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System build guide

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by greywolf, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Just updating the guide over the coming days.

    Disclaimer: The following is the method I use when building a PC. I am not personally responsible if in the unlikely event something goes wrong, gets broken, voids warranty or simply doesn’t work.


    Step 1: Hardware Choices

    In simple terms to build a basic PC the following parts are required.

    1. Processor (CPU)
    2. Motherboard (Mobo)
    3. Memory (RAM)
    4. Storage Drives (SSD and/ or HDD)
    5. Graphics card(s) (GPU) (Unless using onboard graphics)
    6. Power supply (PSU)
    7. Case
    8. CPU Heatsink & Fan
    9. Case fans
    10. CD/DVDRW drive(s)
    11. Optional: Sound card (motherboards also have onboard sound)
    12. Optional: Fan controller



    Hardware Info

    Processor: When building a new PC the two main parts to start with are the CPU and motherboard. The CPU will set what socket motherboard you require. For example a LGA1150 CPU will require a LGA1150 socket motherboard. OEM CPUs often are slightly cheaper, however, usually come with less warranty than the retail version and do not come with a stock heatsink/fan.

    Motherboard: There are many factors which deem which motherboard you should buy, these include:
    - That the motherboard socket matches that of the CPU
    - The supported memory speed. If wanting to use over 1600 MHz memory, check the motherboard specification to see if higher frequencies are supported.
    - If you want to use SLI or Crossfire make sure at least two PCI-e 2.0 x16 slots are available. Check to see if the slots can run at full x16, or if the other slots are x8 or x4 when run in SLI/ Crossfire. x1 is also available for other expansion cards.
    - If using SLI or Crossfire check that the motherboard can support the one required.
    - Double slot coolers on GPUs can cover the slot below, check that the slow below is not required by another device you wish to install. Different motherboards have the slots in different orders.
    - Motherboards come in different sizes such as ATX, & microATX. Select the size which corresponds with the features you require and the size case you wish to use.
    - What chipset the motherboard uses, for example z97. For each socket there are usually different motherboard chipsets available. Each chipset uses different controllers. Check reviews to see how each controller performs.
    - The number and speed of SATA ports available. A 6Gb/s drive to run at full speed requires a SATA 6Gb/s port, although is backwards compatible at slower speeds.
    - If requiring onboard graphics a motherboard with DVI/VGA/HDMI output via the back I/O panel.
    - Number of PWR fan headers to plug case fans and CPU fan into. A fan controller can increase the number of fans supported and provide speed control.
    - That the generational refresh of the processor is supported by the motherboard. Check that the CPU is compatible with the motherboard, even if the socket number is the same.

    Memory: Check that the memory speed and type you wish to use are supported by the motherboard. Memory comes in a variety of frequency speeds and latency timings. Dual, triple and quad channel configurations are used by motherboards, however check which your motherboard supports. The memory sticks are used simultaneously in the specified configuration. For the greatest chance of working correctly the memory used in such configurations must be matched and of the same model, speed etc. The easiest way is by using a matched kit. Some CPU coolers are very large and can conflict with the memory slots on the motherboard. Check that the CPU cooler and memory can both fit.

    Storage Drives: If using 6Gb/s drives make sure that the motherboard supports SATA 6Gb/s. SATA is backwards compatible, however will run at a slower speed.

    Graphics card(s): When using SLI or Crossfire for best performance the PCI-e slots should be rated at x16 or x8 when in a SLI or Crossfire configuration. SLI configuration requires an SLI bridge (connector) which comes with the motherboard. Crossfire usually requires a Crossfire bridge; however the R9 290 series does not.

    Power supply: Select a wattage which gives some head room and also allows for possible further expansion. As an approx rule 500w for one higher end GPU and 750w for a dual GPU setup. The PSU seems tempting to skimp on, however should never be over looked since this is what will be powering all of your expensive components. PSUs have an efficiency rating, these often include: 80 Plus Bronze, 80 Plus Silver, 80 Plus Gold, 80 Plus Platinum and 80 Plus Titanium. Check that the PSU can fit inside the case you have selected and that the PSU offers the required number of power connectors.




    General Motherboard Layout

    [​IMG]



    Tips:

    1. Never touch the copper contact pads or pins.

    2. Always handle the electrical components by the edges of the chip or board.

    3. If its going to fit it will slot in easily, don't force components or cables into place.

    4. Before any electrical components are touched make sure you are well grounded, this will help reduce the risk of static electrical damage to components. One method of grounding is once the PSU is fitted into the case plug the PSU into the wall socket, although not switched on. This allows the builder to ground themselves when touching a metal part of the case.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
  2. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Step 2: Case work


    (A) To get started both sides of the case must be removed to gain access.

    This is usually achieved by removing four screws on the rear of the case and then sliding the side panels backwards.

    [​IMG]


    (B) The next job is to fit the power supply (PSU) into the case. Start by working out which way up the power supply goes. This is done by seeing which way the screw holes in the PSU align with the holes in the case. If the PSU can fit both ways up, fit it so that the fan in the PSU has access to most ventilation.

    Using the screws supplied with the case, screw in the power supply. This is usually done with four screws.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    (C) Now that the PSU is fitted the next task is to fit the DVDRW drive. To do this the front panel of the case may need to be removed. Different cases have differed methods of removing the front panel. The front panel is usually held in place by either a few screws hidden on the inside of the case, or by plastic clips.

    [​IMG]


    (D) The blank on the front panel and inside the case will need to be removed to allow the drive to be fitted into the drive bay slot. Sometimes cases will come with the primary drive bay slot cover already removed such as with the Antec 300, which also does not require the front panel to be removed.

    [​IMG]


    (E) The blank on the front panel and inside the case will need to be removed to allow the drive to be fitted into the drive bay slot. Sometimes cases will come with the primary drive bay slot cover already removed such as with the Antec 300, which also does not require the front panel to be removed.

    [​IMG]


    (F) Now that the CD/DVDRW drive is fitted the next step is to fit the case fans. Some cases will come with the fans pre installed. If so skip this step.

    Most cases will have front intake fan(s), rear exhaust fan(s), and possibly a top exhaust and side fan. These can range in size but are usually around 120mm in size.

    The photo below shows which way the air will blow so the fans are positioned the right way round. The case fan(s) should intake cool air at the front of the case and expel hot air at the back.

    [​IMG]


    (G) Align the fan with the screw holes in the case and with the supplied case fan screws screw the fan to the case. This may take a bit of force as the screws have to tap into the plastic screw hole in the fan.

    [​IMG]


    (H) Now that the case fans are installed the next step is to fit the I/O shield plate. This is the plate which coves around the holes where the rear motherboard input / output ports are.

    Some cases come with an I/O shield plate already installed. This is pretty useless as it will not align with most motherboards as the ports will be in different places. Remove this one if it is there and in its place put the one that came with the motherboard. Make sure the plate is the correct way up so it will align with the motherboard ports. To attach the I/O shield to the case simply push it in the correct way up until it clicks into place.

    [​IMG]


    (I) The next step is to screw the motherboard standoffs into the motherboard tray part of the case. These are the standoffs which keep the motherboard from touching the back of case.

    The motherboard will have a series of screw holes in it. Take the motherboard out of its anti-static wrapping and place it either on top of the motherboard box or onto an anti-static mat. The anti-static bag can also be cut open and the board placed down onto what would have been the inside of the bag which offers anti-static protection. The motherboard can be placed down onto the outside of the anti-static bag, although be warned that this does not offer anti-static protection.

    Look at the motherboard and where there is a screw hole, screw a standoff into the case so when the motherboard is lowered into place the holes in the board will align with the standoffs underneath. Usually marked on the case next to the holes will be a letter or abbreviation which shows what size of motherboard that hole was indented to be used with. In this case the ATX sized motherboard screw holes are indicated with the letter A next to the holes. The standoffs will later be screwed into and so hold the motherboard in place.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  3. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Step 3: Kitting out the motherboard – Intel Route


    (A) Leave the motherboard on top of the box, folded out anti-static bag or anti-static mat if one has been used. Firstly the memory (RAM) is to be fitted, which fits into the slots shown below.

    [​IMG]


    (B) If one stick of memory (RAM) is being used skip down to the memory fitting instructions, step (C).

    For RAM to work in dual or triple channel (triple in this build guide) the RAM sticks will have to be matched triplets and also be put into the correct slots. Usually the slots are colour coded. E.g. three out of the six slots (number of slots will vary with different board specs) will be white and the other three will be blue. So the matched triplet would go into the white slots and if there is another matched triplet they would go into the three blue slots.

    If the slots are not colour coded consult the motherboard manual to find out which slots match up. With the GA-X58A-UD3R reading from left to right it’s the 2nd, 4th and 6th slot and for the second set 1st, 3rd and 5th slots.

    [​IMG]


    (C) To fit the RAM push away the clips at each end of the slot. Then take a RAM stick and align it so the notch in the slot aligns with the notch in the RAM stick. Then push the RAM down into the slot. Then as this is done, close the clips at both ends of the slot, thus locking the RAM into place.


    (D) The next step after the RAM is to fit the processor (CPU). Firstly undo the catch holding the socket hatch shut. To do this, push down on the catch leaver and then slightly sideways. This allows the hatch to open. If a new motherboard is being used a black socket protector will be fitted over the hatch, this should be removed and is no longer needed but keep it in the motherboard box in case the motherboard is to be sold on at a later date.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    (E) Next take the CPU and look at how it aligns with the socket. There will be several notches which align only one way, and so stop the CPU from being put in the wrong way round. There will also be a triangle in one corner of the CPU and on the socket; these should be aligned as shown below.

    Once the CPU has been aligned gently drop it into place. Then shut the hatch and secure by using the leaver as before. The hatch leaver can take a bit of force to close, so don’t worry if it feels too tight.

    [​IMG]


    (F) Next up is the CPU cooler. There are many different methods for fitting CPU coolers depending on the model of CPU cooler. This guide will show how to fit the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme cooler. Although the general principles apply to all coolers, it is usually just the method of attaching the cooler to the board E.G. by bolts or push pins that changes.

    The CPU cooler will attach to the motherboard via four holes around the edge of CPU socket.

    [​IMG]


    (G) If the cooler is a push pin method like the generic Intel cooler that comes with retail Intel CPUs, align the four plastic pins of the cooler with the holes in the motherboard and the push down on each corner pin to lock it into place. This may sound easy but as many have found the method is very frustrating and not as easy to do as it sounds. A bolt fitting cooler is much easier to attach into place.

    Before a cooler is attached check if the cooler has thermal paste pre applied or not. Simply look at the underside of the cooler if there is a grey/white paste pre-applied which is unused then new or extra paste is not required.

    If none is applied then new paste is required. Squirt out a piece of thermal paste the size of a grain of rice onto the middle of the CPU. This is all that is needed. When the cooler is attached it will squash down, filling any slight dips / scratches and so gives a good seal between the heatsink and CPU which will increase heat conductivity from the CPU to the cooler. If the thermal paste manufacturer recommends a different application method follow that instead.

    Note: If the cooler is removed it will result in a break in the seal created and the thermal paste will need to be cleaned off both the CPU and cooler and re-applied in the above fashion.

    [​IMG]


    (H) The Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme cooler is secured via bolts to a back plate behind the motherboard.

    The back plate should be positioned so that the corners poke through the socket holes in the motherboard and so gives the bolts something to screw into.

    [​IMG]


    (I) Next align the supplied side brackets with the back plate followed by screwing them into positing. Then screw the cross bar into the side brackets. Do so by turning each of the screws in regular intervals until they are unable to be tightened.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  4. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Saved for AMD route build.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  5. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Step 4: Into the case - Motherboard & Hard drive

    (A) Lower the motherboard down on to the motherboard standoffs that were previously attached to the case. Making sure that the motherboard aligns with the standoffs and with the I/O shield. With the supplied screws, screw the motherboard into place. Do not over tighten these screws.

    [​IMG]


    (B) A little forward thinking is required here. Ideally the hard drive(s) do not want to be mounted into the case so that the drive(s) are on the same level as where the graphics card will fit. This can get a bit cramped in smaller cases especially when trying to plug in the power into each of them.

    Slide the hard drive in to a 3.5 bay and align the holes in the hard drive with the holes in the case, making sure the power and SATA ports are facing the correct way so you can gain access to them. Then with the supplied screws, screw the drive into the case. As with the CD/DVDRW drive the hard drive will require screwing in from both sides.

    [​IMG]


    Step 5: Front panel headers - USB / Audio / Firewire


    (A) So that the computer is able to be turned on and reset etc the front panel headers need to be plugged in. These usually consist of the power switch, reset switch, activity LED and power LED, followed by the USB / Audio / Firewire headers. To get the + and - round the right way on the reverse side of the writing there will be an arrow pointing to the positive pin. The headers are normally labelled as the following.

    [​IMG]


    (B) The front panel headers plug into the front panel pin out on the motherboard which is usually located on the bottom right of the motherboard. The front panel pin out vary in layout on each motherboard, sometimes they are labelled on the board and other times only listed in the manual but the method of simply pushing the header over the pins remains the same.

    The front panel pin out vary in layout on each motherboard, sometimes they are labelled on the board and other times only listed in the manual but the method of simply pushing the header over the pins remains the same.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Step 6: Fitting cables - CD/DVD-RW, hard drive & fans


    (A) In this step the fans, CD/DVDRW drive and hard drive will be connect to the motherboard.

    The first fan to be connected is the CPU cooling fan. This is connected to the motherboard by a 3 pin plug / socket, which usually labelled on the motherboard as “CPU fan” or similar to this. If it is not then it will be listed in the motherboard manual. As a tip it will be situated near to the CPU cooler. The plug can only fit one way round due to the guide lines.

    [​IMG]


    (B) The next to plug in is the case fans. These either attach via a 3 pin plug / socket such as the CPU fan or via a 4 pin molex plug. If connecting via the four pin, skip this step for now. To connect the 3 pin fans plug them into the motherboard as was done with the CPU fan. The sockets are usually labelled on the motherboard as “case fan” or “Sys fan”. If not, its time to consult the motherboard manual again.

    Note: Some fans have both 3 pin and 4 pin molex connectors. Only one of these needs to be plugged in for the fan to work.

    [​IMG]


    (C) Next up is the CD/DVDRW drive. This connects to the motherboard via a SATA cable, although older drives connect via an IDE cable. SATA and IDE cable ends are shown below. They are usually both included with the motherboard.

    With SATA cables it does not matter which end you connect to the motherboard and which to the drive. Also the SATA cable can only connect one way due to the L shaped connector, so no worry of getting it the wrong way round.

    Plug one end into the drive and the other into a SATA port on the motherboard. Plug the SATA cable into any SATA port but usually its done so that "SATA0" is used first and so on. Each port should be numbered next to it on the motherboard if not check the motherboard manual.

    [​IMG]


    (D) Next to connect up is the hard drive. This is exactly the same as the CD/DVDRW drive. Again it does not matter which SATA port number, apart from keeping things neat and knowing which port the hard drive is in.

    Do not worry about plugging in the power cables to the CD/DVD-RW or hard drive yet. This is done in a later stage.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  6. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Step 7: Fitting the graphics card - Optional sound card

    (A) Select the top compatible PCI-E 16x slot and remove the backing plate from the case for that slot so that access is available to the rear ports on the card. On most cases the plates unscrew or on cheaper cases they push out.

    Once the plate is removed align the card with the slot and gently push the card down into the slot. The bracket on the card should now be inline with the case and be ready to be screwed down.

    With the screw from the backing plate, screw the card into place.

    Note: Most graphics cards require extra power to work, remember to attach the power to the card on the PSU connecting up step.

    Note: Usually the PCI-E 16x has a catch on it which will need to be released if you want to remove the card.

    [​IMG]


    (B) Optional sound card. Find out if the sound card is either PCI or PCI-e, and then select a compatible slot on the motherboard. Once a compatible slot has been selected remove the backing plate as was done with the graphics card.

    Note: Some sound cards require extra power to work, if it does remember to attach the power to the card on the PSU connecting up step which will follow soon.

    [​IMG]


    (C) Before the next step quick check is a good idea.

    1. Motherboard fully screwed down?
    2. PSU fully screwed in?
    3. RAM seated in the slots correctly and clipped in?
    4. Graphics and sound card seated in the slots correctly and screwed in?
    5. Fans all connected? (apart from any 4 pin ones)
    6. CPU cooler attached firmly?
    7. CPU cooler fan plugged in?
    8. Hard drive and CD/DVDRW drive screwed in?
    9. CD/DVDRW drive plugged in at both ends?
    10. Hard drive plugged in at both ends?


    Step 8: Connecting up the power cables

    (A) This step involves connecting up the power cables from the PSU to the required hardware. To do so push the power plugs over the sockets, they will only fit one way round due to the shaping on the socket.

    When selecting a PSU for your build check to make sure that the PSU offers all of the power connectors required. As a substitute splitter cables can be purchased which connect to a 4 pin molex and so can give you either two molex or a range of other power connectors such as SATA. If possible try to get all the connectors needed hardwired or modular with the PSU.

    Connect the 24 pin cable to the 24 pin slot on the motherboard which clips into place.

    [​IMG]

    (B) Next connect the 8 pin cable to the motherboard which will clip into place. This is some times a 4 pin plug/socket or is absent.

    [​IMG]

    (C) Next connect a PCI-E 6 pin cable to the graphics card which will clip into place.

    Note: Some graphics cards require two 6 pin PCI-E power cables.
    Note: Some graphics cards require one or two 8 pin PCI-E power cables.

    [​IMG]

    (D) Next connect a SATA power cable to the CD/DVDRW drive. Note: This is an L shape design, which only fits one way. Note: Some times a 4 pin molex is used.

    [​IMG]

    (E) Next connect a SATA power plug to the hard drive.

    [​IMG]

    (F) Lastly connect any 4 pin Molex fans via a 4 pin Molex cable. Note: If the fan is already connected to the motherboard via the 3 pin you will not need to connect it to the 4 pin Molex as well.

    [​IMG]


    This is now all of the hardware fully connected to the PSU. Any unused cables from the PSU can be tucked away. This being a benefit of a modular PSU where only the required cables are connected to the PSU.

    All that’s required now is to screw the side panels back onto the case and the systems is ready for an operating system to be installed. Remember to go into the bios and change the boot priority to the DVD drive first if the OS is being installed via DVD.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  7. Plec

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Apr 19, 2003

    Posts: 9,403

    Excellent!

    Once you've finished tweaking, as JonJ has remarked, this would make a great sticky.

    If it wasn't - i'm sure it will get bumped regularly for new members to read through - great effort.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  8. Merlin5

    Capodecina

    Joined: Aug 17, 2009

    Posts: 12,115

    Location: Finchley Central, London

    Thanks so much for this, I'll be referring to it again on tuesday on my novice build :)

    I have a question (which is not unusual for me), the graphics card I'm putting in, HD 4870, requires 2 x 6 pin connectors I think. What if my psu only has one? It says for the psu I'm buying "complete with two PCI-Express cables" but then goes on to say "1 x PCI-E 6+2 pin". So I'm not sure how I'd connect the card. Maybe I need a Y shape adaptor, 2 x 6 pin going to 1 x 6 pin which would go into the psu's 1 x 6 pin?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  9. Tolmekian

    Hitman

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009

    Posts: 959

    Excellent guide, very informative and a good read for a novice, great job.

    Does it not state 1 x PCI-E 6+2 pin and then somewhere else 1 x PCI-E 6 pin ? So you get one 8 pin and one 6 pin? State the model of the psu and il have a look for you.
     
  10. Merlin5

    Capodecina

    Joined: Aug 17, 2009

    Posts: 12,115

    Location: Finchley Central, London

    Thanks. It's the OCZ StealthXStream 500w Silent Power.

    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-026-OC
     
  11. Tolmekian

    Hitman

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009

    Posts: 959

    That just has the one 6+2 pin pci-e connector i believe. Although you could use one of these, http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CB-018-AK&groupid=701&catid=48&subcat= not sure if they will be supplied with the psu or not.

    Edit: For an extra £14 i would reccommend getting the modxstream 700w on This Week Only, allows for future upgrades, is modular and has all the PCI-E connectors you need.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  12. Merlin5

    Capodecina

    Joined: Aug 17, 2009

    Posts: 12,115

    Location: Finchley Central, London


    Well, my order will be shipped tomorrow, so I'd better ring them up tomorrow and see if I can change it in time. That adapter you linked btw seems to be one 6 pin to 2 molex? But my card has two 6 pin connector sockets. I'm also wondering if the spec written for that OCZ psu has omitted to say that there's also another 6 pin connector, because in the main paragraph it does say it has 2 pci-e connectors.
     
  13. JonJ678

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 22, 2008

    Posts: 10,327

    Location: England

    I havent checked the spec, but I wil say that molex to 6 pin adapters rarely turn out well. If the psu doesnt have the cables for the graphics card you have in mind, it was designed for smaller ones and you may run into many problems trying to use it with a more powerful card.

    If they seem reluctant to change it when you call make noises about distance selling regulations and having to waste time shipping the psu back to them if they don't change it now and they'll probably see sense :)
     
  14. Merlin5

    Capodecina

    Joined: Aug 17, 2009

    Posts: 12,115

    Location: Finchley Central, London

    Cheers jon. Will swap for OCZ 700w.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  15. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Thanks Jon, I knew I must of made a few mistakes. I have now corrected using the above.
     
  16. JonJ678

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 22, 2008

    Posts: 10,327

    Location: England

    I'm relieved, I tend to phrase constructive criticism poorly and end up causing anger. I've edited my first response too.

    Thanks again for the guide. Video is a nice touch
     
  17. grumpybeard

    Hitman

    Joined: Jul 24, 2009

    Posts: 653

    Location: Lost in Alps

    Not built a PC in about 5 years, but will be putting 2 together this weekend, great guide which I'll be referring to, many thanks for your efforts!
     
  18. plasmahal

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Feb 5, 2006

    Posts: 1,029

    Very good guide and very informative.

    Can I add one thing that I didn't see and I don't think anyone else mentioned.

    When attaching the case connectors to the motherboard (HDD led, PWR, etc), on the reverse side of the writing there is a little arrow that indicates the positive wire.

    I've found this nugget of info very useful.
     
  19. Admiral Huddy

    Don

    Joined: Feb 17, 2003

    Posts: 28,121

    Location: Chelmsford & Broadgate

    Nice guide mate..

    Would you like to add that to my website?

    One thing..

    Not a good idea.. Only the inside of the bag has AS properties. The outside is completely opposite. Best open up the bag or place the board on the box or on an anti-static mat.
     
  20. greywolf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 2, 2005

    Posts: 1,615

    Yeah that would be fine.

    Been doing that for years with no problems, although I will adjust the guide to do what you have said, thanks for the correction.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2009


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