With all of the parts shipped to me by Amazon and NewEgg, I theoretically had what I needed to put together a new rig. All that was left was to wait for a good chunk of time in which to do it (because once I started, I couldn’t just stop and leave a half-finished computer and its parts where kid fingers could find, break, and lose). That ended up being last Saturday afternoon.
I followed a step-by-step guide from PC Gamer as a framework, supplimenting that with both the motherboard manual and the case manual. The first big part was prepping the motherboard, which required screwing in the wifi antennae (which ended up being harder than I thought) and getting a GIANT COOLING FAN to mount on top of it. Plus the RAM.
Anyway, when I unpacked my mobo, I discovered that it was — like myself — small-sized. It was not your standard large motherboard at all. I guess my brother-in-law helped me pick out a compact board, which would work just fine except that it didn’t have an overabundance of ports. That was fine with me; I just needed to plug in my graphics card. But the little board looks ridiculously tiny in that huge case.
There’s the motherboard in the upper-left hand side, almost entirely dominated by this cooling unit. It all fit fine, but the small size and positioning had me run into issues — namely that I couldn’t access some vital plugs and fully screw in the motherboard. So I ended up ditching the third-party fan and installing the intel CPU fan, which my BiL assured me shouldn’t be an issue unless I overclocked.
Getting everything plugged in was the biggest challenge. There are just so. Many. Wires. Power cables, wires from the front of the computer, wires from the back, wires sitting on the table glaring at my incompetence, etc. But with a bit of advisory, I was able to get everything situated where it needed to go.
I did run into one snag at this point, which is that I lacked enough SATA data cables for this build. I need four: three for the hard drives (one regular, two SSD) and one for the blu-ray optical drive. But I only had two, so I made do with one SSD and the optical drive (the latter which I needed for the Windows install), and ordered a pair of cables shipped overnight.
There was a heart-stopping moment when I plugged it all in for its first boot. The monitor didn’t show anything at all for a bit. Then, after some jiggering, it was giving me an error message. But we persevered and got the Windows install going.
Right now the computer is as you see it: partially built on my kitchen counter. I still need those two cables plus the graphics card from my old machine (which I’m trying to keep running until I’m fully ready for the transfer). In the meantime, I’m getting all of the basic software installed, such as Firefox (yay for Firefox’s sync ability to port all of my bookmarks over), AVG, Advanced SystemCare, and of course, my MMOs. Hopefully tonight I’ll finish all of the last bits, zip-tie the wires together, close it up, and move it over to my desk. I’m just grateful that it’s actually running.
Many thanks to Bob, my brother-in-law, for being on call when I had questions about this and that. I learned a lot about the whole setup of a PC and would probably feel more comfortable doing this again in the future or perhaps modifying what I have here.