The parts had arrived. Just awesome opening all of those boxes. Final parts list:
|CPU||Intel Core-i7 4790K @4.00 Ghz unlocked|
|GPU||MSI GeForce GTX 970|
|Motherboard||Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance 16GB (8GB x 2 @1866Mhz)|
|Cooler||Corsair H100i (water cooling)|
|Optical Drive||Pioneer BDR-209DBK Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer|
|Storage||Crucial MX100 512GB 2.5" SSD (OS X)|
|Crucial M550 256GB 2.5" SSD (Windows 7 Ultimate/8.1 Pro)|
|Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM HDD (1TB Windows/1TB Mac OS X) Media storage|
|Case||Fractal Design Define R5 ATX Mid Tower Case (windowed)|
|WiFi||TP-Link TL-WDN4800 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter|
|PSU||Corsair RM 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply|
|Monitor||28" U28D590D UHD Gaming Monitor|
Everything was opened and ready to go. I enlisted the help of my dad, who is an engineer, to make sure I didn't royally screw this up.
Step 1: Anti-static mat and strap
Do you know how hard it is to find an un-painted piece of metal in a British household? Turns out, in our house at least, that it's quite hard. Even harder is finding a piece of metal which the crocodile clip from the anti-static mat can grip onto. A radiator was found the clip was forcible attached.
Step 2: Motherboard and CPU
Resting the motherboard on the box it came in (thanks for the tip Linus Tech Tips), I checked everything looked OK, not that I know what to look for, and got the CPU slot prepared and ready to receive. Picking up the most expensive per-square-inch component, I made sure the notches were in the right place and got ready to press the lever on the CPU cage down. All build tips and videos I've seen explain the force required to close the cage. This still didn't prepare me for how much force I was putting on this thing. Squared of damage was an understatement. All things done, on to the next bit.
Step 3: Install IO plate and the motherboard into the case
Relatively easy. IO plate slotted in nicely. Stand-offs were easy to install along with the motherboard, as were the screws to hold the board in place.
Step 4: PSU
PSU was also easy to install. Slotted in with plenty of space and screwed in easily.
Step 5: Various connectors
Attaching the various case connectors (LEDs, USB 2.0 and 3.0, fan controllers) was a bit more challenging and required me to look at the manual. It had to be done - I didn't want to be opening up the case unneccessarily.
Step 6: Cooling
The H100i took a bit of thought and placement. I could either remove the HDD racks and put the radiator at the front of the case or open the Modu Vents at the top of the case. Going with the latter, we prepped the stand-offs and mount for the cooler (Intel version). Having removed two of the Modu Vents from the top of the case, the radiator and fans were installed, followed by the cooler itself. While plugging in the various cables (USB, pump power), we had an issue with the fan controls. A Y-cable was provided, which didn't fit the cables which came with the fans themselves. This perplexed us for quite a while, but opted for ignoring that fact and plugging the fans into the CPU Fan and CPU OPT headers. Thankfully that seems to have worked..
Step 7: GPU
Installing the GPU was thankfully quite easy. The PCIe slots clearly marked with notches. I didn't really look at the size of the slot required though, as I had to remove an extra white tray for the ports.
Step 8: RAM
Again, very easy. Open the slots, plug the sticks into the same colour.
Step 9: Optical drive and storage
The SSDs and HDD were really easy to install. There's space for two SSDs behind the motherboard, by the back of the case. Even though I installed them the wrong way round (upside down - it happens), the arrangement was pretty neat and tidy. HDD slotted into the removable trays really easily, using the shock-absorbers provided by Fractal.
The optical drive was another story, but that has to do with power. Installation itself was easy with only two thumb-screws holding it in place.
Step 10: Wireless card
Easy as it slotted into a PCI hole.
Step 11: Cables and power
Plugging in everything took some time and the cable management at the moment is relatively poor, but I will sort that out once I've got LEDs in there.
The two main things that I'd forgotten to plug in and only found out later on were the motherboard (should have figure that one out earlier) and the GPU. I didn't realise until the next day that the GPU needs both the 8-pin and the 6-pin power connectors, connected.
I don't have a picture of the BIOS screen I finally saw, but it powered on and worked. Just awesome. Total time spent: 6 hours. That included re-doing some of the initial installation.
Main lessons learned:
1. Plug power cables in as you go. Makes for easier cable management
2. Spare PSU cables probably means you've forgotten to plug something in
3. If a component has more than one power slot, it probably needs both filled
4. Don't be afraid to undo something you've done and do it again, to make sure it's been done properly
5. Make sure you've got a few hours to spend on the build
6. It's awesome building your own machine and seeing it turn on.
Next up: software.