Sunday, November 17, 2013

Li and Mom are game to build a computer

Li wanted to build his own gaming computer for a long time.  By the end of the summer/early fall, we had finally saved up enough money to order most of the parts he would need.  We planned on building it so that he could upgrade and add more parts later.  It was SO exciting!!!  Neither of us had ever built a computer before, but we knew a couple others who had done so successfully and enthusiastically.  We figured that we could look at tutorials and contact our friends who already built computers when we needed help or advice.  We were both game to give it a go!

The whole experience was great - and bonding!!  We both learned so much and usually one of us was able to help the other figure something out.  We did reach out for help a few times and appreciated the advice we received - it helped!  We also contacted manufacturers on a couple of questions.  All in all, it was a successful experience and we look forward to doing it again!!

Below is our computer building story with little clips of things I wrote and what we ordered and when as well as links that were helpful.

All three Newegg videos on building a computer are a must!!!

Newegg TV: How To Build a Computer - Part 1 - Choosing Your Components

Newegg TV: How To Build a Computer - Part 2 - The Build

Newegg TV: How To Build a Computer - Part 3 - Installing Windows and Finishing Touches

Linus Sebastian's videos are awesome too! (NCIX tutorials)

The memory we ordered (we did this first):

G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8 GB (2 x 4GB) 240 Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CLD9 D-8GBXL        Cost: $58.64

9/3 - This is the build we did!! (The build did not include the video card or SSD as we were planning to get those things later.  And the memory had already been ordered separately.)
If you click on the pcpartpicker link, you can see the cost for each component.  Pcpartpicker is great because they let you know if your components are compatible or not.  And you can save various builds and track the price of any component so you can try to buy it when the price is lower rather than higher.

1. CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4 GHz Quad-Core Processor
2. CPU Cooler" Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler
 (We really did not need this.  The stock fan would have been fine!  If we were to build this again, we would use the stock fan and not buy the cooler.  Plus, if we ever wanted to, we could add a CPU cooler fan later.)
3. Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Hero ATX LGA1150 Motherboard
4. Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
5. Case: NZXT Phantom 410 (Whtie) ATX Mid Tower Case
6. Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply
7. Optical Drive: Asus DRW - 24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer
8. Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit)

$743.89 was the total cost of the 8 items above.

We had already purchased the memory for $58.64 and later we added a SSD ($122.99), video card ($82.70 - but note that this was only a card to get by on for now and not the one he wanted) and monitor ($149.99).  The total cost of these other parts is 414.32.

The total cost of ALL the parts were $1158.21.

9/4 - 
These were the two video cards we were leaning towards at the time (but could't decide between):


(this one is now discontinued)   

So we watched a Linus video to help figure out which would be best -

Li began watching tutorials on putting computers together and I watched much of one that Li recommended and took notes!  

Tools we needed: 
A phillips head screwdriver.  
An anti-static wrist strap (really cheap at Radio Shack - think it was about a dollar  

Decided not to get an anti-static mat as we can build on a wood floor and touch metal on the computer case and/or use the wrist strap to discharge static electricity.

If you have extra money to spend, this was the mat that Li especially liked.  
The Mod Mat Extreme (ooohhhh....ahhhhhh):

9/9/13 - OKAY, right here picture a very happy 12 year old holding the huge box containing the new computer case - the Phantom 410 NZXT! Li didn't want me to post a picture of him, so I didn't. I really wanted to because he looked so happy and excited holding it, but I want to respect his wishes! So you'll have to use your imagination!

9/10 - I had some questions about a SSD card and asked them on Unschooling Gamers facebook group.  Since it seemed easier to install the SSD right away and to add a video card later, we decided to order the SSD.  I love the advice from the Unschooling Gamers yahoo and facebook groups!  Facebook post is pasted with permission from Shelly and Dan.

Li and I have almost all the parts to build his gaming pc!  We were going to build it without a SSD or video card and add those things later. However, if we could afford to add one of those things now, which is best to add and why?

If we don't add the SSD now, would it affect the boot up time or anything else?
Like ·  · Unfollow Post · September 10 at 5:19pm
  • Shelly Howard Gullen SSD gives you the fastest read/write time to the hard drive and this definitely makes games perform faster. I'm assuming you're going with a regular SATA drive now for your OS? Both an SSD & Vid card can greatly impact your gaming enjoyment however it's really gonna boil down to personal preference based on the games you play. Minecraft I wouldn't worry about a graphics card, but Halo or Call of Duty, then yeah I'd want a rockin' graphics card first so it's really about your gaming style.
  • Dan Lake If you have plenty of RAM in the system (at least 8GB, but 16GB is better) then the SSD becomes less helpful. Windows will cache most of what it uses frequently in the memory cache and the SSD then just helps with boot speed. For gaming, I'd suggest video card over SSD.
  • Laurie Wolfrum When we build it without the SSD, we'll need to install Windows on the hard drive. When we get the SSD, is there a way to transfer Windows 7 from the hard drive to the SSD?
  • Dan Lake There are programs to clone the driver over to a new drive but it usually assumes that the new drive is at least as large. As long as you have not put more data on there than the SSD can hold though, some programs can rearrange the data and pack it in. None of them are super easy to use unfortunately. I'd either install from scratch and restore my data or just go with the SSD if you are sure you will add it before long anyway.
  • Laurie Wolfrum So as long as we don't have more data on the hard drive than the SSD can hold. Got it. But can you explain what "install from scratch and restore my data" means?
  • Dan Lake I meant that you install everything fresh from the Windows CD and download programs you use like Steam, Minecraft, whatever again. I do that about once year with our computers anyway because they get too cluttered. I've not had great luck with moving everything to a new disk with Windows. On Linux that's easy peasy.
  • Laurie Wolfrum Then maybe better to get SSD now and video card at xmas. Thank you both so much!

9/10 - Ordered SSD Drive from NCIX: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD (Part#: MZ-7PD128BW) $122.99

9/13 - By this date we had received all the parts that we ordered except the SSD.  I was so glad we decided to get the SSD because it was cheaper than the video card that he wanted and it would be easier to add the video card later.  

9/18 - SSD comes today!

9/21 - Saturday...the day of the computer build!!!! :D

We watched a LOT of youtube tutorials!  Here are some links that were helpful.

Like I wrote above, all three Newegg videos on building a computer are a must!!!

Newegg TV: How To Build a Computer - Part 1 - Choosing Your Components

Newegg TV: How To Build a Computer - Part 2 - The Build

Newegg TV: How To Build a Computer - Part 3 - Installing Windows and Finishing Touches

MSI How To Install Intel LGA1150 CPU
How To Build a PC.  The Tech Report Guide: 

For the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (It was a little tricky to put on.  Plus the retention plate came apart by accident - spring and all - and we had to figure out how to put it back together before we could finish installing it.) and and

ASUS ROG Maximus VI HERO Motherboard Overview:

ASUS Z87 Maximus VI HERO Motherboard Review
NZXT Phanton 410 Mid-tower Case - Component Installation

How to Build a Z87 Computer from Start to Finish (ASUS Z87 PRO

I can't remember why we even looked at this...but I'll leave it here just in case.

To do with the ASUS Motherboard we ordered - shows pictures of the motherboard areas (which I think we found helpful to look at): 

NZXT Phantom 410 Mid-Tower Case - Component Installation

What kind of interface do you have to connect your PC to your monitor?  VGA, DVI or HDMI?  This link shows a very clear view of VGA and DVI and explains what the different connectors are.  

How To Install a SSD and an Optical Drive

9/22 - Here is a little bit of what we wrote to our friend Brian for help -

 There are four little wires with 2 pins (though it looks like an empty slot for a third pin).

There is one wider wire that we think should go directly into the power supply, but it doesn't match up.  The New Egg video said to plug it directly into the power supply if we wanted the fan to work manually (which we do).  I wish it would be easy to plug in, but I can't imagine how it could plug into the power supply.  


Brian wrote back....we needed to use an adapter to connect the wider fan cable to the power supply unit (psu).

In case it doesn't go through on skype, my power supply came with one of these adapters that should work. Plug one end into the psu and the other into the fan cable
~Aloha, Brian.

Ahhh....This was good to know.

When we were ready to hook up the wire to the adapter, Zach was over and helped us find the right adapter to use as he also knew what to do.  Good to have so much help!  :)  (phew!)

9/23 - Ordered a monitor from NCIX.  ASUS VS238H-P 23IN Widescreen LED LCD Monitor  1920x1080 2MS 50M:1 250CD/M2 HDMI VGA

9/25 -  Re: fans - The case we bought can support 7 fans.  Three come with it.  There is room for four additional fans which is what those little 2 pin connecting wires are for.  We didn't need those for now and so tucked them neatly away.  We were trying our best at case management!  

Re: monitors - The new case only has a place to plug in the monitor via an HDMI cable.  

Here's a picture of the i/o panel where we'd plug in the monitor. 

The video card we hoped to add later did not have VGA input.  Because the I/O panel did have HDMI, we ordered a monitor that said it was capable of connecting with HDMI.  We planned to connect the monitor directly to the I/O panel.  (ha....this would end up not working and we would end up ordering a video on.)

Here's what the computer looked like on both sides as of 9/21/13.  

Computer Management Side

9/25  - Something we learned: The videos we watched used motherboards that had a plastic thing by each side of the memory slots for inserting the memory sticks.  Our motherboard only had them on one side.  If your motherboard only has them on one side, be sure to make sure that BOTH sides of the memory stick are pushed in far enough.  We got an error message when we did an external boot up that showed there was a problem with the memory.  Turned out that we just needed to push it down a little more on the side that didn't have that plastic thing.  (Sorry.  I don't know what the correct terminology is for "those little plastic things by the memory" that help to hold it down.)  

Here is a piece of an email I sent to Alex (who was so helpful throughout the whole process and afterward!!):

"We were so engrossed in putting it together!!  I mean, we spent the whole day from like 11:30am to like 12:30amish working on it!  With a short break to drive to get more memory because we thought at first our memory was bad (and to eat now and then)...but then it turned out that we had to just press it down a bit more one one side and make sure it was clicked in on the other side. Much of the time was spent going from parts being put in to watching a couple of videos while we were building to googling to consulting the manual.  And we did take our time and double checked with multiple videos and things.   

Jim tended to Kanoa for almost the whole day so I could help Li - and they had fun doing all sorts of things, especially playing "Darth Vader" outside with swords and boppers!  

The hardest thing was to figure out how to use the Cooler Master fan in place of the stock fan.  That was tough because we had a few questions and googled and googled and watched and figured out the answer before proceeding.  But we did it!  (Now I just have to hope we did it well enough!)  This one part of the Cooler Master fan fell apart while I was holding it and we lost the little spring, and then needed to figure out how to put the part back together with the spring in the right place.  I think we got that done right too!  :)  

So..we had our challenges, but it was so interesting and we both learned so much and felt so good doing this!  You are right!  It was so exciting!! 

I'm so excited for the monitor to come so we can finish whatever we need to do.  I wonder how the rest of the set up will go.  But I bet we can figure it out!  And if not, we know to call you or our friend Brian who also just built a computer!  And Katie's boyfriend Zach was a help too...he helped us figure out how to hook up the old monitor with the adapters (if we had wanted to go that route) and also showed us which adapter we needed to use to stick the case fan wire into the power supply.  Knowing you three are available as resources is reassuring!"

10/2 - HDMI cables did not come with the monitor.  We purchased a cable separately, but when we connected the monitor to the HDMI input on the I/O panel, the monitor did not work.  We tried another HDMI cable. Same problem.  Don't know why it didn't work, but we decided to order a graphics card after all just to plug in the monitor.  It wasn't the one that Li wanted, but one that would at least work fairly well, be affordable and connect the monitor to the computer. 
Graphics Card: 
Ordered from New Egg (ordered on 10/2/13):
Item Number: 14-125-430
Description: VGA Gigabyte GV-R667D3-2GI HD6670
Cost: $69.99 with shipping and tax was $82.70

10/7 - Ordered and rec'd a graphics card and installed that and windows 7.  

The next day we did the drivers and anything else we needed to do. 

Here were some helpful links.:

How to set data to save on HDD not SSD

How do I use an SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage drive?

Tutorial on making SSD Boot Drive, but using the HDD for storage:

Alex P. was extremely helpful not only at this point, but throughout the whole process!  (Thank you SO much Alex!!)  When we were trying to figure out how to get the drives to work correctly, we called her.  She walked us through the steps to get to computer management (disk management) on our computer and explained what to click on so we could initialize our drive.  Phew!  Once that was done, presto, the computer worked!  Yay!!  :D

1 comment:

  1. Mr SparePartsOnlineThe problem with gaming laptops is that they’re often unaffordable