January 23, 2011

Building a new PC

Tags: Technical

After 4 and a half years of service, my laptop (underpowered when I bought it) is finally beginning to give up. It gets very hot, too hot to touch just running Eclipse and iTunes. Trying to watch a video longer than 30 minutes usually results in a stall or sometimes even a crash. It has had a good run, but it’s time for a new one, especially considering how much I use my computer for work and leisure. So I decided to build a new desktop - below are the before and after pictures.

The components I used are:

  • CPU: Intel i5-2500K, I got the K version so I can overclock
  • Graphics: Palit GTX570, fairly powerful as I plan on playing a few modern games and want to fill a large screen
  • MB: Asus P8P67
  • RAM: Kingston 4x2GB DDR3 1600MHz, cheap and overclock friendly
  • SSD: OCZ 120GB Vertex2
  • HDD: Samsung 1TB F3
  • Case: Arctic Cooling Freezer R3
  • Fan: Arctic Cooling R3, Sandy Bridge chips supposedly run cool, so this is just a good cheap fan
  • Power: Antec 650W
  • Optical: LiteOn 24xDVD RW
  • Monitor: Dell U2410, a large high quality screen is very important considering the time I spend in front of it

I last built a PC from components 10 years ago. Despite this, I was fairly confident I could do it despite things changing a bit since the last time - separate graphics cards and CPU fans are new to me. There are many good guides on the net on how to build a PC (here’s one), so I won’t unnecessarily add to them. However, here are some photos of the process:

  • Installing the CPU

  • Installing the fan (easy because the thermal paste was already applied to the CPU plate when the fan arrived)

  • Installing the RAM

  • Power on test - worked first time!

  • Installing power supply and drives in the case

  • Installing the motherboard

After that last photo I just tidied up the cables, turned it on and I was done. Or so I thought. Everything worked, but the BIOS only registered 4GB of RAM. I tested all the sticks and they were fine. Puzzled, I looked it up online. It seems that the BIOS that ships with the P8P67 motherboard can only support 4GB, as discussed here. I had to flash the BIOS to a more recent version and now it works - but still, a poor show from ASUS.

Anyway, it’s all working and I’m very happy with it.