Tax-refund PC Build Day 1: It’s Alive!

The parts arrived yesterday with much fanfare.  The monitor arrived today and afraid to look at it for fear of the jealousy it will arouse.  So, as promised to my 7 year old son Taylor, as soon as his homework was done we set to it.

The main goal of day 1 was to get the motherboard, RAM, and CPU in the case and see if it powers up.

Taylor's not impressed by the 4 Gigs of cool on his face

Taylor's not impressed by the 4 Gigs of cool on his face

First we unpacked and prepped the case.  The case is very nice on the outside, with just enough chrome on the front and a nice touch of glossy black against the flat black case.  The design is pretty minimal, with a square power button which glows blue when on and no other major lights or windows.  Inside it’s pretty plain though, and ready to slice your fingers up.

The motherboard felt heavier than I expected, and then I noticed on the box that it has 2 ounces of copper built in to its layers to lower temperatures and increase stability.  Nice hitherto unknown feature.  The board is also pretty tasteful in terms of color.  Nothing garish and everything laid out pretty clearly.

The OCZ RAM looks as if you could do damage to someone with them in a bar fight.  Another hitherto unknown feature.

Before installing the board in the case I installed the CPU and RAM.  Plopped it in and Taylor set it in place.  Before putting the CPU fan on I put the RAM in as that fan is big and close to the RAM sockets.  No problem with that either and after showing him the first Taylor set in the second.

NOTA BENE:  When installing the RAM and CPU on the motherboard when it’s not in the case, put something soft but not fuzzy behind it to prevent any scratching or breaking of the board.  The foam that came with the motherboard was perfect.

It was putting the motherboard into the case and screwing it into position that blood was first shed.  The I/O plate which goes between the case and the motherboard rear inputs/outputs really pushes the motherboard out of alignment with the mounting holes in the case.  Not by much, but the tolerances are pretty minuscule so great care had to be taken to push the board into position without pushing on any capacitors or bending things.  Once 2 screws were in though, it cruised along.

Once that was in place the fans were connected to the board and the power supply was connected.  At first I panicked in that the motherboard has a 2×4 auxiliary power port and my power supply only had a 2×2 auxiliary (i.o.w., I didn’t think it would work).  But I plugged it in and hoped for the best.

Then came the bane of every builder’s existence, the front panel connectors.  Those little things are a pain in the butt and are always extremely hard to get to once the board is in the case.  Usually a lot of trial and error is involved with getting everything in the right place.  It was here that I noticed that while the board had a header for the case speaker, the case didn’t have a speaker.  Sure all it does is – in the best of all worlds – give you a “beep!” once it’s on, I rely on that beep!  I don’t think this will be a major issue though.  Once the leads for the power switch, drive light and such were connected I decided to plug it in and see what happened.

Plug in wall, power supply on, on switch hit…fans spin!  Wahoo!  Sure this doesn’t tell me a whole lot, but it tells me that the board is getting power and the power switch works.  Right now, that’s a big yay.

Tomorrow, drives and graphics.

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Posted on April 7, 2010, in How To. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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