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Just built me first PC - my thoughts!

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by MRW, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. MRW

    MRW
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    Following on from my initial thread here I thought I'd write an update for anyone interested, and also to get some things off my chest!

    Firstly the hardware I chose in the end:

    Case - Coolermaster Cavalier 3 CAV-T03 (£77.55 from Chillblast)
    PSU - Tagan TG480-U01 480W Silent (£69.33 from Chillblast)
    Motherboard - Asus A8V Wireless Edition Socket 939 (£90.42 from Chillblast)
    Chipset - Athlon 64 3500+ Socket 939 (£235.99 from Dabs.com)
    Graphics Card - currently Radeon 9700 Pro - Sapphire Radeon X800XT Platinum Edition on order (£330 from Komplett.co.uk)
    RAM - 2 x 512 MB Corsair 3200XL 2-2-2-5 (£190 from Komplett)
    Hard drives - 2 x Western Digital Caviar 160GB S-ATA (£64 each from Komplett)
    DVD Writer - Pioneer DVR-108 (£58.50 from Dabs)
    CD Writer - Samsung 52r 52w 32rw OEM (£14.46 from dabs.com)
    Speakers - Creative Inspire T5900 (£65.00 from Komplett)
    Monitor - Viewsonic VX910 19" 16ms response (£358.32 from microdirect.co.uk)

    Total cost around £1700 inc VAT

    Putting it all together...

    Daunting to start with, never got any easier! In the end it took me two evenings, about 10 hours in total from getting everything out of the box to sitting here typing this.

    Minor nightmares were firstly putting the chip onto the mobo - this was the first thing I did and was sweating buckets, but it went OK. Then the heatsink which came in the box had great instructions, but why do they make you use such force when dealing with such a delicate component?!

    The mobo and case manual didn't mention that you first have to screw in 9 little brass screws into the case, before you screw the motherboard to it, but I figured it out in the end!

    There were roughly a million cables to deal with - but thankfully the motherboard manual was excellent, and I seem to have put everything in the right place! Even with such a big case, all the cables did make things tricky to install. The tiny little cables coming from the front panel of the case (power button, USB ports etc etc) were of the tiniest variety - cue much cursing.

    I had never heard of RAID a month ago, and although the mobo manual talked about installing hard drives onto the motherboard, it didn't say whether you should attach the SATA cables to the RAID_SATA1 and RAID_SATA2 connections or to the SATA1 and SATA2 ones! (More to come on the subject of RAID later)

    Everything else went well - the case has a nice 'catch' mechanism for fitting CD Drives/HArd drives etc, so no screws needed there. RAM fitted in fine.

    Once everything was connected, I took a deep breath and switched on. No drama, the fans just whirred into (a very quiet indeed) life.

    With regards to this RAID thing - the mobo manual told me some more about setting this up in the bios, which I did, and then I had to go into some other bios-like setup where the two harddrives could be seen. But although everything loked well, Windows Setup was insistent that it couldn't find any hard drives. Upon reading the FM, I realised that Windows Setup gave you the option of pressing F6 to install a SCSI or RAID driver. So I did this, but it prompted me to insert a manufacturer-supplied drived disk (floppy) which was not supplied.

    And of course I didn't have a floppy disk drive did I - I mean why on earth do you still need one?!? So I used the supplied CD to create a floppy at work, and had to temporarily install an old floppy drive from an old PC. Got to Windows Setup, pressed F6 and it looked like it was going OK until Windows told me that the disk had caused an error!!!!

    Then I wondered if I had plugged the hard-drives into the wrong SATA connection on the motherboard, so I swapped them from the SATA_RAID connection to the SATA one, and lo and behold Windows could now see them.

    From then on Windows could see one big hard-drive and installed itself quite happily - the whole Win XP installation taking little over 15 minutes!

    First impressions:

    Fast and quiet. Fast as in Windows XP took 15 minutes to fully install, Service Pack took 2 minutes and Office XP just 45 seconds. Far Cry installed in 4 minutes and the first level loaded in 45 seconds. I played about 2 minutes on full settings (Very high everything) without a hitch, so I can't wait to see what the X800XT PE will do!!

    I can barely hear the fan now, so the whole rig is much quieter than I had expected.

    The monitor looks great with a DVI cable used (not supplied) and I've yet to really test the 16ms (claimed) response time but so far I'm well impressed.

    With regards to the suppliers:

    All the kit was ordered on the same day.

    Dabs excellent as usual - kit arrived next day!

    Then chillblast - no worries

    Then komplett - although still waiting for X800XT PE's to come into the UK

    Then microdirect - not impressed. P*ss poor at answering the phones and don't even bother with email. When I ordered online, I left a note saying that the credit card was not registered at the delivery address, as I wanted the stuff to go to my work address. I rang them 5 days after placing the order to hear that they thought my card had been used fraudulently. I had to again explain to them about the card and was told that it would be a further few days to get the monitor. In the meantime I checked my bank balance only to see that they had taken the money out of my account tow days after placing the order!

    Still, all the kit is now here (minus the graphics card) and I'm delighted with the results so far!

    Thanks for listening.
     
  2. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    It's always a moment on terror when installing a heatsink on this sort of system :) .. one of the nice things about P4s is that the force is applied by use of retaining screws which go into two side-rails, none of that horrible levering of the retaining clip.

    Then comes the big moment when you press 'Power' and hope not to hear crackling and the smell of melting plastic. :D

    DABS is a great place to buy as long as you don't need Customer Service (sic), getting through to them can be a nightmare and IMX their e-mail relies can take over 24 hours which is NOT GOOD when wanting to RMA a faulty component.

    Anyhow, your first system's now done .. soon me time to start planning the second. :devil:
     
  3. inzaman

    inzaman
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    I had a few problems with the SATA drive and windows when i built my first pc just back in August.
    Took me a while to figure out i had to load the drivers, luckily i had purchased a floppy drive but despite putting the ide connector the correct way round in accordance with the notches the floppy drive would not work. Took me a few hours to try another lead in different combinations and it worked eventually, that was the biggest problem though.

    I am glad that i have finally built one myself as i now have a lot more understanding and confidence to upgrade where possible.
     
  4. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Motherboards are beginning to integrate SATA such that the BIOS can configure them to replace the IDE channels and you can thus install XP 'as is', I have an ASUS and Gigabyte P4 boards that do this and a friend has a DFI AMD64 board likewise .. something to look for if you plan on using SATA disks.
     

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