All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today. Pope Paul VI
If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us. Jim Rohn
This is essentially part two of my "Tools of the Trade" article (viewtopic.php?f=67&t=8807) which largely dealt with the process of picking one's computer parts and planning for a system they'll love. Unfortunately the part picking process, while fairly complicated in and of itself, is only half of it. It is the longer and most exciting half, but still only half. One day you'll get all of those parts you ordered and you'll have to put them all together. If you screw up the only one to blame is yourself so go into this ready and aware of the challenges. In the end you'll have something truly your own and it will reward you with knowledge, experience, and a gaming rig you can be proud of.
Note that the easiest way to do everything is to follow the manuals included with your computer case, power supply, and motherboard. This guide will not be an in-depth tutorial but will serve to guide you through the general process and help you respond to problems that may come up. Make sure you touch a piece of exposed metal on the case before handling any components.
The first thing to do is to wait for all of your parts to arrive. Take all of the boxes out of the shipping packages but don't open any boxes until everything is together. This minimizes the chances you'll lose something or break something just fooling around with it. You will need an area that is fairly clutter free and has a large, flat, stable surface you can work on, preferably comfortably. The best example of this being a kitchen table. You will need a Phillips head screw driver and maybe a flashlight or head lamp.
When everything does arrive stack all the boxes in a safe corner in a row so you can take them as you need them. The first you will need is the case and the power supply. Open the case box and take out the case itself, orienting the front of the case facing right from you with yourself staring at the right side. On the back of the case unscrew the bolts (usually just thumb screws) and place the side of the case away from the work area, you won't need it for a while. You can also take the other side off the case but I tend not to until I need to.
Take any little screws or stands that came with, or in packets inside, the case and place them somewhere where you can find them if the manual tells you to use them. Not all cases will need screws to secure the drives or PCI/-E cards. Next open the power supply and place it and the bottom of the case (in rare occasions it may go at the top of the case), the wires inside of the case and the primary electrical female plug towards the rear. You will need to use screws from the case to secure the power supply to the case, which ever way the power supply wishes to be oriented (fan down or up).
Now would be a good time to install your CPU. Take the motherboard out of it box and anti-static bag and place it on top of the bag, on the table. Locate the CPU socket, west of the RAM slots and north of the PCI-E slot. Follow the CPU instructions VERY CAREFULLY on how to install the CPU and heatsink. Don't fuck this step up. Very carefully place the CPU in the socket, being very careful not to use any force until you know it is seated in the exact position. With Intel chips you may have to press gently on the CPU to ensure it is secured, with AMD CPUs you need to flip the lever back into the closed position, no force on the CPU. The heatsink, however, will require a little bit of force. If you don't use the stock cooler make sure the cooler you did buy has thermal paste on it other wise you'll have to apply a drop of thermal solution on top of the CPU before you install the heatsink.
After the power supply is installed gently tip the case onto the left side and stand over it, dragging the cables out of the way by letting them hang over the lip of the case. Now you will need to install stands for the motherboard which will allow it to be grounded and secured. There are usually between 8 - 14 holes, depending on the form factors the case will support. Read the case manual to figure out how to best secure your motherboard. Make sure you put screws in ALL of the stands. Somewhere along the way you need to install the IO shield, a small plastic thing that fits over the motherboard ports on the back. I've manged to do this about two dozen times across all different cases but I'll be damned if I can tell you how to do so.
By now you should have a tower looking much the same as this: (From my build two years ago)
Installing the RAM modules should be next on your agenda, since it's easy as Hell. Simply take the RAM chips (We'll assume two sticks of 4GB RAM on a dual-channel motherboard) and inset them into the DIMM slots east of the CPU. Usually these will need to go in either slot one and three or slot two and four. That's just how dual channel memory works, you won't get the full advantage if you put one in slot one and another in slot 2. If you have four sticks of RAM for four DIMM slots obviously you fill the slots. Avoid odd numbered RAM modules.
Now I would suggest installing your hard drive(s) and optical drive(s) since they occupy very little space and require very little wiring. Hard drives install differently on most cases but many are going the tool-less route, either popping the drive into a slide or by attaching little rubber grommets on the drive that slides into the drive bay. Make sure you plan their placement and wiring so as to allow for additional cards in the future. Plug the SATA data cable from the drive into the SATA ports on the motherboard is ascending order (IE, use SATA_1 before SATA_3) or at least use the bottom SATA ports first, allowing you to plug more SATA cables in more easily later on. Worry about the powering of your drives towards the end, right now just connect the data cables.
Optical drives may either be inserted from inside the case and pushed towards the front or inserted from the front of the case, depending on what your manual bids you do. Once again connect the data cables but leave the power cables until later. The less clutter the better.
You'll likely release the only remaining primary component you have left to install is the video card but that's not what you're going to do yet. Right now you have to deal with the motherboard connections. Start with connecting the CPU fan from the CPU heatsink, then any case fans in the area of the heatsink. Next do the usb connections from the case and the audio jacks. Last, but certainly not least, is the front panel connections. These include the reset switch, power switch, the power and HDD leds. Most of the time if your computer doesn't start up it's because the power switch isn't properly connected. Your motherboard manual will tell you the proper way to do this but it is a serious task. Take your time and read the instructions very carefully.
One all of the case connections are done drag some of those cables from the power supply into the case and begin with connecting the drive power cables. Next is the 20/24 pin power connector, the primary power connection for the mother board. Next do the (8/6/4+4) pin CPU power connector, which should be near the top left corner of the motherboard.
You're gonna have a fuck-tonne of cables swimming around, do your best to keep them together and out of the way of any fans. You can use the cases built-in passages on the back-side of the case and cable ties to assist with this but most importantly keep them from being tangled. Else they'll look like this...
Now you need to install your video card, breaking or detaching the sections on the rear of the case that are obstructing the PCI/PCI-E slots at the rear of the case (two for most higher end video cards). Install the card in the top-most PCI-E slot (this will be the fastest slot) and install ALL of the six-pin PCI-E power connectors that you can. At this point your wiring should be complete so tie everything off, ensure no fans are obstructed, double check your connections, plug the power cable into the PSU female port and flip the circuit closed. (O is open I is closed)
Press the power button...
Did it start?
YES! - Good! Install your OS and drivers and enjoy.
Okay, something didn't go right. What do you do? First, take a break. Go get an iced tea, let the frustration die off during a little 10 minute pace or something.
When you do come back make sure all of the power is off, the plug at the rear of the case is disconnected, circuits open. If fans came on when you turned the case on but then turned off? Check power connections, make sure you've got a large enough power supply. Maybe detach the video card and try to start the system again. Light but no fans? Same thing, check connections on everything, make sure everything is attached in the right place.
Most important would be to google exactly what happened. That is usually the best way to find out if anyone had the same problem and a solution.
Did nothing turn on? No fans, no lights? Couple of things you can do. Check your front panel connectors, especially that bastard power switch, and make sure that's connected properly. Triple check all of the other plugs, make sure they are in properly, try again.
If still nothing disconnect your power supply from absolutely everything. If you dont have a power supply tester time to get a paper clip. Yeah, just a paper clip. Bend it in to a U and grab the 24-pin motherboard power supply. When there is NO POWER in the power supply connect one end of the paper clip to the port where the green wire is. (Follow the green wire up to the port in the 24 pin connection wire) Push the end in there, the other end in a port with a black wire connection. Plug the power supply in and close the circuit. You cannot be electrocuted like this. The paper clip simply completes the ciruit between a supply and a ground and when power is applied the power supply will be jump started and should turn on. If the fan is going the power supply is running and thus, ideally, not broken. Reconnect everything, clearly that isn't the problem.
Disconnect the power switch and take a steak knife or a screw driver, some piece of metal, and hold it across the two power switch connections on the front panel connector. Turn the power on and see if everything starts up. If it does the power switch cable or the switch itself is fault and you at least know what to replace. Or you can wire the reset switch over the power switch connections and just turn the computer on with the reset switch. Your choice.
Power supply working, power switch not the issue? Make sure the motherboard is grounded completely, carefully uninstall the CPU and heatsink and examine it for damage. No damage? Re-install it perfectly and see if the computer runs now. Nothing? It's very very likely the motherboard is broken.
Checking that everything is installed and connected correctly is your best defense. Keeping calm and using Google effectively is the next best defense. Whatever you encounter, good luck.
Last edited by Suffocated_Skies on Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
________________ We are dying from over thinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It's a death trap. -AH An honest man is always a child. -Soc
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