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Build a perfect PC

Build a perfect PC

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Published by: Alan D Cobourne-Smith on Sep 05, 2008
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04/14/2011

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Build a perfect PC
Step 1: Preparing the case
It's important to get to know your case, since an appreciation of theterrain can make the coming campaign much easier. Remove both sidepanels and any other parts of the case that might get in the way. If your case has a removable motherboard tray, slide it out of the frame. Weused a Cooler Master Stacker 830, which is quite a pricey case but, asit's large, it's easy to work with.The Stacker ships with a plastic grid behind its right-hand side panel for mounting fans, which we removedbefore starting work. We also took out the back fan mount and the backplate retention module (the bracket intowhich you screw PCI/PCI-E cards) to enable easier access to the motherboard tray.It was then time to fit the motherboard standoffs. These come with the chassis, and prevent the motherboardtouching the metal case, thus short-circuiting when it's powered up. Some thoughtful case manufacturers willindicate which holes in the motherboard tray need a standoff, but most don't. To find out, carefully position themotherboard in the case, and you'll see that the pre-drilled holes in the PCB match up with nine holes in thechassis; these are the holes that need standoffs. Put the standoffs in tightly - if you need to remove themotherboard later, you don't want them to come out when you try to unscrew the board. Tighten with pliers if necessaryAs you can see from the picture, we've also cable-tied the leads that come from the case's top USB ports andwhat's called the 'front panel', which means the power and hard disk lights, plus the power and reset switches.
 
Step 2: It's a wrap
During the initial inspection of the Stacker, we noticed that it features a removable hard disk caddy (picture 1),which also contains the front fan. Removing both this and the rear fan mount (picture 2) meant that we couldeasily cover the cables for both fans in spiral wrap. Not only does this keep the wires together, but the plasticcovering also makes it easier to shape the cables neatly inside the case.Having removed the hard disk caddy, we took the opportunity to install our two 500GB Hitachi Deskstar T7K500hard disks. When installing multiple disks, leave an empty bay between them, as this will ensure optimumairflow. Coarse-threaded screws should be used to fix the disks in place; a good tight fit with the screws willminimise the amount of vibration coming from the disks. After this, set the module aside.
Step 3: Prepare to power up
 
The first component to install in the case is the PSU. Almost every other piece of kit in your PC needs power from this, and the PSU also creates the biggest mess, so installing this first makes it easier to manage. Weused a 750W Enermax Infiniti, which is a modular PSU. These are much easier to work with than PSUs withhard-soldered cables, as you can minimise the number of cables inside the case.Out of the box, the Infiniti only has the wires to power the motherboard fitted - the 24-pin ATX 12V wire, and the8-pin EPS 12V cable (picture 1). On the Infiniti, this latter cable splits in two, since some motherboards onlyneed a 4-pin ATX 12V power connection. For the other components, we need to add extra wires to the Infiniti.We're using two S-ATA hard disks, a single optical drive and we'll be running two graphics cards in SLI, so we'llneed two S-ATA power connectors (flat, usually black), one Molex (flat, 4-pin, usually white), and two PCI-Eplugs (square, 6-pin). Once you've added the wires to the PSU, cover them in spiral wrap (picture 2).It's then time to install the PSU. In order to access the case, you'll probably have to remove a retention platefrom the back panel. Slide in the PSU, and screw the plateback into place, so that the PSU is securely held(picture 3). If you aren't using a modular PSU, you'll have lots of spare wires left. To prevent them fromcluttering up the case, wrap them tightly with cable ties and store them around or above the PSU if there'sroom; otherwise, keep them in the roof of the chassis so they're out of the way.12

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