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Thread: A system building journal

  1. #1
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    A system building journal

    I have finally scraped enough cash together to start my very first build project. Frankly I'm kind of excited but also terrified about getting things wrong. I plan to write down the whole process, right from buying the components to booting up and playing, in the hope that it will be at least a little bit informative for anyone else thinking about doing the same.

  2. #2
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    Entry #1 - Component selection

    I have been looking at, and asking about, component selection for my new machine for months. Even keeping up with sites like Hexus doesn't answer all the questions you have about selection, especially if you have a specific price point/needs.

    Everyone wants everything. But I really couldn't afford everything, as budget was really tight. I knew I would have to compromise somewhere. I spent a lot of time asking for advice, and the users of the hexus forums were very helpful. While asking for general information was informative, it was very infrequently that I got an answer that could actually be applied to my budget/needs. Instead I changed tack, and forumulated a series of questions more in the lines of 'which of these two choices is best?' By forcing a choice between options that both met my criteria I was able to get a more useful answer.

    In the end, my specification choice came down to me re-examining my immediate needs for a computer.

    I had initially been starting off imagining a whole new computer, that would be great in a number of areas and play todays new games. But when I thought about it, I don't actually have todays new games, and the games I really want to play are tommorows and yesturdays! And what was it that was making me want to upgrade? It wasn't games at all, it was game development and scientific applications, both vastly CPU limited on my current machine.

    The solution became clear recently: Carry over some components from the old machine that don't affect my ability for the tasks I want to do, but will save me money. The gfx card and hard disks were the obvious choices. Yes, hard disk will limit my performance a bit, but not catestrophically, if I have enough ram. And both hard disks and gfx cards are some of the fastest developing components at the moment - both will be better in 6 months time. Keeping the gfx card was a no-brainer. It will not play my old games any worse in the new computer (only better), and when the games come out that I want to play, then will be the best time to upgrade.

    The money saved from postponing a gfx card and hdd upgrade allowed me to upgrade to an AMD X2 3800, which will suit my needs very well.

    Target specification: AMD X2 3800, 2gb ram, asrock 939 dual sata2 mobo, case, dvd+-rw

  3. #3
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    Entry #2: First purchase

    Now it was time to actually buy things. I had initially planned to take a little longer looking around various retailers for exact components, for the best price. I have my prefered etailers (scan) but I'm not adverse to looking elsewhere for good deals.

    My first purchase came the same day that I decided to go ahead with the project for certain. I was looking to go with around a 430W PSU, from a manufacturer like Tagan or even Hiperpower. However SCAN had an XClio 480W on a good today only offer. A quick review search showed the supply had stable voltages and good efficiency. By the end of the working day I'd decided to go for it and placed my order.

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/produ...oductID=296960

    Ordering was easy, and to my great surprise the PSU arrived the very next morning! Excellent turn around and delivery. The box was well packaged, although pulling off the adhesive tape also damaged a sticker related to the warrenty - SCAN would be advised to avoid sticking tape ontop of warrenty stickers really. Hopefully though, I won't need it. Another disconcerning sticker is one that says 'TO BE INSTALLED BY PROTESSIONALS'. Hardly confidence inspiring, even if I knew what a 'protessional' was

    A quick look at the PSU and it seems fine. I'll have a more decent look nearer the time when I'm building.

    Now the wait to see if other components come up on offer soon.
    Last edited by kalniel; 04-11-2005 at 11:08 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps
    Quote Originally Posted by PD HEXUS
    agreed. well.. certainly not in a really easy to use format... the first step towards addressing this particular shortcoming in what we do is coming real soon...

    cheers,

    PD
    Woo!

    Don't get me wrong, Hexus is a great site and I found the information really useful, but everyone has unique needs/constraints and mine were probably more different than others! It's not a mark against Hexus, but more work on that front is always appreciated

  5. #5
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    Entry #3: More purchasing

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel
    Now the wait to see if other components come up on offer soon.
    Me and my big mouth

    Today's specials from scan see my processor come up trumps. X2 3800 + free software (while stocks last) on it's way

    Unfortunately scan still appear lacking on the memory side of things. They would be my first choice for corsair, but I needed a little more choice, and found it at pc-memory-upgrade.co.uk. The pound was a bit stronger today so a good time to order from Ireland. 2gb of g.skill 2-3-3-6 are on their way for a shade under 170 pounds. This certainly isn't great overclocking memory, but I'll be glad to just get my first full system build running at defaults thank you very much! A little nervous about buying from that shop, which seems to have a number of faces and actually be a company called gobeyond, but we'll see.

    Today's seen the purchase of the two most expensive components in the computer. But they're also going to last a while I hope.

  6. #6
    lazy student nvening's Avatar
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    whats happening to your old system componants which are not being used?
    (\__/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

  7. #7
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps
    I have a gf3 ti-500 which will go back in the p3, and 20 and 40gb hdds, so there will be a fully functional system that's still pretty good for yesturdays games. Once the new systems verified and running good I might look for a buyer or give it to a charity or something.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    Entry #4: Components be arriving

    A couple of today-only offers later and I'm only awaiting one final package from SCAN. A far cry from pc-memory-upgrade who have yet to deliver my memory, despite despatching some days ago.

    I considered buying the case from savastore.com, as they are within driving distance and were also 4 pounds cheaper. But the service from scan has been so good I thought they deserved the custom.

    Once everything's here I'll try taking some piccies and journal the building process.

    EDIT: memory arrived Delivery took two days more than scan, but then again it's from Ireland so I don't think it's too bad.
    Last edited by kalniel; 09-11-2005 at 12:45 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    Entry #5: Putting it together

    So the process started. I've also taken pics along the way but I'll get around to uploading them later.

    It was both simpler than I expected.. and more complicated! And the difference between different manufacturers is really obvious!

    Starting with the case, the Coolermaster Centurion 5. It's a beauty for sure. It's lighter than I expected, but still feels pretty solid. You get a good bunch of bits and peices with it - plenty of screws and miscellanious bits and bobs. First impressions are that it's a very well made case.

    But when you work with it a bit more... I think I've been spoiled by my last case, which was a Dell. The case is opened by two thumscrews on the back. But where on the Dell the thumbscrew has a stop so that it doesn't fall out, the Centurion case has nothing - I know I'm going to loose those screws! Another lapse in standards is the side panel - for starters it has a really annoying slide to fit system which is a pain to get right, secondly the fit isn't perfect! The top of the case slides in fine, but the bottom doesn't, requiring the thumbscrew to hold it in place. Also the edges are all pretty sharp and my fingers are sore today!

    The fans look good, but then they go and stick peripheral style power connectors on them. I was expecting the usual 3 pin fan connectors, which would allow me to use the post-shut down cooling from my power supply, but sadly all you can do with these fans is plug them in line to your CD or HDD with no way of controlling them Oh, and the instructions with the case are abysmal. All you can expect is essentially 'attach the motherboard with the suitable screws'. No indication of which screws are the suitable ones, very poor instructions for how to attach drives, no mention of the fans or anything at all. You do better just guessing than attempting to use the instructions.

    Anyway, the building.

    First in was the powersupply (XClio 480W). Now I don't know if it's the case's fault, or the PSU's fault, but one of the screw holes doesn't line up. 3 of the 4 are fine, but there's no hope in hell of getting the 4th one in. The post-shut-down cooling seemed a neat idea, but thanks to the fan connectors of the case, I can't use it. Instructions with the powersupply are minimal, but functional (basically just pictures of the connectors and their voltages etc - but the pictures are colour which was useful).

    Next was the motherboard. I had to line it up a few times to get the right placings for the spacer screws, as the numbers/letters on the motherboard don't match up to the ones on the case. I was one screw set short to use every possible hole on the motherboard, but I think it'll be ok. Two of the spacer screws have lips that help hold the motherboard while you screw it in. Neat idea, but of course, no mention at all in the manual. It's best to put these at the diagonal corners of the motherboard I think.

    Oh yes - fit the I/O shield first! I didn't and it was a pain Again the case instructions are the closest ones that say what order to do things in.. but of course these ones are worse than useless.

    The case cables came next, with the cabling for the power buttons etc. The individual connectors were all labelled, and the motherboard instructions were actually very good, so this bit wasn't too hard, just fiddly. There were a couple of instances where the cable labelling wasn't helpful - some cables were just labeled + and -, and it was only by elimination that I figured they were actually for the power on light.

    I was scared about fitting the CPU and heatsink - this is obviously the most expensive, and also delicate of all the components. But I needn't have worried. The instructions (pictures only) were fine, and it was actually really easy. Just made sure that I was touching the chassis of the case most of the time to help discharge and static that could build up and follwed the instructions. The pictures make it look like the heatsink clips are really solid things.. but they're just little thin metal clips No need to worry with thermal paste etc. There's a perfectly effective pad on the bottom of the heatsink. Yes, I'm sure paste is more effective. But then again I didn't want to void my warrenty which it states is only for use with the heatsink and pad supplied.

    Next came attaching power cables.. and more annoyance. There are some huge amounts of cabling, and I had to add even more with a 24 to 20 pin adaptor. In the XClio manual it shows this adaptor as a smart, sheathed cable. But it's not. it's a flat bunch of 20 wires, not dissimilar to a flat IDE ribbon cable. And thanks to the lay out of the motherboard, it sits right in the middle of the fans for the case, CPU, and power supply. So potential airflow/noisy problems there.

    Then came the DVD rewriter. This exposed more case problems. Firstly the front bezel is really hard to get off. This has been mentioned in reviews, but I thought, nah, but they're right. Again, the dell had buttons you pushed that released the front, but there's nothing like that here, it's just pull, hard. There isn't much to get a grip on either.

    You have to unscrew the mesh drive cover before you can insert the drive - a bit odd in a 'tool-less' case. But the mesh front feels very solid. Getting the front on over the drive was a bit of a pain as well. But by far the biggest pain was the tool-less system. It's meant to slide forward, then you slide another plastic bit down to lock. But for no reason I could tell at the time, this piece wasn't sliding forward all the way, thus not locking at all. I tried moving the drive around, and all sorts of things to get it to lock, but couldn't.

    It was only after a good half and hour that I noticed the tool-less latch for this bay looked different to the rest. One section of plastic was about 1cm shorter than for the other bays (you'll see it better in the photos). A moment of idiocy made me look in the manual, which of course, didn't say anything. In the end I figured out how to take the tool-less latches off, and I just swapped two bays around - now the drive fitted and locked straight away - phew!

    The floppy/memory card reader came next, and was simpler than the DVD drive simply because the latch was the right part this time!

    I had a little look at the cabling at this point. The 50cm scan rounded IDE cable I thought was going to be plenty big.. but it was only just. The main annoyance was that either the IDE connector on the motherboard was upside down, or the cable connector wasn't well done, because when you plug it into the motherboard the cabling immediate runs perpendicular to the connector.. but towards the BOTTOM of the case, so it had to loop around to go back up to the DVD drive. The floppy has three cables (power, floppy ribbon, and usb) which were connected up fine. I tidied up the power cables a bit more too. I also stood the case up vertically to check that they didn't hang badly.

    I'd replaced memory in computers before, and it was just as simple this time. Just had to open out the locking slots on the motherboard before putting the memory in (they close automatically as you push the memory in.)

    That was it for the bought components. I took a HDD and my gfx card out of my old computer and fitted them fairly easily.

    So, just time to fit the case panel back on (more finger pain). Plug in the powersupply, monitor lead, keyboard and mouse. Then stand back and turn the power on.. and hope it doesn't blow up...
    Last edited by kalniel; 11-11-2005 at 11:44 AM.

  10. #10
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    Leave those side covers off until the thing has been powered up, always wise to be able to checkl the odd conection!

    Best of luck with your project, after the first one it a lot easier!

    Oh and no two manufacturers orientate their IDE plugs the same way. The same make will even change it between chipsets. so getting IDE cables that all run the right way is a lottery!

  11. #11
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps
    Hehe so I discovered!

    Well, system is finally up and running. Just trying out a few tests but will report more later. Many thanks to all who've helped the various problems!

  12. #12
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps

    picture journal

    Time for some photos

    The start..


    ack.. first problem - screws don't line up on PSU:


    Ah well, PSU in anyway. Still looks neat


    Motherboard next.. looks like a computer suddenly!


    X2 goodness...


    oop.. hidden by the fan anyway.


    Fiddlesticks.. that is.. pluggin in all the case bits and bobs.


    Ack... horrible 24 to 20pin adaptor! Kill my airflow why don't you?


    Popping off the front for drive installation:


    Disaster.. why didn't my drive install? (hint - check the rail guide second from the left)


    Hmm... those fan connectors don't help either.


    I like my RAM..


    And I *will* get it a bit more tidy!


    Finally, done!

  13. #13
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    • kalniel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte X58A UD3R rev 2
      • CPU:
      • Intel Xeon X5680
      • Memory:
      • 12gb DDR3 2000
      • Graphics card(s):
      • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic 600W
      • Case:
      • Cooler Master HAF 912
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H
      • Internet:
      • O2 8mbps
    And yes, I *did* need those 2gb of ram...


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