Going to have a shot at self-assembly...

Discussion in 'hardware' started by philby, Aug 21, 2011.

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  1. philby

    philby Registered Member

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    Hello All

    I'm teetering on the brink of attempting to build a desktop machine from scratch, right from buying up the parts to running W7 64.

    I'm reasonably s/w literate but have an irrational fear of cable ties and mobos - I've only ever swapped out notebook memory and hdds before.

    Just wondered whether anyone can recommend a really good up to date novice guide book / website that perhaps they used themselves - one that anticipates the stupid mistakes someone like me is bound to make.

    Of course, I'm reading all I can anyway, but wondered whether there was an acknowledged reference that provides the transcendental knowledge required for newbie PC builders to reach Nirvana with minimum pain...

    Thanks in advance

    philby
     
  2. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    philby, take a look at MaximumPC's How-Tos section. Two recent pictorial articles dealt with building a budget box and gaming rig.
     
  3. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    My advice would be to find an old computer not worth anything, such as a p133 or something older. Take it apart. Put it back together. Get comfortable handling the parts. It really isn't a big deal at all.

    Buy an anti-static wristband if you are really concerned, although I haven't used one of those in 10 years. The key to building your own machine starts with what parts you decide on. Do a lot of research to make sure you buy what you need. Make sure the CPU is correct for the mobo, make sure the memory is compatible, make sure the PSU gives you the connections you need, and that it is reliable. There are websites that do nothing but review PSUs etc, so you can use those. I spend a lot of time researching parts before I buy.

    After you get the parts, just go really slow. Examine the case, where to put the screw standoffs, making sure you have only the correct amount of standoffs for holes in the mobo. I usually set my mobo on a 1" thick piece of foam and put everything in it on a table. I turn it on to make sure all works before going to the effort of putting it in the case. This is good for newcomers because they can be slow and deliberate in how everything is connected and because it is on a table, it is very easy to work with.

    Once you verify it all works and are comfortable with what goes where, then start putting it in the case. I would suggest this order:
    power supply
    motherboard (cpu and ram is already installed)
    video card
    (now hookup cables, seeing what room you have)
    other pci/pci-x cards

    optical drives are generally front loading, so you won't have to worry about those. Hdds can be front loaded, or back loaded, or side loaded, or come in cages. Just take a peek at where and how they go in the case, and decide when you would need to put them in. I usually put them in last.

    When deciding where to put the opticals and hdds in the case, examine the mobo headers and psu connectors. Sometimes you need to specifically put the items in certain spots for clearance or so that cables reach properly, other times it won't matter.

    One think you want to do is determine what video card you want, and find its length. This is important with newer cards because some can be quite long, and you want to make sure your case has clearance.

    Just some helpful tips for you that I have told many people over the years. Just remember that it is not hard nor really risky if you take your time, but if you rush it you make mistakes. You can do it.

    Sul.
     
  4. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

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    Excellent Sully. :thumb:

    The only thing I would add, pay attention to the orientation of those parts and the various slots that they go into, also, when removing and inserting, some have a unique holding mechanism, like PCI Express.
     
  5. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Very good point. Be very careful when removing a pci-x or agp type card that uses a locking mechanism. The general tool to use is a screwdriver, but you really have to mind your Ps and Qs with a screwdriver - way too easy to slip and damage a mobo component. Thankfully though the video card retaining lock is usually really easy to manipulate.

    It brings another thought to mind, the cpu cooler. The ZIF socket is a piece of cake (thats zero insertion force). You make sure the cpu is aligned the right way (there is only one way) you set the cpu pins into the socket (it should go very easily) and you push the ZIF lever down.

    Many of the cpu cooler mechanisms are easy, some are a little confusing. If you end up with a confusing one, absolutely post here or somewhere before you go forcing it. It is both important not to damage anything as well as get it seated correctly. I would say this is the most critical part of building a machine yourself. It isn't that hard, but sometimes you need to hear from others how much pressure they had to apply or how they got it attached to fully understand how to proceed. After doing many of them, you won't question it much, but the first time it is important to understand what you are doing.

    Thankfully they don't require screwdrivers like they used to back in the day. Those of you who remember are probably grinning from ear to ear right now thinking back on that lol.

    One other thing to be aware of is the internal headers on the mobo. What that means (if you don't know) is that on the back of the mobo you will have some USB ports etc. But also on the mobo itself will be some pins in groups. These are for you to attach a cable to, for example to get audio or usb to the front of the case.

    In the old days you would have a cable that ran to the front of the case, and the ends of the cables would be a bunch of little connectors that were labeled, but they were not a big block, they were individual per wire. You had to make sure you put them onto the mobo in the right order. It was easy to get them wrong and you could do damage. I burned up a mobo header once when the case had not been clear on which pin was which.

    But most likely you won't encounter that because they started standardizing a connection that was one solid piece and oriented, so it was not confusing. Just another little tidbit for you to be aware of in case you encounter this. Again, post back here or wherever to get help. Don't think you are bothering people and handle it on your own. Making mistakes is not only costly but does little to build your confidence (which is what I am trying to do ;) ).

    Sul.
     
  6. philby

    philby Registered Member

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    Absolutely brilliant replies - really useful and encouraging - thanks very much.

    Regarding the PSU and wattage: do I just aggregate the wattage of all components and add a buffer of x%?

    First of many questions....

    Thanks again

    philby
     
  7. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

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    Modern motherboards use between 150-300 watts. You need to choose a maximum wattage PSU that is 150-200 watts greater than your future upgrade plans. Each time you add another device it requires more power. I purchased a 600 watt PSU for my motherboard even though it's not as power hungry as today's systems where just the CPU can use 135 watts. Also, I wanted to make sure I didn't keep the PSU operating at it's maximum regularly, prolonging its life.
     
  8. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I'd say that is a decent way to look at it.

    IMO a 500+ watt PSU should be good enough for most systems. If you plan on using a lot of devices or gaming grade video cards, you might pay more attention to the wattage, but 650 watt should be all you need. You can get more than that, but most users don't really need it.

    It is more important to get a PSU which supplies the amperage you would need. Todays PSUs are real beasts compared to those of yester-year.

    As an example, I have a core2duo right now, and an 8800gtx video card, along with 3hdds, 2 dvd burners, a pci Intel NIC, a pci sound card, and 7 fans. I have been using a 550w PSU from the beginning, with no issues. I would have to examine new hardware to make sure I had enough amps to go around. I could have bought a 700w PSU, but I did not plan on overclocking or using SLI, so I did not think I needed it. Turns out I was right.

    Sul.
     
  9. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    For a PSU add the power consumption of all components and add at least 30% to that if not 50%. It is better to go over than under. If you find your machine draws 400 watts and you have a 900 watt PSU you will still only draw 400 watts from it. If you buy a 500 watt unit and draw 400 you are at 80% capacity already. The extra few dollars for a good PSU is less than a fried machine you overloaded. A good PSU and good quality RAM are the 2 most important components in your machine. I have a high end gaming machine and it draws about 250 watts surfing the internet. While gaming it exceeds 600. Research everything thoroughly before you buy. Read the reviews on Amazon and Newegg. Good luck on your build. You will enjoy it far more than a prebuilt machine. :thumb:
     
  10. Keyboard_Commando

    Keyboard_Commando Registered Member

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    Quite a handy PSU calculator here
     
  11. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    It seems fairly accurate in its calculations but it doesn't recommend a unit much higher than what it calculates (10% in my case). It is still best to add 30% or more.
     
  12. philby

    philby Registered Member

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    Thank you for all those PSU pointers.

    I have been running through a dummy (no pun intended) build in my mind and have hit a point of interest regarding a case/mobo/USB3 connectivity scenario:

    The case is a Corsair 600T special edition, which has a single USB3 port on the front panel and a male USB3 cable running off that, which I think has to be run 'pass through' and outside!! of the chassis to a USB3 port on the motherboad's rear I/O panel.... This is of course not exactly elegant, so I started looking at a motherboard that seems to offer a better USB3 solution....

    The motherboard is a P8P67 Deluxe that has a 3.5" box with 2 USB3 ports that you mount in one of the case's external 5.25" bays (5.25"/3.5" adaptor required, I presume).
    A cable runs off this box that runs to the USB3 header on the board, like so:
    untitled.png
    This, I think, is very good, but my question is, therefore:

    Assuming I didn't want to go for the inelegant 'pass through' option, would the case's front USB port just have to be left disconnected since the only motherboard USB3 header would now be occupied by the connection from the 2 port box, or would some kind of adaptor be an option - i.e whereby the male connector from the chassis front USB3 AND the 19 pin connector from the 2 port box could BOTH be connected to the single USB3 header on the board?


    (USB3 is not massively important really, I realise that, but I'm just trying to understand connectivity and this one is driving me nuts...and 3 x USB3 front ports would be nice after all...)

    Thanks again

    philby
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  13. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    Agreed, the cable sticking out the back of the Asus P8P67 is downright tacky. There are starting to be Sata III connector add-ons that can be installed into a front bay and the cable snaked back behind the mobo. Unfortunately I don't have a link available at the moment but I'll post it asap.

    A great source of honest hardware selection and build info is on Silent PC Review,
    http://www.silentpcreview.com
     
  14. mack_guy911

    mack_guy911 Registered Member

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  15. philby

    philby Registered Member

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    Thank you sir - I'm learning at USB3 speeds here :)

    Incidentally, regarding that USB3 pass-through 'problem' I mentioned; the new Corsair Carbide cases solve it with a proper motherboard header connection for its 2 front ports - nice.

    I have another quick question:

    Assuming you're not a gaming or over-clocking type, is using a stock CPU heatsink (I'm thinking I7 2600) alright, as opposed to buying a separate rad/fan unit? The general view out there seems to be that the cooling that comes with CPUs is lousy...

    philby
     
  16. egghead

    egghead Registered Member

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    For all your questions you have two friends:

    1. Youtube (already mentioned)

    2. http://www.newegg.com

    Read the reviews of products your are thinking of buying.
    Start with the negative reviews first.......... ;)

    And take a look at AMD processors: cheaper then Intel and much more bang for the buck.
    Plus it will save you money when you are going to upgrade your CPU.
    Upgrading an Amd CPU > in most cases you can use the same mobo you are using
    Upgrading an Intel CPU > you need a new mobo
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  17. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    I have never had a problem with the stock cooler if there is no overclocking. If you are not intending to do so don't waste your money.
     
  18. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I have been researching a new system for a month or so. I am also looking into a 2600k. The 2600 offers some features such as hyperthreading that might prove useful. The 2500k is really as good if you don't need the features of the 2600k. For myself, I would rather spend the extra hundo and have the abilities should I need them.

    I have looked at all mobos it seems. I have used Gigabyte a lot in the past, and always liked them. Tyan was good to me, and biostar and shuttle were not bad but sort of fickle. I have seen many ECS boards that were rock solid. Asus I have mixed feelings about. On one hand they make good products, but my experience with them is if you get a lemon, the lemon is not just one board, but many of that version. Not always true I know, but it has been my personal experience. I was looking at the Pro version of that board you are looking at instead of the Deluxe one, and on newegg it is amazing at how many bad reviews there are, and how many RMAs. I know there will be duds, but when I see a lot of "verified owners" having to RMA, it makes me nervous.

    MSI isn't bad, I have had a few. They can be touchy, but seem stable. I used to buy Soyo boards and had great luck but they are long gone it seems. I have been eyeing the Intel DP67BGB3 board a lot. My current system uses an e6700 c2d with an Intel 975xbx2. For years I used AMD because of the pricing, and when the c2d came out, I switched. The intel board has been most likely my best board ever.

    But then I am not looking to OC much either. On my current build I could have used the stock cooler, but I want to keep my expensive equipment as cool as possible for longevity. I put on a Thermalright cooler, much like a tuniq or many now available. It keeps my system idling in high teens to low 20's and under full load under 40 cel. On the 2600k, I am looking to once again keep temps as low as I can get them. I have been looking at a corsair h60 water cooled cooler. I don't think it will be any cooler than a good air system, but I do hope it is very quiet.

    As well, I put a lot of thought and time into the case/board thermals. Again, I want minimum temps. Of all the boards for the SB I have been looking at, the Intel one has the best fan control from within the bios, with the Asus ones being next best. However, I am leaning towards the intel board because it has all PWM fan headers which I want, and has more control in the bios. I used to use speedfan, but I really want to get away from software to control my fans and utilize the bios instead.

    The same thing too for video cards, cool is king. My current is an evga 8800gtx. I flashed the bios on it with a program called NiBiTor and set my own fan algorithm. I used to use RivaTuner, but again I like it to happen without software being involved. I have been eying the evga 570 video card. One might go with a 560 as it is pretty good as well. But some research shows that NiBiTor will not work with a 560, so 570 is the router I will likely take.

    You can see that if you have needs/desires, it takes a bit of research to find what you need. If you are not in a hurry, I would still encourage you to keep researching. Just pump up your imagination a bit and include all factors you can think of, not just if a board has USB 3.0 internal headers or not. I am willing to sacrifice things that may seem important when I really take the time to find out what I want. I am not saying to buy Intel. I am not saying Asus will be DOA. I am only pointing out how I look at things. Having built a great many machines for myself or others, I find it takes me much longer than it used to when deciding what to get. But, my last few builds have been very satisfying and fairly problem free, and I like to think much of that is due to not rushing my decisions.

    Sul.
     
  19. philby

    philby Registered Member

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    Thank you both.

    That's one of the things I was thinking about - whether an aftermarket cooler was still worth a little extra for system longevity, despite my not overclocking.

    I've been looking at the H60 too, and watched a couple of videos about it, but cannot figure out whether, after fitting the radiator, its fan replaces the case's rear exhaust fan, goes right next to it, or isn't required at all! o_O
    .......

    USB3 isn't that important - I was trying to understand what connects where and why / how on different configurations and that was a first stumbling block I came upon from my reading...
    ......

    I've also read that the Asus P67 boards were a little problematic and am now looking at the Z68 ones - the Asrock Extreme 4 and the Asus P8Z68-V Pro in particular...
    .......

    I agree entirely that decisions are much better made at USB1.1 speeds :) and I'm very grateful for all the guidance - as suggested earlier, I will take apart my ancient Vaio box just to make sure I get a feeling for how to handle components...

    philby
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  20. Spysnake

    Spysnake Registered Member

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    Yes, Asus P67 (and some Z6:cool: boards are a bit problematic. I actually switched from Asus Sabertooth P67 to MSI Z68-based board, because I didn't want to troubleshoot things in the future. Asus seems to have some issues with their bios firmware on this generation, related to things like sleep function and temperature reporting (the newest bioses report 10 celsius lower CPU temperatures at all times, which is highly dangerous!).
     
  21. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I looked into a complete water cooled system, but decided it was not what I wanted to do. The H60 though seemed more attractive. I did as much research as I could, and believe that it will keep the cpu as cool as high end air coolers, but with much less noise, which is what I want.

    If I understand it correctly, on the H60, you would mount the cooler on a rear or top 120mm hole. I have seen a few fan configurations, where the cooler is on the inside of the case, and the fan on the outside. One where the fan was against the case and the cooler mated to the fan, both on the inside. Another one where the cooler was against the case and the fan mated to the cooler, again on the inside.

    One advantage to a true water cooling system is many cases have ports for the cooling tubes to exit the case. This would give you more options perhaps, but I don't really want anything outside of the case.

    I am thinking I will try to mount the radiator to the case, then the fan to radiator, both inside the case. I would then blow air from inside the case through the radiator to the outside of the case. This is not how many would say to do it, as they would say to bring cool from outside the case across the radiator. But I am getting a new case (LianLi Z60B) which has a 140mm fan on the top, which I plan to use to bring air into the case.

    Of course, I am not set on what to do, but will adjust as needed. My only concern with the H60 is that the MCH and RAM heat sensors many times will be positioned near the cpu and ram, which they should be. Without the air from a cpu cooler blowing around these areas, they could develop more heat with the H60. My thoughts were then that if I bring cool air in from the back, across the radiator, it would be relatively warm air, and it would be the only air blowing on the ram area, maybe raising temps. If instead I bring cool air in from the top, it can blow across the ram (which now has a free path without the cpu cooler) giving it the coolest air, and the top source of air also provides cool air for the H60 to push across the radiator.

    I am probably more fickle about this than some, but I also have the lowest temps of anyone I know who uses air with similar setups.

    Heat means death to electronics. Electronics are abundant inside my box. The cooler the parts, theoretically the longer the life. I place a lot of weight on both cool and quiet. These are both a major factor in what I will buy. Personally, I am willing to forgo great OC ability to get great fan control from the BIOS.

    Sul.
     
  22. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    I still say that unless you really want an aftermarket cooler (then by all means do it) that if you are not overclocking there is absolutely no need. At stock speed the CPU will not get hot enough that extra cooling is necessary. As for longevity, it will last far longer than you want to use it regardless of the cooler if you are not overclocking. Keeping it clean and dust free will keep it cool and you will need to do that regardless of the cooler. If you are considering a case window an aftermarket cooler is more interesting to look at. If not then you likely won't know the difference.

    Basically you will not benefit from an aftermarket cooler unless you are in it for the bling factor.
     
  23. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I would half agree to that and half disagree with that. I did not buy a cooler for the bling. I bought it so that under a full load my processor stays at the same temps that the stock cooler did at idel. I dropped my temps almost 20 degrees by putting a different cooler on it, and it is almost as silent as the stock cooler. I went from almost 60deg C to roughly 40dec C when playing a game or something that taxes the cpu, just by getting a different cooler.

    I agree that you don't really need a different cooler. But I disagree that keeping the stock cooler vs a better one has no bearing on processor life. Heat kills electronics, no way to refute that. Whether 40 dec Celsius or 20 deg Celsius average temps makes a difference over 4 years, I cannot say for certain. However, I have no doubt that 20 deg is better than 40 deg in the broad picture.

    I don't think anyone really needs a different cooler for normal use, but I certainly believe if you want to maximize the lifespan of an expensive purchase, it cannot hurt matters, and most likely helps.

    The question would be, if you had one of those processors that gives out after 2 years (I have seen it happen more than once), was it because it got too hot? Or was it because that particular processor was not quite "up to snuff"? (or, if it was not up to snuff, would cooler temps have prolonged its life? ) Every processor is different in minute ways. Some of the 2600k cpus can push 4.5ghz, but they estimate only 20% can push 4.8ghz. And some cannot reach more than 4.3ghz without errors. I have always chosen to get a good cooler on my processors, strictly out of the "cooler is better" principle.

    @philby

    I am not trying to convince you that you need anything. I am just sharing my viewpoints. You take what you want from my thoughts and everyone elses as well. That is the advantage of people sharing different opinions :)

    Sul.
     
  24. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    Not an attempt to argue with you... if you feel you need additional cooling get it. Heat does kill but 60c is (though on the hot side) well within the tolerances of most CPUs. I have a Q6600 that I have pushed to 85c and it is still running fine. I am no longer running it as I have passed it down to someone else who is now running it at stock speed with the stock cooler after years of me running it overclocked.

    From my understanding the average lifespan of a CPU is about 10 years. If you are seeing failures at 2 years it was defective. I am running a Q9550 at 4.0 Ghz and it definitely requires aftermarket cooler. I am not against the idea. But where budget is concerned I will not recommend one for stock clocks. We have 12 machines here at work that I have built. Some render video, we have a dual quad core Xeon server, none of them have had CPU failures. I am not against the idea of upgraded cooling, but at stock speed it is not at all necessary. I'm all for toys. I don't build myself a stock anything. Just trying to save a guy a few bucks. ;)
     
  25. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    It isn't arguing when you are discussing merits of differing opinions. Arguing would be one of us declaring they are right and the other wrong, then it really begins ;) The way we are going at it though seems productive to me.

    I always like to do that! In fact, because I spend so much on a box that is worth 1/2 what I paid once I get it, I think that is a primary reason to get an aftermarket cooler. If keeping temps down can prolong my $$$ investment, that is what I will try to do. I have gone really really "out of the way" to get the best cooling I can get on my machine, because I cannot afford to pony up for new parts whenever I feel like it. I built my current machine close to 4 years ago, and just now have saved up enough to get a new one. Granted, the amount of money I am dropping is going to be quite a bit, but I hope it lasts another 4 years, and will apply more/better fans etc to try and ensure this.

    Just a viewpoint, not the law :thumb:

    Sul.
     
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