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Questions-new build from scratch

First of all thanks to all who take the time to respond to questions, this board has been very helpful. Clintfan thank you for posting so much helpful & very specific info, even though I have not yet started my system these pointers will save a lot of grief I'm sure! Thanks! ;-)

I have several questions to ask from those of you more more experienced than I am, which is probably just about everyone! ;-)

Hopefully this is the appropriate thread, if not I appologize.

I have purchased several bare bones systems in the past, added drives,cards,OS etc. but have never built one totally from scratch. I am considering this for two reasons, to save a bit on cost and also for the experience.However I can live without having a nightmare on my hands, I don't need that much experience! ;-) That said, here is the basic system I am looking at and questions regarding this process.

I am planning on an ASUS P4C800-E, P4 2.8, 1G PC-3200 memory, not sure what type corsair,kingston? (Recommendations welcome!) I have read several threads on the memory issues but seems that people are having issues with both brands on some mbs. Probably two SATA 120G HD's, either Maxtor or WD. ATI Radeon 9600 Pro video card. 480w Power supply? Recommendations? Lian-Li PC-60 mid case (other Lian Li model recommendations?)XP pro OS. Fat32 file sys.

Questions.
1)Looking for good resources explaining this process step by step since I have never done this and so that I don't fry everything! Is it as simple as attaching the motherboard to case, adding the power supply, memory, floppy & HD and then booting and setting bios settings prior to HD format & OS installation?
2)How easy is it to attach the MB & PS to the case? (I told you I was a rookie!)Are there any fit/customize issues I should be aware of?
3)What should I be careful of to avoid problems (I know static/grounding is an issue)What about atttaching the PS & MB?
4)What are the proper steps, ie; what is the sequential order of installing components when starting the build from scratch?
5)What other components should I be looking at other than the ones listed above relative to core components, ie; P/S, fans etc.
6)Also I notice most individuals have multiple HD partitions, advantages? I have a 60G WD HD currently that I gave two partitions but not really sure of the benefits to that approach.
7)Also in the past I have just used the format utilities that came with the WD hard drive. Anything that I should be aware of using that utility for these larger (120G) drives?

Whew! I know this is a lot of questions but any help/advice is much appreciated. Thanks. Doug
 

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Sorry but, i have a short attention spane but, what i read from your post i think i have some answers.
First thing first is make sure your motherboard and case are compatible, meaning atx with atx. I would save get a mid to large tower with a removable MB tray. It'll make your work easier. Get an aluminum Li Liang case, i have one and it's freaking cold and keeps my stuff really cool. Get a MB that is reliable and pain free, i would say the p4p800 deluxe which i have but, i've been running into some very frustrating problems which is a good thing cause i learned so much troubleshooting the board that i feel like an expert. I actually built two other pc's with no snap, maybe you should get a freaking pain in the *** board like my p4p800 deluxe. It's good to OC but, i can't get it to 3.0g + but, that's my problem. Anyways, back to what you need, get a cheap anti-static mat and armpiece from tcwo or a local radio shack. Get a powerful reliable Powersupply like enermax. Memory if i could get my money back i would get some of that japanesse geil memory which are supposed to be one of the best to OC. Anyways good luck, i'll try to think of some more stuff.
 

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Hi Doug!

I'd say first be sure to check out the WORKING thread, seems like maybe you have already done that.

I used 2 or 3 articles as a guide, since I had never done a build either, I'll try to dig up at least one of those for you. Also the mobo manual itself has some steps. The various sources differed on order, so I deduced a lot of it is not critical. But I'll try to give some tips later anyway. Watch for a later reply.

-clintfan
 

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I have built many boxes before so hopefully this will help...

Equipment
--------------
- Grounding strap.
- Phillips head and flat head screw drivers
- Garbage bag

0. Prepare a well lit and clean area where you can lay out all the components.
1. Prepare the case. Read the case manufacturers manuals to see if there are any specific wiring configurations you have to adhere to. My Thermaltake came with a manual outlining all of the wiring, attachments. Make sure all wires are out of the way. I laid the case on it's back and routed all wires off to the side. You should now mount the power supply and route the big bundle of cables out the top of the case.


Before any of the following steps, ground yourself!

2. Prepare the motherboard. Read the mobo manual two+ times. This will help you learn connections/jumpers. Remove the mobo and place on anti-static wrap on top of foam lining (on a hard surface).
3. Prepare the CPU. If you purchased a retail CPU, there will be the heatsink/fan unit, cpu, and potentially the adhesive bond material in a schringe.
4. Mount the CPU. If you have a case with a temp sensor, test fit the sensor to the bottom of the CPU. Many will be too large/long and will require bending to fit. Make sure to run the small leads through the pins (you don't want to pinch the wires against the CPU pin tops when seating the chip). Take some tape (which is usually supplied with the case) and adhere the sensor to the bottom of the CPU. Lift the ZIF lever to 90 degrees and mount place the CPU in the socket with the dot corner of the CPU in line with the marked edge of the socket. Once firmly seated, return the ZIF lever to it's normal position. Make sure you orient the heat sink/fan the way you want and lay to the side. If you have thermal paste, apply it now to the top of the mounted CPU. Next, place the heatsink/fan unit squarely on the surface of the CPU and push the clips down to latch with the base unit on the mobo. Make sure you take the time now to attach the heatsink/fan connector to the CPU fan connector on the mobo.
5. Install memory modules. Simply undo the clips on either side of the memory banks and insert the modules in place. Don't worry, they only fit one way. Push down firmly but not too hard and they will seat in the bank. Clip each side of the connectors to lock the memory modules in place.
6. Test fit the mother board to the case. Carefully position the mobo over the standoffs (if no standoffs already supplied, hold the mobo over the holes in the case to see where standoffs need to be placed). Apply any necessary standoffs to the back of the case where the mobo will lie. Take the ATX face plate and mount it to the opening from inside the case.
7. Mount the motherboard. Once all fittings have been installed and correctly oriented, place the mobo in the case on the standoffs. Take the mobo mounting screws (usually supplied with the case) and start the top right screw on the mobo. Install each screw in the remaining holes. You may have to apply pressure to the right side of the mobo to get the screws to line up. This is okay as some slight pressure is required to seat the face of the ATX bank against the faceplate. Make sure you don't over tighten the screws or you can damage the mobo.
8. Mount hard drive(s). If you have a separate hard drive bay, mount the hard drives now.
9. Install ATAPI devices. Open the front of the case and install the CD-ROM/DVD/CDRW devices in the 5.25" bays.
10. Install your floppy.
--Note-- You should test the closing of the front panel of the case once you've mounted the ATAPI/Floppy drives. You may need to adjust the alignment of the drives to ensure a smooth closing front cover.
11. Mount the video card and any other PCI devices at this time. Make sure that you don't obscure any mobo ports (USB, etc) when you do this. If they do, belay this step until later.
12. Connect the CD-ROM cable to the mobo. You can also mount any USB or other connectors at this time.
13. Connect the IDE drives and floppy drives to the motherboard. Route the cables so they won't get in the way of attaching power to the board. Make sure you align the colored strip on the IDE cable to pin 1 on the connector.
14. Attach any case fans/etc to the motherboard connectors.
15. Attach the bundle of wires that control the case lights (power, reset, IDE, etc) to the mobo. You should see a bank of pins and these are outlined in your mobo manual. Be sure to remember that the colored wire (darker) is always positive.
16. Apply power connectors to the mobo.
17. Double check all devices to make sure they have power and are plugged into the mobo.

--You can now remove your grounding strap.--

Take the case to your work station and mount it high so you can check all fans, etc when you power up.
18. Attach all power and other accessories to the back of the box (mouse, keyboard, etc).
19. Power the system up.
20. Look at the CPU heatsink/fan. If the fan is not on, immediately shut off power and recheck your connections. You can burn up a CPU in seconds without proper cooling.

As always, these are the steps I take to build a box and you should use them at your own risk. Any omissions are not the responsibility of the author. Also, you may encounter situations where you need to change or modify the aforementioned steps to meet the needs of your particular install.

Building your first box from scratch is both challenging and rewarding. If you follow the manufacturers manuals and recommendations, you should do just fine.

There's nothing quite like powering it up for the first time and knowing that you gave it life! Good luck! :)
 

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Really nice writeup, cprgmr!

I can only add a little to what cprgmr has already said...

First, I agree that mounting the CPU first, then memory, and doing all that while the mobo is outside the case, is the best way to do it. You will be able to do a better job out in the open with more room to work in.

Second, take special care with the amount of grease you apply to the CPU, and the way in which you apply it: all your CPU's heat is going to transfer through this, so do a good job. The Arctic Silver website had extensive instructions for mounting a CPU using their compounds, but I think it serves as a good guide in general. I screwed mine up the first time and had to redo it, took me over 2 hours :( but had never done it to anything so serious before.

Third, pay attention to airflow when routing cables within the case. If you can make a choice of running a cable one way or another, or bundling cables together, choose whatever will produce the least obstructions --and thus best airflow-- within the box.

Finally, if you have multiple HDD's when you get trady to install the O/S? I would disconnect the data cables of all non-O/S drives. Only let the O/S setup see the one you'll be installing onto. Less chance of misinterpretation that way.



The guides I used were:

1. I referenced a Prorec.com article called Roll Your Own Thunderbird, where they built a PC. The article's a couple years old and used AMD chips, but I felt the rest of the building would pretty much standard.

2. I used an article from PC Gamer Magazine (November 2002, p.64, "How to Build Your Own PC") where the guy built a PC and made it look easy, it seemed almost annoying to him to have to build it. I don't think this is online, but maybe you can find something similar.

3. I consulted the mobo manual heavily, a lot of the same detail and step-by-step is in there also.

Hope this helps, FYI it took me about 18 hours to build my PC, but you get to fuss over each and every detail. I gathered everything I would need together into one area beforehand. I was nervous about building it --what if I screw something up-- but it turned out OK and as cprgmr said, was very satisfying.

-clintfan
 

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clintfan said:
Really nice writeup, cprgmr!

I can only add a little to what cprgmr has already said...

First, I agree that mounting the CPU first, then memory, and doing all that while the mobo is outside the case, is the best way to do it. You will be able to do a better job out in the open with more room to work in.

Second, take special care with the amount of grease you apply to the CPU, and the way in which you apply it: all your CPU's heat is going to transfer through this, so do a good job. The Arctic Silver website had extensive instructions for mounting a CPU using their compounds, but I think it serves as a good guide in general. I screwed mine up the first time and had to redo it, took me over 2 hours :( but had never done it to anything so serious before.

Third, pay attention to airflow when routing cables within the case. If you can make a choice of running a cable one way or another, or bundling cables together, choose whatever will produce the least obstructions --and thus best airflow-- within the box.

Finally, if you have multiple HDD's when you get trady to install the O/S? I would disconnect the data cables of all non-O/S drives. Only let the O/S setup see the one you'll be installing onto. Less chance of misinterpretation that way.



The guides I used were:

1. I referenced a Prorec.com article called Roll Your Own Thunderbird, where they built a PC. The article's a couple years old and used AMD chips, but I felt the rest of the building would pretty much standard.

2. I used an article from PC Gamer Magazine where the guy built a PC and made it look easy, seemed almost annoying to him to have to build it. I don't think this is online, but maybe you can find something similar.

3. I consulted the mobo manual heavily, a lot of the same detail and step-by-step is in there also.

Hope this helps, FYI it took me about 18 hours to build my PC, but you get to fuss over each and every detail. I gathered everything I would need together into one area beforehand. I was nervous about building it --what if I screw something up-- but it turned out OK and as cprgmr said, was very satisfying.

-clintfan
Thanks clintfan! :) I think successfully building a box is about as close to child birth as us guys can get... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Links and response to this thread:
http://www.techsupportforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7741&forumid=15


Thank you marqjesu, clintfan & cprgmr for responding & for the help, tips and links, very much appreciated!

marqjesu,
I am planning on a Lian-Li (PC-60), as you suggested, from everything I've read it seems they're hard to beat! Thanks! (And I will be using an ASUS (P4C800E) board so wish me luck!) ;-)

cprgmr,
Wow! Thanks for the very detailed step by step explanation, I definitely appreciate it!

Re:
Take some tape (which is usually supplied with the case) and adhere the sensor to the bottom of the CPU.

If I am understanding this correctly this is taped directly to the bottom surface of the CPU before snapping into place? I take it that this does not interfere with the CPU fitting correctly.




Clintfan,
Re:I'd say first be sure to check out the WORKING thread, seems like maybe you have already done that.

I did! (And was reassuring, at least to a degree!) ;-) Also reassuring that yours was a first build too knowing that you've had some success.

Re:
Second, take special care with the amount of grease you apply to the CPU...The Arctic Silver website had extensive instructions for mounting a CPU using their compounds, but I think it serves as a good guide in general.

Thanks for this tip, this is something I did not even know I had to do! Also found another link on this here:
http://195.26.56.228/thermal.html

Re:
Third, pay attention to airflow when routing cables within the case.

Good point, thanks.

Thanks too for the links. I found a few sites that I will post for future reference for anyone else looking for build info.

Thanks again marqjesu, clintfan & cprgmr for the help. ;-)



Links for building a system for anyone looking for resources:

http://www.pcmech.com/build.htm
http://peripherals.about.com/library/ref/blbuildp4.htm
http://compreviews.about.com/cs/diytutorials/
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1231726,00.asp
http://www.extremetech.com/category2/0,3971,644478,00.asp
http://www.buildyourowncomputer.net/learntobuild.html
http://www.heatsink-guide.com/
http://www.daileyint.com/build/buildtoc.htm
http://www.cheap-computers-guide.com/build-your-own-computer.html
http://www.build-computer.com/
http://www.buildpc.net/
http://www.learnthat.com/courses/computer/buildpc/
 

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If I am understanding this correctly this is taped directly to the bottom surface of the CPU before snapping into place? I take it that this does not interfere with the CPU fitting correctly.
No, I doubt this is what cprgmr meant. AFAIK it is not possible to put anything underneath the CPU chip itself. it has to fit perfectly flat to the socket. I think he meant somewhere nearby, down under the heatsink. I really do not know where the sensor would go, not all mobos have these-- I just know you should not try what you thought was meant.

How about this sequence:
Ground yourself. Socket lock lever up. CPU drops into socket. Socket lock lever down. I'm thinking at this point, thermal sensor goes somehow in there next to it, but without shorting any traces. Heatsink undersurface and CPU top plate cleaned with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Thermal compound on CPU, spread evenly. Heatsink then sits down on that compound. Fasten heatsink with clamping devices, applying even pressure, and without letting the HS slide around too much. Connect fan and sensor wiring. Does that sound about right?


BTW The PC-61B is the black version of the PC-60 case. I did a lot of research into the Lian-Li line one night to figure out what was what. I was going for the black until I inverted my color scheme. If the DVD had come in black I would still be there. If you get either case you will never be sorry.

-clintfan
 
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