Last time, on Kris builds a PC, I made the horrible decision to try and build a computer, despite having never done so before! Part one was an explanation of all the parts and pieces, so today, I will be covering the build of the computer.
My first step was to watch all the videos I could. I watched the Newegg series on YouTube of how to build a computer, I read articles anywhere I could, I watched any pc build videos I could find, just so I could get a grip on what I put myself in for. The entire process reminded me, of all things, of Dark Souls. I would constantly be looking up new builds, watching gameplay videos, searching for secrets, and the level of obsession between the two was just about the same. This process was absolutely critical to the actual build. Several times, I didn’t know what I should be doing, but I was able to mimic it very well.
So with that out of the way, I wanted to post the first of several low quality cell phone photos. My suspect number one for things that would fuck up the build? This guy:
Turns out, my number one enemy was going to be shipping. My PC came in four separate shipments, two FedEx, two UPS. I live in a low income apartment with a security door, so no one could deliver the parts, and there was no way I was asking them to leave them at the door. So I had to pick up all the pieces myself, and walk them across about thirty feet across and one inch deep of ice to get them inside my apartment. So step one of building a PC? Own a house.
After picking everything up, I made a quick inventory, and set up a nice photo to show you all what I would use. This is where I get nervous: I am posting the guts of my PC, and any person could yell out ‘that parts a piece of crap!’ and I wouldn’t know any better. They could also shout ‘that isn’t compatible with the other thing!’, which is just about my worst nightmare for this project. Foreshadowing? Maybe.
Yes, the whiskey was an essential part.
To take another videogame sidebar, the one thing that helped me the most to keep sane? My WiiU. During the actual build, I had the gamepad propped up playing South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, followed by John Oliver’s stand up, followed by Futurama. They say to leave about 4 hours to do the build of the PC, which is, unfortunately, pretty accurate. The proximity to a TV analogue was comforting when things went wrong. Did things go wrong? There’s that foreshadowing again....
Now, building a PC is a lot like having sex for the first time, from what I have heard. You are going to be shoving things where they shouldn’t be shoved, it takes longer the first time, it hurts, you might want to take a dry run, and you want good protection. That being said, my first step was to open both panels off the case and mount the power supply. After plugging in the power supply, I strapped on my anti static bracelet, and had a clear path from me to the ground. Hooray, safety! Then, just to get them out of the way, I mounted my optical drive and HDD, because I was sick of looking at them, and it didn’t take any screws, which was nice. Now I could start with the actual parts.
I saw people doing builds outside of the box to make sure the core components work before mounting them. But nuts to that, I decided to run it first from the case. I started with the motherboard and the processor. The one thing I can say about this whole process is that building a computer feels like holding a baby robot: It is something incredibly powerful, very expensive, and yet profoundly fragile. Each piece felt like I had to perform surgery, which made the shoving all the more terrifying. And oh yes, there was plenty of shoving. The exception is the CPU, which has either the best or worse signature sex move: “zero force insertion”. That is the technical term, and that is amazing. At this point in the build, I was still pretty happy, so I had a picture of the motherboard, with CPU:
The heatsink had useless directions, so I clipped on the only things that could be clipped, then tried to push a lever. The lever appeared to put mad pressure on the CPU, so I let that one alone. It wasn’t going anywhere. Next, I shoved the crap out of some RAM. The guide for the RAM mentioned it was dual channel, so you had to put it in slots 1 and 3, indicated by being darker on the manual. Luckily, the board could be oriented so slots 1 and 3 were slots 2 and 4 if the board was upside down. So I jammed them where I figured they would need to be jammed, and went on with my life. The case, while amazing, has two mounting holes in really shitty places, where there is no place to start threading the mounting screws. Even with that complication, I delicately and figuratively dropped the motherboard in there. Turns out mounting screws don’t protrude through the holes, you screw into them. Who knew? Finally, I took the graphics card and jammed it into the PCI slot and screwed it in.
Again - jamming is NOT a word you should be using when talking about a computer. It should be inserted, mounted, or placed, but this shit was jammed. Several times I felt the motherboard bending while I was putting in pieces or plugs, and it was really, deeply concerning, because I did not want that to break in any way. After all this, here is what it looked like:
Finally, the most pain in the ass part: hooking everything up. My PSU was not modular, and my case only has 3 holes for wire management. My lighting was crap, and my motherboard (and probably every motherboard) is labeled in the most confusing manner ever. There are cables labeled things like “Front LED”, “Power Button”, etc. And yet, on the motherboard, you have things like “JTPM1”. Now if you are one of those people that thinks that makes sense, please leave. You are part of the problem.
Next I got all the power hooked up from the PSU to various components: video card, motherboard, HDD, optical drive, and two case fans. All the case fans were 3 pins, and only 1 motherboard case fan was 3 pin, the other was 4, so I had to use a molex connector to get two of the fans going. Incidentally, I didn’t know that molex could be wired in an orgy (or series? Is that what its called? Look, I’m not an electrician.), so I only had one case fan functional, but hey, I have a box fan, and its winter, so close enough.
Now, here was major heart attack number one: About halfway through, I left the PSU on the ON position, and while manhandling the case, I hit the power button. Good news? That was wired. Also good news? Graphics card, fan, and heat sink were all spinning. After observing that, I killed the power, and hoped that wouldn’t mess everything up.
After I had all of the wires where I wanted them, I started it up again, and saw everything move that I wanted to move, and nothing that I didn’t want to move, so I figured it was time to tie up some wires. I feel like I am a scrub, because I only used three bread ties, so clearly my computer will melt into a puddle on the ground in an hour. So now it was the moment of truth: hooking it up, and trying to get BIOS.
I plugged in the HDMI cable, the keyboard, the mouse, and the power, and hit the switch. I found the right input and....black. Total black. My heart sank. I switched the HDMI port for the Wii U and the computer, then tried that input. Still black. Oh no. Oh shit. What did I mess up? How do you troubleshoot? I knew I could try and get a POST beep from the computer, so if the video card was faulty, I would know it at that point, but I could not figure out where the speaker port was on the motherboard - see above. I decided to check all the fans. I figure if the motherboard has power, it would power the CPU, and graphics card, and the case fans. If nothing came up, the motherboard was dead, if any piece didn’t work, that piece was faulty. With that, I turned on the power.
Video card: check
Heat sink: nothing.
Balls in my mouth. Balls balls balls. What did I miss? Did you see how I messed up? Because I didn’t. I watched video after video trying to figure out what I messed up, then it hit me: I had no power going to the CPU supplemental power input. Because I am a scrub. So I hooked it up, and pretended like that wouldn’t mess up, oh, everything. Still: no BIOS.
Remember all that foreshadowing? All those broken parts? Well, I’m no idiot, and foreshadowing is for idiots. Chekov’s Gun, bitches! I just didn’t plug in the main power for the motherboard all the way. I secured that connection (along with every other one), and hit power, and saw the most glorious startup screen of my life. That brief, two second flash that comes up before Windows, the two beats that I never knew what they were except nerd porn? Those were the best thing in the world to see.
I had BIOS.
I was a god of all things technology.
After changing the boot order, I put in the Windows disc, and the rest was elementary. Windows installed, then I installed the drivers that came with my graphics card and my motherboard. Incidentally, my motherboard disc had an install for Google Chrome, so I didn’t have to touch IE at all in this build. I used Chrome to download AVG, then Steam. Several restarts later, and I had a fully functioning tower. In the famous words of Bill Murry: It’s Milla Time.
Look, beer is beer.
Part two Epilogue: The build took from about 6 PM on Tuesday until about 11 PM. On Wednesday I came back with some more patience and confidence, and got to work. I got all the case fans up and running on my computer, and plugged in a loose PCI adapter that was on the front of the case to a motherboard slot. Everything, from a technical standpoint, is working. My computer recognizes all the RAM used (16 GB), and the processor power.
Finally, it was time to christen this beauty with a desktop:
So at the end of part two, I am the man with a 12 inch techno dick, but the question is: is it any good in the sack? Sure, I built it and installed Windows, but how does it game? Stay tuned for part 3 of 3: Performance and Benchmarking.