Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Building a New PC

This post is related to a couple of my recent posts, the New PC Build post that explains the kit I ordered for this build with a little reasoning thrown in for good measure, and the New PC Install Notes post where I dumped a few of my thoughts about the software installation.  However, this post is specifically about the hardware build.

This is what I started out with, a set of shiny new boxes and an old PC which would be gutted back to the case and have only the case reused.

It's a nice Antec case and I couldn't find anything much better around today so didn't see the point in buying another one even if it did mean I had to strip it out before I started.  This is the shot with the case stripped back and all the stuff I used to have in there strewn across the bed I was doing the build on.

I only had 1 case fan in my previous build and decided to upgrade to include 2 fans in this build by including this Antec fan.  It seems to me that a lot of the new cases you buy these days have moved away from the ATX specification for front-to-back airflow as they have all sorts of fans and vents all over the place.  I quite like the idea of front-to-back airflow to give a nice continuous stream of air to the parts inside.

Here's the fan mounted in the front of my old case.  It was supplied with some little rubber grommets for screwless fixing into any case.  However, my case already had the purple clips you can see in this picture in place so I had no need for the grommets and the fan just clipped into place very quickly and easily.

Next up it was the power supply.  Here's the one I chose while still shrink-wrapped.

It turns out this is probably the most over-packaged PSU in the world.  The box is designed to give the wow factor when you open it, the likes of which are usually reserved for high-end consumer products such as a squeezebox, it has a fold-out design in a glossy box to reveal a very neatly packed PSU with all the cables hidden underneath.

The fan fitted pretty quickly and easily as well, the build was going well so far.

One of the things I use my PC for most is for photos.  I decided when putting together a spec for the new machine to include an internal card reader for convenience.  I also wanted to mount a USB 3 socket on the front of the box so this little reader from Akasa seems to fit the bill perfectly.

Here's the card reader after being unpacked and fitted.  It's much like fitting an old floppy drive, being a 3½" device and you simply connect it up to power and in this case the USB 3 motherboard header and it's job done.  I've not included a floppy drive in this build so it also makes the front of the case look less bare.

One of the indulgences of this build, given they're expensive against a traditional hard disk, is the inclusion of an SSD drive.

Here's the content of the box, you get a molex to SATA converter (presumably in case you're fitting it to some ancient power supply) as well as the fixing screws, a SATA cable and conveniently a 2½" to 3½" mounting bracket - which I needed as my case doesn't have any 2½" mounts in it.  You also get the manual and CD but those are still sealed ;-)

This is round the back of the SSD after fitting, inside the case.  You can see it's a pretty simple affair as you'd expect with just a SATA and power connectors on the back.  You can also see how the 2½" to 3½" mounting bracket works from this picture.  The bundle of wires at the top of the picture is coming from the back of the Akasa USB 3 card reader and slot.

There's plenty of better pictures of the Asus P8Z77-V LX board out there, but this is my board fresh out of the box and ready to be fitted into my case.

This is the board in place in my old case.  It was really very easy to fit as I'd removed an old Asus board before fitting this one and all the mounting holes were in exactly the same place.

Here's the new Ivy Bridge 3570K CPU out of the box with some Arcitc Silver 5 thermal compound.  Interestingly the stock cooler doesn't look too bad and is certainly much easier to fit than previous coolers I've worked with.

As I said above, I was pleasantly surprised to see the stock cooler being so easy to fit.  It was (as has been usual for coolers) a screwless installation with the four plastic fasteners secured in place with a simple firm (but not too firm) press towards the motherboard.

Here's the memory in box, ready to be fitted.  As usual for DIMMs it was a pretty undramatic installation process as they slotted in very nicely next to the CPU.  These don't have any huge fins on them for cooling and have a very simple heat sink arrangement making them low profile so I had no worries about overhanging coolers interrupting the fitting of the DIMMs since I would be using all four slots in the above picture.

All in all it was a pretty painless installation process and I've been using the machine for a couple of weeks already without any real issues.