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Anthony Trudeau

I apologize for the delay in getting part 2 done. There have been so many things going on including an ongoing love affair with Skyrim.

I struggled with how to approach this article, because the world doesn’t need another “how-to build a PC” article. I settled on a brief treatise of my experience

Build Order

There are many resources available online to give you step-by-step instructions for building your PC. There are also the instructions provided by the component providers. For instance, both the motherboard and the case came with directions. The problem is that they’re all different.

This was the first challenge with doing my first build. I had to build up the confidence to go out on my own and determine what the right order was going to be. I did this by stepping back and taking some time to look and touch everything.

I took things out of the boxes, looked at connectors and cables, and overall just tried to get a good picture of how everything would fit and how I’d run cables. I looked at the motherboard diagrams and compared all of the documentation against all of the other documentation.

It did the trick. Much like I’d approach a software problem I was able to break things down into smaller tasks. There’s no point of giving you an order, because the order your build will vary. The case you choose may mean you need to put the PSU in first. You may even have to install the graphics card with the motherboard before putting it in the case.

The main advice I can offer is to take your time. Don’t rush.

Motherboard Assembly

When I say assembly I don’t mean you assembling the motherboard. I mean the few components that make up the assembly including the motherboard, RAM, CPU, and the cooler. I took more time on this step than any other. Getting it together also gave me a big confidence boost.

My assembly included my ASUS motherboard, Intel i7 CPU, and a Dark Rock 3 CPU cooler. I knew that because of it’s size and the way it attaches to the motherboard that I’d have to put it all together before putting the motherboard in the case.

Reading the documentation on the CPU will make you worry. The CPU is fragile and connecting it is fraught with disaster, because bending pins is easy. It turns out with a quality motherboard that everything lines up nicely and Asus made it hard to screw up – if you read the documentation or have done it before and know what you’re doing.

The most unclear part of the assembly is applying the thermal paste. Not too thin. Not too thick. No bubbles. Spread evenly over the entire surface. That sounds simple enough, but define not too thin and not too thick. You can only guess. I decided a safe thickness would be to spread it enough to be thorough, but thin enough so that it wouldn’t ooze out when I pressed the cooler to it. It seemed to do the trick, but I don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling that it’ll be fine long term.

Installing the motherboard with a giant, heavy cooler on it can be tricky. This is another instance where pre-planning paid off. I had already test fit the motherboard in the case, so I knew how it would drop in and where the posts were.

Cable Management

I know I’m skipping over a lot of things. However, after the motherboard everything else was plug and play. One thing that is worth talking about is cable management. I mentioned in part 1 of the article that aesthetics is important to me. My case has a window in the side, and I want things to look tidy and professional.

I spent time before plugging anything in to decide how I wanted to run cables. Luckily, my case had plenty of room behind the motherboard for some of the fatter high quality cables. I utilized it. Don’t be afraid to unplug and reroute if you don’t like the way it looks. I did several times.

The better quality cables look nicer, and they come with zip ties and even velcro ties. However, in my opinion the best look is when the cables are straight and get out of the way as soon as possible. A zip tied set of cables will make it easier for maintenance, but they still don’t look good.

Results

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I leave you with a few pictures and  a few words.

External | Internal | Window | Night Shot

I had a great time putting everything together, and most importantly I’d do it again. My beast has been running for a couple of months now dedicated to gaming and Photoshop. It does both amazingly.

Posted on Saturday, October 11, 2014 9:56 AM | Back to top


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