Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

IT IS ALIVE!

No, really. After a relatively uneventful assembly process, half an hour of cursing Dell for using non-standard parts in my old rig, an overly-eventful fighting-with-software process, and a bit of testing for stability, my rig is up and running. In fact, I’m typing on it right now. Fun, right? That’s what I thought.

In all honesty, I’m not particularly inclined to write up a large computer-building post about the assembly and install process, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll just post a few pictures I took during the build. Please forgive the image quality, my DSLR’s battery was dead and I had to use my phone.

Ahem:

comp build 003

I considered using the captions function for these pics, but some of these will be a little long, so… here it goes. I started off with a Gigabyte board, mostly because my experience with them has been rock-solid. Also, this guy (MA790XT-UD4) has great features and good layout for the money.

comp build 004

My power supply choice was an OCZ ModXStream 500W. I like it for the most part; my only real problem has been that some cables proved a little shorter than I would have preferred. They reach everything with no problems, but don’t leave enough extra for adequate cable management. I suspect this is due to the fact that the case mounts power supplies in the bottom, the not traditional place at the top.

comp build 005

The Antec Three Hundred is a fairly basic case, but it gets the job done. I would have preferred to see some cutouts in the motherboard tray for easier (and better concealed) cable routing, and one or two more fans wouldn’t have been a bad thing. That being said, they’ve got to differentiate their various products somehow, which means budget cases get the shaft on features that should be rather cheap to implement. All in all, though, I’m very satisfied with it.

comp build 011

I could resist shooting this. On the right is the stock cooler included with my X3 720 processor from AMD. On the right? the Xigmatek HDT-1283 rifle cooler. It’s beastly.

comp build 012

As a general rule, the included thermal paste that comes with most aftermarket coolers is junk. I used some Arctic Silver 5, one of the better-known and highly-regarded options out there.

comp build 014

The “HDT” in the cooler’s name stands for Heatpipe Direct Touch – the copper is in direct contact with your processor. While that’s a good thing, it also typically means that the bottom of the heatsink isn’t absolutely smooth. I was pretty liberal in my application of AS5 to make up for the small gaps in between the pipes and the rest of the bottom.

comp build 015

Not much to say here – processor is installed! Also, I like how AMD designs their mounting brackets; you don’t need to fiddle with anything on the back of the board, unlike with Intel processors.

comp build 016

I probably should have realized it beforehand, but Xigmatek’s cooler doesn’t leave a lot of room for RAM. Thankfully the G Skill sticks I bought were low-profile, because they wouldn’t have fit otherwise. Still, I had to partially remove the heatsink in order to install the closest stick.

comp build 017

If you hadn’t already noticed, the Xigmatek cooler faces downward when mounted on an AMD bracket. Since the Antec Three Hundred has a 140mm exhaust fan directly above the processor, that wasn’t a problem for me – if anything, it’s actually a good thing. That being said, it’s a good idea to be cautious when installing this sucker in other cases. You might be screwing up your airflow!

comp build 018

Almost everything was installed at this point. Notice how the power supply’s cables really don’t leave much extra length for tucking them out of the way.

comp build 022

I’d originally intended to just boot up into the XP install I had on my computer before it died, but that didn’t work out as planned. It seems when you replace ~70% of the parts in a system, your operating system tends to get a little agitated. I’m sure it would’ve been possible to make it work, but I suggested wanted a functional computer at that point. In went the Windows 7 RC disk…

I’m still waiting on the extra fans I ordered, so for now I’m holding off on attempting any sort of overclocking or tweaking. I’m sure I could manage one without any problems, as my CPU idles at 31 degrees C, but I’d rather play it safe. Speaking of playing… I haven’t done any PC gaming for 8 months.

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August 23, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming, PC gaming, Tech

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