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The building parts you don't think about...Follow

#1 May 23 2011 at 10:18 AM Rating: Good
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I'm starting to plan the build I'll want, and would like some input on the things you never really hear about. I like to check Newegg reviews copiously, but I figured it's good to ask here too.

Do you have any brands that you prefer for:

Heatsink fluid
Wiring
Heatsinks
Fans
Those brass screws for the motherboard the name of which I can't recall. Or do these come WITH the motherboards? I haven't quite figured that part out yet...
Static wristbands.

Ummm... I think that's all... Please add any oft-missed items. Harware's the easy part; these are the things I'm probably going to forget to order until I'm ready to start the build.
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#2 May 23 2011 at 10:20 AM Rating: Good
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Also, @Kao, do you have any links to good resources for a beginner to really start reading about building? I know the basics of how everything works/fits together, but would love to know more. And since it'll be a few months until I have the money to spare for a build anyways, I might as well use that time to build my knowledge base.
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#3 May 23 2011 at 11:42 AM Rating: Good
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idiggory wrote:
I'm starting to plan the build I'll want, and would like some input on the things you never really hear about. I like to check Newegg reviews copiously, but I figured it's good to ask here too.

Do you have any brands that you prefer for:

Heatsink fluid
Wiring
Heatsinks
Fans
Those brass screws for the motherboard the name of which I can't recall. Or do these come WITH the motherboards? I haven't quite figured that part out yet...
Static wristbands.

Ummm... I think that's all... Please add any oft-missed items. Harware's the easy part; these are the things I'm probably going to forget to order until I'm ready to start the build.


"Heatsink fluid" aka thermal paste is often actually already included with a new CPU/heatsink combo. With my last built, I just peeled off a protective strip, and there was already a perfect square of gray goo there. If you are getting a custom heatsink instead of the one that comes with the CPU (usually recommended for higher end gaming rigs), then you'll need to check with the manufacturer. Personally, I find some of the high end heatsinks to be bizarre, and for my last build, the included AMD heatsink has been more than adequate for my needs. Plus, you need to use the included AMD heatsink to guarantee your warranty with AMD... not sure how it works with Intel. Using a third party heat sink may void your warranty.

Fans should come with your case unless it's stupidly cheap. You can add in extra fans if you're going to be putting out serious heat, but again, I've found the included fans with my current case to be enough. Adding in too much **** to your case actually increases the problem - you want things to be open and airy for air circulation, and having monster heat sinks, giant cards, and twenty fans is going to decrease the amount of actual space in your case.

Your motherboard will include the brass screws if you get a decent brand. It took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to mount them properly the first time, but at least it came with them.

The wiring will also all be included with all the parts, with the exception of any necessary SATA extenders. I had to run out to the local comp parts shop and get an extra $5 Molex-to-SATA converter, because the SATA power cord wasn't quite long enough to reach my hard drive. I'd pick up one ahead of time just in case.

The motherboard manual will also include extensive diagrams explaining how to hook everything up. The most complicated bit for me was getting all the case LEDS in the right place, since they were single pins!

Wrist strap: Yes, and yes, unless you have a grounded table to work on (which we have at my office, thankfully.)

All you need: http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Anti-Static-Wrist-Adjustable-Grounding/dp/B00004Z5D1


Edited, May 23rd 2011 1:46pm by catwho
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#4 May 23 2011 at 1:31 PM Rating: Good
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Most of the stuff will be included like catwho said, with the exception of additional fans and cables if you're looking at longer than standard runs. As for the wrist strap, I've never used one. I'm extremely conscientious at touching the case everytime before touching a piece of hardware.
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#5 May 23 2011 at 2:24 PM Rating: Good
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I'll definitely be using that wristband. I'm not willing to risk hundreds of dollars in components I could accidentally fry. Do I think I could remember to ground myself? Sure. But I'd rather pay $10 to play it safely...

I'm probably going to go with a new Sandy Bridge CPU, so I'll need to look into the stock sinks and warranties. It'll cost me a little more, but they're showing awesome power for the costs. Plus, grabbing a motherboard with the new sockets will leave me room to upgrade. Plus, most of the new 1155 ones include USB 3.0, which is a great bonus.

But thanks for the info catwho--it's appreciated.
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#6 May 23 2011 at 3:58 PM Rating: Good
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But why use an anti-static wristband? That's cheating! And it takes the excitement out of the construction process. Smiley: grin

As for CPU cooler, I'd look up some of Scythe's products. They're allegedly really silent, which I've heard is a must if you're going i5 or i7 as the stock fans sounds like jet engines firing up.

On a more serious note about static electricity, the wristband looks like a good idea. Personally, I've just been using a screwdriver with a rubber handle, and used the anti-static plastic/foam for when I had to insert cards and whatnot. And I've always had a radiator nearby for some grounding when I needed it.

I remember last time I had my rig open. Was going to add another 2GB of RAM and halfway through inserting the sticks, I realized the hair on my arms was standing straight up. I let go of the RAM sticks and went to the radiator. Sumbish drew a spark!
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#7 May 23 2011 at 4:22 PM Rating: Decent
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The wrist straps tend to provide a false sense of security.

When I was working at Motorola we had to replace out wrist and boot straps weekly and had to test them every day. We stood on a machine with our boot strap on or our wrist strap connected and grounded and it would send a very low voltage to test whether or not we were grounded. Every time I swapped out my wrist strap I had to go through 3 or 4 of them to find one that actually grounded me properly.

Just get into the habit of resting your forearm on the case and you'll be good.
#8 May 23 2011 at 4:24 PM Rating: Good
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Just get into the habit of resting your forearm on the case and you'll be good.


Considering it'll be my first build, that's probably going to be easier said than done. Both due to the need for maneuvering room, and due to absentmindedness...

:(
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#9 May 23 2011 at 4:25 PM Rating: Good
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If you're worried about static, build while naked.
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#10 May 23 2011 at 4:55 PM Rating: Good
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While my apartment will be empty this summer, besides me, I don't think that's a perfect solution. I'm a little too hairy. D:
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#11 May 23 2011 at 7:29 PM Rating: Good
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lolgaxe wrote:
If you're worried about static, build while naked.


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Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

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#12 May 23 2011 at 7:30 PM Rating: Good
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It makes me so happy that you just had that pic available.
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#13 May 23 2011 at 7:33 PM Rating: Good
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idiggory wrote:
It makes me so happy that you just had that pic available.


My husband had it on a cafe press coffee mug at one point. I think the pic eventually completely faded out and now it's just a plain white mug.
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Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#14 May 23 2011 at 8:01 PM Rating: Good
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Lol, that's unfortunate. At least he had some time with his nude hacker.
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#15 May 24 2011 at 12:17 AM Rating: Excellent
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For the really, really good cooling stuff, you have to abandon newegg and go off the beaten track to the specialty stores. I tend to use two, crazypc.com, and more often performance-pcs.com for my cooling system, case, and thermal paste (aka heat sync fluid) needs.

Realistically, unless you are planning on overclocking with a decent watercooling rig, the stock air cooler that comes with the processor and stock thermal paste, or if you need to replace that standard Artic Silver 5 will do the trick. If you are willing to spend some money on better cooling though, this is about the best stuff around for between the CPU and the heat sync. http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=26226

It reviews well everywhere, and the numbers seem to give you at least a full degree drop. I have a set here awaiting the next time I pull my water block off the CPU.

For wiring, in a computer case you have 3 real sets of wiring. The stuff that comes with your power supply, the stuff that comes internal to your case, and the stuff your motherboard will come with. You won't need anything aside from that. That being said, I do like to get my internal wires professionally sleaved from performance-pcs when I buy a case from them. It adds about $40 or so, but doing it youself is a pain in the ass, and it really improves airflow and looks inside. The power supply wiring, so long as you get a really good, modular cable power supply you shouldn't have any worries there.

Heatsyncs are basically in two real flavors. Water cooling, which works really, really well and will add a minimum of $150 to your build to do properly, or air coolers which work pretty good, especially if you have internal house air conditioning. Water cooling is a whole subject in its own right, and if you are interested in that, let me know what kind of case you are looking at, as that makes a huge difference with radiators, etc. Air cooling heatsyncs are basically just a function of surface area, material, and fan. You ideally want a very large heat sync made out of copper with a huge **** fan on it, well positioned for airflow. Those zalman copper jet turbine shaped ones work well, aren't too heavy, have good fans and move alot of air. They are also a pain in the **** to install because those copper fins are sharp.

Fans are another topic that one could spend days on. But here are the basics. You want at least a 120mm fan. anything smaller is noisy and pushes less air. If your case has smaller than 120mm fan ports for its primary intakes, you don't want that case. You also want ball bearings or magnetohydrodnamic fluidic bearings. Bushings are a big no no. They will sieze up, and something important will melt. You also want the most airflow for the least amount of noise at operational loads. All fans are going to be nearly silent at idle. Even on a water cooled system you are going to need some fans. Right now I currently have Vantec Stealth fans in my secondary PC, and these bad boys in my main pc: http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=36_49&products_id=26542
The water cooling pump is literally louder than the fans at full load.

Brass **** thingies: The brass **** thingies are called "Standoffs" and you will usually get them with your Case. The case almost always has all the screws you need. They are critically important that they go in between the case and your motherboard. Failure to install the standoffs will result in everything melting. horribly.

Static wristbands are a waste of money. All you need to do is touch something large and metalic, and that will dissipate the static charge. The computer case you are installing your components in works great for that. Just touch it everytime you go to pick up a component and you will be fine.

Other things to consider: I can't stress this enough. You will have your computer case long after any of the other components you have currently. It pays to get a good quality one. Pick one you like the layout of inside. Look for things like removable motherboard trays, toolless drive mountings, etc. A good quality case doesn't have to be an expensive case necessarily. Take a look at the Cooler Master CM 690 II for example. Thermaltake, etc also make nice cases. Do your homework, check out the reviews, especially the negitive ones.

Other things inside that don't normally get thought of, sound insulation. http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=60_485_486&products_id=22491 I usually coat the side panels and case top and bottoms with this on my upper end builds. It makes a huge difference, especially on the lighter aluminum cases. You do have to ensure that you have adequate cooling inside, because it also acts as a heat insulator, but in a properly designed system it isn't an issue.

As for building references, the best way to learn is to have someone show you how to build the first one in person. Failing that, there are books, but really, a good magazine article with lots of pictures is most of what you need to at least assemble the hardware.

This is a decent "how do you actually put the stuff together" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuWNkdV_xmo

Here's a good generic-ish article on actually putting a computer together. http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/build_perfect_pc_stepbystep_illustrated_howto_guide?page=0,9

The only truly difficult parts are making sure you know where everything needs to go (main power lead goes to motherboard, core voltage lead also goes to motherboard) and installing the CPU in the socket. The CPU installation is only tricky if you ding a corner of the CPU into the socket. If you install it carefully, gently, lock it down properly and get the heat sync installed without killing your board, everything else is easy. Thats the part that it pays to see how to do it in person the first time.
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#16 May 24 2011 at 8:10 AM Rating: Excellent
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I say this a lot, but no shame in saying it again--I love you Kao. :D
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#17 May 24 2011 at 4:30 PM Rating: Excellent
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Kao is like the MacGyver of computers.

Give him a piece of string, a square inch of tinfoil and a rose, and he'll build you an i5. Give him a piece of bubblegum and he'll upgrade it to an i7.
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#18 May 24 2011 at 4:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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Imagine if you gave him a screwdriver and soldering iron...
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#19 May 25 2011 at 3:50 PM Rating: Excellent
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I've never had to worry about static. I'm in the south. We're drenched in humidity. I have to dry out my computer parts before I put them in.

also I'm on a hardwood floor and like everyone else has said, I practically LAY on the case when I'm putting stuff in it.
#20 Jun 09 2011 at 8:18 PM Rating: Decent
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I'll add a couple bits:

The brass screws are important to install, but even more important to install properly! If you're installing your board into the case yourself make sure to install the screws into the case where they'll line up with the holes on the motherboard. Also, and this is critically important, only install the screws into the case where they line up with the holes on the motherboard. Those screws are for holding the board in place and keeping the backside of the board away from the metal case, but the screws are also made out of conductive material. If you put on in the wrong place, don't think "Oh, I'll just leave it there because I've got plenty to hold the board in place". The areas right around the holes on the board don't have any conductive components on them. A random spot on the backside of the board almost certainly will and you'll short out your board the second you turn it on.


I would never ever make that mistake though. ;)


I kinda agree with the whole wrist strap thing. We're required to have them at my work, and I use them when there's one handy, but in 20 years of building my own computers without them, I've *never* shorted any component out (because of a lack of wrist strap that is). And in 15 years of working on computers in my profession, many times without a wrist strap, and sometimes crawling on a carpeted floor under someone's desk and installing ram right there, I've also *never* shorted anything out. Computer components are relatively tough. Just make sure to touch the case right before touching any component and you'll be fine. As several people have pointed out, resting your arms across the lip of the case while working is common. In fact, it's usually hard to work inside the case without doing that.


If you really want to be careful, it doesn't hurt (other than a few bucks) to buy one and use it. Even while using it though, you'll want to ground yourself to the case periodically anyway. It's just a good habit to be in. Wrist straps aren't perfectly conductive, and they don't always contact your skin properly. Even the really expensive tight-band ones don't maintain a conductive connection all the time. You can develop a false sense of security if you're not careful.


More important to just wearing a wrist strap is knowing what *not* to do while working on computer components. Don't open any non-static-safe bag, or even keep one nearby where you're working. Actually, don't handle anything that is "soft" plastic (bags, plastic sheets/separators, tape, etc) near where you're working. Hard plastic solid objects are fine (clips, ties, etc). Basically, if it's flexible and flat, don't take it near the computer. Thin plastic maintains a charge on its surface. When you change the shape of the object, the charge changes. Sometimes, quite dramatically. One of the examples they show in ESD training classes is to put a voltmeter on a table and then simply pull some tape off a roll a foot or so away. What's happening is that when the whole roll is uniformly round, the charge on the "outside" of the tape is also uniform. As you pull the tape out, the "inside" (which has an opposite charge) is revealed and becomes part of the outside of the whole object. This causes electrons to go scampering about and fry stuff nearby.

Fun stuff! Just keep your work area clear of anything that didn't come with the computer. Pull any manuals in bags out of said bags prior to starting any work (same concept, the inside of a normal plastic bag has a different charge than the outside, so opening a bag and reaching inside to pull something out can cause a sudden change in charge nearby). Smaller baggies are usually ok (something with screws or clips in it for example), but you shouldn't be handling a piece of equipment while pulling screws or clips out of said baggies anyway. Keep the bits on one side, and only take out components as you're ready to install them and you'll be fine.
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#21 Jun 10 2011 at 9:38 AM Rating: Good
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In theory I'll be fine, but I just know I'll end up doing something stupid, lol.

Well, we're going to have a pseudo test run sometime soon. The power socket on my laptop is busted, and the replacement part came in today. So I'll need to change it. What sucks is that the internal structure requires me to pretty much take everything out to change this one little part. /sigh

Hopefully I don't destroy the computer. :P If I do, then I'll be building my new rig even earlier than I had initially planned.
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