My First Time Building! Counsel before the big day? : )

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View

Howdy Folks!

Well, after years of anxiously avoiding building my own PC from
components, I've finally broken down and decided to give it a go. My
'old' PC died a sudden death (mobo I believe), giving me an excuse to
upgrade a bit and, as I said, attempt to put together my first Baby.
When I first started digging computers I wouldn't even install my own
software, lol - but eventually I grew more confident, until one day I
swapped out my own sound card.  Oh yeah, I was the Master alright!
So it occurs to me that, on a certain level, bashing together a full
PC from parts is pretty much the same as replacing/adding a single
component, you just repeat the steps more than once.

ANYway, having said that, I'm still a little queasy about things -
there really are an awful lot of variables one needs to keep in mind
(particularly when purchasing the parts in the first place), so I was
hoping I could maybe get a little feedback from those with way, WAY
more experience at this sort of thing (that would be you guys!).

At the moment, I have only two pieces of the puzzle - the case:

Diablo Tek
silver gaming case

And the motherboard:

[url= ](manual,
as PDF)[/url]

Nothing too out of the ordinary there, I'm sure.  Now, I have indeed
"RTFM" a number of times, as well as researched online - but I still
believe there's a chance I could be misunderstanding something, or
not taking something into account that I should, etc.  I'd really
appreciate any suggestions, tips, or advice anyone could offer -
components that might not work together, components that are junk,
mistakes that almost every 'first-timer' makes, etc.  I can't really
afford to replace anything should I accidentally break it, or if it
doesn't "fit".

The following are all of the components I plan on purchasing sometime
in the next couple weeks, all from NewEgg.  Please have a glance and
let me know if you see any red flags ?   : )

[u:5d6bb9be42]THE MEAT[/u:5d6bb9be42] (necessary)
[url= ]
Intel Pentium 4/ 3.0E GHz 800MHz FSB, 1MB L2 Cache, with Hyper
Threading support - RETAIL[/url]
[url= ]
PQI POWER Series 184-Pin 1GB DDR PC-3200, Model MD441GUOE[/url]
[url= ]
Western Digital 200GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive, Model WD2000JB, OEM
Drive Only[/url]
DVD DRIVE (for everyday reading):
[url= ]
ASUS Silver 16X DVD-ROM/ 48X CD-ROM Drive, Model DVD-E616P2S,

[u:5d6bb9be42]THE SIDE DISHES[/u:5d6bb9be42] (nice but not really
[url= ]
NEC 16X Double Layer DVD±RW Drive, Silver, Model ND-3520A, OEM[/url],
[url= ]Memorex
8X 4.7GB DVD-R Media, 10-Pack, Model 32025595, Retail[/url]
[url= ]
SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON 9600XT Video Card, 128MB DDR, 128-bit, DVI/TV-Out,
8X AGP - OEM Bulk[/url]
AUDIO [url= /] Creative
Labs Audigy ONE[/url]
     (note: this is the only component I am 'carrying over' from my
old machine - it is an Audigy 1, but the front panel is identical to
the Audigy 2 pictured in the above link to "Tom's Hardware Guides"
and I couldn't find any online pics of the Audigy 1)

[u:5d6bb9be42]THE DESSERT[/u:5d6bb9be42] (pure extravagance)
[url= ]ENERMAX
Aluminum UC-A5FATR2 (SILVER) Multifunction Transfer Panel
CABLES:    [url= ]
ROUND, 12-Inch, True ATA133/100, IDE Cable, 2-Head ( BLUE )  -OEM (x
            [url= ]
ROUND, 24-Inch, True ATA133/100, IDE Cable, 3-Head ( BLUE )  -OEM (x
FANS:    [url= ]
CoolerMaster Blue 80mm Neon LED Fan, Model "TLF-R82" -RETAIL (x
        [url= ]
CoolerMaster Blue 120mm Neon LED Fan, Model "TLF-S12-EB" -RETAIL (x
[u:5d6bb9be42]THE UTENSILS[/u:5d6bb9be42] (tools for the job)
[url= ]
BELKIN Anti-Static Wrist Strap, Model "F8E093"[/url]
[url= ]
Arctic Silver Premium Polysynthetic Silver Thermal Compound, Model
"Arctic Silver 5", 3.5-gram( 1 cc. ) tube[/url]

So, that's the inventory - some things I'm wondering (roughly in order
of importance):

1) This is my biggest question - RAM.  The mobo specs for memory at
the Asus website and the manual are "184-pin DDR DIMM,
PC3200/PC2700/PC2100/PC1600, unbuffered and non-ECC", which I believe
the memory I've chosen above matches.  However, I noticed two things
just this morning that shook my confidence a little:
    a) On the box the mobo came in is a small note that reads "Intel 848P
chipset - 800Mhz FSB and Single Channel DDR".  Does that mean the mobo
will -only- take 'single channel DDR'?  And how does one determine if
memory is single or dual channel (almost none of the specs at NewEgg
reference channel at all)?
    b) In the manual (page 1-9), it says "Double-sided DDR DIMMS with x16
(data bus=16bit) memory chips are not supported due to chipset
limitation".  Um...huh?  : )   I'm not quite sure what that
description means, nor if the memory I've chosen above matches it.

2) Big bad Number Two - SATA vs. IDE?  As you can see, I had
originally just planned on going with IDE (or is it EIDE? Anyway, I'm
sure you know what I mean) - but this morning I found a red/black SATA
cable in the mobo box, and the mobo manual shows where the SATA
connectors are, so turns out that's an option after all.  Is there
really that big a difference?  Should I resculpt my meticulously
ordered shopping cart to replace the IDE drive with an SATA drive?

3) Poor Lonely Number Three - Arctic Silver?  It didn't take long
reading online to realize it seems like -everyone- is just absolutely
in love with Arctic Silver - it is apparently the great Messiah of
thermal compound, which is why I threw a tube into my order.  The CPU
I've chosen is packaged as 'Retail' - I am assuming this means the box
contains the CPU itself, -and- the cooling fan (and maybe a heat
sink)?  If that's the case, my question is - do all those pieces come
'assembled', i.e., are they already together and have some thermal
compound between them?  If so, should I remove the default compound
( just scrape it off?) and use Arctic Silver instead?  Or
add a layer of Arctic Silver onto the layer already there?  Or just
ignore the Arctic Silver and let the default good do its thing?

4) And Finally, Fab Four - the Power Supply.  I had originally
intended to purchase a case with no power supply and buy it
separately, as the common consensus seems to be that for the most
part PSUs that come bundled with a case are awful, but I really liked
the look of that silver case so I wound up getting it.  Just how
terrible would it be to use the PSU that came installed with my case?
 Is it -really- all that bad?  (I kinda hope not, if I have to buy a
new PSU it will delay this grand experiment by another week or so
:P)  If I do need to buy a PSU separately, what should I look for?

Whew!  I have finger cramps after this opus  :D  Kudos and praise to
any of you who managed to read this whole thing without nodding off.
I would be very grateful for whatever pearls of experience you wish to
cast before this particular swine.

Thank you!!

Re: My First Time Building! Counsel before the big day? : )

On Tue, 12 Apr 2005 22:19:51 +0000, (mook) wrote:


Quoted text here. Click to load it

No, and if you scrape off the original Intel thermal pad and
use Arctic Silver, then technically your warranty on the CPU
is void.  On the other hand, if you want to use Arctic
Silver, do not first "try" the original thermal pad as once
it's melted, it will be much harder to get off of the CPU
(than never having had it melt onto the CPU in the first

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Arctic Silver is expensive and messy.  It's also barely
better than anything else, but it is among the best and some
people feel that's justification enough for the use, and
cost.  Unless you're planning on overclocking or trying to
use the quietest fan/sink possible, it's a waste of money
IMO.  However, now that you have it(?) you might as well use
it so long as the warranty issue doesn't bother you... and
it shouldn't, much, since the odds of a new retail CPU being
defective or failing in a way that "should" be covered under
warranty are quite low.

The main benefits of an aftermarket thermal compound aren't
what the teenagers on the websites mention.  A couple
degrees temp difference is not a competition and you get no
price for "winning"... something they fail to understand.
Even when overclocking that couple degrees means only a few
MHz gained.  The primary benefit is that it doesn't cement
the heatsink to the CPU so it's easier to remove later, and
that unlike silicone-based compounds, the synthetic based
compounds seperate less and don't dry out nearly as much.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Well it may not be sufficient to run the system at all and
may damage multiple parts, maybe even catching fire.  Or it
might run for a few weeks or months, the warranty having
expired, then it fails (and again, maybe taking some other
parts to the grave with it).  Or it might be sufficient
providing the system doesn't run at full load a lot and
raise the temp much, or it might run fine though shorter
lifespan than some better makes.  It's your gamble.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

IMO, it's fraudulent and should be illegal to sell most of
them... legislature takes time to catch up to technology.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Well you already knew and decided to gamble, right?
What are we to say at this point?  
Hopefully you have a multimeter and the ability to recognize
power faults, and hopefully if it does fail it won't kill
any other parts.

What you should look for is a name-brand with ratings you
can trust and ample capacity on the most-loaded power rails.
For a P4 based system that generally means at least 16A,
preferribly 18A or higher 12V rating.  When a PSU has this
or higher 12V rating the other rails tend to have enough
amperage too.  I overlooked your choice of video card and
hard drives so if those are high-end, multiple drives, etc,
then factor for a little higher capacity PSU to accomodate
them.  Antec Truepower and Sparkle/Fortron are two very
common and good value power supplies.  Given the 18A 12V
rating I mentioned above, you can choose total wattage
rating per make/model as needed.  Just remember that the
typical problem with generics is their fictional rating
system, so 20A of Sparkle power > 20A of generic power

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Generally it's better to address individual concerns with a
new post, rather than an all-encompassing "new system" post.
You will get more people to read whole thing for example,
and leaving out the html would've helped in that regard too.

Re: My First Time Building! Counsel before the big day? :

Quoted text here. Click to load it
I'd like to see that tutorial, please.
Not much of one... but it's what worked for me...
Find it

Re: My First Time Building! Counsel before the big day? :

Howdy fellas,

Thanks for all the excellent points - I have modified my potential
order (note: Kony, I haven't ordered yet, you don't need to yell at
me for gambling with my components, lol   8) ), and should be able to
order tomorrow (Friday).  From what I hear about NewEgg, things should
start getting here pretty quick!

iTunes, I decided to grab that Thermaltek heatsink/fan you noted -
after all, it's only ten bucks eh?  Not totally sure I'll end up
using it, but better to have and not need than need and not have
(though a lot of the NE reviews say their chip runs too hot with the
default sink/fan, a lot of other people say theirs run just fine, so
who knows?)

Kony, sage advice on the PSU, and appreciated - the default case fan I
have is a no-name ATX "switching" power supply (don't know what that
means actually), 450W total, 12v @ 15a.  After reading your advice, I
decided to go with an  Antec 430W Power Supply, Model "TRUE430" -
Retail (the NewEgg link is

HERE for those interested) ... it is "only" 430W total (which
should still be well above what I need), but it runs 12v @ 26a - from
my meager understanding of the subject, BIG DIFF   :shock:  And it's
only $65.00.

Thanks for all the help guys!  I'm excited and nervous at the same
time, hehehe - nervous because things are still in flux (components
might arrive damaged, or not cooperate together, or I might install
incorrectly, or aliens might snatch me away before things arrive),
but excited because once the dust settles, assuming all goes well - I
will finally be fully back online, and with a sweeter rig than I've
had in quite some time (as opposed to limping along with a laptop
like I'm doing now  :evil: . Btw, for the insatiably curious, the
loadout of my system that died can be found

I'll keep this thread posted as I go along - I thought I might
'document' the whole affair as well, start to finish, with a digital
camera and some basic web pages of my experience.  There are
certainly a million and one half-decent "How To"s on the net, but one
more can't hurt!

Site Timeline