Isn’t it great when you plan for something for over a week, then on the day of, you have so much trouble all of the excitement and anticipation is nulled out by depression and heart-ache? Well, it wasn’t quite that bad for me on Saturday, but I did feel very tired when I was finally getting everything squared away at 2:30 am, (technically Sunday morning) trying to fend of Murphy and his laws. With this blog post, I essentially want to post images and a few notes about building ones own computer, and some specific problems I had with the hardware I purchased to assemble.

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For my build I decided to go with the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P Motherboard which supports up to a beefy 24GB of RAM. However, since my previous computer only has 2GB, I decided that I could go the “cheap” route and only buy 12GB of OCZ RAM to use all six slots on the motherboard to utilize the tri-channel technology, and to save a little money buy having more RAM sticks with less ram on each chip.

One of my goals with this new build was to have a quieter computer than my last. I don’t have specific DB measurements for you, but my old computer sounded like the hum of a commercial airplane while running at all times. I decided to spend a little more money on a Noctua NH-U12P CPU cooler. I was very worried that this heat sink would be too big for most any case that I chose. However, it fit quite nicely in my Antec P183 case.

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A couple quick notes about installing this CPU cooler:

  1. You’ll need to install a back plate behind the motherboard. The plate will have four prongs that will stick up through the holes normally designed for the Intel standard heat sink to fit into. Instead, this heat sink uses the back plate, and then mounts to these points from the top side of the motherboard.                                                                        HeatSinkMountPegs
  2. The instruction pictures are a bit misleading at one point. I improperly installed the heat sink the first time as did a couple other Newegg reviewers. The side braces need to be mounted on top of the base of the heat sink, not on the very bottom. The screws screw in from the bottom, but the braces should be mounted on the top. Here is a photo that better explains what I mean: 
    NewComputer 019
  3. Finally, I had a heck of a time messing around with the steel fan clips that come with the heat sink. I think I got them installed right in the end, at least, this “felt” the most correct. They looked like this once I was finished:  NewComputer 016
<p>Kudos to the Antec case, I think I had a full 1/2 inch of space between the top of the heat sink and the side of the case! Note: while I have the heat sink oriented such that the fan is pointing to the back of the case, one could re-arrange it so that it points up to the top of the case. (e.g. the P183 case has a fan and opening at the top as well, for added ventilation)</p>  <p>Fast forward a few relatively uneventful hours of installing the power supply, video card and hard drives (as well as much non-computer building time in-between) and I have a full built computer: (sorry for the camera flash, the evil day star was taking a nap for this photo)</p>  <p>&#160;<a href="img/NewComputer%20020.jpg"><img style="border-right-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px" title="NewComputer 020" border="0" alt="NewComputer 020" src="/img/NewComputer%20020_thumb.jpg" width="402" height="302" /></a></p>  <p>(Ick, what a mess of cables, one of these times I need to get better at cable management)</p>      <p>Note the space in the middle of the case on the right. This is normally where the main hard drive enclosure would sit. Since my <a href="" target="_blank">XFX GX260NADFF video card</a> was so long, I was unable to mount any hard drives here. It was a real shame too, as my main hard drive is still a PATA disc using an IDE cable. That was one of the few components I didn’t upgrade with this build. (my DVD ROM being the other component not upgraded) Another unfortunate problem caused by having such a long video card, is that four of my SATA ports are under the end of the video card, making them very difficult to get to. Right now it isn’t an issue for me since I only have a single drive in this machine. But if (more like when) I upgrade my PATA drive to a SATA drive, I’ll need to dig around in my mess of cables to find the SATA port to plug into. </p>  <p>Here are a couple nice features of the case that I think deserve a highlight:</p>  <ol>   <li>Behind the motherboard mount is a place for cables to be attached via included wire ties. I stored some unused power supply cables here.      <br /><a href="img/NewComputer%20024.jpg"><img style="border-right-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px" title="NewComputer 024" border="0" alt="NewComputer 024" src="/img/NewComputer%20024_thumb.jpg" width="244" height="184" /></a> </li>    <li>The front of the case has a door. This can also be a negative if one uses his optical drives frequently. Since I rarely use mine at all, it shouldn’t be a huge deal for me to keep it closed. It may become a pain for me to open it for the sole purpose of turning on the computer, as the power switch is inside the door. As I’ve only owned the computer for less than a weekend, I am at present unqualified to give an educated answer.      <br /><a href="img/NewComputer%20026.jpg"><img style="border-right-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px" title="NewComputer 026" border="0" alt="NewComputer 026" src="/img/NewComputer%20026_thumb.jpg" width="184" height="244" /></a> <a href="img/NewComputer%20027.jpg"><img style="border-right-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px" title="NewComputer 027" border="0" alt="NewComputer 027" src="/img/NewComputer%20027_thumb.jpg" width="184" height="244" /></a>       <br />I mentioned earlier that the main hard drive enclosure wouldn't fit where it was designed to, and since my main hard drive is a PATA, I needed it to be relatively close to my DVD drive. (so that they can share the same PATA cable) So, I made the painful decision to open up another 5.25 inch slot, and put a drive expander on my 3.5 inch hard drive and mount it just above my DVD ROM drive. This was an acceptable sacrifice of aesthetic since the front of the case can be closed via the door. </li> </ol>  <p>Finally, here’s a view of the back of the computer:</p>  <p><a href="img/NewComputer%20025.jpg"><img style="border-right-width: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px" title="NewComputer 025" border="0" alt="NewComputer 025" src="/img/NewComputer%20025_thumb.jpg" width="251" height="333" /></a> </p>    <p><strong>FINAL /RANDOM THOUGHTS:</strong></p>  <ul>   <li>I was disappointed in the 5.25 inch drive mounting rails. They seemed to not hold in the DVD ROM very tightly. The drive kept slipping out of its mount while I was plugging in the power.</li>    <li>The Noctua heat sink was big, but fit surprisingly well into the case. I did have several issues getting it installed correctly, but the heat sink / CPU fan are generally the trickiest parts of the CPU building experience for me.</li>    <li>The XFX GTX 260 video card is WAY too big. It takes up two expansion slots on the back of the pc, blocks 4 SATA ports on the motherboard, and prevents me from installing the main hard drive tray. Hopefully it’ll be worth it once I play some games with this new card.</li>    <li>The new heat sink / cpu fan, combined with this case makes the system much quieter than the old combination. I’ve not done temperature tests yet to ensure that the system is staying cool, but I can manually increase the fan speeds if the temperatures get too hot.</li> </ul>  <p><strong>OLD SYSTEM SPECS:</strong></p>  <ul>   <li>3 GHZ Intel Pentium 4</li>    <li>2 GB RAM</li>    <li>NVidia 7600 GT 512 MB video graphics card</li>    <li>1 160 GB PATA Hard drive (system drive)</li>    <li>1 1TB SATA hard drive (data drive)</li> </ul>  <p><strong>NEW SYSTEM SPECS:</strong></p>  <ul>   <li>2.66 Intel Core i7 (Quad Core)</li>    <li>12 GB RAM</li>    <li>Nvidia GTX 260 856 MB video card</li>    <li>1 - 160 GB PATA hard drive (system drive)</li>    <li>1 - 1 TB SATA hard drive (data drive)</li>    <li></li> </ul>