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36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Feel free to use this thread to ask questions about building PCs, and also to add to this thread.
There are several people on this forum that are well versed in PC tech.

Starting out, choosing your parts:

Power Supply
Heatsink (either stock or aftermarket)
Hard Drive
Operating System

Video Card (If your motherboard/CPU doesn't do video on its own, a video card becomes necessary)
Optical Drive
Solid State Drive
Memory Card Reader
Thermal Paste

How I start out picking out parts for a new computer is by first choosing the CPU processor family. Everything else gets built around that.

Typically I will start out at Newegg here, and choosing between AMD and Intel on the left hand side:

Then narrow the results by choosing the CPU socket type on the left hand side of the screen.
The number in parenthesis next to the socket type is the number of motherboards they carry with that particular socket type. The higher the number, the more choices you have, and typically that will be what the current technology is. In this particular case, LGA 1155 socket yields the most choices at the time of writing.

So now that we have the socket type figured out, a little research is warranted. Under where it says "Core" you will find "Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge" (At the time of this writing). Sandy Bridge is a newer revision of Ivy Bridge, so that is what I will be going with for this write up. I chose the i7-3770K. K processors are unlocked, meaning that they can be overclocked. However overclocking methods are beyond the scope of this writeup.

Processor selection is a constantly moving target, so that makes it the hardest to choose which one to get.

With that out of the way, the next step would be to choose a motherboard that works with the chosen processor. Since I chose an LGA 1155 socket CPU, I take a look at the motherboards at Newegg that support this CPU.


Again, by looking at the CPU socket type, you will see that LGA 1155 bears the most choices, a good sign.

From here, I sort according to the most number of reviews. I think this gives a better representation of the review rating rather than simply sorting to highest rated (might be a skewed rating by not having many reviews). Then I make sure that the motherboards under consideration support current technology such as: PCI Express 3.0 (important for video cards), SATA 3 (6Gb/sec), USB 3.0 (6Gb/sec), and DDR 3 (1600 or better). My personal preference for Asus motherboards.

Another tool I like to use when picking out the CPU, Motherboard, and Video Card is the Virtual PC builder at:

Down at the lower left, click on the Virtual PC icon and select the parts under consideration.

Lets you get an idea of the performance of the selected items as a combination, and gives you an idea if your money would best be used to upgrade the CPU vs Video Card for example.

There are several Power supply calculators out there to help you determine how many watts you will need. I recommend 500W as a bare minimum, and 750W on up depending on graphics card(s) used.

Newegg has one here, mind you the wattage they give is a minimum wattage...
better to have too much than not enough. I don't mind spending extra on the power supply as they will typically last though several PC upgrades and rebuilds. So plan accordingly.

Now the hard part is over.

Pick out some memory (DDR3 1600+). Corsair, Crucial, Kingston, Mushkin etc are good brands.

Pick out your SATA 3 hard drive, Western Digital, Seagate both are good brands.

Case choice is personal preference. Brands I like are Antec on the economical side, Corsair on the higher end. Again, I don't mind spending extra here as the case will last though several rebuilds. Look for USB 3.0 ports on the front panel for convenience.

With the necessary components covered, we're ready to start the assembly.

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
(Click on photos for larger version)

Parts gathered up, except CPU and video card (on order).

Tools needed:
(If you can turn a screw driver, you can build a PC)

Nice to have, but not required:
Zip-Tie gun. Tightens the zip ties and cuts the ends off at the same time.
Also works great for motorcycle/car/trailer wiring jobs! :thumb

Remove the drive bay covers from the front of the case for each optical drive you will be using,
and another for the card reader if used.

Install the power supply. The PSU can be installed 2 ways,
so you need to decide if the intake fan will draw air in from the bottom (if case allows)
or draw air from inside the case and exhaust it out the back.
This PSU is modular, and can remove and attach the power cables as necessary.

Power supplies can create a lot of heat, so I decided to isolate it from the rest of the PC and have it draw cooler air from the outside.

This case utilizes tool less mounting for the hard drives, a cage is snapped into place around the hard drive:
(Otherwise, the hard drives are fastened in the case with screws)

Then the assembly is slid into it's place in the case:

SSDs usually come with an adapter that allows it to be installed into a normal 3.5" hard drive bay.

But with the tool less cage, the adapter is not necessary,
just screw the SSD into the cage and slide it into it's place like the traditional hard drive.

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Motherboard Prep:

It's a good idea to set the motherboard on the anti-static bag that they come in while prepping the motherboard for installation into the chassis.

Check your motherboard manual to see which slots to use if not filling all the memory slots. This one said to use slots 2 and 4 when using only 2 sticks of memory.

After that, I installed the included motherboard fans and prepared to install the CPU. There are 2 nubs on the CPU socket in the upper left and upper right that line up with notches in the CPU itself. Also note that the lower left corner of the socket, the corner is beveled off. This lines up with a triangle printed on the CPU.

Once the CPU is lined up and installed, the retaining mechanism is closed and latched down. Also shown is the stock Intel heatsink. Installation is very easy and thermal compound is pre-applied. You just line up the push pins with the holes and press down on them until they click. But I will be using an aftermarket cooling system.

Most aftermarket cooling systems will have some sort of support bracket that gets installed on the back side of the motherboard.

Once the support bracket is installed, some will have standoffs to install.

Next up, install the RF shield in the back of the case. These come with the motherboard, and are press fit from the inside of the case.

With the RF shield in place, the motherboard can then be installed. Check to make sure the stand offs are installed in the case. These prevent the motherboard from shorting out if it were to be screwed directly to the case. Typically you will have 9 standoffs. Make sure these line up with the holes in the motherboard and that you don't have any extra standoffs installed in the case.

Also check the alignment of the back panel connections to the RF shield. Then use the motherboard screws that came with your case to fasten down the motherboard.

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I decided to go with Corsair's self contained liquid cooling system to cool the CPU. Cooling manufacturers have really made installing a liquid cooling system neat and easy in the last few years!

View from the top of the case. Looks like a Jagg radiator to me!

With the cooling system in place, I used denatured alcohol to remove the factory applied thermal compound. I used Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound, Arctic Silver AS-5 is another good compound by which all others are compared. Either of which is better than the factory applied stuff.

An amount about the size of a pea or 2 grains of rice is sufficient. I laid the compound out in a line because the actual CPU in this particular case is rectangular in shape running vertically underneath that metal cover.

It is best to let the cooling system spread out the compound as this will also prevent airbubbles from being trapped as it would if the compound were to be spread out before hand.

Next it is time to cable up the system. Do the bulky powercables first, there will be two of them. The big 24 pin connecter in the middle right side of the motherboard, and the 8 pin CPU connector usually in the upper left of the motherboard.

Then run the chassis connectors: power button, power LED, chassis & CPU fans, and external USB and audio connectors etc. Consult your motherboard manual for the location of the connection points on the motherboard.

Then finally run your power and data cables for your hard drives and optical drives.

Also, some video cards require external power. I like to run those last as you want to make it easy to change out video cards if you ever choose to upgrade at a later date. You never know where the power connectors will be on the new video card. Not shown here as I haven't yet purchased my video card.

Run all of your cabling thru to the back of the case if your case allows. It makes for a neater looking system and you don't have a bunch of cables blocking air flow through the chassis.

Otherwise you will have to figure out a way to deal with all of this inside the chassis. :nah
Better to hide the cables, throw the side cover over it and fahghettaboutit.

This is where the zip-tie gun comes in handy, although I don't like to zip tie the data cables and drive power cables. It may hinder you in the future if you decide to add or remove drives.

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Next up: 1st boot/BIOS setup and OS install.

The first time you power up your new PC, you will be met with a screen similar to the following.
Take a look at the BIOS revision number, and compare that to what is the newest available on the manufacturer's website (if you have a second PC to take a look).
If there is a newer version, go ahead and flash that before getting to far into setting up the other stuff. Better to do it now, than later in my opinion.

Also make sure that your hard drives and optical drives are recognized by the BIOS.

If you are going to combine multiple drives into a RAID, do that now as well. I had to press the CTRL and I buttons in order to get into the RAID setup menu, your motherboard manual will give particular details.

Then, once you've confirmed your hard drive configuration and BIOS settings by either accepting the default settings or making changes as required, time to install your OS.

Grab a pizza and your favorite drink of choice cause there's not much for you to do for this next part but let the computer do its thing.....

OS installation is pretty straightforward, even Linux installations are pretty much an automated thing anymore.

Then once the operating system install is completed, there will be a CD of drivers particular to your motherboard. Install those and confirm that you do not have any yellow exclamation marks in the device manager. If you do, that means there's something with no driver loaded for that device.

Then, as a test, there's 2 programs I like to use to test the effectiveness of the cooling system/thermal compound.

Core Temp and Intel Burn Test.

Core Temp I actually leave installed during the life of the PC and set it to run every time the PC is turned on.

It shows the temperature and speed of the CPU in a little widget in the notification area.

Then Intel Burn Test (also works for AMD CPUs), this uses the same stress test that Intel uses to validate their CPUs. If your PC does not lock up when using this program on the higher settings, you are golden. :thumb

Here mine is showing a max temperature of 69°C during a 2 hour run of Intel Burn Test at max settings with the cooling fans running at a leisurely 750 RPM.

The Tj Max temperature is the temperature at which the CPU goes into thermal protection mode.

My laptop by comparison runs at 50°C at idle! :yikes

Parts used for this build:

Case - Corsair 500R
Motherboard - ASUS Z77 Sabertooth
CPU - Intel 3770K
CPU Cooler - Corsair H100i Liquid Cooling
Memory - 2 x 8GB CORSAIR Vengeance SDRAM DDR3 1866
Power Supply - CORSAIR AX860i
Hard Drive - Western Digital 1TB Black
Solid State Drive - 2 x Kingston 120 GB in RAID 0 Boot Drive
Optical Drive - ASUS BW-12B1ST Blu-Ray Burner
Optical Drive2 - Plextor PX-755SA DVD Burner
Card Reader - AFT Xm-4U
Operating System - Windows 7 Pro

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Parts for a sub $1k PC:

$60 Antec 300 case
$140 ASUS Z87-A motherboard
$70 Corsair CX600M 600W Modular Power supply
$240 Intel i5 4670K CPU
$87 Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600 Memory
$105 Western Digital Black 1TB Hard Drive
$20 ASUS 24X SATA DVD Burner
$100 MS Win7 Home Premium
$822 Total

Mod Extraordinaire
1,980 Posts
I built my own with the following:

ASUS Sabertooth X58 MB
Six-core i7 970
24GB DDR3 1600
2x 1TB Seagate 7200RPM (Don't recall the model; RAID 0 for performance)
RADEON 5770 (Likely changing to a newer NVIDIA)
750W P/S

All for running VMWare - and it works very well for that.

Addicted Since 2010
7,845 Posts
Great write up. Could I add showing an install of xp for the hell of it? Just in case someone wanted it. I don't want to step on your thread though so if you think it makes more sense in another one.....


Here is a link to a CPU and graphics card benchmark site. It is basically a dyno for cuter parts. It can give you a rough idea of what could is better and what gpu's are better. Benchmarks aren't the end all, but it allows you to compare an AMD and Intel processor much more easily.

AMD uses very different techniques to making power they use 8 cores where Intel uses 4 yet they are the same speed. Point is, you can't just look at that. You need a benchmark to give you.... A benchmark.

As a general rule, AMD processors run a little hotter than Intel too so if you have a confined area or a hot environment... Get an Intel even though it costs more!

Just my thoughts but mostly just widely accepted facts. My personal opinion really isn't reflected in that.

Kainam if you feel this isn't relevant enough for your thread then you can delete it or ask me to. Its a good thread and I just wanted to try to add to it.

Happy building!

Ps I just wish you used arctic 5!

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
By all means, go ahead and add the XP install.... Thats what this thread is for.

ps I agree that AS-5 is the standard by which all others are compared and have been around a very long time! I just read some reviews on the Noctua NT-H1 that showed it performing slightly better than AS-5.

Retired citizen
22,057 Posts
Interesting build !
Anybody remember the "Computer Shopper" magazine / catalog ? Used to be a go to for the latest computer tech info, parts and supplies. Was always the biggest book on the magazine rack !

650 Posts
Interesting build !
Anybody remember the "Computer Shopper" magazine / catalog ? Used to be a go to for the latest computer tech info, parts and supplies. Was always the biggest book on the magazine rack !
Yep sure do.

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Interesting build !
Anybody remember the "Computer Shopper" magazine / catalog ? Used to be a go to for the latest computer tech info, parts and supplies. Was always the biggest book on the magazine rack !
Yep, used that to research my first PC I ever bought. A full tower Zeos, prior to Micron buying them out....

7,358 Posts
Nice write up!

I have to get my ass in gear, the Ol'ladys Vista system was acting up several months ago, I tracked it down to some problems with the share privileges on the OS getting compromised, I recently fixed it so that all apps are running correctly now.

BUT the system has been UP 24/7 for 8 years now, it's about time I give her an upgrade, I hate all the bloatware that comes with most retail systems!

I have built and rebuilt older systems over the years, with your selection guidance and NEW EGG web site tools this should be a piece of cake.!!

1,276 Posts
I would like to offer any help in this area as well. I've been building my own since the early 90s. And yes, AS-5 is great.

Would like to add though that I use AMD processors because you can get great performance for less cost. Sure Intel has faster chips but you will pay for that. I've been using the same AMD 970 quad for a couple of years now and it handles anything I throw at it. Been playing Skyrim with the HD upgrades with no problems at 1920x1080. I need an upgrade on my GPU though and may just throw in an upgrade on the CPU as well just for giggles. If you want the best go for Intel, if you want a CPU that will do the job for less go for AMD. It's all personal preference and I really don't have anything against Intel.

Addicted Since 2010
7,845 Posts
I would like to offer any help in this area as well. I've been building my own since the early 90s. And yes, AS-5 is great.

Would like to add though that I use AMD processors because you can get great performance for less cost. Sure Intel has faster chips but you will pay for that. I've been using the same AMD 970 quad for a couple of years now and it handles anything I throw at it. Been playing Skyrim with the HD upgrades with no problems at 1920x1080. I need an upgrade on my GPU though and may just throw in an upgrade on the CPU as well just for giggles. If you want the best go for Intel, if you want a CPU that will do the job for less go for AMD. It's all personal preference and I really don't have anything against Intel.
I personally agree. Alot of people don't, but I say to get an AMD probably for 8/10 people's needs. It is just cheaper and therefore better for what they need. I was editing a video on an AMD 6 core (forget the model) but it doesn't jt even have a graphics card! It was a monster and with that it would have screamed even more then it already did through the 1080p rendering. Nothing like a good powerful CPU combined with a good gpu. And with AMD you van get that combo pretty cheaply really.

712 Posts
Just looked through this. Have to add one more thing for those that don't mind ordering from more than one source.
But my latest system starting there. Did buy the case locally, which i suggest you do along with monitor, mouse and keyboard. But even though mine is now 2 years old, it will still out run most off the shelf systems. And only cost me about $700.

Sent from Motorcycle.com Free App

Acta Non Verba
2,093 Posts
Nice write up Kainam.

I cheesed out this time and had one built, because of needing a service contract.

But I do have a question,

What is the go to disc clone software.? I plan to put a SSD in the box in the spring and don't wanna hassle with a full reinstall. I've done this with Macs and it's easy. But, I'm not up to speed on the PC side.

36,939 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Sorry Zelrick, Didn't see your question till I came here to move a misplaced post.

Clonezilla Live is a bootable Ubuntu Linux CD that has everything you need to make a bit for bit copy of your hard drive. There are 2 versions actually. A Debian Linux version, and a Ubuntu Linux version. The Ubuntu version uses some non-free software, but has support for some newer hard drives.


Or, if you have a Western Digital drive, you can use Acronis True Image for free, else it is $50 if you don't.


Super Moderator
4,058 Posts
Great info, inspired me to upgrade. Unfortunately most of the computer forums are blocked by my firewall. I have a stock Dell XPS 8300 and I am adding some RAM, EVGA GTX660, and a 256SSD HD. I am betting on my power supply being good enough for now although I do know it is on the low end. I don't need extreme performance just a nice bump.

My question is for the SSD. I don't have the WIN7 Install disc that came with it, but I do have the disc from my laptop. I extracted the WIN7 SERNO from the XPS using freeware so I should be able to use the disc?

Also, I don't want to clone, but I do want to use the 1TB HD as storage. Once I do the fresh install on the SSD can I just connect the original as a second drive or would I have to reformat it first? I just want to connect it, move over the data I want, then format it. I just don't know if having two HDs with an OS installed will be an issue.

I built a few but that was 10 years ago so any other particulars regarding the SSD I might be missing?
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