Build a Better PC - Assembly
Article:  Andy Collinson
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Motherboard:
Now it is time to add the motherboard and components. The Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3 comes with a splendid paper manual with photographs highlighting, every connector, motherboard features, BIOS setup and recommended memory. The motherboard manual is the best source of information when building any new computer, or upgrading.

Anti-Static Precautions
WARNING: Before handling any components an anti-static wrist band is recommended like the one shown on the right. These are inexpensive items and can be bought from Amazon, Maplin and local computer shops.
Anti static mats can also be bought. The static charge in your body can do irreparable damage to sensitive electronic components. Sometimes the effects of static discharge may not show immediately but can manifest as random and intermittent faults. You do not want your new computer to have some bizarre behaviour so it is better to be safe than sorry and buy an anti static wrist band. These can also be used when making circuits using CMOS, MOSFET's and other components that are electro-static sensitive.

Fitting the Motherboard

After the new I/O shield has been fitted (see left image) check that the motherboard screws align with the bottom of the case and also that the motherboard connectors align with the I/O shield, right image. (Click to zoom). The next step is to fit the memory and CPU and heatsink.

Inserting the CPU
As there is plenty of room in this case, I found it easier to install the CPU and memory with the motherboard outside the case. Depending on the case size and style, you may not always have this luxury and working in small spaces hardly any space is a possibility.
All motherboards arrive in an anti static bag, I place the motherboard on the anti static bag and also wearing a wrist strap there are two levers. These are first moved vertically see left and right images. Sorry about the quality in these pictures, there is some camera shake.

The IC socket has a protective cover fitted. This is removed (left image) and then the CPU placed in the socket (right image). The CPU will only fit one way round, never force the IC as all sockets have zero insertion force, also make sure you are wearing an anti static wrist band, with the cord connected to earth.


Once seated both levers are closed. The next step is to prepare for the fitting of the heatsink and fan. In my case I used the heatsink and fan supplied with the Intel i5 processor. It does a good job and is very quiet.

Before attaching the heatsink a small amount of heat sink paste is applied. The paste aids the transfer of heat away from the CPU and helps thermal conductivity, allowing the processor to run cooler. The paste is either white or blue in colour. The right image shows the paste applied, apologies for the camera shake in this picture.

Attaching the Heatsink and Fan

The stock heatsink and fan supplied with the Intel i5 Processor is shown on the left. This is positioned over the CPU and four plastic lugs align with holes in the motherboard. These are pushed down and lock the heatsink firmly into place.

The left picture shows the underside of the motherboard. The centre area shows the pre-installed heat sink, the four plastic lugs can be seen above and below the heat sink.
Silent heat sinks, radiator and water coolers can all be bought to keep the temperature down on any PC. Using a larger heatsink may also require a larger case. I have found that my PC runs around 40°C under idle conditions, rising to about 47°C after a heavy gaming session.

Memory

It pays to invest in quality memory from a recommended vendor. My Gigabyte motherboard manual has a list of tried and tested memory so I went for a Crucial Kit 2X 2GB DDR3 memory. This can only be inserted in the white banks on this particular motherboard. The memory even has a heat spreader to keep temperature low. Faster memory will result in faster overall performance, so its always a trade-off between speed and cost.

Connectors

After inserting the memory the motherboard can now be fitted in the PC case. All screws should align and the I/O shield should line up perfectly with the connectors on the motherboard. The left hand image shows the motherboard in the case.
Now its time to connect some of the many cables. These are colour coded, so it's difficult to get wrong, the right hand image shows a close up of the header connector which will connect to the front of the case containing, power switch, reset switch and front LED's. Above this connector is a white IDE connector (not used as all my drives are SATA) and above this to the right are six SATA connectors.

Power Supply

As well as being bulky the power supply is physically heavy. You don't want to drop this item on your motherboard or CPU fan so its best to fit this item with the case laid down flat. In some cases it may be a good idea to fit this before even fitting the motherboard. The PSU is held in by four screws (left image) the main umbilical cable connects with the motherboard (right image). The wattage of the power supply depends upon the hardware and graphics card. The manual recommends a 500W supply with an Intel Core i5 CPU, however the graphics card may increase the power required and my ATI HD5770 card recommends a 650W PSU. Some graphics cards are even more power hungry and may require a 750W PSU or higher.

DVD Drive

I only opted for 1 optical drive, a DVD/CD writer combination. This was placed in the top bay as shown left. As the drive is a SATA type, a SATA cable is connected to the rear of the DVD drive, and also a power connector from the power supply.

Hard Drives

The performance of hard drives varies considerably depending on the manufacturer. Two hard drives of the size size and type can vary by almost 50%. Hard drives can be installed singly or in multiple configurations or RAID arrays. The reliability of hard drives has also improved so I chose a single SATA2 500GB hard drive. Just recently I have added a second 500G SATA2 hard drive.


There are about 5 bays for 3.5 inch hard drives at the front of the case. SATA drives have a physically smaller cable than IDE drives and can only be connected one way around. I put the first drive in the lowest bay shown above right. The slots allow some adjustment and as shown left, the front of the hard drive is moved forward, but still has good clearance for the front fan. A cable from the power supplied is also required for each hard drive. Excess cable can be cable tied to free spaces in the case as shown on the right picture.

The next step is to add the Graphics Card, the page can be accessed here or from the fixed sub-menu on the left.