Well after several google serarches and 30 min of reading, I think I have the jist of it. Past the basic setup (which should be laid out in the mobo manual) any advice?
The reason I'm asking is because I've ordered all the parts and am expecting them to come in tommorow. I've done a great deal of homework on the hardware, but not enough on the setup (and obviously the bios).
A lot of the time you don't need to change anything in the BIOS for the machine to work. The main thing is the boot order - you need to have CDROM set as 1st and then HD #2 so that you can boot from the windows (or linux) disk and install it to your drive. You may want to manually change the memory timings and its speed & voltage to match the manufacturer specs. Much of the rest have fine default values that only need to be changed for overclocking.
Yes, you need to go into the BIOS the very first time the PC starts.
You will have to set some basic things like the month, day, hour, minutes.
It will pretty much detect everything else, unless you have some very old or oddball hardware. Some things like the USB controller by default will be disabled, you will probably want to enable that.
Just read the motherboard manual, especially the pages about the BIOS setup screens. Most things you can just leave at "auto" settings and everything will work fine. You also want to make sure the boot order is set correctly, CD first, then harddrive, or you won't be able to boot with the CD to install Windows. Any problems or questions, come back here and ask, I'll try to help.
OEM drives are just as you described - no cables, no fancy packaging, and often no extra software. OEM hardware is just the basics - OEM is Original Equipment Manufacturer, so it is intended for a system builder.