starts by the disk activity light on PI flashing as it reads the card, in a non-steady blink. If the blink is a steady “on and off”, then it indicates that it is having trouble read the card that is inserted. Within a few seconds of power up, you should see a cursor line blink in the top left corner of your HDMI monitor. Then after about 10-15 seconds, your should see the Rasbian OS text splash, followed by the list of emulators installed, and then a park at a screen asking you to set up your keyboard or game controllers. If you didn’t see what is described here, then you might have an issue with your set up.
After the boot works properly and everything seems to be working as expects, then start adding the attachments you want to add you your PI such as cases, heat sinks, Arcade Fight stick setups, second monitors… etc. Add each item one at a time, to make sure each item works as expected.
For gaming, your PI4 needs a heatsink. It is very common that cases and heatsinks cause electrical shorts that permanently damage your PI motherboard or Micro SD Card. Every heat sink and case design is different. Make sure when installing a heat sink that you don’t get heatsink grease on any other components, circuit traces, chip pins, or connectors. Also make sure that the metal on the heat sink (or case) is not touching anything conductive on your PI motherboard. Either can short your pi and or SD card, and permanent damage both.