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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