Some tips for building a computer

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Some tips for building a computer

Post by Magus » November 30th, 2011, 12:43 pm

Well, now that it's looking almost positively like I'm getting my parts in the next few weeks leading up to christmas *here's my build * I thought I should ask you guys some questions seeing as it's my first build. A lot of times when you do projects like this, it's helpful to get advice from people to avoid some major headaches. There's things that people look back and say, Man if I only knew that I coulda saved myself a lot of hassle.

So what are some of those things?

How long should I expect the build to take?

Where are some sites I should go to for assembly help?

What should be the first thing I do?

What should be the first thing I do once I start the computer for the first time *before installing windows*?

Is there anything important I should do after I install windows?

Are there any small parts I should buy that would be helpful in the build?

Feel free to add your own
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by madmattd » November 30th, 2011, 1:14 pm

My usual process:

1. Install PSU in the case. Same with DVD and Hard Drives. Don't bother hooking up any cables yet. Install any needed motherboard standoffs. See where you need them by comparing the mobo to the case where it will sit, each hole needs a standoff. Also remove the factory IO panel and install the one that came with the mobo.

2. Ground yourself. Usually a wrist strap to the case bare metal (while it's plugged into the wall mind you) is how I go. Worst case, sit at a table, don't touch carpet, ground yourself, and don't wiggle/shuffle feet/etc. Occasionally re-ground yourself.

3. Unwrap mobo, place on flat, antistatic surface (the anti-static bag is not exactly recommended for this mind you).

4. Install CPU. This usually consists of un-levering the latch over the CPU socket, and removing the plastic insert that is placed in there. Then place the CPU in, making sure to orient it correctly. There's usually an arrow on the corner of the socket that corresponds to the arrow on the CPU. Then you lever the socket cover closed. This can be a bit scary the first time you do it, as it takes a little bit of force sometimes. If it is a LOT of force, something's wrong. Make sure you don't touch the inside of the socket or any of the CPU pins when you are doing this. Also don't touch the TOP of the CPU otherwise you need to re-clean this before installing the heatsink. Handle by the sides.

5. Install heatsink. Initially the Intel stock heatsink that comes with the CPU will be sufficient, but someday you will want to get a real cooler, fyi. These heatsinks can be a pain to install, read the directions that come with the CPU. The Intel coolers usually have four pins that you turn one way to install (read PRESS HARD into the holes in the mobo), and turn the other way to remove. Make sure the pins are in all the way and locked. The heatsink should be firmly mounted. Connect the fan plug to the CPU_Fan header (or whatever it might be labeled on your mobo).

6. Install RAM. This can be done before the heatsink, but the Intel cooler is compact enough that it isn't any harder to do now. Install them so that you get full dual-channel mode, consult your mobo manual for the proper slots to use.

7. Install mobo in the case. Make sure you get all of the screws into the standoffs. Usually I find it works best to mostly thread the screws closest to the IO shield in the back, then get the rest started. Once all are started, tighten them down snug, but don't kill them.

8. Install GPU. Consult your mobo manual for the location of the full-speed PCI-e 16x slot, usually it is the one closest to the CPU.

9. Hook up case front panel connectors (USB, audio, switches, etc). The cables are usually labeled on the connector, and the mobo will usually have where they go labeled right under the pins. Worst case, consult your mobo manual.

9. Connect sata cables from all drives to the mobo. There will be SATA 3 (6Gbps) and SATA 2 (3Gbps) ports, put the ODD at least on the SATA 2. The Hard drive is your call, might as well put it on a SATA 3 port, just make sure you put it on the Intel ones and not the add-on ones if your mobo has more than 2 SATA 3 ports. Again, consult the manual for the locations.

10. Connect up all power.

--The mobo will need the giant 24-pin connector (usually the hardest of all to plug in), make sure you support the underside of the mobo right under the power header with a finger or two as you do this. The mobo will also need an 8-pin connector (NOT a PCIe connector mind you), this is usually labeled ATX or something to that effect on the plug, and the socket is usually near the CPU.

--Your graphics card will need two PCIe connectors, find the appropriate ones, they are usually labeled PCIe.

--The hard drive(s) and DVD drive(s) will need SATA power connectors, 1 each.

--Case fans can sometimes be plugged into system/case fan headers on the mobo (which will power them and vary their RPM), otherwise they plug into a 4-pin molex connector off the PSU. These can be daisy-chained instead of using a separate plug for each fan if it helps your cable management out.


At that point you should be all set. Check your manual for how to get into the BIOS, and power up the system, going into the BIOS immediately. There you should load the fail-safe defaults or whatever your system calls it. These options can be changed later once you are up and running, should you want. Save and exit. Now you can install Windows and whatever else you want (I assume you've done a reformat before? Same idea at this point, install drivers off the CD from the mobo first, starting with chipset. Also install the graphics driver, this you can download the most recent first if you like. Install antivirus IMMEDIATELY.)

Tips:
- It's easiest to install the mobo and hook things up to it with the case on it's side so the CPU is pointing straight up at you as you work.

-For a first build, figure a couple hours to do the hardware installation then the usual hour or so for Windows plus the initial drivers to install. More time if it doesn't work right out of the gate. Once you've done this before, future builds are a piece of cake. Take your time, your efforts will be rewarded.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Tahko » November 30th, 2011, 1:35 pm

Once you get all the parts, it should only take you half an hour to build the computer, if you're very precise and careful maybe up to an hour. It's really mostly just screwing and inserting things into sockets. I would recommend you make sure you have the manual to your motherboard, if not then find one online because it won't be easy connecting the pins for the Power, Reset, Power LED, etc. I'm not sure if there's anything you can do before installing Windows. It will boot but won't it just bring you to some Boot Loader window? After installing Windows, I would recommend going to your Hardware's sites and downloading some of the latest drivers because Windows never installs the latest drivers and will cause Blue Screen Errors. (This happens to me almost every time I install Windows)

You probably already have but make sure you get thermal paste. I remember I had no idea that was needed when building a computer. You could also play it more safe by buying an anti-static wristband, you wear it while building you computer. http://www.pcworld.com/article/82184/av ... ur_pc.html
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Magus » November 30th, 2011, 1:50 pm

Thanks for the post you two. Good info, of course.

Tah, where's an area where you used your thermal paste that you didn't expect to?
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Mullet » November 30th, 2011, 2:03 pm

Good job Matt, The only thing I would add is make sure you add the standoffs that are only needed.

Magus a standoff is is what is in between the motherboard tray and the motherboard that bolts the motherboard to the motherboard tray, just make sure you don't add standoffs where there is not a hole in the motherboard because you don't want a standoff that is not needed because it will touch the back of the motherboard where soldered connections may touch it. I had a bud of mine do that and the PC wouldn't boot because the standoff was touching a part of the motherboard that is shouldn't have. I was surprised he didn't fry the motherboard. After I removed the not needed standoff the PC booted fine.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Magus » November 30th, 2011, 2:04 pm

Great, I'll keep that in mind
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Mullet » November 30th, 2011, 2:12 pm

Watch these can help.

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Magus » November 30th, 2011, 2:41 pm

I'd have to say the part I'm most nervous about is the MoBo
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Mullet » November 30th, 2011, 2:51 pm

Don't let it intimidate you dude. I wish I lived near you I would come over and make you do everything but would show you how it's really easy dude. It's just you have never done it is all.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by madmattd » November 30th, 2011, 3:00 pm

Good call on extra standoffs Mullet.

Magus, I've been pretty NOT-careful handling mobos before and come out fine. As long as you discharge beforehand and don't do anything to build up static (think about how in the winter you can shuffle your socked feet across carpet and shock someone real good-DON'T do that, that's all really :)) One trick I've done before when I didn't have a anti-static wrist strap handy was to hook up the case and PSU and lay it on the table in front of me. Then I just made sure one hand was touching the bare metal of the case at any time I was handling something electronic. Even that is overkill honestly. I did do a build once on the carpet floor of my apartment last fall...that was a little sketchy, I don't recommend it, lol. Next time I'm using the table.


Side note: I did a continuity test of one of the wrist straps I have (basically checked to see if there was an electrical connection between the part that touches the arm and the clip that goes to ground). There wasn't a connection...lol.


The build is really just a matter of plugging things into ports that are usually pretty well-labeled. You can handle it. Shouldn't take all that long.

As to the thermal paste Magus: you need it if you ever remove the heatsink from your CPU. You'll have to clean the old stuff off and reapply. There will be some pre-applied on the Intel heatsink, but if you mess that stuff up (either by touching it with anything before it hits the CPU or something else), you'll need new stuff. Good to keep some around anyway. I bought a tube of Arctic Silver Ceramique 3 years ago and still have some left after a solid dozen CPU applications. Arctic Silver 5 is also supposed to be good, and there are others that are even better but far more $$. No need for anything fancy without a real cooler, you won't see the difference.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Mullet » November 30th, 2011, 3:11 pm

Magus if you fail then we will put you in Matt's punkin launcher and wave good bye to you.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by TheKeef » November 30th, 2011, 3:50 pm

Mullet wrote:Magus if you fail then we will put you in Matt's punkin launcher and wave good bye to you.
One word, and that word is, weeeeeeee.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Magus » November 30th, 2011, 4:17 pm

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Yeah Matt, I talked to one of my roommates today *he's an engineer as well* and asked him about thermal paste and he said when he looked into it, Arctic Silver Ceramic is one of the best out there. As far as the paste that comes with the physical parts, should I expect to have enough to use? When applying, it should resemble about how glue looks on a piece of paper you've just rubbed a glue-stick on, correct?
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by Mullet » November 30th, 2011, 4:32 pm

Like Matt said, the stock CPU cooler will have it already applied. Just remove the clear plastic cover and mount.
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Re: Some tips for building a computer

Post by madmattd » November 30th, 2011, 4:57 pm

Weeeeeeeeeeeee-o wait :D

Yea, the stock cooler will be pre-applied and it's usually a decent application of it. You peel a little sheet of plastic off and plunk it on the CPU. You will be all set.

Aftermarket coolers will generally not have it applied, though many give you a tube with the cooler, which is always plenty, usually enough for 2-3 applications...

Now there are many differing opinions on how to apply it, mind you. Worry about all that once you start wanting to overclock your CPU (which you can since you're getting the K-CPU) and you get a new cooler.
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