B.Y.O.P.C. Chapter 2

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  1. mattym

    mattym New Member

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    Build Your Own PC Chapter Two: Putting it Together

    Chapter 1
    So once you have gathered up all the parts you desire to put in your custom PC, your gonna have to put it all together.
    Tools: lets talk tools. Some things you should have on hand are a phillips head screw driver, tape, scissor, and a grounding strap. A grounding strap can be found at a radio shack or any similar electronics store. This will prevent you from shocking your parts with a static discharge. Static Electricity is extremely dangerous to your parts. I recommend working away from any rugs. Work on rubber or wood floor, even cement. I have a foam rubber yoga mat that I lay down to stand on whenever I do this kind of work.

    Section 1: The Case and Cooling

    Ill start by saying that what a case looks like will in no way effect the power of your computer. While there are many nice looking or modded cases out there, they sometimes make it less efficient.
    There are several types of cases. We call them form factors. There are desktop, mini/full tower, micro, pico, Extended. These are just references to their size. When looking for a case you want to keep several things in mind.
    -Motherboard Tray: Some cases still have an actual tray for the mother board, while others just mount it to the back panel. Make sure that the case you buy is set up to hold your board.
    -PSU: Some cases may not hold all power supplies. Back in chapter 1 I may have mentioned it was a good idea to do some research on the size and shape of the PSU. Doing this will make sure your case is spacious enough for your PSU.
    -Drive Bays: If you plan on having many hard drives or many optical devices or card readers, make sure the case has the appropriate number of bays. Most optical drives (cd,dvd,blue ray) fit the 5.25" bay. While old school floppy drives, as well as card readers and some other drives will fit the 3.5" bay. Hard drives will also fit into one of the 3.5" bays but the hard drive bays are often situated in a different direction then your input drives. Several companies also make adapters that let you put a 3.5" drive in a 5.25" bay, just in case the case you want has no 3.5" front open bays.
    -Fan Mounts: For cooling purposes you want to make sure you have the most options possible. I will talk about propper air flow later. For now howeer you should make sure that your case has at least two places to mount a fan at the back of the case and 1 toward the front. Also with a high end video hard, make sure there is a side panel mount.(If any side has a mount for a larger fan aka 120mm in size, 1 is sufficient)
    -Side Panel: If you plan on buying a good graphics card, make sure you purchase a case with an opening and mount for a fan on its side panel. This will help with cooling the graphics card.
    -Other: If you are interested in water cooling make sure you choose a case with this in mind. A good water cooling system will have specific places to put all the apparatuses involved in the cooling system. But water cooling is an option i will cover in a later chapter.

    Section 2: Fans

    Fans are what keep your rig within optimal operating temperature. The best way to keep it cool is to have good air flow. If the fan on the front of your computer is directed as in intake the one or two on the back side should be directed out. This will pull cool air through the case. The fan that comes on your processor is meant to blow cool air through the heatsink that it sits on. This indirectly cools the processor. So you want to make sure that wherever you processor is, it gets the coolest air. Your processor will most often be near the upper back area of your case. So a good configuration often has your rear fans as intake while the one on the front pulls the hot air out of the case. Fans often come in 80mm or 120mm. The size you need is dictated by the mount size on your case. Things to look for are:
    -CFM: Cubic feet per minute. This is how much air it pulls in over time.
    -db/dba: This represents the amount of sound it makes. A higher number means it is louder.
    (more later)

    Section 3: Getting Started

    Once you have all your parts the best thing to do is open them up and lay them out in front of their boxes. Survey what you have. Make sure you have everything the box says you should. Check you case for "standoffs" these are little screws that will go into the holes on your mother board tray. They sometimes will be there already. if not make sure you have them. They look like a screw with the thread on one end and on the upper end they have a hex shaped bolt with threading for another screw inside. This are what hold the motherboard off the tray and let you secure it in place.
    Next remove the right side panel of your case. This should let you see the inside. If you remove the right side and see another panel in your way you either dont know right from left or you have some backwards ass case no one has ever seen before.

    Section 4: MOBO/CPU

    I highly recommend putting these two pieces together before placing them in the case. Your CPU should come with a heatsink and fan. These two parts are often already together. Your motherboard has a place for the CPU. While carefully handling the processor place it in the slot in the right orientation. Most motherboard have a lid and lever system that holds it in place. After placing it in you will have to fold the lid down over it then use the lever to lock it into place. You may have to use a little force to do this.

    Once the processor is snug in its place you will need to place the heatsink/fan over it. Between the processor and the heatsink you need a layer of thermal compound. While most stock sets will have a thermal gel already on the heatsink you can buy your own. A better grade thermal grease will bring your core temp down by about 5 degrees sometimes. But the one it comes with is also fine.

    **READ YOUR MANUAL** I can stress this enough familiarize yourself with the way you heatsink/fan locks itself into the motherboard. With the thermal compound in place you will only have one shot(unless you dont disturb the compound). Some of intel's stock fans sets are trick to get on. You may want to have a second person help you with this. Make sure you get it centered over the processor and get it locked into place.

    Once thats done you are ready to start putting it all into the case.
    Also please note that there are many "jumpers" on your board. For a newer user i recommend not playing with them. Your motherboards instruction manual should tell you what they all mean. In some cases you may have to move them. But please read about what you are doing before you do so.
  2. mattym

    mattym New Member

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    Section 5: Anchoring It In

    With your CPU and Motherboard snug together you will want to carefully lay them down into the case. Look over the motherboard and find the holes for the screws that will secure it to the standoffs. If you hove to put the standoffs in on your own place the board in once carefully and make what holes you need to put a standoff in. Not every hole needs to be screwed in. The ideal ones are the 4 corners and the ones near your rear IO panel.

    How do you know its in the right spot? Well the Rear IO Panel of coarse. On the back wall of your case you will often find a rectangular opening. Sometimes its covered and needs to be exposed. Other times it has a panel shield already in it. Your motherboard should come with a thin piece of metal that has holes and shapes cut into it and matches up with the connection on the back end of your mobo. This is your IO panel shield. If the case has none just pop yours in. If the case already has one look to see if its the same as yours, if not pop it out and replace it with the one you were given. Once your mobo lines up with the cutouts on this, you will know its in the right spot.

    Section 6: The Other Core Elements

    With the motherboard now anchored to the case we can start placing the other parts in their proper place. You should have left at this point your PSU,memory,video card, sound card, hard drives and media drives.

    I like to put the memory in before its gets too crowded. Most memory sticks will be "clipped" into the board. Simply find the RAM slots and push the clips out. Make sure your stick is oriented correctly then push it down into the slot. The clips will often snap back up into place as you push down. If they dont make sure to put them in their upright position and make sure that the RAM stick is evenly level along the slot. Also read up on your mother board. Make sure you put the RAM in the right slots. Some are often color coded and you may have to put a RAM stick in every other slot. Slots are often numbered starting with 0. If you only have one RAM stick use slot 0.

    Next best bet would be to put in your PCI cards. Including all video, audio and other cards. All the often require is you to find the proper slot and place the cards into it. Some new and older configurations require you to place one end in before the other. Most PCI-E slots have a flexible piece of plastic at the end that you need to bend out of the way then let snap back into place after the card is set.

    Also some cases will have metal covers on the back were your PCI card will need to go. Make sure to remove them and save the screw that held it in place. You may need this screw to secure your expansion card if it did not come with one of its own.

    Section 7: The Drives

    You should now take the time to place the case upright. Left should be your PSU, hard drive or drives and media drives. Your drives will often go into drive bays or drive cages. Your hard drives should go into the bays that are not visible from the front of the computer. Some cases have bays that you can remove from the case while you are mounting the drive then snap back in when your done. Others have cages that are oriented to face you and make hard drive installation easier. You will need mounting screws and a screw drive to place the hard drive in its proper place. Keep in mind the length of the PATA or SATA cables you were given to connect the drive. Make sure it can reach the port on the mother board then connect the two with it.

    Media drives such as card readers, floppy's, CD/DVD/BR, and some other drives should be visible on the outside of your case. So when you look at the front bezel make sure to remove and bay covers that you need to. 5.25" drives often come with "rails" these rails are made to let you screw the drives into them and then place the rails on a track inside the case. They are made this way for ease of use. If you dont have a set up like this you may need to remove the other side panel of your case in order to see were to screw the drives into. Once they are all places, attack your PATA/SATA cables as needed.

    Section 8: The PSU

    Last thing i like to put in is the Power Supply Unit. The PSU can be messy, there are lots of wires to deal with. Firstly check to see if the PSU or your case has a gasket for the PSU. Some cases wont have mounting holes in the right spot for all power supplies. They often will come with a gasket that is affixed to the PSU then that is what you screw into the case. Once you figure this out and get the power supply mounted in the case i recommend you let all the wires hang out on the open side of the case. First things to make sure you connect are the Main Power Connector and the CPU Power connector. Your main power connector should be the bigest connector you have. Find the matching slot on your mother board and plug that in. Next do the same with the CPU connector. This is often one of the smaller ones. It often has 4 pins but some of the newer ones have 8.

    After that you may connect the rest in whatever order you please. Each hard drive or media drive should have a power connection going to it. PATA drives will often work of the standard 4-pin connector. SATA drives work on their own type of power connector, some PSU units only have 1 or 2 SATA power connectors but its easy to find adapters. If you still have a floppy drive, they have their own smaller 4-pin connector. Most PSU's will still have one of these. All current video and sound cards will have their own connectors as well. Some higher end graphics cards require two connections of the same type.

    While there are many connectors on most power supplies the size and shape are easy to decipher and will not fit the wrong spot.

    Section 9: Fans Again

    Once you know how many and were you are placing your fans you need to get them power. There should be plenty extra 4-pin connectors left open on your power supply. These are the standard power plus for fans. Some fans have smaller 3-pin connectors. This allows the fan to double as a board fan. A board fan is one that connects to a 3-pin mount on the mother board. These fans are often controlled by the board and are often only in some areas.

    Fans often have power cables with a male and female end. This is so you can plug them in in a series or chain.

    Section 10: Closing

    Once you are sure all your parts are in properly and connected you may close up the case.
    Keep in mind that if you have a nicer case with a window on it you may want to do some wire management. There are many nice ways to hide wires. These range from sheathing(very complicated and time consuming) to simple planning and hiding.

    Once the case door is back on screw it in place and be ready for the next step!

    Next: OS

    In the next chapter is will cover the first power up including the BIOS settings and OS installation. Also i will cover proper procedures for driver installation and updates.

    Remember as always i am looking for feedback. So please comment and tell me what you think, if im wrong, unclear, forgot something. Anything that will help me make this guide better. Also i hope to have chapter 3 up sooner then it took me to get 2 done.

    Chapter 2, Version 1 9/21/08

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