How To Build Your Own PC From Scratch (Part 4)

5/19/2012 9:11:42 AM

Step 14: Install the switches and LEDs

Description: the switches and LEDs are on the other side of the module

the switches and LEDs are on the other side of the module

The power and reset buttons on the front of your case need to be connected to the motherboard if they’re to function, as do the power and hard disk activity LEDs. Reset and power cables simply close a circuit and can therefore be installed in either polarity, but the LED headers must have their positive cable connected to the corresponding positive pin and they negative cable connected to the negative pin. In most cases, the positive wire is coloured whereas the negative is plain white. Every motherboard manufacturer has a slightly different pin layout for the switch and LED connectors so refer to the motherboardmanual before making a mistake. Trying to reposition these pins in a finished machine – particularly one with a large video card – can be fiddly, so double check your diagrams and get it right first time.

Step 15: Install the PSU

Description: the PSU

the PSU

As is now standard for high-end PC chassis, the Fractal Design Define R3 case has its power supply mounted on the case’s floor. This frees up the case’s ceiling for extra cooling fans and facilitates a tidier build but does require a PSU with longer cables. If you’re building a very inexpensive machine, double-check that your cables – the 12V auxiliary CPU lead in particular – are long enough to reach from the bottom of the case to the top. If they aren’t, you’ll need to buy extension cables. Before mounting the PSU into its tray you’ll notice we pushed all the leads through one of the handy holes cut into the motherboard tray. Fractal has left us enough room behind the tray to rout all our leads, resulting in a much tidier finished PC. All PSUs are mounted using four coarse-threaded screws.

Step 16: Route your cables

Description: your cables

Route your cables

If using a modular PSU, you’ll have a much easier ride for this step. Just fit the leads you need for your particular build and leave the rest in the box. Our PSU is a Corsair TX750, which is a great PSU but has a fixed cable design. We therefore have to find a home for spare leads. The first step is to untangle the leads and group them by where they ultimately need tethering. We know the 12V auxiliary CPU cable needs to go up to the top of the board, and that the drive cables need to end up near the front, so position them accordingly. Likewise, we know how many PCI-Express cables our video card needs (two), so these also need careful routing. You can tether spare leads that are not needed together and stow them in a spare drive bay for future use.

Step 17: Connect hard dive cables

All disk drives require two cables: one for power and one for data. The power connector is long, flat and L-shaped and runs directly from the PSU. The data cable is also flat and L-shaped but is much smaller. The L-shaped connectors mean that you can only plug the drives in one way around. SATA connectors are fragile, so be very gentle when handling them. If you plan on adding more hard drives later, it makes sense to prep the power cabling for them now. You’ll notice that our SSD has a slightly different cable to the normal black variety used by conventional drives. This is because it’s and ultra-speedy 6Gbps Corsair drive, which requires a special 6Gbps-compliant cable. You should refer to your motherboard’s manual to find out which of the SATA ports is 6Gbps compatible, otherwise you’ll lose half of your SSD’s performance potential. These faster ports are usually colour coded.

Step 18: Connect thee optical drive cables

All modern optical drives use the exact same connectors as those used for hard drives that we say earlier in step 17. As before, you need to connect a SATA power connector from the PSU and a data cable. If you do not have enough SATA power connectors on your PSU you can inexpensively purchase adaptors that allow you to convert a traditional four-pin Molex lead into extra SATA cables. If you’re using a premium grade PSU this should not be a problem, but cheaper supplies often ship with just two SATA power connectors, frequently mounted on the same cable, meaning you don’t have the length needed to fit one on the hard disk and one on your optical drive from an old PC, but with 24x DVD-RW drives available for less than $20, we’d recommend you splash out!

  •  How Not To Build A PC (Part 3)
  •  How Not To Build A PC (Part 2)
  •  How Not To Build A PC (Part 1) - Underspecified PSU & Wrongly mounted cooler
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 6) - Picking the right RAM, Picking the right cooling, SLI and CrossFire
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 5) - Choosing your case & Picking the right storage
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 4) - Picking the right PSU
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 3) - Picking the right video card
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 2) - Choosing the right motherboard
  •  Choosing The Right Parts For Your Build (Part 1) - Picking the perfect processor
  •  Case Modding: simple case modding techniques
  •  Bundle Up To Save Some Cash!
  •  Samsung Series 5 13.3-inch Ultrabook - The Meatier Choice
  •  SteelSeries Kinzu V2 - Reacquainting With The Kinzu
  •  Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z - Centre Of Thought
  •  Fuji Xerox DocuPrint M205FW - It's All Black And White
  •  ASUS Radeon HD7870 DirectCUII Top - Power For Price
  •  ASUS Essentio CM6850 Desktop PC - Essentio-ly Essential
  •  New products - First looks, May 2012 (Part 3) - MSI Z77-GD55 Motherboard, Motorola Atrix 2, NVIDIA GTX 680
  •  New products - First looks, May 2012 (Part 2) - Sony Xperia Sola, ASUS ROG Tytan CG8565, WD Thunderbolt My Duo dual-drive storage system
  •  New products - First looks, May 2012 (Part 1) - Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47, Hewlett-Packard Z1
    Top 10
    IIS 7.0 : Web Management Service (part 1) - Installation, WMSvc Configuration
    Get To Know Your Camera (Part 1) - Camera icons explained
    iPhone Application Development : Implementing a Custom Picker View (part 2)
    Expert computing advice (Part 4)
    Simplicity: intuitive design, simple choices, and familiarity
    Create, Read, and Write a Binary File
    Xen Virtualization : Installing Xen from Source
    Algorithms for Compiler Design: ELIMINATING INDUCTION VARIABLES
    Exchange Server 2010 : Installing OCS 2007 R2 (part 3) - Configuring Prerequisites & Deploying an OCS 2007 Server
    Worthy of the Hype?
    Most View
    Working with File and Data Management Policies in Vista
    How To Put Together A Good Home Network (Part 3)
    Windows Server 2008 R2 : Work with Remote Clients (part 1) - Install and Configure Windows Server 2008 R2 VPNs
    Maintaining and Optimizing Windows Vista Systems : ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive
    Building and Deploying Applications for Windows Azure : Activating the Storage Account Account
    How To Specify And Build A Media PC (Part 4)
    iOS 6's release
    Avanquest Fix-It Utilities 12.0
    Mind Control (Part 2) - Home entertainment & gaming
    Windows Phone 7 : Packaging, Publishing, and Managing Applications
    No More Excuses
    Microsoft SQL Server 2005 : Report Definition and Design (part 3)
    Western Digital My Book Live Duo - Full, Double Lives
    Photoshop Elements 10 : Sharpen Images In Photoshop Elements
    Windows 7 : General Maintenance Tools (part 3) - Checking Your Disks for Errors & Optimizing Disk Performance
    Caching User Controls
    Discover Services During Runtime (WCF)
    Windows Mobile Security - Kernel Architecture
    10 Biggest tech breakthroughs of the past 200 issues (Part 3)