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Hardware Installation

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $2,500 Performance PC

Our SBMs are written to suit the majority of builders, so our hardware installation notes will point mostly to the unique installation demands of the components.

Xigmatek’s Crossbow bracket set includes a unique multi-socket support plate, shown above with the Nehalem (LGA 1156/LGA 1366) side facing upward. The paper backing must be removed carefully from four self-adhesive tabs to avoid peeling the insulating tape from the metal bracket.

Mounting holes must then be accurately aligned with those of the motherboard, followed by slight pressure to seat the plate’s adhesive tabs. Notice that the other side of the bracket has pegs designed for insertion into LGA 775 cooler mounts and must face away from LGA 1156 or LGA 1366 motherboards to prevent damage.

Two mounting brackets from the Crossbow kit are attached to the HDT-S1284 cooler, as shown. With our CPU already on the board and thermal paste applied to it, the cooler is ready to be installed.

Four spring-loaded screws also included in the Crossbow installation kit provide moderate pressure to hold the CPU cooler in place. We’d have preferred a little more contact pressure, but didn’t go so far as to add spacers between the screw head and spring.

The HDT-S1284 is not specifically designed for the narrow confines of LGA 1156 socket-to-DIMM clearance and its fan overlaps the closest module of our set. Users who want to use RAM sinks with this motherboard and cooler combination would be limited to two modules.

The remaining parts installed without incident. This is probably the cleanest high-end build we’ve done in a long time, partly because there are no liquid-cooling lines and the case has cable stowage room behind its motherboard tray.

While most people attempting to build a $2,500 system have enough experience to fill in the missing details, anyone who lacks the skills to build a standard PC can find a full set of instructions here.

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