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First timer: tips for system assembly?

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October 28, 2008 4:29:03 PM

This will be my first system build--I have little experience other than switching out my graphics card, adding RAM, etc. on my Dell. My uses will be gaming (gaming res is usually 1024x768) as well as photo-editing (at higher resolutions). I want the ability to OC. I'm pretty confident in the following components, based on input from these forums:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 - OEM
  • GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45
  • WD Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
  • SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported – Retail
  • CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC - Retail
  • ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - Retail
  • SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 22X DVD-R 16X DVD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD±R with LightScribe - OEM
  • Mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
  • Antec Nine Hundred Chassis
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM


  • Since this is my first build, I'm wondering if anyone can give me any tips on best practices for the actual assembly of the components. Any tools, tricks, words of wisdom, etc. that I should live by? Also, I'd love any feedback on the above based on my stated uses.

    Thanks!
    October 28, 2008 4:56:06 PM

    It's a good build. I would use one of the more heavy duty CPU coolers to OC that quad though.

    There was a .org site that had all sorts of good assembly advice... let me see if I can find it.
    October 28, 2008 4:56:34 PM

    My best tip is one of the hardest and that is to read all the instructions, including your motherboard manual from cover to cover. Any terms, specs or whatevers that you don't understand, look up on the net. Static electricity, fluids and grease are not your friends. Don't work on carpeting, keep yourself grounded, don't FORCE anything, assemble it on a clean roomy worksurface. Good build, good luck.
    Related resources
    October 28, 2008 5:34:38 PM

    I'll check those out. Thanks!
    October 28, 2008 5:59:37 PM

    First, work where you are comfortable. Usually this means at a table, hopefully in the kitchen so you don't have to worry about carpeting/static build up. I suggest getting the CPU and HSF on BEFORE you put it in the case. This will allow you to make sure the heatsink is fully on by looking at it from all directions. (you might as well add the ram when your done.) If the case had standoffs installed from the beginning, make sure there aren't any extras. From this point on, its pretty simple. Screw the motherboard down, then start adding devices. If your case is large, it won't matter, but if not, add the drives first, then any cards. (you already put the ram in right?) Add in the PSU last, and your done. You can do it differently from this list, but this is the most hassle free way.
    October 28, 2008 8:15:27 PM

    Push pin coolers can be tricky to install.
    A bad installation can lead to higher temperatures, and even cpu throttling.
    With the pc powered down, gently rock the cooler to see if it is on solid, or if it wobbles a bit.
    Push pin coolers are best installed while the motherboard is outside of the case.
    You need to be able to look at the back of the board to verify that
    all 4 pins are completely through and locked.
    Play with the pins on the cooler first, so you can see exactly how they work.
    Read the instructions that came with your retail cpu.
    When pushing down on the pins, do a diagonal pair first.
    If you don't, it is hard to get the last pin in.
    Don't forget to clean the parts and reapply fresh thermal compound every time.
    Don't try to reuse the TIM.
    Rubbing alcohol is OK as a cleaner.
    I use a paper coffee filter to clean with because it is lint free.
    Any name brand TIM should be OK(as-5, Mx-2, etc.)
    When applying the TIM, don't use too much, because it can act as an insulator.
    Don't apply too little, either, because it won't spread and fill the microscopic
    imperfections in the surfaces. A dollop about the size of a grain
    of rice should be about right.
    ---good luck---
    October 29, 2008 3:59:14 PM

    Omar--I've heard nightmare stories about the pushpin installation of that HS. Are those overblown? Since I'll be installing it while the mobo is out, will the pushpins still be an issue? Does getting the mounting bracket help?
    October 29, 2008 4:28:52 PM

    seasropp said:
    Omar--I've heard nightmare stories about the pushpin installation of that HS. Are those overblown? Since I'll be installing it while the mobo is out, will the pushpins still be an issue? Does getting the mounting bracket help?

    I recommend the optional mounting bracket for the xigmatek. It is more secure for a tall tower type cooler, and a bit easier to install. It's cheap too. The pushpins are ok for the stock cooler.
    October 29, 2008 10:46:34 PM

    Seasropp - absolute read and reread of your mb manual. A web site that might be a big help to you that's pretty current is www.howtogeek.com. It's well written, easy to understand, and covers build, setting up, install of windows( Vista, etc.) and drivers and tweaking your computer. I've used it on two builds, shortly starting a third. Worked out well. Visit the site, read it completely, you'll agree, a great overview with some excellent advice.
    You shouldn't experience much problem with the mb out of the case in installing the heatsink. Best way to do it, if you can. Best of luck, components look great.

    My next build:

    Asus Rampage Formula
    Zalman CNPS 9700
    Coolermaster Cosmos 1000RC
    PC power & cooling 850 watt PSU
    Seagate 640 7200 HDD
    Mushkin XP 4gb Ascent (8gbs) DDR2 PC28500
    Asus My Cinema TV tuner card
    Asus Zonar DX 7.1
    Logitech G11, G5 keyboard and mouse
    Asus Radeon 4870x2 (1)
    Intel Q9550 to be OC'd to 3.6 on air.
    LG Black 6x Blu-ray
    Vista Ultimate 64 bit
    October 29, 2008 11:29:05 PM

    I just realized something. You are building this for a gaming build, so you can game at 1024x768??? Your going to buy a Q6600, a 750W PSU, a 4870, 1TB drive, P45, and an Antec 900, to GAME AT 1024x768??? Buy a new monitor while your at it. If you have to, buy a cheaper case, a 500W PSU, and a 4850. Seriously, overkill for what you want.
    October 30, 2008 1:30:40 AM

    I just finished my first build and it is similar to yours: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/257264-31-first-build-success-help

    Some advice based on my (limited) experience and build:
  • Read the manuals and guides as others have advised.
  • Take your time. Make sure you understand each step before you execute it.
  • First plug your PSU in and short the green and black wires (use a paper clip) in the 24-pin connector. The fan should come on indicating that your PSU is good (well, at least not DOA).
  • Install your CPU - this video is excellent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6NbPMQgwPM
  • Install your cooler next. Get the Xigmatek cooler (and mounting bracket) as omar suggested. The cooler is installed so the fan is blowing through the fins towards the back of the case.
  • Add your memory then install the board.
  • I installed the PSU, GPU, DVD and hard disk (in that order) before making any wiring connections. Once the components were in place it was much easier to plan out how I wanted to do the wiring so it would be reasonably neat. Make sure none of the wiring will interfere with fan operation.
  • The fans on the Antec Nine Hundred case use Molex connectors, not 3-pin connectors. In other words, they do NOT get connected to the motherboard.
  • I did not have to make any BIOS changes (I have not overclocked it yet). Once I powered up I was able to install Vista right away.
  • After you have things up and running, I would add additional ties to secure all wiring.
  • Have fun and good luck.


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