Building a Core2 Duo DIY Vista PC - installing the cpu, cpu fan, memory, hard drive, dvd,and cables



Building a DIY Vista PC - part 2)

Part 1) Computer Building Basics:

Store (Hell) Bound First?

A Masochists tale


Meet the Hardware

The Theory of the Blood Sacrifice

You are Here

Part 2) Building:

Installing the motherboard, Cpu and memory

Installing the Drives

Cable installation
- headers, power and drive connections

Part 3) Installing Vista Home - Basic:

The "Moment of Doh!"

Bios madness

Smoochies to Microsoft

Free stuff

Die Microsoft! Die!!!

DVD Software

Hapnin baby!

Part 4) Is it time to Build a Vista MCE or HTPC?


Time to get to work.

Building the thing.... Lots of pictures - takes time to load...sorry

Installing the motherboard, Cpu and memory

The Case - hmmmm..... Lovely. Big 120mm fan behind the cpu area forquiet, effective cooling. Lots of no-tools drive bays, nice labeled mother board jumpers, plenty of power connectors, lots of space, especially since we are dropping in a micro-ATX motherboard. Looks like plenty of room to put in a full ATX without raising a sweat.

Motherboard - ahh, lovely little creature. Socket 775, one pci express x16 slot for video in black, two tan standard PCI slots, and a PCI express x4 slot in black on the end. Rear slots includeUSB2.0, PS/2 for keyboard/mouse, Parallel port, serial rs232 port, Network 10/100/1000 port, firewire, and 7.1 surround sound audio. Anything else you need?

Installing the CPU

OK, lets carefully install the cpu to the motherboard. You can do this before installing the motherboard as long as you take care not to let static electricity damage anything. Using the bag the motherboard comes in as a motherboard "holder" and touching the metal case occasionally is the best way to go. You can get wrist straps for grounding, but most DIY builders eschew this as "not cool".

The instructions that come with the cpu are excellent, but we'll give you some pictures to make things clearer.

cpu on protective platter

Unlock the cpu latch lock.

Push down, and tothe right to unlock

After unlocking, pull up the socket protective cover, using the tab that says "remove".

Removing the socket cover (plastic thing) opens the cpu metal cover. Yes, you are ready to stick that cpu in the socket!

Remove the protective thingy from the bottom of the cpu. Do NOT touch the bottom! Grasp it by the edges!

Look Ma - no pins! With no pins to get bent, and obvious notches to help you install the thing correctly, this is the easiest intel cpu to install yet! Awesome!

OMG! Too easy. Just line up the notches and drop it in. I believe I could live with this intel socket 775 for the rest of my natural life, and have decided to take it home to meet my parents.

Alright then. Lets close the cover and prepare for the lockdown.

Push the lock down and to the left. Down and to the left, down and to the left.... Woah, JFK flashbacks.... Wow, that was too easy. Kudos to Intel on this whole socket 775 thingy!

CPU Fan Time.

There are plenty of great aftermarket CPU coolers for these things, which are quite quiet. If thiswasa media center PC, or HTPC, we'd definately throw some money into a Zalman cooler or something like that.

This is a pretty nice cooler, overall, with a cool and rather easy mounting scheme.

Line up the locking inserts with the holes in the motherboard.

Simply press down the locking mechanisms from the top, they will click into place, locked down to the motherboard.

Continue to lock down the other locks...

Make sure all locks are completely locked in place.

pull the cpu fan wireout of the holder

Insert the cpu fan connector into the cpu fan connector on the motherboard. Easy, easy, easy! Installing a cpu fan has never been this easy!

Memory Installation

Memory installation has been pretty easy for awhile now, nothing to this really. If you can get though figuring out the memory you need, which is not so simple with all the different types of memory to choose from, installing the memory is easy.

up the notches in the memory with the notches in the memory socket on the motherboard.

Push down in the center

Push down the memory card on both sides until it locks into place. The tabs on the sides will lock in the fully up position. Done.

Installing the Drives

Hard Drive Install

This case comes with easy to install guide rails that do not require tools to install. Just line them up and push down in place. If you put them on backwards, they are just as easy to remove.

Install both side rails

Slide the drive into place in one of the drive cage slots.

The drive rails will lock into place when fully inserted. To remove the drive you just need to pinch together the drive rail tabs. Again, with a top quality case like this Coolermaster case, installation is quite a breeze. Worth every penny, considering that the whole installation was easy and completely blood free! A hemophiliac could do it!

DVD-RW installation

Installing a 5-1/4" drive in a new case will very often mean doing a bit of metal bracket removal work. We were hoping that we could just remove the drive bay cover and shove in the drive. This was not to be the case.

Easy enough to unlock the front drive bay cover by releasing the locking tab with a scewdriver. Just stick in the screwdriver blade under the locking tab and lever it up. Unfortunately we could not quite squeeze the bracket out of place with the metal cover for the adjacent slot in place, it seemed to block removal. Perhaps our dexterity was just not good enough, but we had to remove the bracket.

The normal, easy way to to this is with a philips head screwdriver inserted in the slotted "+" that is between the round holes, you just insert the screwdriver into the "+" slot, and gently rock it up and down (side to side when the case is horizontal, as above) until the bracket breaks free. These brackets are made to break out fairly easily. It may seem at first as though you are not getting anywhere, but just keep gently moving it back and forth - it will break off. We used our hand, for one last chance at bloodletting.

No dice on the blood, but the bracket came out.

Then we could pull out the Drive bay cover bracket.

Here we slide in the DVD-RW through the front. Easy enough.

Just linethe drive up flush with the drive bay cover below it.

Ooh! Another cool Coolermaster case feature! A tool-less drive locking feature. Pushing forward the horizontal tab uses a wedging mechanism to tighten on the drive.

Press down the verticle locking tab to lock the drive in place. Another very nicely done feature from Coolermaster. If they force me to keep gushing about them I am going to expect a check in the mail...

Cable Installation

Header installation for case/motherboard connections

Normally the Case to motherboard header installation process is the most brutal form of torture of the entire computer building experience. Well, it still is. But! Yes, there can actually be a "but" here, thanks to the Asus "header helpers".

Instead of installing the headers directly onto the motherboard, you insert them into socket extenders which are well labeled and keyed for their particular motherboard connector.

Pretty good visual instructions are included.

Insert the case header connectors onto the header extenders, carefully checking the case and mother board instructions. A good case and good motherboard will have well labeled connections. If not, this is true hell.

The header helper extenders are keyed to match the motherboard header connectors. If you use them, it is hard to go too wrong. This is a nice attempt to clean up the worst assembly problem for DIY computer assemblers. A new standard connector from case front to motherboard is the only real solution, but Asus is doing a very nice job of making this easier while we wait for a real solution.

The "headers" are the little metal spikes arranged in rows, in case you were still wondering.

Motherboard Power Connections

The rest of the cable installation is much, much easier. No more of this header connector nonsense.

Insert the ATX (EATX) Power connector into theconnector on the motherboard. Not very hard to find. Line up the locking tab on the motherboard connector with the latch release on the connector. If you try to insert it wrong it will not go in. Don't force it.

Insert the EATX-12V connector into its connector lining up the release latch with the locking tab.

Drive Connections

ATA (PATA/IDE/EIDE or whatever you call it this month) Connector intallation

Note the key (bump) in the cable connector

Note the key slot in the drive and motherboard connectors. You have to match up the keys with the slots.

Insert the connector into the motherboard - blue colored one into the motherboard.

Insert the connector into the drive. Black is for the "master" gray is for the "slave" drive. Check your drive jumper for the correct cable. If you use "cable select" the black will again be master and the gray will be the slave. If you have trouble with your drives not being seen by the BIOS, check the jumpers. The easiest way to go is to use the cable select setting on both of your drives.

Install the drive power cable. They are keyed, but a bit funkily keyed. Look for the rounded or squared edges and line them up. If it doesn't fit - don't force it! Check again, it may be upside down.

SATA time!

Sata drives are easier since the cables are smaller and less cumbersome, and they have an easier to see key. The connectors also require far less force to install. Note the "L" shape of the connectors slot. The drive and motherboard connectors also have "L" shaped male protrusions keying their connectors. Line it up and plug it in. Pretty simple.

Note that the SATA power connectors also have an "L" shaped connector, but it is longer. This does not allow you to accidently plug in the wrong connector, obviously.

Plug in the SATA cable to the motherboard.

Plug in the power supply Sata power cable to the drive. If your power supply does not have one, perhaps itcame with a regular drive power connector to Sata power connector adapter. If not, you will need one for each Sata drive.


Carefully route your cables to where they are out of the way. You don't want them to block airflow in the computer.

Close the case after making sure to plug in all of thecase fan power connectors.

Case closed. Note how the case fan lines up nicely with the cpu fan. This does not necessarily mean the case has perfect airflow - case airflow is very complex, but it is a nice feature. You could, if you were so inclined, experiment with different inflow/outflow fan combinations and see what temperatures your case and motherboard components experienced. This would make you a true, certified computer diy nerd.

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