Build a Computer

A diversion on my normal building DIY tasks to look at building a PC from scratch.

I’ll keep my existing monitors, mouse and keyboard. I bought the following:

  • NZXT H510 case
  • ASUS Maximus XI Hero Motherboard
  • Intel i7-9700 cpu
  • 2 x Samsung 970 Pro SSD drives (512gb each)
  • 32gb Corsair Vengeance ddr4 ram
  • Corsair rm750x power supply
  • Noctua NH-L9i cpu fan
  • Noctua NF-A14 case fan
  • Noctua NF-F12 case fan

The NZXT case is really a gaming case as it has a glass side panel to show off the inside with a load of RGB lights. I’m not using this for gaming, I just liked the styling of it. One thing to note is that there is no space for a CD/DVD drive.
It does come with 2 x 120mm chassis fans. One at the back and one at the top.

The one at the top could be replaced with a larger 140mm fan. I decided I would replace them both with better quality ones.

The next thing I did was fit the power supply. The RM750X is a modular one which means you only need to connect power cables that are needed.

It comes with a bag of cables.

Very easy to fit.

So far, so good. I should say at this point that I started the build on the morning of Christmas day with the fantasy dream of having everything up and running before my Turkey dinner.
Without wanting to spoil the outcome I am writing this blog on my new pc – but 3 days after starting!

Next it is time for the motherboard. With this you need to be careful with static and not frying your motherboard before you begin. I don’t plan on building another PC anytime soon, but still felt it wise to get a good quality anti-static solution.

This is a large anti-static mat that has a couple of metal studs on it. A wristband is connected to it. The mat is connected to the house earth wiring with a plug in socket.

The motherboard is really nice. Again, it is a gamers motherboard, but I went for this one because it is mainly black and has a built in I/O that has 2 monitor outputs. I don’t plan on using a graphics card.

The first thing to add to the motherboard is the cpu chip.

I went for the 9th generation of the Intel chip. The type is the i7-9700.
This chip has built in graphics which I need, but cannot be overclocked. I have no need for overclocking so can save around £30 on the cost over the i7-9700k.

The chip also comes with a fan which I won’t be using.

To fit the chip, remove the ‘Join the Republic’ cover and release the holding clip.

Put the chip in, close the holding clip and add a drop of thermal paste.

The thermal paste comes with the replacement fan I bought, the noctua HN-L9i.

Because I cannot overclock I can go for a simpler cpu cooler. This fan is nice and small and I really didn’t want a water cooling system. Water and electricity don’t go together in my mind!
The fan has to be fitted to the motherboard before the motherboard is fitted to the case as it is secured to the back of it.

What I should have done at this stage is make a note of where the fan power connector goes. If I did it again I would rotate to the right once or maybe twice.

The next thing to install are the hard drives. Now this is new to me, but Solid State Drives (SSD) can now be installed directly to the motherboard.

I got two of them at the same size. This does mean you can do RAID things (for faster read/write or for backing up) but I want neither. I just want one drive for Windows and applications, and the other for storage.

Now comes my first problem. I went to install the motherboard to the case and I couldn’t get it in.

The power supply of the top fan is in the way. The entire fan at the back is blocking access to get the I/O panel in.
So, both fans had to be taken out.

Connecting the fan power supplies to the motherboard is already looking messy. None of them are long enough to route through the back of case.
The connection of the CPU fan is right next to the top case fan, so I plugged it into one of the chassis sockets instead. The manual says they all operate at the same wattage so I should be fine.

Next up are the two 16gb ram sticks.

They only go in one way, but I am now on my second glass of wine and tried forcing them in the wrong way and being puzzled why I couldn’t get them in.

At this point I stop for Turkey.

After connecting the four leads from the front panel to the motherboard (on/off switch, usb’s and audio) it is time to connect the motherboard to the power supply. There is a 24 pin connection for that.

That should be it, just need to plug in the cables to the I/O

I turn it on and the only thing that happens is that all the fans come on. Nothing on the monitors and it doesn’t enter the bios.

I randomly try different things for the next couple of hours before giving up. Roll on Boxing Day.

I am thinking maybe the motherboard is faulty which would be a pain so I decide to take out the graphics card from my old pc and install that.
Exactly the same thing – nothing on the monitors!

I then accidently start reading the instructions to my old gigabyte motherboard and am annoyed with myself for heaving read the ASUS instructions a billion times I had managed to miss this bit of information. It says as well as the 24 pin power supply it needs an 8 pin connection for the cpu.
I then get even more annoyed when I return to the ASUS instructions I cannot find that information again.

So, I look through the bag of power cables and sure enough there is one labelled as CPU.

I plug that in and turn it all on again and almost successful. There is at least something on the monitors.

It doesn’t like the fact I connected the cpu fan to a chassis socket. So I had to use the one near the top fan. I’ve ended up with cables everywhere. Don’t know why it is complaining about the keyboard.

Here’s a video of my final turn on test (I’ve lied on the title)

So, all good. I put the case panels on and got ready for the next step.

The next step being installing Windows 10.
I already had a licence for this on my old PC. According to Microsoft as long as that licence is a digital one and linked to my Microsoft account I can reactivate it against the new motherboard.
You have to create a Windows Media USB to install windows.

It installed fine, but when it came to reactivating the licence it failed.
That was the end of Boxing Day.

Final day and Microsoft logged onto my pc to see what was wrong. In the end they supplied me with a new Product Key and I was up and running.

Job done – was it worth it ?

Well, in terms of saving money, I don’t believe it works out any cheaper building a PC yourself.

But it is very satisfying doing it yourself.

4 thoughts on “Build a Computer

  1. I’ve always fancied building one myself. That is until I look at the price, as I’m not a gamer an off the shelf Dell has always been OK.

  2. You can build a PC to any budget though Stu. Next time you’re due for a replacement, think about building it yourself.

  3. How long would you get out of a case and power supply? When I was looking before they where changing the motherboards so often you had to buy the lot again.

    1. My last pc lasted 9 years. The power button on the case broke and something was overheating. I suspect the graphics card.
      Motherboards tend to come in standard sizes and cases are made for those sizes. The motherboard I just bought would have fitted my old case.
      Same with the power supply. My new power supply would have connected to the old motherboard.
      The problem is that CPU processors keep changing. My old intel cpu wouldn’t have fitted the new motherboard. Same with the old ram sticks. They are now a different size.
      If my new pc build also lasts 9 years, no problem.

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