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Installing Other Components

Best Of Tom’s Hardware: How To Build A PC

Installing RAM and Cards

RAM is keyed so that it only fits into the slot one way. Because this key is off center, backwards modules cannot be fully inserted. Check to make sure that the notch in the module's contact area aligns with the slot's key, and press each module into the slot until a "click" is heard or felt from the latches. Fully seating modules may require a relatively significant amount of pressure.

Our configuration called for a pair of modules in corresponding slots, to enable dual channel mode. Check your motherboard manual to see which slots should be used for this performance-enhancing orientation.

Also note the slot numbers, which are usually written on the board, against the module installation order outlined in the motherboard manual. This is particularly critical with LGA 1156 and LGA 1366 motherboards, since these are the only models where the second slot from the processor is usually the first slot that needs to be filled.

Though our motherboard included onboard graphics, we chose to use a PCI Express graphics card for enhanced performance. The card is inserted until a latch on the slot engages the card's hook. These latches are present on most PCI Express x16 slots, but are not found on lower-bandwidth PCI and PCI Express x1 interfaces.

As with other cards, a case screw or quick-release latch secures the top of the card's metal bracket at the opposite end.

Installing Drives

Drives have traditionally been secured with a fine thread on external drives and coarse thread screws on internal drives. External drives typically slide in from the front, while internal drives slide in from inside the case.

Several manufacturers offer tool-free installation using drive rails, sliding latches or other pin-loaded devices that engage with screw holes. Our Case Reviews highlight several designs.

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