General build advice

I'm looking for some good tips and tricks types of advice when building a new machine. I run across odds and ends of them here and there and have tried to compile a list but it's far from complete. I know how to build a machine. I'm a software developer (SQL, VB, MS Office, Delphi, Adobe tools, some web). I've been building my own machines for myself (and occasionally for friends and family and once of twice for clients) for long time now but only do it once every 2 or 3 years or so as I need to upgrade from one system to another. Now's that time again. I need a Windows 7 machine to better deal with some of my clients' needs and to run some power hungry apps faster. Anyway, I've been doing a lot of research on parts and here's what I'm using so far:

Parts I've already picked up:

Case: Lian Li Full Tower PC-A77F
CPU: Intel i7 930 (have never OC'd but will this time but not extreme, maybe 3.5)
Video: EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+
Audio: HT Omega Claro Plus (I know onboard is pretty good these days but this is a very nice audiophile PCI card)
Optical (2): LITE-ON DVD Writer - Bulk - Black SATA Model iHAS224-06
HDD (2 for OS and programs in RAID0): Western Digital Caviar Black WD6402AAEX 640GB
HDD (4 for data files and partitioned for backups of OS drive in RAID5): WD Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

Still deciding:

Mobo: One of the following (have not decided yet): EVGA E758-A1, Asus P6X58D Premium, Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R, Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD5
RAM (2 sets): Corsair Dominator 6GB DDR3-1600 (PC-12800) CL8 Memory Kit (Three 2GB Memory Modules) - TR3X6G1600C8D
Heatsink/Fan: probably Noctua NH-U12P SE2

I've always RAID 1 my systems. Decided to get a little fancier this time. The RAID 5 array will be partitioned into 3 drives. Two of them around 200 MB each so I can periodically clone the OS RAID0 array to in case of a RAID0 failure.

The 4 motherboards I've listed are all X58 and so very similar. My decision is based on things like "do I want the Asus board even though it doesn't have eSATA on the back?" I have a spare eSATA card I can use but would rather have it onboard already. If I get the Asus board then the opticals will end up in the 6Gb/s ports cuz there's nowhere else for them to go. Will my heatsink clear the RAM (this is the RAM with the taller heat spreaders)? Just little things like that.

Regarding my RAID 0 OS array: The 640 GB drives I bought are SATA III 6Gb/s but I found out after I ordered them that the RAID controller on the Asus board does not cover the 6Gb/s SATA ports and that the Marvell 6Gb/s RAID controller on the Gigabyte boards is slower than using the 3Gb/s controller. So I'm going to jumper them to run at 3Gb/s I guess. Still should see a dramatic improvement in boot times from my RAID 1 OS setup right now.

Anyway, here are a couple of little things I've read as I've done my parts research:

"Always secure the mother board properly using all standoffs and screw securely, then drop processor in socket, apply thermal paste and then lock the heat sink into place." - I've never done it this way, it seems backwards and less safe.

"Install RAM one stick at a time, try to POST, shut down and do the next" (not sure if this makes sense at all with triple channel - seems like it would be more logical to do 3 and then 3 but I'm not sure.

I've also seen people apply thermal compound about 5 different ways. Wondering what's the best? In the past, I've done the "put the appropriate amount on the CPU and smear it around with the base of the heatsink" method. Never failed me yet but seems like other ways might be better.

So I'm planning on as usual to do the following:

Download the most recent drivers for everything
Test the PSU and fans before installing all else in the case
Run memtest before installing OS
Run Prime95 after installing OS (or is there a version that can be run first?)

But other than what I've noted above, what little tidbits of advice do you all who do this all the time have to offer? I'm making a pretty big jump here from my previous builds (AGP to PCIe video, XP 32 bit to 7 64 bit (Vista never seemed like a wise thing to do), 4 GB RAM to 12, 750 W PSU to 1000, RAID 1 to RAID 0 and 5, standard clock to maybe OC, etc.) so anything *friendly* anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated! :-)

Thanks loads,


PS: I should mention that I have gone over
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  1. You seem to know far more than me but 1000w is erious overkill.
  2. Thanks. It probably is. The problem is that I did a lot of work trying to figure that one out. I used several online PSU size figuring tools and they varied from 450 to 900. The 900 came from the Asus site. That's quite a range! I also figured it manually based on each part's max consumption and came up with around 750. I had to contact some vendors directly to get what i wanted. And that didn't always work. EVGA would only tell me my PSU had to be at least 450W but not the actually max on the card. I found out somewhere else that it's max is 141W. I have a 750W in my current build and that's overkill too but I never worry about maxing it out. I's rather go too high than too low.
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