Original Post I authored at BF2S.com
If any of my funny asides are objectionable, please let me know. I found if someone can remember the jokes, they're more likely to remember the example of how to get things working.
OK, after all the recent posts of, "I threw all this stuff in place, and my stuff don't work," I've decided to write a little DIY (Do-in-yourself) Trouble Shooting Guide for Home Builders.
What qualifies me?
I was a builder for Hewlett Packard for Custom Setups and Modifications. I was also Lead Troubleshooter at HP for my shift. I also have an MCSA (Microsoft Certified System Administrator) for Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows XP (All Flavors). So I know a little more than most. And if I don't know, I've gotta read up just like anybody else.
So, you've got some new computer components you'd like to put together to play games, look at pr0n, get a mail order bride, look at fetish sites, and generally annoy people with mindless prattle.
Yes you can throw all of your components into the case and turn it on and pray it works. But this is a lot of time and headache if it doesn't. So follow the steps below, take your time and you'll have a machine that works like a charm and it's easier to trouble shoot step by step.
Also it's important to note: DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON YOUR COMPONENTS.
Just because "The guy at the store said it should work," doesn't mean it will.
Check things out before, minimize headaches later.
1. SETUP YOUR WORKSPACE
First off. You would want a static free enviroment. Not many of us have that. So just do your best to not build it on the carpet, or in your socks. Touch something metal that's grounded (like your old computer that's still running) to discharge static. You don't actually hear the ZAP sound untill it's a significant ammount of energy capable of frying a motherboard. (HP/Compaq told me this, so I tell you).
Now that everything is clean and hopefully most of it is in it's ANTI-STATIC packaging, we can start doing things bit by bit and get your computer working. Also using the ANTI-STATIC Mats in the Mobo Box help a lot too. Just don't power up on the mat. The back of the board may get hot enough under certain chipsets to melt it. Don't ask me how I know this.
2. DECIDE ON TEST SETUP
Now you have one of two choices.
1. Mount the motherboard in the case first.
2. Mount everything to it OUTSIDE the case (Processor, Memory, Graphics Card ONLY).
In either case, find the mounting holes on the motherboard and how they match up to standoffs (Brass thingies with hex heads that screws can go in). Utilize as many of these as you can, fill the holes on the motherboard that won't have standoffs with plastic spacers. You NEVER want your motherboard to touch the back side of the case. You could end up shorting across something and lose functionality.
So use those spacers and standoffs!
I prefer to do my test setups outside of the case and leave the board on plastic spacers.
3. MOUNTING YOUR PROCESSOR
So first things first, mount the processor.
Ok, now get your mind out of the gutter and pull your pants back up. Your parents plan on eating on that table tonight.
All processors have what they call ZIF Sockets with CAM LOCKS.
ZIF = ZERO Insertion Force. ZERO, ZIP, NADA, NOTHING. NO FORCE.
If it's being forced into place you're going to bend a processor pin or something worse.
Just think of it as trying to put your fingers into someone elses mouth and they don't really want you to.
Something's gonna get broken, and you'll be in trouble.
Now, UP with the Cam Locks, there should be a little lever in either plastic, or metal on the side of the socket.
Lift it into the UP position. Some of these kind of stick. USE YOUR FINGERS. Don't use a screwdriver, butter knife, crowbar, razorblade or thumbtack to get this open if it sticks a little. Tension is GOOD.
Now look at the socket. Now look at the processor. Look at the socket again. Look at the processor again.
By now I hope you've noticed the orientation of the socket, and the pins on the processor. Usually they give you gold arrows to signify which corner is the one nearest the CAM PIVOT. Long story short. Open Cam, Match the Processor Pins with the open spaces in the socket, and let fall into place. ZIF Remember?
Close the Cam Lock. Processor should be locked in place. You could turn the board upside down and the processor should hold. If not, check your steps. If you did everything right, return the board for one with a better cam lock for the processor slot.
Note: Sometimes the processor requires A LITTLE tap to go in. Tap like ashing a cigarette, not like starting a nail in a wall, or thumping a ripe mellon.
4. MOUNTING YOUR HSF
HSF? Heat Sink Fan.
If you're going with the straight stock chip cooler, pull the protective cover OFF of your HSF and look at the bottom. Now look at the processor socket. Now...you're getting this now aren't you?
There's a little ridge that shows where it lines up against the cam. Match it up. Put the clips into place, lock down the tensioners and bingo you've got it.
If you're going to do something a little more effective, and use an Aftermarket HSF.
Same line up and lockdown process. But prep is a different process. (See Addendum 1 Below)
First get your thermal compound ready. Now get an old card of some sort. Expired MasterCard, Visa, Discover, Blockbuster, Gift Card, One Free Lap Dance at Mr. Stiffies, whatever.
Make sure it's rigid and has some sort of sharp edge. Now place your thermal compound of choice on top of the processor die. (If you're still using OLD SCHOOL Atholn XP with the tiny die, quit now )
Not a lot. Just enough for a super thin coat on top of the big silver part of the processor. I'm talking like sheet of tissue paper thin. Spread it evenly with the card. Now place your heatsink on it and lock it into place. Don't move the HSF all over because that will smear everything into places you don't want it.
If you really want to get spiffy (NOT FOR BEGINNERS) you can lap the die on the processor and the bottom of the heatsink to a mirror finish. Then you geat really great thermal transfer. I don't recommend this unless you really know what yer doing and have the cash to fix your mistakes. It's basically Automotive Finish Sanding.
5. INSERT YOUR MEMORY
If you have a grab bag of memory you plan on using, use the lowest and slowest on your initial test setup.
If you have 2 1GB matched sticks, only use half of it right now.
First things first. Move back the little locking switches on the memory slots.
Now, make sure your memory is oriented the right way. It's notched so it will only go in ONE WAY.
Most everything on a computer is set up this way. Why? Because factory builders usually don't speak English as a first language, or speak English at all so it's all keyed and notched so stuff only works one way.
Usually in a manufacturing plant, the dumbest people are the builders. I kid you not.
Push the memory in firmly until it clicks into place. Do not "Juggernaut Crush" or "HULK SMASH" things into place. Firm but gentle.
Pretty simple, not much to it.
If you only use one stick at a time it's easy to see what works and what doesn't.
6.MOUNTING YOUR VIDEO CARD
OK. The biggie. This will display your validation to your monitor if you've put things together correctly at this point. Some have little cam locks, some don't. So put the card in the right way, and make sure it's seated correctly.
Note: If the board is SLI Capable and you're NOT using two video cards, make sure your selector is set to single. If it is SLI, test first, set the SLI up second. Same thing with Crossfire. Regular card first, Crossfire Card Second.
7. PLUG IN THE PSU
PSU = Power Source Unit.
For all newer applications check that it says AT LEAST ATX Revision 2.0 and for BIG Video Cards AT LEAST a 400W Power Supply.
Now plug in your motherboard and your video card. Match up the plugs with the plugs on the board. They are keyed AND notched to only fit one way and with a little pressure they should click right into place.
I didn't say to turn it on yet. Plug it into the wall and flip the switch on your PSU if there is one. ALSO if you're in the US make sure it's set to 115V and not 220V.
8. RESET YOUR CMOS
Why? Just to be Safe.
Sometimes these video cards won't jibe with what the CMOS may already have, or was previously set to. So you may need an OLD PCI (NOT PCI-E or PCI-X Video Card). They're available for CHEAP.
Set the reset jumper for a five count and move it back into place.
9. ATTACH POWER AND PC SPEAKER
For the testing purposes attach ONLY the Power and PC Speaker Leads to the Motherboard.
The PC Speaker will let you listen for Beeps that can clue you in to error codes.
Some don't do this, like ABIT, so plug your headphones into the back.
10. NOW FOR THE MOMENT OF TRUTH!!!!
Plug in the monitor. Plug in your keyboard. You may have to go Old Style PS/2 on this as not ALL BIOS's recognize USB Keyboards out of the box.
Hold down the INSERT key and switch on the Power. You should see your splash screen, or the POST Test.
All fans should be spinning. Let go of the Insert key if you see your splash screen or the POST test and go into your BIOS and start getting things set up.
If you hear POST Beeps, swap out memory AND try different memory slots, reset the CMOS again and repeat the last steps.
11. IF IT STILL WON'T BOOT
Try the boot with old school components Old PCI Vid Card, and see if that will get you to your BIOS.
Another trick is to remove the video card and the memory and see if you get Beeps.
If you DO, it's because your system is looking for memory it can't find and your Processor is A-OK!
If NOT, your processor may be damaged or not suited to your board. In which case you should try a different board or verify that your processor is capable of being handled on the board. Consult the manufacturer website to make 100% sure.
Also make sure you're not in need of a BIOS update becaue you have have an early shipping model of your motherboard. (This is why we leave our old computers running, even if we need a few of their components for the new one!!!)
If it DOES BOOT, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You're now a system builder. Slowly transfer your handiwork to your case and start adding components and rebooting to test functionality until you get to add your optical drives and your HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) until you're ready to load your OS of choice.
OS Loading and recognizing SATA Drives on boot is a whole 'nother guide.
I'm just giving you the building blocks of the first stage to make sure you have the know how to get the system running early. As long as that's working everything else will come after.
ADVANCED INSTALLATION OF HSF by Kaosdad008
The biggest "gotcha" in all of this is the whole heatsink/fan deal. Folks have to understand that there are as many different combos & types as there are CPU types. However, as different as they look, they fall in to three categories:
1) Screw in - this is the easiest. At the bottom of the heatsink are four philips head screws (two each side) - line those up with the holes on the mobo and use a screw driver to attach - like MaddOps said - firm - not crushingly tight. You're done!
2) Clip Lock - this may be hardest one. Basically the CPU socket has two protrusions on it, opposite each other. The heat sink will have a clip running through it, the ends are bent downwards 90 degrees and have punchouts that match the socket protrusions. Loop one end over one of the pritrusions, then press the other down on the other protrusion. This should be done on a softer, static free pad as there will be some pressure applied.
3) Twist Lock - at the four corners of the heatsink are white plastic pop-screws. After installing the CPU place the mobo on padded static mat, put a flat head scredriver in the slot of the first pop-screw, press until it "pops" then twist about 45 - 90 degrees int he direction of the arrow (usually to the right). Then go to the opposit corner and do the same, repeat. Each one will become progrssively more difficult as the pressure increases.
Sometimes you won't know if you got the whole heatsink/fan thing right until you fire up the server. If you got it wrong the machine will run for a while, then c**p out/reboot. The reboot cycle will be shorter each time as the CPU retains more & more heat. Unfortunatly, the only fix is to dis-asseble the lot & reseat the heat sink. Please do NOT try and re-seat the heatsink whilst the mobo is in the case - you'll crack the mobo.
NOTE: PLEASE POST QUESTIONS IN THE THREAD. LET THE COMMUNITY HELP YOU!
Hardware Engineer for Google. PC/Network Tech. Former Factory Tech for HP/Compaq. MCSA Since 2003. Custom Builder since 2000. Linux Convert since 2010.