THE BUILD

At Wizard PC Services we offer many services.  Most of our work is done face to face helping clients with general computer problems.  These might include virus removal or email problems.  However, there is much more to us than just that.    We  have a range of desktop PC's called the Sabre range.  These are great machines and are tailored to be extremely good value for money, reliable and great for most peoples tasks.  Based on the AMD Ryzen series these are easily upgradeable for future expansion. 

 

Sometimes, however, we get a request for something a little different.  We were approached by a customer with a brief  to build a system that could be as future proof as possible with high end parts and a really classy look. Below is what we did and how we built it.

PARTS SELECTION

The client is a graphics designer who also plays a few games.  We are initially going to incorporate some of the parts from his existing, already pretty powerful PC.  We have a great Graphics card which we will be using from his existing system.  However, we need to add to this the meat and bones of the build.  This is a top end build so we started with top end parts - Intel core i7 8600k. This is an excellent chip and although takes up a fair chunk of the budget, its imperative we get a CPU thats as fast as possible.  His existing graphics card is capable of handling the masses of data associated with todays high end games so we didn't need to worry about this. It is expected that the existing Geforce GTX 970 will be replaced with an EVGA 1080ti in the next month or so - currently one of the most powerful cards on the market, it also commands a hefty c£900 price tag.

As with a house, we need good foundations for our build.  We therefore paired this i7 with an Asus Prime Z370-P which not only looks the part, but has masses of features for future expansion - its 4K ready, has a great UEFI Bios and excellent reliability credentials.  At also has 2 x M.2 expansion cards, one of which we will be using by installing a 256Gb Corsair MP500 M.2 SSD - fast as hell and provides the level of storage required.

The use of this machine is going to require a fair amount of multi tasking.  Multiple websites and additional gaming resources will also be in use all at the same time as will a 2nd monitor.  To facilitate this 16Gb of fast DDR4 is being utilised in a 2 x 8Gb configuration.  This is Corsair Vengeance with white LED's which is a theme which the build is going to stick to throughout.

The full specification of the PC is as follows:

  • Corsair Carbide Glass ATX tower case

  • Asus Prime Z370-P motherboard

  • Intel Core i7 8600K hex core CPU

  • Corsair H100i AIO watercooler

  • Corsair 256Gb MP500 M.2 SSD

  • Seagate Barracuda 1TB Hard Drive

  • Corsair RM750x Power supply Fully modular

  • Windows 10 Home edition

  • LED light strip in white

THE BUILD STARTS

Ok the parts are here so its time to get started.

First thing is always to check the parts and make sure you have got what you need.  I now have the old system from the client as some of the parts from this are going to be used in the new build.  

The next step is to start putting them all together in the case.  Once the case is opened we can see that Corsair  provide some nice touches with their Carbide Glass case.  First off the tempered glass side window for showing off your systems innards.  Most cases offer a Perspex panel, but this is glass and you can really feel and see the difference.  Also included is a small box inside the case which has a supply of screws which are all black to contrast the case, a few cable ties, a small motherboard speaker and the rails that fit on the hard drive to allow the quick release of the drive.  You can easily fit several drives in this case (as well as 2 SSD's if you want) so there is plenty of scope for upgrades should the client choose. The nice thing is that all the drive bays are hidden away so they are not on show in the main area - a really nice touch which a lot of case makers are starting to adopt. For future upgrading, Its not only about the now, but also planning for any improvements that maybe needed at a later date - this case does allow for that.

The next step is to checkout the motherboard, CPU, CPU cooler and memory.  These can all be fitted whilst the board is outside of the case (accept the cooler).  In many respects it’s much easier to do this anyway as long as you are extra careful when then installing the board in the case.  Its important when handling motherboards etc, to always make sure you are grounded.  Touch some bare metal (not a painted radiator) to ensure that any static charge in your body is discharged.  Static electricity and computers components are not best bed buddies!  You could also ware an anti static wrist band that clips to something metal which will do the same job.  Install the CPU as per the installation instructions set out in the motherboard manual.  You will find that generally you cant fit the CPU incorrectly as there are usually little cut outs on the chip which relate to small extensions on the motherboard.  This is a Core i7 and is no exception to the rule.  If it wont go in - its not supposed to.  Don't force it as you could damage the pins on the board.  Once the CPU has been dropped into place, lock it down using the lever on the board and then we are ready to install the board.  We are using a Corsair H100i all in one water cooled loop.  These are excellent at keeping the processor really cool which is a must with any chip, but especially a high end one.  When a machine runs fast, it generates a lot of heat and an inefficient cooler will cause all kinds of problems in the future.  Its easier to install the cooler into the case first so you can get an idea of placement.  Initially, my idea was to fit the radiator on the cooler in the roof of the case with fans pushing the heat up for maximum efficiency (as per the installation picture) but as you may have noticed from the final build, this had to be adapted as there wasn't enough clearance from the memory modules to the roof for this to happen.  So a rethink was taken and in the end the radiator was installed in the front of the case.  No issues with that as this can be the preferred placement for some builders anyway- however, it was a good job we didn't need an internal DVD drive as this would have been a problem as the two wouldn't have fitted easily.

INSTALLATION

So we are just about ready to install the main board into the case.  This is pretty straight forward but you need to do a quick check first.  When in the case, the board sits on small pins that are screwed into the motherboard.  These have a thread opening which allows you to then screw the motherboard into these pins thus attaching the board to the case.  You should see in the case that there are pre drilled mounting holes for these pins.  You just need to make sure that the pins in the case match up with the holes that are in the motherboard.  As there are different sized motherboards, the holes could be in slightly different places to the pins in the case.  If so, unscrew them from the case and move them to the correct hole.  More often than not, there may not be enough pins screwed into the case to match the motherboard.  You usually get a small supply of additional pins with the case, so just add however many you need.  Always remove the pins that don't match up to the board as this could produce a short on the board when the power is switched on.  Install the I/O face plate in the back of the case as supplied with the motherboard.  This is just a cover with openings for the rear connectors on the board.  Its not imperative but the back of the case looks ugly without it.

With the board now in the case its time to install the power supply, make a small number of connectors and test the system to see if it POSTS. POSTING is when you first power the computer on and the motherboard goes through a pre determined pattern.  The computer does this every time you switch it on and you can adjust the pattern and other settings from a menu system called the BIOS.  Its always a welcome sign to see the POST complete the first time you test the system! Once the POST is complete, you should amend the date and time in the BIOS (if necessary).  Most BIOS's are now UEFI and this one is no different.  This more modern view is able to offer far more options when it comes to checking your new build.  You can monitor temperatures to make sure your cooler is working as it should.  This is very important, a happy machine is a cool machine.  Check the thermal values of the processor you are fitting and allow the machine to idle in the BIOS for 20 minutes of so and monitor the temperatures.  If the temperatures are correct you are ready to go.  If they are too high you may need to resit the cooler, re apply the thermal paste (you may have put too much on the first time). Once you are happy, its time for the last step and make the computer ready to accept an operating system.

Next step is to fit the Hard Drive,  and additional graphics card (if you are fitting one) to complete the installation side of the build.  This build doesn't have a DVD, but if it did, this is when you would fit it. Also ensure the cables from the case for the hard disk drive lights, power lights, reset switch, USB header and front audio headers are connected to the appropriate sockets on the motherboard.  Once done, its then important to cable tie the loose wires into place to get a neat and tidy installation.  Routing these cables behind the board via the holes in the side of the case are the best bet.  Its a bit of an art and you will need perseverance and plenty of cable ties to achieve a tidy interior.

Next step is to power up the system and check to make sure all the internal fans are functioning.  Once this is done, insert your operating system installation disk or USB stick and install windows!

Job is now complete!

Although we haven't covered windows installation with this build, Windows 10 is pretty straight forward to install from scratch.  Aside from that, before delivery it’s very important to stress test the machine for as long as possible  We use Unigene Heaven. This is a graphical fly though of a mythical environment and really tests the machine.  It can also be used to work out a bench line for future system upgrades etc. 

 

Heaven can be downloaded from here for free.