This guide aims to provide a step by step approach to building a PC as well as provide useful information about part selection.
A lot of potential builders shy away from building for fear of buying incompatible parts. The following 4 things is all you need to know, to eliminate those fears:
1) The mother board must have the proper socket for the processor you buy. In this case it is an Intel 1366
2) The motherboard form factor and the case form factor must be compatible. In this case, both are ATX.
3) The RAM type must match that of the motherboard. In this case DDR3.
4) The number of SATA ports on the motherboard, must be plentiful enough for the number of drives you intend on using.
That's it! Happy Building : )
The featured build has the following components:
CPU: Intel Core i7 950 - Very good bang for your buck processor. Can handle an overclock to 4.0GHz with proper cooling.
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UDR3 (ATX) - Features 3 way SLI/Crossfire, USB 3.0, and Sata 3, X58 chipset.
Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T (ATX) - Comes with 2 - 200mm fans, and 1 - 120mm fan. Excellent cable management.
Power Supply: Corsair TX750W - Industry stalwart. Lots of power and reliability for the price. Non-modular, so it increases cable management complexity.
RAM: OCZ OCZ3OB1600LV6GK (6GB Triple Channel) - X58 chipset features a triple channel memory controller. For this reason I recommend 3 x 2GB modules at this point. You can add another 6GB down the road. Clocked at 1600Mhz.
Boot Disk: OCZ Vertex 2 SSD - 120GB - Incase you haven't heard yet, SSDs are the single best upgrade for speed and responsiveness, that you can make. Large capacity for Windows OS and programs. Boot speed and program installation speed have never been better!
Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 6870 - Great upper end card. Can easily add a second for two-way crossfire down the road. Crossfire scaling has greatly improved over the years, and with the Radeon 6xxx series, scaling is almost a perfect 1-1.
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB (3) - Cheap drives, lots of space, reliable. Used to house multimedia collection.
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST 24X DVD-RW - Have no use for a Blu-ray drive, so I opted for a standard DVD-RW.
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (OEM) - Best bang for your buck. Ultimate version is not necessary, as it doesn't have anything important for most users: Compare here.
Monitor: Asus VE276Q 27" LCD - Very good value and viewing space. I would have opted for dual 24" here however.
Now that we have chosen our parts and explained why, it's time to start building.
Step 1: Prepare the Case: At this point I like to lay down some cardboard (to protect the case and table surface from being scratched). It's now time to place the case, with the left side panel facing up, onto the table. Remove the side panel.
I would like to draw your attention to the plethora of rubber grommets provided in the case for easy cable management.
Step 2: Install the Motherboard: Firstly, you'll need to screw in the brass standoffs that keep the motherboard from touching the case. These are usually included in the motherboard box. Make sure to only install the necessary standoffs (usually indicated in case manual).
After the standoffs have been tightened down, it is time to install the backpane. A lot of first time builders miss this step. You cannot install the backpane after installing the motherboard. So don't do it!
Now it is time to place the motherboard into your case. Be careful to hold the board by it's edges only. Place it down onto the standoffs. Now penetrate the backpane. Once you are happy with the alignment, begin screwing the board into place.
Step 3: Install the CPU: Carefully remove the cpu from the box and install into the motherboard according to the instructions that Intel has provided. Next install the heatsink fan and plug in the power lead to the motherboard.
Be sure that the power lead is not interferring with any fins on the fan.
Step 4: Install the RAM: Push back the locking tabs at each each of the RAM sockets. Carefully insert the RAM modules into the sockets (be sure to align the notches). The locking tabs should snap into place.
Step 5: Install Hard Drives and Optical Drive: Using the provided brackets, install all hard drives into the hard drive bay at the bottom right of the case.
OCZ SDD with brackets applied (Make sure the power and data connections will be on the back side of the case).
WD storage drives with brackets applied (Make sure the power and data connections will be on the back side of the case).
Slide all the drives into place.
Remove a faceplate and slide the optical drive into place. Secure with the push of the button using the hardware on the side of the optical drive cage.
Step 6: Install the Power Supply (PSU): Insert the power supply into the bottom left of the case. Secure the power supply to the case using the provided screws. Make sure the power supply fan is exhausting out the bottom of the case.
Step 7: Power up the Motherboard: Find the both the 6 pin and 24 pin motherboard power connectors. Route them through to the backside of the case using the case gromets. Route the 6 pin wire to the top left of the case and insert back into the case using the gromet. Route the 24 pin wire to the right middle side of the case and insert usign the gromet there.
Step 8: Apply Power Connections to the Drives: Route a couple sata power cables to the back on the case and apply to all hard drives as well as the optical drive.
Step 9: Install the Video Card: Remove the slot cover from the back of the case that aligns with the PCI-Express of choice. Move the PCI-Express security latch to the open position. Gently push the card into the slot. The security tab should snap into place. Apply the 2 PCI-Express power connections as well.
Step 10: Connect the SATA cable to SSD and Optical Drive: Do not connect the storage drives to prevent Windows from installing a portion of the boot information to the storage drives. Connec the SSD to the lowest SATA channel (usually SATA0).
Step 11: Connect Case LEDs: Connect case leds to the motherboard.
Step 12: Put the Sides Back on the Case: At this point you should apply all the case badges that came with your hardware.
Step 13: Power up the Computer: Make sure you hear a POST "beep" if you have connected the PC speaker.
Step 14: BIOS Config: Press delete on boot to enter the BIOS.Since you are using a SSD drive, you must enusure that SATA0 is configured for AHCI. With respect to RAM timings and voltage, simply load an intel XMP profile for the RAM.
Step 15: Install Operating System: Put Windows install disc into optical drive.
Step 16: Enable Storage Drives: Since the storage drives were not formatted during installation, you will need to go to disk management to initialize them (right click "Computer" and click manage, then disk management). You will be prompted to format and assign drive letters to each storage drive.
Step 17: Check Stability and Benchmark: Download Prime95 and run the Blend test. Let this test run for several hours to ensure that everything is fine. Make sure your CPU fan is running! Download Cinebench R11.5 to perform a quick CPU and GPU test.
This system should score CPU = 550 right out of the box.