1st Timer - Any general tips before putting this new build together?

Hello TH members! :) Everyone here has been truly great in helping me find answers about the parts I am using; but now the moment of truth is upon me: I am about to start actually building. You can see the parts I am using by glancing down at my signature. This is my first time ever putting together and matching this many components (I've only ever done minor upgrades in the past), and I was simply curious if there were any general "rules of thumb" to follow when assembling a new system.

For instance, when applying the thermal compound, I've read that some people just press the heatsink down over the application laid directly on the processor; and some actual apply the goop, then use something like a credit card to smooth it out over the entire CPU. I've only ever worked with pre-built (i.e. Dell, Compaq, HP, etc.) Intel-based systems in my lifetime; is there anything different to the "science" of AMD systems, particularly the Athlon II line?

I look forward to any and all guidance that anyone may be kind enough to offer; especially from those having knowledge of or previous experience with these specific parts or something similar. Thanks in advance! :)
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  1. I put the thermal compound in the middle of the CPU like about the size of a dime. Then I place the heatsink on it. The thermal compound spreads out and covers the area that needs it most anyway. You should find a good clear area for building, and away from possible static shocks. You don't want to ruin anything.
  2. there are several theories on the proper way to apply thermal compound.

    here is one of the best articles I've seen on the subject.
  3. Best answer
    Anti static wrist strap - just incase :)

    NewEgg do a great build video on youtube aswell pretty much showing each stage and what to do and how to do it. Really worth checking out before you dive right in.

    ^Thats part 2 of the video, the actual building stage. Part 1 is about selecting components (which sounds like you;ve already done) and Part 3 shows installing Windows and Drivers ect.
  4. 1) Take the time to read the motherboard and case manuals from cover to cover. Download them now if you don't yet have the parts.

    2) On thermal grease,most methods work. A pea sized drop in the center is the simplest.
    Go to the arctic silver web site for their recommendations and some photos.
    Be careful about using too much. If you apply too much grease, it will act as an insulator. The only purpose of grease is to fill in the microscopic pits in the mating surfaces.

    3) Don't force anything. Parts are keyed to fit only one way. If there is no fit, you are doing it wrong.
  5. I have always applied the least amount possible (about the size of a long grain of rice; maybe a little more), then spread it around with my finger IN A BAGGIE. I've had good results that way; for example my X4 970BE (OC to 3.8GHz) idles around 32C under a Xigmatek Gaia.
    Another tip: Make sure you use standoffs under the mobo. Some cases have most or even all of them built in, as raised bumps. Only install standoffs where there are screw holes in the mobo.
    Also, be sure to remember to plug in the CPU power connector, on an entirely separate cable (not the 4-pin "extra" part on the end of the main mobo power cable).
  6. Wow, I didn't anticipate so many great responses! There's a ton of truly useful information provided here for the novice builder. I was also wondering if any one had any horror stories to share about their first time building -=laughing=-

    @wintermint - Great tips! Would you happen to know if doing it this way (pressing the heatsink down) or any other way yields any difference in lowering temps? I'm planning to try unlocking the 4th core if it's any good and doing some mild OC'ing. Also, would a large wood & tile dining room table be considered an ideal working space? My house is covered room to room in carpet, so I definitely want to minimize the potential for static shocks.

    @jerreddredd - Thank you for sharing that article. Probably one of the most comprehensive studies I've seen on the subject ever. I haven't even completed every section yet; but there is tons of great info in there. Definitely keeping that one under my Bookmarks for future reference.

    @AdrianPerry - Awesome! That Newegg video was worth every second of the entire 45 minutes it took to watch. Just watching that alone alleviated many of my concerns and answered a lot of my questions. He even installs the same exact cooler I'll be using (the Hyper 212 Plus). I've never done anything this in-depth with a computer before, so watching someone do it like that step-by-step really helps to demystify the entire process, which can at first seem a bit intimidating to a first timer like myself. The ESD wrist band was an ingenious suggestion, too. Like I was commenting to wintermint, my house is covered wall to wall in carpet; and I had no idea a tool like that even existed. Ordered one yesterday!

    @geofelt - Thanks for your help, again (you also helped me out a lot on the case issues I was having in my other thread)! I went ahead with your suggestion and d/l'ed the mobo manual from their website now, because I think I would just be so excited to put everything together once it gets here, that I would be afraid I wouldn't take enough time to read everything properly. Wise recommendation on your part. I also learned the hard way when replacing an old P4 socket 478 processor that things are keyed a certain way for a reason. It seemed like it wasn't going in the socket at first, so I pressed - hard - down on the top of it until I heard a snap. Then when I went to power on the computer, nothing. I found out I had it unaligned with the way it supposed to be seated; and thankfully, I didn't bend any pins. I'll definitely be a lot more careful paying attention to the way cables and such are keyed this time around.

    @jtt283 The baggie trick actually looks pretty effective. The guy in the Newegg video that AdrianPerry posted actually uses this technique during the tutorial. I've tried the credit card method, and that was a little bit of a pain getting it to spread evenly across the entire surface without having to go back and fix a few areas. As far as standoffs, it appears I have the raised bump types in my case. There are holes in the middle of these raised bumps, though (they don't look like the pegs in the Newegg video); and it looks like screws would go in them. Is that how they usually work? Here's a pic of the inside of the case: . For the CPU power connector, it appears my board requires a 24-pin connector for the main power, and my PSU provides the 20+4 pin cable. I know this entire cable (the 20+4 pin) will go into this location. I have the other secondary mobo 4-pin cable (it's shaped like a box, sorta like this [: :]; and not like a 4-pin molex [oooo] ) that runs from the PSU solo; that's the one you mean to make sure I plug into the right spot, correct?

    Thanks so much for your help everyone!
  7. Yeah i did exactly the same and it really paid off :) I felt so much more confident about building my own after watching through the video. Alot of the questions i had about what to plug in where, and how to install specific components were all answered :)

    Im glad it helped.

    EDIT: As far as i know the Hyper 212+ comes with thermal paste already applied, so unless you really want to clean it off and apply your own, you could just tighten down the cooler and not even have to worry about thermal paste since its already on there.
  8. Best answer selected by revone.
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