How To Build Your Own PC From Scratch (Part 3)

5/19/2012 9:10:16 AM

Step 9: Fit your hard drives


Description: hard drives

The Fractal Design Define R3 case we’re using in this build has accommodation for no fewer than eight hard drives. Each of these needs to be mounted into a removable caddy before it can be slid into the case. In our build we’re opting for a dual-drive configuration. Holding the OS and our applications is an ultra-fast Corsair Force 3 solid-state drive, and to provide extra storage we’re also using Samsung F3 conventional 7200rpm disk. As is almost invariably the case, our SSD is a 2.5” variant whereas our hard drive 3.5” wide. Fortunately, the Fractal case’s caddies accommodate both sizes of drive; you just need to screw them in, utilising the mounting holes found on the underside of all drives. In many desktop case you’ll need to mount a 2.5” drive into a 3.5” expander, so that it can be correctly installed.

Step 10: Install drives in the case

Description: drives in the case

With both of the drives mounted into their respective caddies you simply slide them back into the drive cage until you hear the clips click into position. We chose this particular position for our drives so that they can benefit from the adjacent 120mm cooling fan. Whereas SSDs produce little or no heat, spinning drives certainly benefit from some airflow. This will help to reduce their operating temperature and improve their longevity. Notice that the Fractal case has rubber grommets in each of the caddies. These grommets prevent sympathetic vibrations from the hard drive being passed into the chassis of the case. Often these are a more noticeable cause of system noise than any of the installed fans! Despite this, in many cases you still screw hard drives directly onto the chassis uprights. In this situation, use coarse-threaded screws to mount 3.5” drives, or fine-threaded variants for a 2.5” drive.

Step 11: Fit your removable storage drives

Our next step is to fit the optical drive and for this particular build – a 3.5” internal card reader. The Fractal Design case has two 5.25” bays, one of which can be adapted to take an internal 3.5” floppy-sized drive. Optical drives are mounted using fine-threaded screws in most chassis, this one included. You will notice that there are several holes in the side of the case to accommodate drives of different lengths. Simply line up the optical drive with the front of your case and screw in the required number of fine-threaded screws. Don’t be tempted to take a shortcut here and screw the drive in on just one side; the resultant vibrations will be horrific could shorten the file of your DVD or Blu-ray player. To fit the card reader, we had to swap the standard front bezel for one with a hole cut out for a 3.5” device.

Step 12: Mount the motherboard

Description: Mount the motherboard

Mount the motherboard

With our drives fitted, we’re finally ready to screw in the motherboard. To do this, we line up the board with the nine standoffs we fitted in step 7, taking care that the rear ports also line up with the I/O shield. It’s best to start with the most central screw in your board and leave it slightly untightened. This will keep the motherboard in place but will allow you to make corrective adjustments should they be needed. Next, tighten the screws at the four corners before installing the remainders. It’s best to leave the screws slightly loose before finally tightening them, because this allows you to be sure of perfect alignment. Different cases use different threads in their motherboard screws and standoffs; check before you mount the board to ensure you don’t try to force in the wrong kind of screw.

Step 13: Install the USB, FireWire and Audio Connectors

Description: the USB, FireWire and Audio Connectors

Our particular case has two front-mounted USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port and two 3.5mm jacks or headphones and a microphone. Each of these ports needs to be connected to the corresponding header on the motherboard before it can function. Some cases have a different selection of ports; it’s not uncommon to find models that provide a front-panel FireWire or eSATA port. Internal USB 2.0 ports use a nine-pinned header, which is keyed to prevent incorrect installation. Our card reader drive also uses a cable of the same variety. Confusingly, an internal FireWire cable looks identical – make doubly sure you don’t connect your cables to the wrong header. The lead on the left is the HD audio connector, which powers the front jacks. These use a nine-pin header as well, but they’re keyed differently to USB and FireWire ports. Don’t be afraid to refer to your motherboard’s manual here!

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