Help for First Build

February 26, 2009 at 00:48:59
Specs: XP Pro, 2.792 GHz / 1278 MB
Can I get a step by step procedure for setting up a new rig. Its my first build so I want to do it right. I'm gonna take my time and get it right. Can some one help me with the first steps. I'm getting: AMD X2 Dual Core, ECS Mobo (sli ready), 4GB 1066 RAM, 500 watt bfg PSU, and all the odd and ends. Just want to install things in correct order and what about FIRST BOOT! AND BIOS SETTINGS. Thanks for any advice...

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February 26, 2009 at 06:30:32
I see you changed the setup that we discussed. Why did you go with an SLi board instead of the 780G? And why did you change the power supply? I just had a look at the BFG website to check the specs & they don't even list a 500W model?

Anyhow, here's how you should proceed with your build:

1. benchtest your hardware BEFORE you install it in the case. This is a very important step that can save you a ton of headaches later on. If you're not familiar with benchtesting, what you'd be doing is testing the basic hardware to confirm it all works. By "basic hardware" I mean the motherboard, CPU, RAM, video & power supply. There's no point installing it in the case if it doesn't work.

2. assuming the benchtest goes well, the next step is kinda up to you. Some people will skip this step & go straight to installing the hardware in the case. Personally, what I would do is leave the hardware out of the case install ALL the RAM, connect a floppy drive, then run memtest86. If you weren't planning to install a floppy drive, I suggest you reconsider. They're relatively cheap & come in handy for running diagnostics, flashing the BIOS & installing the SATA drivers during the Windows installation. Anyhow, once you confirm ALL the RAM is good, move on to step 3:

3. install the same "basic hardware" that you just benchtested into the case, then test it again. This is another very important step. You already know the hardware is good because you benchtested it...if it doesn't work after you install it in the case, you probably did something wrong during the installation. A common mistake is to install a motherboard standoff in a wrong location causing a "short" on the underside of the board. But if the system boots up, enter the BIOS again, double check the CPU temp, then take the time to configure the BIOS settings.

4. if all the above checks out, shutdown, unplug the power cord, then install the rest of the hardware...optical drive, HDD, floppy drive, etc. Then go ahead & install Windows.

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February 26, 2009 at 06:41:13
To expand a little further on the benchtest recommendation:

Start by installing the CPU, HSF & ONE stick of RAM in the motherboard. Then set the board on top of the motherboard box & connect the PSU, monitor & keyboard...nothing else. If your motherboard has onboard video, connect the monitor to that...if it doesn't, temporarily insert the video card & connect the monitor to that. Switch on the PSU & monitor, then jump start the board by momentarily (& carefully) touching the blade of a screwdriver to the two pins that the power button would connect to...the system should immediately fire up. If the screwdriver idea worries you, position the case close to the board, attach the plug from the case power button & fire up the board using the button on the case. Assuming it boots up, immediately enter the BIOS, go to the PC Health section & monitor the CPU temp for a minute or two...the temp *should* remain below 45C. If the temp reading is higher than that, it's possible that the HSF wasn't installed correctly.

Here's a couple of sites that discuss how to benchtest:

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February 26, 2009 at 06:47:46
One more thing to add regarding the motherboard change...since you decided to go with an SLi board, you may as well change the video card choice. We discussed the ATI Radeon HD4670 (not sure if you were planning to stick with it or not?), but you can't run an ATI video card in an SLi configuration. You can run a single ATI card on an SLi board, but if you were planning to run two video cards at some point, they will both have to be nVidia based.

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February 26, 2009 at 11:09:56
Okay thanks. Not changing the motherboard. Jam I went to and there are options for CD iso which Im not so firmiliar with and a floppy file set? Which one do you recommend. So I can install the ram on the motherboard. Hook all power up, START COMPUTER, and boot from this memtest cd,floppy? is that how it works?

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February 26, 2009 at 12:28:35
If you plan on installing a floppy drive like I recommended, download the floppy version. You'll have to unzip it, then click on'll be prompted to insert a formatted floppy, then the memtest program will be copied to the floppy & it will be made bootable. Then all you have to do is boot off it & let it run. It will run continuously in a loop until you stop it. Let it run for at least one complete test may take 30 min or more to complete the one series. If no errors are displayed, the RAM is probably good, but if there are errors, you'll have to determine which stick is bad & remove/replace it.

If you download the CD version, you'll have to unzip it, then burn the ISO to a CD using a program such as IMGBURN. Then just boot off the CD & run it as I explained above.

Try testing your current system to get an idea of how it works....

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February 26, 2009 at 14:35:59
Alright sound good jam thanks. Im gonna try it on my system just like you said. Oh yea and the power supply is the 550 watt not 500 like you tryed to look up. Hopefully that is sufficient enough.

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February 26, 2009 at 15:12:51
"the power supply is the 550 watt not 500"

There are two 550W PSUs listed at the BFG site but Newegg lists 4 different models. If you got one of the models with multiple +12v rails, be sure to balance the load.

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February 26, 2009 at 16:34:09
Forget about that BFG one. What do you suggest one with
Single Rail? I really have no idea what to look for. I heard you can't really get too much watts correct? Becuase it only uses what it needs no more...? Is that true. and if so what wattage should I shoot for? Thanks jam youve been most helpful!

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February 28, 2009 at 11:42:26
"I heard you can't really get too much watts correct? Becuase it only uses what it needs no more...? Is that true."

Yeah, that's right. If you were to install a 1000W PSU & you system only needed 300W, the PSU would only put out wouldn't sit there churning out 1000.

"What do you suggest one with Single Rail?"

Yes, definitely. That will take all the guess work out of it. Get one with at least 400W & no less that 25A on the single +12v rail. Corsair is one of the best choices & their prices are reasonable, but there are other brands that put out decent units with a single +12v.

This Corsair 400W with 30A on the +12v for $50 after rebate should be fine. And if you order it today & use the "Additional 20% off promo code (FEB20)", you can get if for about $38 after rebate:

If you wanna a little more insurance, jump straight to the Corsair 650W with 52A on the +12v. It's $75 after rebate. There's also a 450W unit for $70 after rebate but if you're gonna spend that much, you may as well kick in another $5 & go big:

If you don't like either of those, there are plenty of others to choose from.

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February 28, 2009 at 12:22:00
thanks jam

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