Step 9: Fit your 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
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
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
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!