First off, just wanted to thank everyone for your inspiration! This has been a 2-year planning project, including a one year delay to blame on the GPU crypto craze last year. I've always been a pre-built PC user, but finally worked up the courage to build my dream PC, without having to pay the unreasonable retail markups. So thank you again for your support and giving me the courage to do so!
I first started out taking out the upgraded PSU, SSD and HDD from my prior stock system, as I just recently upgraded them last year, so definitely saved a little money here. Set those items aside. Opened the MOBO and first got the I/O shield in the Case. Popped in the CPU, was afraid because of the MOBO's plastic cover pressing down on the CPU, but seen it dozens of times done on YouTube. Next, installed the RAM. Set MOBO/CPU/RAM aside.
Turned my attention to the case, routing the simple I/O cables to the general area where they should be. Moved the pre-installed case fan from the front to the top, together with installing the RGB fan frames. Super easy. Was also glad to see the MOBO standoffs already installed for ATX, so moved onto MOBO install next. Spent a little too much time trying to align the I/O shield and MOBO because of the little spring arms that stick out of the shield, but finally got it in and bolted down.
Started to do some of the I/O cabling install to MOBO that wouldn't get in much of the way. But, realized I installed the annoying USB 3.0 cable into the "wrong" 3.0 header at the bottom and spent some time trying to unplug it so I can re-plug it in the easier-to-manage, MOBO right side 3.0 header. Think I broke off the plastic shield of the first header :( Luckily, no pins bent or broke. Anyway, moved on. Had to understand how to plug the Power Switch and HDD LED (+/-s, etc), and had to understand the case provided a SATA for the other expected plugs (reset, PLED, speakers, etc), but after a little time, figured it out.
Next, installed the simple case stuff - PSU, SSD and HDD. Nothing out of the ordinary here. SSD in the front display, HDD in the drive cage, PSU four screws and the guts hanging out the back.
Next, I installed the AIO backplate and standoffs. Then spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to front install the Rad/Fans, hard time trying to install Rad on the front Rad rack and align the screws with the fans on the inside of the rack. Finally decided to install the fans directly on the Rad, and use the inside of the Rad rack for the install. Came out okay, but lost an inch or two on the inside of the case, in my newb opinion.
Now was time for the star of the show – the GPU! Removed the first two PCIE plates, then GPU said, “I’m too fat! More space!” So replaced top plate, removed third plate. Popped that beast in. Then got confused again, two 8-pin receivers. The PSU as it currently stood had a VGA cable of a 6+2+6. WTH?! Well, let’s just do the 6+2, and did 6 in the second 8slot. >.< And what the heck is this included 8-6+6 adapter provided with the GPU?! (Frustrations to come later. Lol)
Finally, time to plug everything else in. MOBO, CPU, AIO, Fans, RGB fan frames. Not too much struggle, but just making sure I caught all of them made me nervous. Per advice, did not do any cable management just yet to see if it would boot first.
Now the real test, plugged in keyboard, mouse, monitor and power. Fingers crossed. Power ON! Yes!! We have lights! Fans spinning! Success…but wait. No display…um. Oh, and why is one RAM stick not lighting up?!
Deep breathing. Okay. Two problems. Display and RAM. Tackle one at a time. Moved HDMI to onboard graphics. Still no display. Maybe MOBO confused since GPU installed. Removed GPU. Still no display. Take a break.
Per Internet, might have to do with a bad RAM. Hmm…two birds one stone. Let’s try. Removed all RAM, installed one. Booted, we now have a display! Shutdown, add another stick, boot. Rinse & repeat. All sticks lit, all had display. Looks like one stick just wasn’t seated right during first boot.
Finally back to the GPU…the one component that just about outpriced all other components combined. Sigh…well, now that we have a display, I still felt funny about the 6+2+6. YouTube came back to the rescue, finally understood and found my PSU box from last year, found the other VGA cable with same 6+2+6 and plugged in the TWO VGA cables 6+2:6+2. The other 6s got routed to the basement for a clean look.
Unplugged everything, time for cable management! WooHoo. Loved how the case provided for excellent management. Also, installed last touch of the LED strips. Put the panels/glass on. Played “bow-chika-wow-wow” music as I peeled back the plastic cover from the glass, as I finally graduated into the PC Master Race.
Finally, at long last, it’s done!
Things I’ve liked to have done differently for next time. (i) Get one of those turntable/lazy susan thingy…my back was definitely sore lifting and turning the case, which only got heavier as parts were being added. (ii) Plan the plugs even more thoroughly than I thought I did. If I didn’t break off the plastic of that USB 3.0 header, I might be a little happier. (iii) Make sure to check the seating of each component. That RAM stick costed quite a bit of time researching…but one cannot truly appreciate success without failure. =)
Thank you again to everyone for walking this journey with me!
Time spent: I/O Shield install – 3m CPU install – 30s RAM install – 2m Fan/RGB frames – 10m MOBO install – 15m I/O cabling – 25m (darn 3.0 header) PSU/SSD/HDD – 15m AIO – 45m GPU – 10m Plugs/Cabling – 15m Error/Fail – 1h
Total build time – 4h I’m okay with that since it’s my first build =)