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omega
09-26-2009, 11:26 AM
Introduction:
Since there has been some people that have asked how to build a PC I figure that there should be a tutorial on how to do it. Also it provides a good reference on how to do thermal loading for components.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0429.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0429.jpg)
All the components and more that make up a computer[/center:2uait8op]

Step 1: Parts
So first things first, you need to figure what you are going to build, what I found works best is to start with a CPU and Graphics card that you want and build off that. When you have the CPU and Graphics card(s) that you want finding a mother board should be pretty straight forward just match the specs of the components to the board. a little check list that I usually work off of when I'm looking for a motherboard:

CPU Socket - Does it match the CPU that I want?
Chipset:
[list:2uait8op]FSB(Front Side Bus) Speed - Is the FSB speed matching my CPU's required FSB
GFX slot - Can the Graphics card be used on the board
GFX card Slot Speed - Is the slot able to give the GFX card full speed to my motherboard (IE PCI-E x16 slot is not necessarily a x16 bandwidth speed)[/list:u:2uait8op]
Once I've met those requirements I then look at RAM and match the the amount of RAM to the motherboard. Hard drives and optical drives are pretty easy, just make sure what you choose can be used by you motherboard. Expansion cards like sound cards, network cards and what else you just need to verify that you have the correct slot to support them and that you have enough of them.

Power supplies are pretty confusing, but if you know what to look for its just making sure that you can fit everything on it. First a crash course on calculating required wattage, wattage is basically voltage multiplied by amperage, so since the majority of the components are going to be using +12vdc then all you have to do is get the amps that each component uses. Also another thing to look out for is rails, I've seen 1200 watt PSUs that have 6 +12vdc rails, well when you do the calculations you come out to something like 150w per rail (take 1200 and subtract 300-400 watts for the other rails like 3.3, 5 -12) and that's not going to work if you have a high end GFX card that pulls 250 watts. so watch the rails. and do the calculations, you can try to use the online PSU calculators, but add an additional 20% wattage on that and round up to the next common size.

Cases are an understated part of you system, a lot of people don't take into account the way the air will flow and cool the components in the case. Also you need to equalize the amount of intake with the amount of exhaust to prevent dust from coming in through leaks in a negative pressure air flow ( too much exhaust) or heat going to areas that you don't want it to go in positive pressure system (too much intake). Another thing you want to look at is can the case accommodate you're components, you don't want to but a super computer in a small little case, you'll have zero airflow and over heat your system. Last thing to take into account is acoustics, or how it sounds, some case manufactures have added acoustic dampening materials to cut down of the amount of noise that the case produces when it's running.

Step 2: Planning
Ok so you have all the components and are gitty as an eight year old on Christmas morning. But before you just throw all those new toys in to the case, you need to plan out how you want the to do things like wire management, airflow and thermal management. Air flow is probably the most important part as it pretty much is what makes thermal management work. Also wire management helps with air flow as it eliminates airflow obstacles and it makes your computer insides look clean. so lets start with wire management.

Look at all you components and you case, and determine where you main cable thoroughfares are going to be. Also look at how you are going to route cables to each component and figure how their placement will effect the airflow.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0434.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0434.jpg) http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0436.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0436.jpg)
Hiding a routing cables can clean up and improve the airflow of a computer[/center:2uait8op]

In the above image you see how routing the cables behind the motherboard eliminate some of the clutter, but be careful routing wire behind the mother board, if they are too big they could bend and destroy the motherboard. Some cases allow you to hid cables behind the motherboard plate and the case cover.
Last but not least, what tools do you need to put all the components in to the case. This will depends largely on what you are putting in, but for the most part its pretty well standardize to a few tools.
Here's what I normally have at hand:
Required:[list:2uait8op]Phillips head screw driver
needle nose plyersRecommended:
Side cutters for zip-ties
Flat head for prying and prodding[/list:u:2uait8op]

Step 3: The Build
Ok now to get your hands dirty! The first thing is not really official, but the motherboard stand off are a good start.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0431.JPG (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0431.JPG) http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0433.JPG (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0433.JPG)
Find all the mounting points and install the standoffs[/center:2uait8op]

Looking at your motherboard there should be some holes in it, these are call mounting holes and iff you look at you case, you'll notices that on the plate that you'll be placing the board there are predrilled holes. if you case has little brass bolts in some of the holes, take them out, they put them in there for a standard ATX motherboards. For safety just assume that you mother board is not standard, you wouldn't want to mount you board hand have one of the stand offs grounding something on your motherboard now would you? now that you have a blank plate, match the holes and install the stand offs into them. Also while you are working on the case, install the PSU and case fans, don't mount the motherboard just yet though.

Mounting the processor and cooler is the reason why we haven't installed the motherboard. Most third party coolers require that you have access to the back of the motherboard for mounting plates or screws. So install your processor first then install the cooler. If the cooler is oriented in a way that its direction of flow is parallel to the motherboard's surface then you nee to see if you orient it so that it's exhaust its going to a case exhaust fan, as shown below. You can also mount the ram now or wait till you have progressed into the build further, I chose to do it after i have done almost everything.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0438.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0438.jpg)
Blue: the airflow for the north bridge and CPU[/center:2uait8op]

Mounting the motherboard is basically going to be a drop in and screw down. but if you have planned to hide wires behind the motherboard now would be a good time to do a dry fit to ensure that you wound bend the board.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0434.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0434.jpg) http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0436.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0436.jpg)
Securing and making your cables behind the motherboard are not going to damage the motherboard[/center:2uait8op]

Once you have screwed the motherboard down, you can start dry fitting drives and components. I find that putting the drives in while the case is relatively empty makes it easy to get them in and dry running the cabling less frustrating. If you can try bundling the cabling up and putting it in areas that will not have any airflow. Also some Graphics cards require power, try to route those into a general position while you are running the power for you drives.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0439.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0439.JPG)http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0442.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0442.JPG)
Arranging the placement of hard drives and their cabling can impact the airflow of critical components like graphics cards[/center:2uait8op]

After you have you Drives and cabling in their final position you can start adding in your expansion cards. If you have a graphics card, more than likely it'll needs some airflow of some sort. try not to stack cards on top of each other. Spread out your expansion cards as much as you can, this allow for the heat to escape. If you have cards the have active cooling like GFX cards and RAID cards then you need to cap the unused expansion slots, this prevents the card from in-taking the heated exhaust it has just expelled. Now the opposite is for passively cooled expansion cards, you want to open up the slot next to the chips, this allows for air to flow past the card and take the heat with it.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0440.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0440.JPG)
Cap the unused expansion slots to prevent the heat from
intruding the case and being reused for actively cooled cards[/center:2uait8op]

Step 4: Test run
With the case still open plug in a monitor, keyboard and power. Turn on the computer and hopefully if everything is connected correctly the computer will POST and try to start an OS, if not look at the error message on the screen and trouble shoot it. If you get no monitor signal, listen for beeps, these are error codes, if you have a fancy motherboard there might be an LED that displays characters that you use to look up errors. Once you have everything running you can go ahead and close the case and connect all you peripherals and install the OS and programs.

[center:2uait8op]http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0443.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0443.JPG)http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/thumbs/DSCF0336.jpg (http://omega552003.com/pics/pctut/DSCF0336.JPG)
Button up the case and now you are finished with the hardware![/center:2uait8op]

omega
09-26-2009, 01:26 PM
Btw when I finished cleaning and rebuilding my computer and moved one fan i when from 175 degrees F to 115 degrees F during loaded gaming

Dirka
09-26-2009, 01:48 PM
Nice post. +1

No-eye-deer
09-26-2009, 02:10 PM
Where were you ~2 months ago when I was buying parts!

All in all this post top quality and a good read. Front page maybe?
:clap:

damagicsausage
09-26-2009, 02:23 PM
Awww well you beat me to it, I was accually planning on doing some youtube videos on how to stuff. Very good job though.

Dirka
09-26-2009, 02:34 PM
I think CA should create and maintain a "buyer's guide" of sorts where we discuss new hardware and provide recommendations on what to buy at different price points. It seems like we have a lot if people with expertise in this area and it could bring some traffic to the site.

Nick Mangiaracina
10-05-2009, 07:05 PM
I think CA should create and maintain a "buyer's guide" of sorts where we discuss new hardware and provide recommendations on what to buy at different price points. It seems like we have a lot if people with expertise in this area and it could bring some traffic to the site.

That's interesting, how do you think we could manage that? Also, where do you think it would fit best in the site? On the forums or front page?

Sir_Doopalot
10-05-2009, 07:21 PM
ahh good post, I am getting a new desktop within the next couple of months, and have been thinking about it like Christmas for the last six months.

originally I was going to build it myself but that was back when I had money to burn, now that I am more budget minded I have found that in my situation it is cheaper to buy a pre-built computer and then do some minor upgrades to it than it is to order all the components and build one from the ground up.

Dirka
10-05-2009, 07:25 PM
I think CA should create and maintain a "buyer's guide" of sorts where we discuss new hardware and provide recommendations on what to buy at different price points. It seems like we have a lot if people with expertise in this area and it could bring some traffic to the site.

That's interesting, how do you think we could manage that? Also, where do you think it would fit best in the site? On the forums or front page?

if it were up to me I would probably make another section in the living room called "PC Hardware Buyer's Guide" or something along those lines.

I would have a post on the front page whenever a new article was written for the buyer's guide but I think as a whole, it would work better as a forum section. something like "Hey Omega has posted a great guide on building your own PC. For anyone who has ever considered it, you can save a lot of money by buying parts and putting them together yourself. Its not as difficult as you may think. Click here to visit the Couch Athletics Buyer's Guide."

get a few people who know about hardware and have them keep up with hardware news the way that people keep up with gaming news right now. there should probably be forums maintained for CPU's, GPU's and other stuff. put a sticky at the top of each section with the up to date recommendations of the hardware staff and then have articles and discussion below. lock it down so that only the hardware people can create new topics. I would organize it sort of like it is on Tom's hardware where stuff is broken down into price categories but have the discussions be a lot less technical so most people can understand what they are talking about. it should be a place to go for people who are looking to put together a new PC. if you want to spend $600, then you go to the $600-800 section and it would have the recommended specs that are available at the time for that much money.

Dirka
10-05-2009, 07:27 PM
ahh good post, I am getting a new desktop within the next couple of months, and have been thinking about it like Christmas for the last six months.

originally I was going to build it myself but that was back when I had money to burn, now that I am more budget minded I have found that in my situation it is cheaper to buy a pre-built computer and then do some minor upgrades to it than it is to order all the components and build one from the ground up.

i think its still cheaper to build it yourself.

Lumi
10-05-2009, 07:51 PM
ahh good post, I am getting a new desktop within the next couple of months, and have been thinking about it like Christmas for the last six months.

originally I was going to build it myself but that was back when I had money to burn, now that I am more budget minded I have found that in my situation it is cheaper to buy a pre-built computer and then do some minor upgrades to it than it is to order all the components and build one from the ground up.

i think its still cheaper to build it yourself.

Gonna go with dirka here. At the VERY LEAST with a prebuilt you'll be buying a better power supply for a better graphics card. That'll probably mean a bigger case in the end too.

Just build one. I wouldn't buy a prebuilt again.

omega
10-05-2009, 08:04 PM
At the VERY LEAST with a prebuilt you'll be buying a better power supply for a better graphics card. That'll probably mean a bigger case in the end too.

what? its all about shopping and deals, i've seen prebuilts that were trash