How To Build A Computer: System Assembly 101

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How To Build A Computer: System Assembly 101We just recently ran a contest on HotHardware in which we planned to give away a high-end, custom-built gaming system (built by yours truly), to one lucky reader who came up with a creative name for our weekly video podcast. We got a few requests to document the build process on video, so that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t go too in-depth, but did explain the approach we like to take to systems and talked about a few of the build decisions and tweaks we made along the way...

How To Build A Computer: System Assembly 101

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Very nice tut on cable management...

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slugbug replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 2:01 PM

Neat and tidy as expected. Good job on the build.

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I like it!  Looks like that HAF has quite a bit of room behind the motherboard to work with.  Awesome system.

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transam02 replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 2:35 PM

Very Nice Job on the cable management and rest of the build.

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fat78 replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 7:15 PM

Cool video.

Wish the case had a black finsh on the inside, woulda made it look a little cooler, but if it was going to me i wouldnt be complaining about a sick and free computer.

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realneil replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 7:18 PM

Great video, I couldn't have asked for a better one Marco. You did a fantastic job on the build too.

FreeJet,   You Lucky Dog!

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Inspector replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 10:27 PM

NICE! lol loved the video :P

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Marco C replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 11:28 PM

fat78:

Wish the case had a black finsh on the inside, woulda made it look a little cooler, but if it was going to me i wouldnt be complaining about a sick and free computer.

 

Funny you should mention that.  After we announced the contest and the parts started arriving, I thought about giving the winner a different case for this exact reason.  Having a black interior gives the appearance of an even cleaner case and I had just done a round-up and had a bunch of options in-house.

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Super Dave replied on Wed, Nov 24 2010 11:36 PM

Thanks, Marco - that was a very informative video. I haven't paid a lot of attention to cable management in the builds that I have done, but your video has really inspired me!Big Smile 

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Xylem replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 12:08 AM

Rightly said!! Now even I'm planning to open up my case for a proper cable routing. You inspire us Marco!! Yes

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 2:07 AM

Very nice, concise, and orderly build Marco, maybe it will inspire some new people to hop on the building train. I could not think of a more concise one that is for sure. Enjoy it Freejet!

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Inspector replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 2:46 AM

LOL, compare my cabling to marcos... lol

Maybe i just have more cables lol.

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 11:20 AM

Lol; "maybe I have more cables. That may be true especially if none of them are routed. I personally need to re-seat my heatsink (Prolimatech Megashadow (Push/Pull Config) (I may change it to blow up and out the big fan as well), and of course re-apply my AS ceramique, but my cables look about the same as Marco's, although I don't use quite so many zip tie's. As far as it goes I think I may need to format, and re-organize my SSD anyway as well. So PC clean up time which I generally do yearly anyway.

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realneil replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 2:18 PM

I used to just tuck wires out of the way of the airflow inside the case, but the last three builds that I did were done trying to make it pretty and functional like this one that Marco did so well. They worked out OK.

I don't usually use Zip Ties on my builds. I have a flat, waxed nylon line that we used to use tying wire bundles in aircraft. I use a knot that can be untied later on if you have to take it all apart. It's not that I dislike wire ties, but I was trained to use this cord on wire bundles years ago.

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karmafire replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 6:46 PM

Really tidy for a standard PSU. I admit I leave everything loose in the back and keep my neat only where the eye can see, but this kinda made me wanna civilize the situation back there.

I wonder about that sound card though, if well do I recall the Crosshair's got a really oustanding sound setup on its own, with gold lined connectors and all. Is there a significant improvement with that card?

And on another note, why do men call everything "she"? Computers, boats, buildings, anything sturdy is a lady =P

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realneil replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 7:07 PM

karmafire:
why do men call everything "she"? Computers, boats, buildings, anything sturdy is a lady

Who knows why,...........................My '69 Camaro was a girl, but my Impala was "Brutus". Geeked

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karmafire replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 8:35 PM

They're all boys to me.

Maybe not the Beetle. =)

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realneil replied on Thu, Nov 25 2010 8:39 PM

Meet Nellie,.....She takes me there.

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Marco very nice video presentation and excellant job on the build of course. I like seeing that 970 put to use because I,ve been wanting to get my hands on one of them to go with my Asus M4A79 deluxe but there was no support for it on my board untill just recently they updated the bios for it.Right now I m having to spend money on medical problems but soon I want to grab me one, think that would be a welcome addition to my system not that my BE720 doesnt do well but you know always want to upgrade and since its a nice board Im going for the 970.Out of curiousity what is the OCZ  PN nu: on the ram your using on the board I want to see how it compares to the OCZ ram Im using now!?  Your cable management is great too and that HAF looks quite roomy just all in all a great build. Great numbers  on it too every thing depends on parts and set up just like a car the parts and set up is the key if you have one bottle neck in the setup your just kicking yourself in the head so good matched parts, setup and software makes all the differance to a quality build and I got a couple in mine including the lack of a SSD which I definatly am looking forward to getting. By the way in re: to the size of your SSD drive Im sure its for the OP system and drivers how do you set up the large drive is it split into partitions or is at a single drive setup at its full volume! If I were to obtain a drive of that size of course due to cost just curious how you store any other software programs on the other drive. Great Job hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!!!

 

 

 

 

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Nov 26 2010 11:16 AM

Great vid Marco - It really showed me what I should try to do with my cables next time.

One thing I was surprised about is that you installed the CPU, cooler and mem before installing the MB.  Is that what most of you other guys do too?  I've never done that... probably because I've owned several weird cases with limited space where it's really hard to connect 5 1/4" drives  or other components without first removing the memory from the MB.  So, I've always just installed the MB first, then the CPU & Cooler, and save the memory for the last step.

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realneil replied on Fri, Nov 26 2010 11:29 AM

3vi1:
you installed the CPU, cooler and mem before installing the MB.  Is that what most of you other guys do too? 

Yes, I find that it's easier to support the Mainboard on a flat surface beforehand to plug in the RAM. The ability to move the board around and have it right in front of me during CPU and Cooler installation works for me too.

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Berseth replied on Fri, Nov 26 2010 1:16 PM

The cable work is very good :) my comp is just a mess when it comes to cables xDDD. a year ago i bought the cabinet haf 922, and i kinda regret because its not so bug as i hoped, but the air flow is very good. my main problem with my pc now is my cpu :( it got overheated and now its lagging a bit... before it got overheated it scored 7.4 at windows rating, but after overheating it only scores 6.2 so my cpu sucks. i hope i win the new computer at the contest :) unless my new noctua fan (cooler) helps my cpu :)

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realneil:

Yes, I find that it's easier to support the Mainboard on a flat surface beforehand to plug in the RAM. The ability to move the board around and have it right in front of me during CPU and Cooler installation works for me too.

 I agree it makes it easier also when you have it on a flat surface outside the case you get a better view of how you cooler and cpu are seated as well as the memory. Once I do that then I basically use the cooler as a handle to guide the MB into the case. Works out real well for me! Depending on the case its to cumbersome to install the cpu and cooler after also you put a lot of downward force on it while its sitting on the stanoffs which makes me nervous possibility of cracking the MB.

 

 

 

 

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Nov 27 2010 11:02 AM

amdcrankitup:
Once I do that then I basically use the cooler as a handle to guide the MB into the case.

That's the kind of thing I try to avoid with my approach.  I tend to treat hardware way more delicately than I need to - probably because I don't build but once every couple of years.  I guess that's why I'm a software guy instead.  :)

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realneil replied on Sat, Nov 27 2010 11:30 AM

3vi1:
That's the kind of thing I try to avoid

I admit it, I do the same thing too, but have never suffered any bad results from doing so.

Of course I don't grasp it with the intention to flex and twist the board in different directions, but more to steady it while I'm lowering it into the case to screw it down. (probably what amdcrankitup is doing too)

As long as I'm gentle, it works for me.

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rapid1 replied on Sat, Nov 27 2010 12:35 PM

It is actually kind of funny considering how long I have been building my own systems. Either way I always attempt to be as careful as possible with things, especially the motherboard, that has kind of died off somewhat in the last few years. I am not rough in any way with things I just realized that I could be a little more forceful (mainly when putting on CPU's and coolers.

Speaking of which I think it is about time to redo my current cooling, layout on my current computer, and also on Sarah's. I may actually op for a contained liquid cooling set up though. From what I have seen they are very efficient as well as very easy to install. That's not to mention the AM3 965, and i7 tend to run a little warm (the AM3 runs the warmest).

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FreeJet replied on Sun, Nov 28 2010 8:45 AM

...

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Inspector replied on Sun, Nov 28 2010 2:51 PM

Next build??? U just won this build, why not just add on to it with the water cooling?

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realneil replied on Sun, Nov 28 2010 3:30 PM

FreeJet:
I am now leaning toward an all-in-one water-cooler like the Corsair H70 for my next build.

I like the Corsair H50 that I have, as well as the Asetek LCLC (low cost liquid cooler) in the i7-870.  (they are both made by Asetek) They do take up less real estate on the board, and they work as good or better than Air solutions do.

Exiting hot air out of the top of the case works the best,.....because you're taking advantage of Thermal Physics Properties. (hot air naturally rises)

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Marco C replied on Mon, Nov 29 2010 11:02 AM

@FreeJet - The cooler does hang over the RAM, but there is still plenty of clearance. If the system had taller modules, that would not be the case though.

As for the orientation of the CPU cooler, I find it is always best to use physics to your advantage. Heat rises, so pointint the CPU cooler fan upwards just makes sense. With that said, this particular cooler can not be oriented another way. And another thing to consider is VRM cooling. The VRM on most motherboards depend on residual air-flow from the CPU cooler to stay cool. If there isn't adequate case cooling, that should be factored into the decision to orient the CPU cooler a certain way.

Finally, the Phenom II X4 970 BE runs so cool with this big air cooler on it, that you probably won't want to touch it. You could spend some money on a nice water cooler and may only gain a few degrees. The only things I'd add to this rig are two of the quietest fans you can find that will fit in the side-panel and top-panel mounts. Even then, this system uses so little power and runs so cool as is, you may not want to touch it. Going to ship tomorrow BTW. Didn't want it getting bounced around on a truck through the long holiday weekend.

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FreeJet replied on Mon, Nov 29 2010 12:16 PM

...

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realneil replied on Mon, Nov 29 2010 12:58 PM

FreeJet:
By the way, I once witnessed our friendly, neighborhood UPS "lady" practically drop-kick a monitor box off the back of her truck in the pouring rain.

Send it to my house, my UPS guy walks with pillows strapped to his feet. Smile

I'll test it for you,........................

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rising_52 replied on Mon, Nov 29 2010 3:04 PM

Smile.....HARDWAREMONSTER!!....Big Smile

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nemanja23 replied on Tue, Nov 30 2010 11:20 PM

itas and amazing build!!!!!! i have been saving up money for a long time.... stilll dont have enough to build my own rig!!!! hopefully next year i might do it

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realneil:
Of course I don't grasp it with the intention to flex and twist the board in different directions, but more to steady it while I'm lowering it into the case to screw it down. (probably what amdcrankitup is doing too)

Yeah its more to steady it and guide it.So far no ill effects on any I,ve done.I guess if anything it does do it test the strength of the clips holding the cooler to the board and LOL . Im glad they all have held especially when you have a massive cooler attached, who knew thats a reveiw in itself. I always think when I go to install a large air cooler to these boards just the shear weight is enough to break them off but all have held up so far!!

 

 

 

 

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GOOD luckk!! =) pray for me that i to can make a RIG! :P

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Well, I finally watched this video and I'd say it was pretty good.  I wish you guys made more tutorials and stuck them to the forums.  I think that would be a valuable asset to new subscribers.  Great job and hope to see more videos!

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Great video! 

"Pie can’t compete with cake. Put candles in a cake, it’s a birthday cake. Put candles in a pie, and somebody’s drunk in the kitchen." -- Jim Gaffigan

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karmafire replied on Sun, Dec 12 2010 7:07 PM

Don't tell Nellie but uh... she looks like a Brutus.

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