Archive for October 2012

How I set up the new computer


This is the final post as part of BuildLog2012. That is unless something unexpected happens and I need to revisit the build process. This piece is simple. It’s just about what I did or am doing with all the hardware I have purchased.

Assembling the parts was pretty easy. This is how I went about it:

-- Removed side panel and front panel from the chassis. Took out all the case fans Corsair had supplied and replaced them with the fans I had bought.

-- Installed CPU in the motherboard and then installed the CPU cooler on it. Installing the cooler – after applying thermal paste -- was the trickiest and difficult part. It took nearly half an hour.

-- Installed the motherboard in chassis. Corsair 550D had pre-installed stand-offs so that was one (tiny) step less.

-- Installed RAM

-- Installed hard disks

-- Installed power supply unit

-- (Graphics card was bought after a few weeks so that was put in the box later)

-- Connected all cables and tightened them up. Most of the cable mess was tucked behind the motherboard tray. Loose cables affect airflow in a computer and it is advisable that you take out time to tidy them up if you are assembling a system.

-- With everything in place, powered the system on. It booted fine! Nothing created any issue.

After the boot

-- I went into BIOS and checked various settings. All was well and RAM, as expected, was running at 1333Mhz instead of its specified of 1866Mhz. This is normal with most motherboards. I left it at the default for the time being.

-- I had converted an ISO of Win 7 Professional downloaded from Digital River into a bootable pen drive. I used it to install the OS.

-- With SSD as primary disk, it took me less than 15 minutes to install the OS and connect to the web. After that, I downloaded various motherboard and chipset drivers from Asus website and installed them. If I can get to the web, I always download fresh drivers instead of using the ones that come in CDs.

Checking the system

After you assemble or buy a new computer, it is crucial for you to check it thoroughly. This you can do in two ways. By seeing hardware and software info and by stress testing the machine. Here is how I went about it.

-- I used CPU-Z to check for hardware info about the system. When you get a new PC you should do this. It tells you exactly what you have bought.

-- (I used GPU-Z when I got the graphics card to check the info)

-- I went to BIOS again and set the motherboard to take RAM settings from XMP profile embedded in the RAM. That corrected the RAM speed to 1866Mhz. This can also be done manually.

-- Through Asus Fan Xpert 2 I configured the speed of cooling fans in the system.

-- To test CPU and whether I have seated the cooler properly or not, I ran Intel Burn Test (IBT). This program puts lost of stress on CPU using Intel Linpack binaries. With IBT it is common to see temperature that are over 15 degree Celsius more than what the CPU will get under common load. But if your CPU can survive IBT run than your cooling is sound and the chip is good. In my case IBT increased the CPU temperature to around 76 degree Celsius, which is around 30 degrees less than the maximum limit. 76 is all good for Ivy Bridge in a room that had nearly 40 degrees Celsius ambient temperature! In fact, after I overclocked the CPU to 4.2Ghz, IBT pushed the temperature to 89 degrees Celsius, which is fine too because in real use the CPU is not likely to go further than 75 degrees.

Warning: If you choose to run IBT on your machine, be careful. I am not responsible if you fry your chip.

-- While I prefer to use IBT and find it pretty good, if you want, you can also use LinX (similar to IBT) or Prime to check your CPU and RAM for defect.

-- To check RAM, Memtest is also an option

-- I ran a few hard disk tests with Crystal Disk Mark to see that all was well with hard disks. (Unfortunately now one of my older drives, which was bought a few years ago, has died)

-- When I got the GPU, I ran 3D Mark 11 and Unigine Heaven to check graphics performance. Both these benchmarks are also kind of real-life use scenario so a successful run of these two is a good indication of overall stability of the system.

Once the stress testing was done, the PC was read. So far, everything has been good except one dead hard disk. And I hope it continues to be same for another three or four years. 

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Big question: From where I bought all these parts


The hardware bit is done. But finalizing various parts is not enough. In India, sourcing these parts – especially if you have selected high-end stuff -- is equally troublesome. The reason for this is that in India, the PC parts business is not very organized. There is no Newegg here. There is no Amazon, There is no Fry’s. No Scan. You will especially have trouble if you have selected high-end parts.

So, how do I get the parts that I want? Let’s put it like this: Over the years I have learned who are the right people or right stores that can get a component for me, even if it is not available in India. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I always get what I want at the price that is just, but mostly I manage.

I will talk about these people and stores in a while. Before that, let me tell you from where I got the part for my computer.

-- CPU, monitor, CPU cooler, SMPS (power supply unit), hard disk and UPS were bought from SMC International in Nehru Place. Mouse and keyboard, which are old, had also come from SMC.

-- I had real trouble finding the good chassis in India. Fortunately, I traveled to Taiwan in June and picked up the Corsair 550D from there. I also bought RAM, Gentle Typhoons, which are not available in India, Thermalright TY-140 and Chill factor from Taipei.

-- Graphics card (Zotac GTX 670) was bought from Aditya Infotech Ltd in Nehru Place.

-- Motherboard was bought from Flipkart

-- With kind help from my colleagues in Mumbai, SSD was bought from PrimeABGB in Lamington Road.

Here are all the components


Now, about people. In India, there are a lot of people who deal in computer parts. But what I have realized is that most of them keep generic stuff. Dealers, even in places like Nehru Place, also tend to overcharge once they realize that the buyer is a little weak on tech knowledge.

I have learned to avoid these people.

When it comes to buying a computer part here are the folks I trust and buzz, in case the part is not available in India.

SMC International: This shop in Nehru Place is my primary source for computer parts. There are several reasons for that.

-- One, you won’t find sub-standard stuff or (mostly) sub-standard advice in this place.

-- Two, they will charge you little extra when you are a new shopper (all Nehru Place dealers do that if you are not careful) but if you are a regular, they will give you best possible rates. And they can give amazing rates.

-- Third, SMC knows what enthusiasts want and sell the parts you won’t find in most places.

-- Fourth, I have seen that SMC takes care of its customers and even help them in RMA (warranty process) if something goes wrong. Very few dealers do that.

-- Fifth, I find Mr Saini, who kind of oversees the business, an amazing person to deal with. He is soft spoken, will listen to you patiently and give you reasonable solutions. Once you know him and he trusts you, he will even go out of his way to procure parts that are not available in India.

-- Seven, SMC is a distributor of AMD products, MSI products, Cooler Master products and Gigabyte graphics card. There are some more companies in their fold but these are what I recall. When it comes to part from these companies SMC has you covered. 

-- ProTip: SMC has a dealer in forums like www.erodov.com and www.techenclave.com. If you are not in Delhi, you can get stuff through him.

-- Important: While SMC folks are good, they are also computer dealers. Don’t forget to bargain with them. Also, go there when you have time. These Nehru Place people are always on the phone and you may have to spend up to half an hour just to get details of some products.

More stores in Nehru Place

If for some reason, SMC doesn’t work out for you, check out Computer Empire. They give some amazing rates even without bargaining. In fact, they don’t entertain bargaining.

Aditya Infotech, from where I bought the graphics card, is a distributor for many important brands like Zotac and, I think, Intel. Though I don’t know these folks too well. I bought the graphics card after someone directed me to them. But they seem genuine and eager to help.

Pro Tip: Cost-To-Cost, publishes a weekly price list. It is available in PDF format here. Check these prices before you head-out for shopping. The rates are pretty accurate. But I don’t like shopping from Cost-To-Cost. Once they were selling fake 9600 GT graphics cards.

In Mumbai

PrimeABGB is kind of SMC of Mumbai. It has a website that isregularly updated. You can get an idea of prices and availability from there. These guys also sell stuff on the web.

TheITWares run by Rahul is another good shop in Lamington Road. This guy too has a website. I think Rahul also lists product on eBay upon request if you have a coupon that you want to use.

Chennai folks can check out www.deltapage.com. I have found DeltaPage prices to be very good. You should definitely check out this website before beginning your shopping.

Some other sources
  
Phoenix is a guy based in Mumbai. He is a national distributor of hardware of several not-so-mainstream companies like Lian Li or BitFenix. He has a website called www.xtremegx.com where you can see the brands he handles. But the best way to reach him is through www.erodov.com until you get his phone number.

On www.erodov.com, there is a guy called KillTheDop who can get you stuff from Newegg or Amazon etc. Of course, it costs extra.

For audio related stuff, I have found that a guy called PristineNote on www.techencalve.com has some amazing stuff. He also runs an eBay store as well as sells some stuff through www.proaudiohome.com.

Flipkart is a very reliable and decent place to shop for computer parts. Prices, in most cases, are around 10% higher compared to those in Nehru Place but the convenience is unmatched. You can order and get parts at your home even if you live in a smaller city. Also you get 30-days replacement guarantee, something that even SMC or PrimeABGB won’t offer. Though the availability is somewhat limited.

-- I have found that eBay India is a good option if you don’t find an item anywhere else. With the GlobalDeals, even Newegg sells parts on eBay India. Prices are mostly reasonable… around 10% to 20% higher compared to local prices. But there is no local warranty.

-- If you don’t get something anywhere, ring up the marketing office of the company whose product you want to buy. You may get lucky!

That’s all… if you think I have missed some, feel free to use comments option.

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