Building my PC: plug in and install

After the paint process was completed, I removed the top, side, and front panels from the case, as well as all of the masking tape behind the screens. A quick check around the fully exposed case showed no paint leakage requiring clean up, so I was ready to start plugging everything in.

view of custom PC build components

Most of the components used in this build

There are numerous tutorials explaining how to put together a PC in greater detail that I can provide here, so I’ll just summarize the fun key moments. (I recommend the NewEgg videos on YouTube as a starting point if you’d like to build your own rig.)

The CoolerMaster case has a few unique characteristics to work with: there’s a metal flooring specifically for mounting the motherboard, which makes it handy for installing and mountain components outside the case. Once installed, access to the lower part of the case to the power supply cabling is fairly limited, so it helps to plan out your cabling needs before screwing anything in. This includes any wiring to the power supply, hard disk drives, and card reader.

Side view of the install in progress: front is on the left, back on the right. The black snake cable goes from the power supply to the motherboard on level 2.

Installation of the CPU cooler fan required an extra to YouTube for a walkthrough. While it’s not technically hard to do, the fitting of the cooler support required fine fitting of screws and angles while not damaging the CPU.

The Silverstone USB 3.0 card reader caused a temporary kerfuffle and a trip to Fry’s: during spec planning, I missed that I would be putting the 3.5″ size unit into a 5.25″ bay, so I needed to pick up a bay adapter. And then once I had the card reader installed, I couldn’t get a CF card fitted into the slot. After a moment of ‘did-I-order-the-wrong-part’ panic, I realized that CF cards go in upside down into the unit. Hm.

The two hard drive slots are hot swap, which made cabling super easy. I connected the Intel SSD first to ease installation of Windows 8. I later connected the WD 2TB drive once Win8 was up and running.

Custom paint job- front view

Front view of the full install, everything up and running. DVD and card reader on the left, the two hot swap drives on the right. You can also see how I masked off the On/Off buttons to prevent paint clogging.

The single hardest part of the install? Moving my data from one big HD to another. Transferring over our home network was easy but slow. I had an Easy Transfer cable left over from the XP-to-Vista migration, the Windows transfer software limits transfer from just one primary hard to another, so I couldn’t just move from my media to the new secondary 2TB drive. I ended up using a portable Seagate 500GB drive as the go-between, and simply copied it from one machine to another using TeraCopy, which is faster than the standard Windows File-Copy process.

Final custom PC install

All up and running.

Additionally, Windows 8 is humming along nicely, and seems to have settled in well with the new hardware. The latest version of Office runs smoothly, as does Lightroom and Photomatix. I haven’t yet installed the Windows Phone developer tools, that will be a 2013 project.

Windows 8 desktop

Windows 8 desktop

Overall assessment: mission accomplished. Now let’s see if I can break in that copy of Borderlands 2 I picked up over the holidays.

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