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Computer Illiterate and Building a New PC

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March 30, 2007 7:25:46 PM

Hey there - I'm joining this forum in the hope that someone may be able to help me. It's true I'm pretty PC illiterate but I decided the easiest way for me to afford a computer was to buy it a piece at a time. Well, I've assembled everything and of course there seems to be something wrong. I have both a CD/DVD drive and a DVD burner - neither drawer will open so I can insert a CD. Nothing comes on the monitor screen when I turn the computer on (I'm wondering if it's because the video card I purchased needs a driver installed from the included CD, which of course I can't install 'cause the CD drawers don't open). I don't know if this is a clue, but when I first turned it on, the lights of the computer flickered and immediately went out. So I switched the button on the back of the power supply to the higher setting and now it seems to be running. Wonder if I burned out something or if I just need a different video card, and if the CD drives will work after I do the BIOS thingie. Does the BIOS menu just come up when the new computer is first turned on or does a CD have to be loaded first. Phew, I know that's alot, but maybe one of you knowledgeable people might know the right questions to ask me to help me get this monster up and running. Thanks in advance!!
March 30, 2007 7:54:53 PM

To start with, it'll help us help you if you would list the model number of EVERY part of your system, including case, CPU, CPU cooler, MB, power supply, etc.

Quote:
... I have both a CD/DVD drive and a DVD burner - neither drawer will open so I can insert a CD.

Sounds like a lack of power.

Quote:
...Nothing comes on the monitor screen when I turn the computer on (I'm wondering if it's because the video card I purchased needs a driver installed from the included CD, which of course I can't install 'cause the CD drawers don't open).

No, you don't need the CD until you install Windows -- all video cards can handle certain standard modes.

Quote:
...I don't know if this is a clue, but when I first turned it on, the lights of the computer flickered and immediately went out. So I switched the button on the back of the power supply to the higher setting and now it seems to be running. Wonder if I burned out something ...

Could be. Do you mean the 110V/220V switch on the back of the PS? If so, that sets the PS to work correctly with the type of voltage in your country. What type of voltage do you have in your country? If it was set to run at 110V and you plugged it into a 220V wall outlet, the PS and/or other components could certainly be fried.
Quote:
...or if I just need a different video card, and if the CD drives will work after I do the BIOS thingie.

Unlikely, and "no", respectively. The CD drives should work once you turn on the power, or very shortly afterwards.
Quote:
... Does the BIOS menu just come up when the new computer is first turned on or does a CD have to be loaded first.

Yes, and no, respectively.

To start with the basics, the power switch (if any) on the back of the PS needs to be "On" for your system to run, but the actual on/off switch is on the front of the case, and needs to be properly connected to the appropriate motherboard header pins.

When you turn on the computer, do any/all of the fans inside start turning? Do any LEDs turn on?
March 30, 2007 9:37:19 PM

'K - yeah, the power supply was set on the lower number and I then set it on the higher one when it didn't work. I suppose some of the stuff may be fried, but all the lights and fans are working. Does that happen that some things fry while others don't?
I have a Cooler Master case and (Unfortunately I'm at work right now and the PC's at home, so I don't have access to names and brands til Monday...) they have a "Cooler Drive" I've installed that keeps track of the Hard Drive temperature and glows all different colors - that seems to work fine though they have you plug the HDD light from the front of the computer into it and then plug that into the motherboard. I'm not sure what it's supposed to register, but it doesn't seem to register very much and the HDD light on the front of the computer doesn't come on. The light is on on the DVD burner but not the CD/DVD drive.
I'm in the US - but I think the instructions on the power supply stated the switch was supposed to be on the lower number.
When I go home tonight I'll make the list of everything I've installed and post it here to go over.
Thanks for the fast reply.
Related resources
March 30, 2007 11:24:27 PM

Given you're in the US the PSU needs to be set at 110v and if you started it when it was set at 220v, the first thing I do is try a different PSU. I agree with
Mondoman, if your drives won't open, it very likely a power issue. Also make sure all the mobo power connections are plugged.
March 30, 2007 11:32:09 PM

Can you recommend a really good one. I guess the stuff I got for my PC require alot of power (the video card is gonna be swapped out soon for a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe Video Card). So if the power supply isn't good enough the fans and lights will still run?

Thanks!
March 30, 2007 11:47:23 PM

Quote:
Can you recommend a really good one. I guess the stuff I got for my PC require alot of power (the video card is gonna be swapped out soon for a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe Video Card). So if the power supply isn't good enough the fans and lights will still run?

Thanks!


Best to see what you have before making recommendations. The best way to trouble shoot a new build is to take it apart including taking out the mobo to make sure you have the precise of studs, no more, no less and test the mobo out of case, set it on the box it came in. If you have two sticks of RAM, take one out. If this is your first build, actually even if it's not, read the manual and install each piece as recommended and test it before putting the next piece in
April 3, 2007 7:32:53 PM

Thanks for all the help you guys have given so far. I set up my (very) old computer at home this weekend so maybe I could work on stuff but no matter what I do I can't log in. So I can only do this from work.
- So of course I wrote down the model and type of every part and left it at home this morning...
Quick question - how do I test the parts (I've never done it before) - what do I use?
April 3, 2007 8:12:55 PM

Quote:
Thanks for all the help you guys have given so far. I set up my (very) old computer at home this weekend so maybe I could work on stuff but no matter what I do I can't log in. So I can only do this from work.
- So of course I wrote down the model and type of every part and left it at home this morning...
Quick question - how do I test the parts (I've never done it before) - what do I use?


If this is an old computer, chances are you don't have to take mobo out of the case. The reason you do this is to see if it is shorting out on something, e.g., you either have too many or too few studs. To test parts you disconnect all your drives and take out any cards you have, e.g., sound cards or lan cards. If you have 2 sticks of memory take one out, usually the one under the top one. Leave the video card in and start the machine. If it starts and the monitor is working, shut it done and try the other stick of RAM. If that works, try both sticks. Then connect the hard drive with the Operating System on it. If that works, attach your CD Drive. Just replace each part and test. If there is a computer store near by and there is no restocking charge, get a new PSU and try it. If that doesn't fix it return it for a refund. Could do the same with the video card. If you have a friend that doesn't care if you pull parts out of his computer you could use his/her PSU and video card to test. If it's not the PSU, there is a good chance your damaged the motherboard when you changed the voltage. If the machine is really old, it's possible it just died of old age. :cry:  If it's dead and that old, you're best off building a new one and maybe you can use some of the old parts, depending on how old they are. If you need to build a new one and post your budget and how you use the machine, we'll be glad to make suggestions. If you haven't done it before, building is really pretty easy if you take your time, read the directions, and don't use a hammer. With out the monitor about the only way to test most of the parts is to replace them one at a time till you find the one that isn't working.
April 3, 2007 8:32:42 PM

thanks for the info, actually the new computer I built was the issue - the old one I set up this weekend I'm using 'cause I couldn't get the brand new one I built up and running. Tomorrow I'll post the list of all the parts I used to build it.
So, to be sure I'm understanding correctly, if the new computer would only turn on using the higher voltage (the one NOT recommended for the U.S.) then it likely was the power supply that was the issue, but basically I may have damaged everything by running it at the higher voltage. So I take everything out of the case and try one thing at a time with the monitor on to see if something comes up on the monitor [what should I expect to see if it works, and what should I expect to see if it doesn't work (I expect a blank screen?)].
I may actually have found someone who'll test the parts for me and let me know what I have to replace.
I'd mentioned in a previous post that I'd be switching out my current video card for a newer NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe Video Card once it's up and running. Are you familiar with it? I understand it requires alot of power, too - what would be typical wattage - 800W or more, or is that overkill?
April 3, 2007 9:04:19 PM

Sorry about the confusion. Given it's a new build, take everything out including the mobo. Take everything off the mobo, CPU, HSF, video. Make sure you have the correct number of studs and they match the holes in the mobo. Then reinstall the CPU, make sure it's going in the right direction. If it's an AMD, it will have a little gold arrow on one corner and this goes diagonal to the handle that holds it when the handle is perpendicular to the board, Intel I'm don't know but it will be on the install instructions of that came with the CPU or on the CPU website. reinstall the HSF and connect the wire to the mobo. Plug in the 24 and 4 pin plugs from the PSU to the mobo and see if the fan on the HSF is working. If it doesn't then it's likely the PSU or the mobo. Let it run for a few minutes to make sure you don't have a heat problem. Then install one stick of RAM and turn it on, then the other stick if you have 2 Be sure to unplug the PSU every time you put a part in. If everything is Ok, put in the video card, etc. With the video card you should get a screen with the name of your mobo company. If that comes up, hit the Delete key and see if you can get into the BIOS. Then if it doesn't power on, i.e., the HSF doesn't start and everything is plugged in, ask your friend if you can power his PSU. The problem with using the one from your old machine if it's a mfg build, e.g., HP or Dell, some of these are proprietary and are wired differently and could damage your new board.

I think 800w is over kill. I'd think a good 600 to 650, e.g., Antec, would be more than enough.
April 3, 2007 11:07:22 PM

When I initially installed the Pentium 4, I'm pretty sure I got it correct, but a friend told me I have to use the paste on it, even though it sits in there just fine - something to do with keeping it cooler so it doesn't burn out. Is this true?
Probably I'm gonna sound stupid with this next question, but when I'm checking to see if I have the right number of studs, what are studs? (did you lol at that one?).
Thanks!
April 3, 2007 11:50:07 PM

If you bought the retail as opposed to the OME CPU, i.e., the CPU came with the HSF, the paste should already be on the HSF. The studs are the copper things you screw into the case that the mobo attaches to.
April 4, 2007 3:55:42 PM

This is everything I've got in my "build"...

The tower's a "Cooler Master" and the motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-8GPNXP Duo. The processor is an Intel Pentium 4 Processor 660. My Hard Drive is a Deskstar 7K400. It's housed in something called a "Cooldrive 5" - something the CoolerMaster people make that has displays to tell you the temperature of your hard drive. It lights up and it's just lovely.
My video card at the moment is an ATI Radeon X1050, but I've won an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe Video Card on eBay and plan to switch it out once I've got everything up and running. I have a "Lite-on 52X CD-RW & 16X DVD rom" I was gonna use as "master" and a "Plextor PX-708A" as slave, and for where the floppy disk drive goes I got an "Ultra 7-in-1 Digital Media Drive." That's everything.
I've got all the memory slots filled - do you need to know the kind of memory, too (I'll have to take 'em out and look tonight and post it tomorrow if you do).
So when I first turned it on with the power setting on 114, the computer came on of a split second and then stopped. I thought I had it on the wrong setting so I changed the switch on the back to the higher setting, and all the fans and lights came on, but as I said the disk drive drawers never opened and nothing appeared on the monitor screen.
So there you have it. What do you feel should be the wattage for the power supply with all that stuff? -Thanks!
P.S. - after I remove everything from the case and if the fan is working on the Processor (it came with the fan, so - as you mentioned - it should already have the paste on it?) and I start checking the memory, how will I know if the hard drive works (do I need to have the monitor hooked up). I'm gonna try to do this myself.
April 4, 2007 4:41:19 PM

Quote:
I decided the easiest way for me to afford a computer was to buy it a piece at a time.

In a later post the OP mentions that he's buying an 8800 GTX in the near future. For some reason I find that humorous. I can't exactly explain why.
April 4, 2007 5:11:43 PM

Quote:
This is everything I've got in my "build"...

The tower's a "Cooler Master" and the motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-8GPNXP Duo. The processor is an Intel Pentium 4 Processor 660. My Hard Drive is a Deskstar 7K400. It's housed in something called a "Cooldrive 5" - something the CoolerMaster people make that has displays to tell you the temperature of your hard drive. It lights up and it's just lovely.
My video card at the moment is an ATI Radeon X1050, but I've won an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe Video Card on eBay and plan to switch it out once I've got everything up and running. I have a "Lite-on 52X CD-RW & 16X DVD rom" I was gonna use as "master" and a "Plextor PX-708A" as slave, and for where the floppy disk drive goes I got an "Ultra 7-in-1 Digital Media Drive." That's everything.
I've got all the memory slots filled - do you need to know the kind of memory, too (I'll have to take 'em out and look tonight and post it tomorrow if you do).
So when I first turned it on with the power setting on 114, the computer came on of a split second and then stopped. I thought I had it on the wrong setting so I changed the switch on the back to the higher setting, and all the fans and lights came on, but as I said the disk drive drawers never opened and nothing appeared on the monitor screen.
So there you have it. What do you feel should be the wattage for the power supply with all that stuff? -Thanks!
P.S. - after I remove everything from the case and if the fan is working on the Processor (it came with the fan, so - as you mentioned - it should already have the paste on it?) and I start checking the memory, how will I know if the hard drive works (do I need to have the monitor hooked up). I'm gonna try to do this myself.


I think you said you were in the US and the PSU should be set on the back to 110V. Not sure where the 114v would come from, as far as I know it's either 110 or 220. You'll know if the hard drive is recognized once you reinstall it. The idea of checking each piece after it is installed is to find which piece is the problem. With four sticks of RAM, you'll have to test each, if they all work, then put in two, then 4. Connect the video card when you test the first stick of RAM. If everything is working and the hard drive isn't recognized when connected, then you know it's an issue with the hard drive. Be sure to get the install software from the hdd mfg and put it on a Floppy because you may have to use it to format the hdd if it's not recognized in the BIOS.

If everything works with the RAM and video card, install the mobo in the case.
April 4, 2007 6:14:17 PM

Quote:
I decided the easiest way for me to afford a computer was to buy it a piece at a time.

In a later post the OP mentions that he's buying an 8800 GTX in the near future. For some reason I find that humorous. I can't exactly explain why.

my apologies Rodney but I have to do this......

Maybe you COULD explain it....if you weren't a caveman....


glad I got that out of my system, some of my best friends are cave-persons. :lol: 
April 4, 2007 6:48:51 PM

Quote:
I decided the easiest way for me to afford a computer was to buy it a piece at a time.

In a later post the OP mentions that he's buying an 8800 GTX in the near future. For some reason I find that humorous. I can't exactly explain why.

my apologies Rodney but I have to do this......

Maybe you COULD explain it....if you weren't a caveman....


glad I got that out of my system, some of my best friends are cave-persons. :lol: 
Perhaps you're too young to remember Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Some cavemen are capable of understanding complex thoughts and ideas.
April 4, 2007 6:50:36 PM

And the reason I chose this picture isn't because it's a caveman... I just REALLY like the smug look on his face... the "oh you gotta be f'n kidding me" look is priceless. I figured when I replied to someone with this it'd help drive home the point I was making/refuting... if anything else, it's better than that stupid grin on David Hasslehoff's face I had previously used.
April 4, 2007 6:50:53 PM

Let's stick to posts that are constructive please. Thanks.
April 4, 2007 7:03:11 PM

Quote:
Let's stick to posts that are constructive please. Thanks.

What I read from that is... "It's all about me... me... ME!!! Damnit! MEEEE!" I'll keep an eye open for MSTguy's appearance on MTV's Sweet 16. I'm sure it'll be awesome!
April 4, 2007 7:05:08 PM

Every time I read the title of this thread, it makes me flinch a little.
April 4, 2007 7:23:20 PM

Quote:
Let's stick to posts that are constructive please. Thanks.


nothing could be more constructive that the following statement:

Take everything back to the stores, get your money back, take the cash to walmart and buy an e-machines for 300 dollars.

pc illiterate = disaster when building a computer.

this is like me trying to build a car from the ground up. only difference is that i wouldn't be stupid enough to try.

Valis
April 4, 2007 7:27:09 PM

Quote:
Perhaps you're too young to remember Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Some cavemen are capable of understanding complex thoughts and ideas.


but hey, what do i know. i'm just a caveman. i was frozen in some ice many thousands of years ago and i was unfrozen by some of your scientists. Your crazy modern world FRIGHTENS and confuses me. but what i do know is this:
if someone admittedly doesn't know ANYTHING about a certain mechanical or electrical machine, that same someone would be exceptionally foolish to attempt to BUILD one.

Valis
(i think i'm going to become the BOFH of THGF)
April 4, 2007 7:51:12 PM

Quote:
Perhaps you're too young to remember Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Some cavemen are capable of understanding complex thoughts and ideas.


but hey, what do i know. i'm just a caveman. i was frozen in some ice many thousands of years ago and i was unfrozen by some of your scientists. Your crazy modern world FRIGHTENS and confuses me. but what i do know is this:
if someone admittedly doesn't know ANYTHING about a certain mechanical or electrical machine, that same someone would be exceptionally foolish to attempt to BUILD one.

Valis
(i think i'm going to become the BOFH of THGF)
LOL. I love it.
April 4, 2007 8:02:31 PM

As you've noticed, maturity isn't a requirement for posting on the forumz. :wink:

In any case, while I agree that you've chosen a difficult project given your skill level, all you can lose is money (by destroying part or all of it).

Please post the model number of the power supply. My guess is that you are using one that just came with the case, which is normally a very bad choice, as those are typically very low quality and underpowered (especially given your set of components). Don't turn it on again (or plug it in) until you've reported this. It's quite possible that your PS just can't handle the power needs of your system, and shuts off because of that. For modern PCs, wattage cannot be used to gauge the suitability of a PS, as modern CPUs and GPUs need a lot of +12V power. You need to look at the PS specs, which break down the PS output by voltage.

Also, please tell us what CPU cooler you are using -- if you bought a "boxed" processor, it should be an Intel brand one that came in the box with the CPU. If the CPU was "OEM", presumably you bought a CPU cooler -- if so, what model number? It's very important to install the CPU cooler properly, since an improperly cooled CPU can cause the system to turn off right away after you turn it on, or in extreme cases, fry the CPU when you turn it on.

This post may help a bit on the computer assembly process:
CPU install: http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?nam...
General assembly: http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?nam...
April 4, 2007 8:44:43 PM

Yeah, the fan came boxed with the CPU so it should be OK. The case actually didn't come with a power supply so I bought one separately. I'll post the power supply info tomorrow.
I was aware of the possible risks from the start and the chances it could ultimately end up with a case full of burned out electronic trash, but I really believe with a little help I can do this. Everyone starts somewhere, right?
April 4, 2007 8:48:12 PM

I think just about everyone on this forum would agree it's better to build than to buy and most post regarding this encourages building. But it's important to remember we were all newbies at one time and we all had to learn so I think first time builders deserve credit for be willing to jump in especially when they don't have someone with experience with them to help. Also, if your new to forums, there is a lot to learn like most off subject or insulting posts are best ignored. Never forget, it's nice to be nice. :twisted:
April 4, 2007 8:54:30 PM

Quote:
Yeah, the fan came boxed with the CPU so it should be OK.

Yes, but it's VERY easy to not-quite properly mount it. See the posts I linked to. Make sure that all 4 pins are *all the way* through the MB holes. If you need to remount it, you'll have to clean off the old thermal compound and apply fresh stuff (you can get fresh stuff for $5 or so from online vendors, Radio Shack, etc).

Quote:
... I really believe with a little help I can do this. Everyone starts somewhere, right?

Yes, but stop just randomly trying things (like the voltage switch on the back of the PS) unless you have figured out what you are doing (or at least know that doing it will *not* cause a big problem). You'll have to do a fair bit of reading/research before you're done with this, but I agree that it will feel great once you do succeed.
April 4, 2007 9:17:18 PM

when you installed the motherboard did you screw all the standoffs into the case or did you only screw in the ones needed to attached the motherboard?
April 4, 2007 9:39:44 PM

The quickest way to troubleshoot your problem is to reduce the things you're checking to the bare minimum, in other words set up the following components outside of the case (to eliminate the possibility that the motherboard was shorted to the case):

power supply
motherboard
processor/HSF
ram
video card
keyboard
mouse
monitor

assemble these components per manufacturer instructions.

plug wall power to the power supply (that is properly set to 110/115V), turn on the power supply, some mobos have an LED that indicates when the mobo is receiving power, check for this now.

refer to the motherboard manual to see which 2 pins the case power button get connected to. use a small screwdriver or paperclip to briefly touch the power button pins at the same time. it should respond immediately by powering the processor HSF, if you hear more than one beep or if it shuts off by itself something is wrong and you should get some assistance from a geeky friend.

if all goes well you should see something show up on the monitor that you were supposed to power on before shorting the power button pins together.
April 4, 2007 9:54:13 PM

...randomly trying stuff was not really bright. I'll confirm that I've got the fan in properly for the CPU and then take everything out to test whether it works with the bare minimum. Will post the results tomorrow, along with more info about my power supply.
April 5, 2007 1:31:57 PM

Quote:
Everyone starts somewhere, right?


you dont start driving by jumping into a car at 14 years old and heading out on the highway by yourself in rush hour.

but hey, it's your money.
April 5, 2007 1:35:55 PM

Quote:
I think just about everyone on this forum would agree it's better to build than to buy and most post regarding this encourages building.


not at all. it all depends on what the machine is to be used for AS WELL AS who is using it. if it's a noob user who doesn't know what they're doing, the LAST thing i would reccomend is them going out to newegg, buying a bunch of parts and putting them together like some giant expensive jigsaw puzzle.

i would suggest they get a friend to do it and perhaps watch them and learn.

it also depends on what the computer is going to be doing. if it's going to be helping grandma do her taxes and look at pictures of her grandchildren online as well as possibly storing a few recipes, get her a cheap piece of crap, dont spend your time building out a kick ass computer.

but as i said, it's his money to burn. and i could mean burn literally ;) 

Valis
(THGF BOFH)
April 5, 2007 1:51:20 PM

Quote:
I think just about everyone on this forum would agree it's better to build than to buy and most post regarding this encourages building.


not at all. it all depends on what the machine is to be used for AS WELL AS who is using it. if it's a noob user who doesn't know what they're doing, the LAST thing i would reccomend is them going out to newegg, buying a bunch of parts and putting them together like some giant expensive jigsaw puzzle.

i would suggest they get a friend to do it and perhaps watch them and learn.

it also depends on what the computer is going to be doing. if it's going to be helping grandma do her taxes and look at pictures of her grandchildren online as well as possibly storing a few recipes, get her a cheap piece of crap, dont spend your time building out a kick ass computer.

but as i said, it's his money to burn. and i could mean burn literally ;) 

Valis
(THGF BOFH)

I agree if you're limited to $300 to $400 and need the monitor, better to buy off the shelf and it's always good to have someone that knows what they're doing the first time but for some of us that's just not possible so you dive in. I think the key is to spend months researching the first time reading reviews of parts, especially CPUs and mobo as well as how to articles. Also, once you narrow down your choices of boards, check out the on-line manuals to see if you understand them. I think putting them together is the easiest part if you follow the manual and take your time. I say this as one who is mechanically brain dead, other than computers my wife assembles anything we buy needing assembling. :)  As for grandma or in my case grandkids, fix up one of your old computers and build a new one for yourself, wifey never gives me a hard time when I do it for the kids :) 
April 5, 2007 2:12:12 PM

Quote:
I think the key is to spend months researching the first time reading reviews of parts, especially CPUs and mobo as well as how to articles.


DEFINATELY. hell, i've been building pc's for a hell of a long time and i STILL take months to research parts. lord help me later this year when it becomes time to upgrade, i'll be DELUGED in charts, graphs, benchmarks for weeks before i finally decide on something.

it took me several weeks of research to decide on ONE particular hard drive to go into my latest project, my Epsilon3 server. and that's just the HD of the setup, the other stuff took longer to research and decide upon.

Valis
(for the record, Epsilon3 is a 12u win2003 server for my home office. it uses highpoint rocketraid 2320 SATA cards(expandable to two of the 8 port cards supporting 16 total drives if necessary) and wd5000ys RE2 WD drives, currently housing 5 drives for a total of 2.5 terabytes, 2.0 terabytes of raw RAID 5 storage. the box is expandable to 10+ terabytes. getting low on space? buy another drive, slap it in, expand the array, which i've already done once.)
April 5, 2007 2:42:40 PM

Quote:
I think the key is to spend months researching the first time reading reviews of parts, especially CPUs and mobo as well as how to articles.


DEFINATELY. hell, i've been building pc's for a hell of a long time and i STILL take months to research parts. lord help me later this year when it becomes time to upgrade, i'll be DELUGED in charts, graphs, benchmarks for weeks before i finally decide on something.

it took me several weeks of research to decide on ONE particular hard drive to go into my latest project, my Epsilon3 server. and that's just the HD of the setup, the other stuff took longer to research and decide upon.

Valis
(for the record, Epsilon3 is a 12u win2003 server for my home office. it uses highpoint rocketraid 2320 SATA cards(expandable to two of the 8 port cards supporting 16 total drives if necessary) and wd5000ys RE2 WD drives, currently housing 5 drives for a total of 2.5 terabytes, 2.0 terabytes of raw RAID 5 storage. the box is expandable to 10+ terabytes. getting low on space? buy another drive, slap it in, expand the array, which i've already done once.)

Looks like you need a bit of storage. :D  This is a great hobby if you enjoy research. My next project is getting a Network Attached Storage device. Was thinking about building a server but don't want to invest the time and money in the learning and parts, have a bunch of Vinyl I need to add to my music collection. From the little I've read so far looks like NAS is pretty much plug n play and could do it for $500 or less, 2 500GB hdd would be enough storage for the foreseeable future.
April 5, 2007 2:43:14 PM

Experience level is key here in building your first machine.
Unless you have regularly swapped components or upgrade your machine, then building one from scratch may not be the best thing to do.


Installing the Mobo and processor, and what to do with all the wires that connect to the mobo can be tricky and overwhelming to a first timer.

There are many mistakes to be made at this step.
1.) OEM processor? Dont forget the Silver compound
2.) Heatsync clips are very tricky to a first timer since it can seem like you are going to break the mobo.
3.) standoffs? dont put them in the wrong hole, line them up.
4.) Watch your screwdriver. Scratching a trace is fatal.
5.) Make sure all your wires are connected. read the manual.

These are just a few things to look out for.
April 5, 2007 3:02:54 PM

Quote:
Experience level is key here in building your first machine.
Unless you have regularly swapped components or upgrade your machine, then building one from scratch may not be the best thing to do.


Installing the Mobo and processor, and what to do with all the wires that connect to the mobo can be tricky and overwhelming to a first timer.

There are many mistakes to be made at this step.
1.) OEM processor? Dont forget the Silver compound
2.) Heatsync clips are very tricky to a first timer since it can seem like you are going to break the mobo.
3.) standoffs? dont put them in the wrong hole, line them up.
4.) Watch your screwdriver. Scratching a trace is fatal.
5.) Make sure all your wires are connected. read the manual.

These are just a few things to look out for.


Number 2 still always scares me and likely always will. I always offer at least one beer to the computer gods when nothing breaks, which brings me to Rule # 6: Do Not offer beer or other mind altering sacrifices to the computer gods until after you're done.
April 5, 2007 3:04:11 PM

Quote:
Was thinking about building a server but don't want to invest the time and money in the learning and parts, have a bunch of Vinyl I need to add to my music collection. From the little I've read so far looks like NAS is pretty much plug n play and could do it for $500 or less, 2 500GB hdd would be enough storage for the foreseeable future.


see, they make building a "server" more daunting than it has to be. you dont need a "server" per see', you just need a box really. all you really need to do is share the drive, connect to it from your other home pc and voila, doesn't matter the OS (mine is only running 2003 cause i had an avail copy really, i access my other box, a 450 gig raid 5, through a simple open share on a win2k box)

my requirements were expandability, LARGE storage, and data security. i have a large music collection myself and if i lost it it would be a major headache, if not irreplaceable. if i had that collection on a single drive, or a striped raid and a drive failed i'd probably be hosed. that's why it's on raid 5, if a drive goes i'm still cooking. (if that nas is setup as two 500 gig drives mirrored you'd be okay if one failed, but you'd only have 500 gig. if it's setup as a 1 terabyte stripe and one of those drives fail, you're up a certain creek)

i also didn't want to have to worry about storage needs for a very very long time, my last array was a 450 gig array a few years ago, that seemed massive and again wasn't enough. maybe i went a bit overkill, but with this monster i can rip my dvd's to the drives and have them accessible in an instant :) 

Valis
(btw, be careful about that foreseeable future thing, sometimes the future sneaks up on us rather quickly ;)  )
April 5, 2007 3:46:37 PM

"Valis
(btw, be careful about that foreseeable future thing, sometimes the future sneaks up on us rather quickly Wink )" Sounds like my wife every time I get a new hard drive and say it should last for awhile. You're both right but I won't show her your post. :) 

I have my work, music, and photos on 3 drives, 2 computers and an external drive, and not to worried about security. What's a pain is backing up my wife's work from 2 computers as well as copying photos to 3 machines. I figure with a NAS set up I could just transfer new photos to the NAS drives and they would be accessible on any of the computers and she could just access whatever she is working on from the NAS drives so it wouldn't matter if she is working on her laptop or PC. At least that's how I hope it would work. She'll be retiring in September and starting her own business, which will really be a pain if I don't get this worked out. Unfortunately, she refuses to pay me to be her network administrator. She has this silly idea that I should just do this in return for her taking care of me, things like making sure I eat something other than wings and onion rings.
April 5, 2007 3:47:51 PM

And always guard against static (should have been #1)


Dont do this project on carpet, near Styrofoam. I recomend the kitchen w/tile.


You can plug in the computer to a wall socket then plug in the mobo to ground it... but it is easer to buy a static wrist strap so you dont shock anything.
April 5, 2007 4:04:31 PM

I actually started aquiring the parts for my build about 3 years ago. I'd been google searching reviews and getting stuff that sounded good, and installing them together a little at a time as I got them until I finally got the last part. The mother board was actually pretty clearly marked as far as where to hook up things, - I think they really do try to make things simple(ish) for people. It frankly wasn't overwhelming or intimidating at all. I think really my only issue was figuring out how much power I needed all-told.
The power supply I had was an Ultra model #Win-600 PS - the settings on the back were 115 or 230.
I have to admit I did have a little help in the beginning from the IT teacher at the school I work at, but to be sure I did remove everything and rechecked the motherboard and CPU installation. They were OK, so I hooked up the power and tested it out at 115 - everything came on OK. I shut down and grabbed the Hard Drive and installed that in anticipation of checking it to see if it worked. I turned on the power switch on the back of the power supply and stopped for a minute to check a manual when the power supply popped a couple of times. I grabbed the plug and unplugged it and removed it. The PC was turned off at the time.
So that's how my evening was - how was yours?
April 5, 2007 4:09:20 PM

Quote:
And always guard against static (should have been #1)


Dont do this project on carpet, near Styrofoam. I recomend the kitchen w/tile.


You can plug in the computer to a wall socket then plug in the mobo to ground it... but it is easer to buy a static wrist strap so you dont shock anything.


Oh, yeah. Everyone warned me about that one from the beginning. Wrist bands and a glass tabletop for the whole process.
April 5, 2007 4:11:11 PM

Quote:
This is everything I've got in my "build"...

The tower's a "Cooler Master" and the motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-8GPNXP Duo. The processor is an Intel Pentium 4 Processor 660.

The specs for your mobo says it supports, "Intel Pentium 4 processors up to 560 (3.60GHz)", as well as, "Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors up to 3.40GHz". Yours=P4 660. May not matter.
Quote:
My Hard Drive is a Deskstar 7K400. It's housed in something called a "Cooldrive 5" ...

Does it take the IDE cable plus power molex, SATA or USB?
If IDE/PATA, do you have it plugged into the black port (closest IDE to your RAM)?
Quote:
I've got all the memory slots filled - do you need to know the kind of memory, too (I'll have to take 'em out and look tonight and post it tomorrow if you do).

Yes, we need to know; when you say you had, "..all the memory slots filled", do you mean to say you had 6 sticks of ram installed? You should have only (1) one stick installed in the (a) red slot closest to the CPU if using DDR modules, OR (b) one stick in the yellow slot closest to the CPU if using DDR2. You cannot mix and match DDR with DDR2 memory.

Additionally, did you install the "U-Plus DPS" card?
.....................................20 or 24-pin power cable from the PSU to the slot by the RAM?
.....................................4-pin power cable from the PSU to the slot by the CPU/DSP card/back panel ports?
.....................................4-pin power cable from the PSU to the video card, if required? Your mobo (i915x chipset) doesn't have an integrated graphics processor, does it? If so, remove the video card till you get the system working.
That is one decked out mobo if you can get it up and running!
Hope you sort it out.
TonyB.
------------------------------------------------
P6N SLI Platinum, MSI
E6400 @ 3000.0MHz (8x375)
w/Sythe Ninja plus Rev. B
2GB Patriot PC-6400/DDR2-800 PDC22G6400LLK@375MHz
XFX Fatal1ty GeForce 7600GT
2xIDE HDD
1xLiteOn DVD-R/RW
Antec TP-430 PSU
Audigy2ZS
Presonus Firebox
M-Audio O2

2666.4 MHz (333.3x8) 1:1 ok
2932.8 MHz (366.6x8) 1:1 ok
3000.0 MHz (8x375) 1:1 Alright!
3200.0 MHz (400.0x8) oopso! So far!
April 5, 2007 4:13:08 PM

popping power supplies are a bad thing, most likely everything that was connected to the power supply when it popped has been killed whether the PC was on or not.

another thing to remember: NEVER SET ANY OF YOUR ELECTRIC DEVICES TO 230VAC WHILE YOU'RE IN THE USA (unless you are absolutely certain that the outlet that you've connected to is 230VAC, these types of outlets have a different configuration than 115VAC outlets to discourage people from destroying appliances.)
April 5, 2007 4:13:24 PM

Quote:
I actually started aquiring the parts for my build about 3 years ago. I'd been google searching reviews and getting stuff that sounded good, and installing them together a little at a time as I got them until I finally got the last part. The mother board was actually pretty clearly marked as far as where to hook up things, - I think they really do try to make things simple(ish) for people. It frankly wasn't overwhelming or intimidating at all. I think really my only issue was figuring out how much power I needed all-told.
The power supply I had was an Ultra model #Win-600 PS - the settings on the back were 115 or 230.
I have to admit I did have a little help in the beginning from the IT teacher at the school I work at, but to be sure I did remove everything and rechecked the motherboard and CPU installation. They were OK, so I hooked up the power and tested it out at 115 - everything came on OK. I shut down and grabbed the Hard Drive and installed that in anticipation of checking it to see if it worked. I turned on the power switch on the back of the power supply and stopped for a minute to check a manual when the power supply popped a couple of times. I grabbed the plug and unplugged it and removed it. The PC was turned off at the time.
So that's how my evening was - how was yours?


If everything was working until you plugged in the hard drive, I'm assuming you installed the video card, that would seem to be your problem, although I don't know why that would make your PSU pop. As for my day, the Indians have beat the White Sox in the first two games they played so life is good.
April 5, 2007 4:24:50 PM

Quote:
..when the power supply popped a couple of times. I grabbed the plug and unplugged it and removed it. The PC was turned off at the time.

UH-oh!
Probably shorted in PSU, frying/zeroizing everything up to and including the CMOS chip.
That was a nice board.
April 5, 2007 5:09:09 PM

Most power supplies have protection against that sort of instance.

Flipping the switch does not mean components were damaged. If it was a kill switch for everything in your computer, THEY WOULDN"T PUT IT IN A EASY TO FLIP LOCATION.


If the psu shorted out and the protection circuits failed (details in the PSU Guide I think), then it is likely that some components were stressed, and maybe some failed. Since the PSU made noise when you went to 220v, I would not use it again and just buy a new one.



This is not a Doom and Gloom situation, dont fret
April 5, 2007 6:23:54 PM

Quote:
Most power supplies have protection against that sort of instance.

Flipping the switch does not mean components were damaged. If it was a kill switch for everything in your computer, THEY WOULDN"T PUT IT IN A EASY TO FLIP LOCATION.


If the psu shorted out and the protection circuits failed (details in the PSU Guide I think), then it is likely that some components were stressed, and maybe some failed. Since the PSU made noise when you went to 220v, I would not use it again and just buy a new one.



This is not a Doom and Gloom situation, dont fret


Agree, try a different PSU before assuming everything is junk From a previous post, sounded like things were working until the hdd was attached.
April 5, 2007 8:29:18 PM

Quote:
... My next project is getting a Network Attached Storage device. Was thinking about building a server but don't want to invest the time and money in the learning and parts, have a bunch of Vinyl I need to add to my music collection. From the little I've read so far looks like NAS is pretty much plug n play and could do it for $500 or less, 2 500GB hdd would be enough storage for the foreseeable future.

I found this article from some months back very helpful. I would stick to brand new drives and a real good quality PS, but many of the other components can be "re-used from the closet" or used ebay items. http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/27840/77/
!