Category Archives: Build 2.0

We Must Rebuild – Starting Out

It is the night before I build, well hopefully, anyway. The case should arrive tomorrow (delayed due to pretending to have stock – thanks Amazon merchant Ballicom), everything else came on Friday. Went to Gregynog Friday evening and night, as well as most of Saturday. Was hoping to build Sunday. I haven’t unboxed anything as yet, as I am waiting for everything to arrive first. Also the case is kind of the bedrock for everything else.. [Minecraft reference].

I started writing about my new computer build here, as I had that page before I created this blog. Everything now has been transferred over to the blog in appropriate posts :).

Over the past few weeks I have been looking more seriously into building again, and just over a week ago I started looking into specifics. I knew I ideally wanted to build an i7 based computer, wanted a Solid State Drive ideally, a nice (big) board and more RAM than a field of sheep [Red Dwarf reference ^^]. So I started researching, looking at benchmarks, reviews and talking to my friends about what they had done.

Starting out

So I decided I wanted to build another computer. Where do you start? It’s a tough one – I started with the processor. I wanted an i5 or i7, they should last for the near future and far beyond I hope. I have always wanted the i7 2600k (I don’t plan to overclock it, but hey – if I ever want to, the “2600k” is better for it than the 2600). Whilst looking at components, I created “Idea boards” in microsoft paint, to show the ideas of what I currently wanted, and some of the choices. It helped me choose parts as I could easily see their pictures and prices, and look them up for more info with their full name if needed. This was my first price list of ideas on Aria from a few months ago. This was a more recent idea board, almost everything has changed since then though, as I have found different boards, and CPU coolers, and I have changed from a 60-120gb SSD, due to my current programs already taking up around 60 plus windows files. I also decided I didn’t really need 16gb of RAM, and 16gb was pretty much double the price of 8gb, rather than being less than double. My last ideas board is here.

I chose the i7 2600k fairly quickly, yes it is more than I need right now – but I am hoping this new machine will carry on for years to come. I know computers are getting better / cheaper all the time (in accordance to Moore’s law), but I am hoping an i7 will still be more than adequate for browsing the web and playing the odd game 6+ years now when the SandyBridge E’s and the IvyBridge’s have come out.

Next post about board. Recommendations will likely follow at the end of the build :).

Matt

We Must Rebuild – Board and RAM

Board

From the processor decision, it was decided I needed a socket 1155 board. This was very hard to choose – so many different ones, with many that are very similar to each other. I considered MSI, Asus, and to a lesser extent, Gigabyte. MSI and Asus looked like fantastic boards, many good reviews, and I happened to go down the Asus route. I found a board I really liked, a P8P67 something. About £90ish, and it had everything I wanted. PCI slots, a few PCIe’s, 4 RAM slots, USB3.0 on the back, even bluetooth and a PS/2 port for old keyboards and mice I think. However, a friend told me not to go for a P67 series, go for a Z68. The Z68′s apparently are newer – therefore newer chipset, with many lessons learnt I’m sure from the P67′s which seemed fantastic. I also heard tell of P67′s having trouble with SSDs. So to be safe, I went for a newer Z68. [Asus P8Z68-V £126]

RAM

From there, I needed some DDR3 RAM, and although I loved my shiny OCZ RAM with heatsinks on each side, I had heard a lot of good reviews about this Corsair Vengeance, and a friend recom

mended it to me as good RAM, and even 16gb of it was only £80ish. In the end I went for 8gb – by the time I need another 8gb, the price will most likely have dropped. [8GB (2x4GB) Corsair Vengeance Blue DDR3 PC3-12800(1600) £40.99]

We Must Rebuild – SSD and CPU Cooler

OCZ SSD

Solid State Drive
I also knew I wanted an SSD. I really liked the look of the OCZ agility 3 series, and recently found a Corsair Force 3 for around the same price (£125-130). Both of these drives are SATA3, 120gb, and have read / write speeds of about the 550mb read / 500mb write mark. Very hard choice between the 2, and I’m sure there is barely any difference between them, but in the end I went with OCZ – as I was a big fan of their RAM and PSU from my current build. I heard some bad stories about upgrading the firmware on these devices, and about recalls of the Corsair Force something, and about the reliability of the devices. But nevertheless, I still wanted an SSD. In the end I went for an 120GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD [£128].

 

CPU Cooler

CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EvoAfter some Googleing, I was fairly sure I didn’t want the stock Intel cooler, as many people say it runs hot, and therefore probably noisy, and one of the key things I want from this system, is for it to be quiet. I looked at Arctic Cooling again, as well as Be Quiet, Zelamon?, CoolerMaster and many more. The Noctua NH-U12 looks to be a fantastic cooler, probably one of the best. However, it looks huge, and I wasn’t a fan of its looks with the brown and cream. The CoolerMaster V6 and V8 look amazing, have brilliant performance, and I would really like the V6 especially, however I am very aware of the fact that they are so big they would likely overhang at least 1 RAM slot. I considered the Arctic Cooling Extreme cooler, as I liked Arctic Cooling, and for £28, it was fairly priced. It was large, but it’s fan is in the middle, and it doesn’t have a fan on the back to overhand the RAM slots, so it may fit, but some photos showed otherwise, and it did overhang on some boards. After a lot of searching online for “best i7 2600k” cooler, I noticed a trend. Although many coolers were being reviewed and they all looked fantastic, one kept popping up, multiple times even on one forum page – the “Hyper 212″. It looked as though everyone really loved it, whereas I had dismissed it quickly upon seeing a photo of it, as It looked small and not powerful enough to cool a quad with 8 threads. However, you have to take into account that that fan on the side of it isn’t an 80 or 92mm, its a whole 120mm (case size) fan. And by the looks of it, it works very well. After reading more stunning reviews about mainly the “Hyper 212+”, it’s newer brother, I was decided – this was the one for me. I found a fantastic review of what’s in the box: here. I like reviews where you get to see exactly whats in there, as I see there is thermal paste, lots of screws etc. I will probably buy some good thermal paste after reasearching it at some point! I also liked the fact this cooler can have another 120mm fan stuck onto the other side with it’s provided brackets. In the end, I managed to find the Hyper 212+’s slightly newer brother – the Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO for a very reasonable £24.

We Must Rebuild – Case and PSU

The power supply and case, two items that go hand in hand? These were the only items I did not buy from scan - I got them from Amazon, as they were either cheaper or
much cheaper there. The PSU I selected was again an OCZ unit, but packing a 600w punch rather than the 400w poke that my current OCZ Stealth has. I also decided to get a modular PSU – where some “modules” of the power cords can be detached if they are not needed to keep the case interior tidier, make it look better, and improve airflow. [I love how you can just paste in parts of a link to WordPress and it will keep the hyperlink attribute!]. You can find it here: OCZ 600W ModXStream Pro Power Supply. I paid about £64 pounds. Not bad at all for a branded, modular 600w power supply! Although I do search for the very best deals.

 

On the case of the case

Well the case was actually the last component I picked, and the first I actually ordered, and it is going to be the last delivered. Let me explain… I was very undecided in regards to case for a long time, I really like some of the CoolerMasters – the HAF series, the Storm and the Scout. Many with quite a cool red glow. I also did like the Antec 900, and it’s newer brother (Antec 902). These are fantastic cases – great cable management, USB 3.0, lots of fans for cooling etc.. but they come at a price. The newer Antec 902 costing around the £100 mark. I then discovered the Dark Fleet series. The cheaper DF-10, the medium DF-30 and DF-35, and the bigger DF-85. These cases are very nice, come accompanied with many fans and some cool little tricks.. All except the DF-10 I believe have 2 or 3 (3 for the 85) fans at the front that hinge outwards to provide easy access to the drive bays. The fans also have dust filters that snap out to be cleaned, which is pretty cool. On the front of the case, there are some very small, almost unnoticeable rotary switches to control the fan speed (and therefore noise) which is a nice touch. These fans come in different colours – white for the 35, blue for the 30, red I believe for the 85.

Also on the back, there is a couple of switches to control the back and top (exhaust probably) fans. I do not believe these are LED as Antec said something along the lines of “Not everyone wants their room looking like an 80′s rave party at night” or something similar. Antec take user feedback it seems, and improve their cases – dedicated SSD bays, one screw hard drive securing etc.. read more here. They have done many things like making many things tool-less for easy access etc.

Antec DF35 and DF85In the end I chose the DF-35, which I found for a very reasonable £52 on Amazon (which has shot back up to £67 at the time of writing, I knew it was a good deal! Much more expensive elsewhere. Many other things have started to drop in price, and I haven’t even installed them yet! i7 has dropped about £7, RAM dropped about £3, board dropped about £4). The Dark Fleed DF-35 looks a really good case, many fans, nice and big, and some fancy things from Antec. These include dedicated places for the SSDs – a little place for them to plug into (then I guess the other side connects that to the board. I’m yet to understand how they are supported from the drive bay walls – big screws?). Also there is a 2.5″ hot swap SATA bay ontop of the case! May come in very handy for repairing other people’s laptop hard drives. Other than that.. I don’t see a whole host of uses for it yet.. unless I can hook up some kind of USB 3.0 adapter to it? As I don’t believe this case has USB 3.0 on the front.. not yet anyway.


We Must Rebuild – Keyboard!

Although I had noticed that the new Asus board did not include a PS/2 port, I thought I had a PS/2 to USB adapter for my PS/2 Logitech Internet 350 keyboard that I got for about £13 a while ago. I love the thing, don’t want to get rid of it but why?

  • It’s Logitech! I have fallen for Logitech recently, I have their speakers, mouse, wireless mouse and keyboard. They are all fantastic, well priced, and work very well.
  • Most importantly – big Enter (Return) key. Not split in half and shared with the “\” key.
  • The “\” key is by the “z” key, where it belongs.
  • There are 2 Windows Keys.
  • There are 2 Alt keys
  • There is a menu key on the right by the left CTRL.
  • Backspace is big.
  • Page up and down are to the right of Home, Insert etc, where they should be

All of these things should be on EVERY keyboard – they are STANDARD. But most keyboards now split their enter key in half, move the blackslash key, and can halve the backspace key too.
Other reasons I like this keyboard for that not all keyboards “should” have:

  • Chunky keys that you can tell when you have pressed. If they go down, the letter appears. 100% of the time.
  • Media keys – play/pause, vol up and down, mute on the right. Music, Email and Home (never used) on the right, as well as calculator! (Regularly used!).

Only improvement I could make on this keyboard – no skip back and forwards media keys, but this is no biggie. Also it could be USB!

Upon investigating whether my keyboard would work with a PS/2 to USB adapter, I came upon mixed reviews, some say it worked fine, some say it half worked or was not consistent, some say it didn’t work at all. So I decided not to risk it, and bought another (USB) keyboard. I will also buy a cheap adapter off eBay to see if it will work, can always keep it as a spare for the future. At this point I had already ordered everything else, and would have to pay a lot to get it delivered next day (which would have been Monday, ordering on Thursday/Friday ish). After a quick look on Amazon and Ebuyer – I didn’t find anything I REALLY liked (Ideally a USB version of what I have now :/). I had a quick look at Argos (as there is one here in Aberystwyth), and then my friend looked too for me and found a keyboard that I REALLY liked the look of! Can you guess the make..? I bet you can – yes it was a Logitech. A Logitech K200 to be exact (See picture). Lots of pictures, big keys, even proper F keys at the top! They have removed the right Windows key, but I can live with that – I don’t use it too regularly.
So that’s it for now. I have received everything but the case, which I hope will come tomorrow.. or technically later today. I still have a couple of things to do to prepare, need to update the SSD firmware by (the easiest way) plugging it into my current PC and running a little OCZ program. More on that later.
Matt out

Lets Build – SSD And It’s Elusive Firmware

I did it, you will be pleased to know – but how? The next few blog posts in the “We Must Rebuild” story will be about how I built the new beast and the problems I encountered along the way – so that if you are looking at building your own computer, maybe you won’t be as scared as you see it is possible. I tried to take many photos as I built so that, for example, if you were looking at buying an OCZ 600w PSU like mine, you know and can see exactly what comes in the box, and it may help you make a more informed decision for if you want to go for that exact product, or something a bit different.

Tuesday

Today the case came! Hoorah! It was the right case, it wasn’t damaged, and all the bits came with it – all of which I was fearing. In the morning I had already got up to update the SSD firmware and maybe start getting the board ready for when the case arrived. However, I didn’t count on the SSD update being so fiddly.

SSD Problems

On the OCZ site, it tells you to download this little program (OCZ Toolbox), that will detect the drive and update its firmware. Bingo, I thought. No. I plugged in the SSD to a SATA port (had to unplug my data drive (not OS!)), so I could still boot my normal Windows – (you can’t update the drive you are booting off this way, incidently). I ran the ToolBox, and it did not detect the drive… problem #1. A short time later, I found that my board had to be set in AHCI mode. A long time later, I eventually came to the conclusion that my board did not HAVE a AHCI mode :(, and thus that option was out of the window. The other option from OCZ is a “linux-based” firmware updater tool, however this is not a little bootable image or anything – its like a linux program that you untar and run. Okay fair enough, so I booted my virtual Super Ubuntu in VMWare Player. Gave it full access to the OCZ SSD, and downloaded the file and decompressed it. I wasn’t quite sure what the device was called (should have looked in the linux version of my computer – hover over it and it tells you – mine was sdb1 I think). Even using the commands off the guide, and other ones I found on the internet, still no luck. I don’t have ubuntu installed on my PC – and I could not use my netbook as you can’t use a USB to SATA adapter… problems #2 and 3.

Solution? I remembered I had an installation of BackTrack 3 (UNIX) on a flash drive, and booted my pc up with that. Perfect – it recognised the SSD, could use the little OCZ program, but.. problem #4 – you need internet. Where I currently live, there is no wired LAN – we use wireless, and I did not have the driver (for linux) for my new TP link wireless adapter. After some rooting around, I found a pair of Belkin adapters that I had bought for use with BackTrack3 (investigating WEP network security). Popped one in, then the other (first one was dead – but I think windows likes it) and it worked! I could see networks – so I hit our home network and connect… could not connect.

Problem #5 – MAC address controlling. Our wireless router lets computers connect by registering their MAC address first within the router, and as I was using a different wireless adapter – it’s MAC address was different and could not connect. Just register it, you say? Problem #6 – the router belongs to one of my housemates, and despite asking him countless times to tell us the password for it, he still wont. So we have to ask him to register new things, and he will only do that if he wants to… So again, lets think outside the box – need another way to access the internet – BTFON! If you have a BT homehub and broadband, you can subscribe to BTFON and BTOpenzone. These services allow other BT users to connect through the Openzone or FON network that is now emitted by your router, and in return you can connect to other FON or Openzone spots. As we have BT total broadband at home, bingo – logged onto the FON spot (with the poor ancient Firefox browser in BackTrack3 that didn’t know what JavaScript was… which was an issue).

So after all that, I used my old PC, running BackTrack3, with a compatible wireless adapter, on a BTFON network. Once I had eventually tempted the FON to actually connect and work (JavaScript issues), I ran the command again (fwupd /dev/sdb1) and it connected to the internet, downloaded the latest firmware (2.15) from 2.13 I believe. Finally, SSD firmware updated and ready. At some point, I think when I was in Windows – I formatted it to NTFS, but that was earlier – I know this because when I tried to boot Windows again, it kept hanging on the loading screen.. I had somehow managed to break both of my 1tb HDDs.. probably by trying to give them some OCZ firmware.. That put my main PC out of service for the rest of the build. Eventually fixed it by letting it CHKDSK /r from a Windows repair disk  that it made a while ago (took about 4 hours).

Recommendations: Check whether your board has AHCI. Be competent with Linux if not. And unplug any non-vital hard drives! Also back up :) Always backup.

Lets Build – Board and CPU

Okay with the SSD’s firmware finally ready, time to move on! The case arrived at this point, so I got it out and had a good look around it. Very nice. Next, I grabbed the board out of the box, and looked at the other contents of what had come:

  • 2 x SATA 6gbps cables
  • 2 x SATA 3gbps cables
  • Driver and utility disk
  • Lots of (useful) instructions
  • Case / board blackplate for the back I/O
  • What I believe is an ATI crossfire bridge, might be NVIDIA, but it looks very similar to a crossfire, but bendy.
  • A quick connector thing that you plug in all the board headers to – e.g power and reset switch, busy and power light.
  • Another smaller quick connector – unsure as to it’s use.
  • 1 ASUS motherboard, of course!


I have never had a new motherboard before, so I was unsure how to remove it out of it’s large anti-static bag. To be honest, you are going to be having your fingers all over it later, so I don’t think it matters too much where you hold it. I didn’t want to be touching all the solder joints, and I ensured I grounded myself regularly ( I touch my old case and power supply – still connected to mains, so hopefully grounded!). Probably should use an anti-static wristband or jacket etc.

With the board out, I looked at the processor socket – there is a small plastic thing that needs to be removed first. Easy enough, just lift the lever and open the socket, and it comes out. I then unboxed the lovely i7.. being very careful not to touch any of it’s pins. Also in the i7 box came:

  • Intel cooler (as I bought the retail version – thermal paste ready applied in 3 wide strips)
  • Instructions (relatively useful)
  • An Intel sticker on the back of the instructions (for putting on your case – the sandy bridge logo :) as on the front of the box).
  • The i7 processor

 

 


Very daunting, picking up a very fragile component worth about £240, in just 2 quivering fingers. After admiring its beauty, I slotted it into it’s socket. The instructions show you that there are 2 notches opposite each other on the socket – and the CPU has 2 little grooves, one on the left and one on the right – so theres only one way to put it in – don’t worry. After dropping it into it’s new home, (it went in easily, I think it would be hard to get it like one pin left or something), I closed it’s cover over the top of it. Then came a scary moment – pulling the lever back down towards the board to squeeze the CPU into it’s holder. Seemed to go okay though.
Read on for info about the cooler – probably my most feared part of the build
Recommendations: Read the instructions, and be careful with your components :).

Lets Build – CPU Cooler And Thermal Paste

I was rather fearful of putting the thermal paste onto the CPU – something I had not done before, along with seating a CPU too. Before, I have installed an after market cooler – but it had a square of thermal paste already applied.

CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo

Whats in the box?

  • Hyper 212 Evo Cooler
  • CoolerMaster thermal paste – important!
  • Backplate (to hold cooler to motherboard better)
  • X clamp – to hold cooler down onto the board
  • 4 nuts and bolts to bolt the X clamp and backplate to the board
  • An adapter for the bolts for a normal cross headed screwdriver
  • Instructions – very useful!
  • Brackets and rubber vibration-dampeners for adding another 120mm fan to the other side

Installation
The instructions are good, and guide you through the installation process well. First you have to attach that backplate to the back of the board, whilst holding the screws in from the other side, holding the backplate in position, and balancing the £120 board upright on its end. Could really do with 2 pairs of hands for this – so get help. I managed to do it on my own, just. So you bolt on the backplate (tightening the screws “diagonally at the same time”) and then later the X clamp (not sure of its proper name) will screw into the other side of these nuts. [Around this point the instructions get you to remove the fan - you will see why later!]. With the backplate in place, I had to look at putting the thermal paste on – I had read up on many websites to try and find the best way to do it, and had settled on one straight vertical line (where the arrow on the corner of the processor is at the bottom left). When putting on thermal paste, you really do not want air bubbles, so letting the cooler spread the paste when it sits on it, should be a good way as the paste oozes into all the spaces. Why vertical? Well the guide I had showed many different ways for different processors – and it is to do with the way in which the cores are placed inside the CPU. So I drew one straight line in thermal paste (I feel as though I used a little too much) and took a photo straight after.

After this, I then pulled off the protective plastic on the bottom of the cooler,  and placed the cooler ontop of the CPU and paste. I then wriggled on what I call the “X clamp”, making sure to get it on the right way – the instructions were a little confusing at this point, you have to notice how it’s legs are angled. After getting the middle pin aligned with the centre hole, I proceeded to screw in “diagonally at the same time” each of the 4 corner screws. It is not an easy feat, you have to push down on each screw to get it to bite into the spacers that I screwed on earlier. These were tightened as much as they could be, and it was a scary experience as the screws crunched down into the supports, pulling the cooler down onto the precious processor. I did not see any excess thermal paste, but if I built again, I think I would (try and) use less.

It would not have been possible to tighten these screws with the fan on, so this is why they told you to take it off first. The fan is very easy to take off and put back on – just plastic clips on each side hold it in place. There was an abundance of cable to power the CPU fan, and most of mine is just stored beneath the fan, as the CPU_FAN header is located close by.

Lets Build – RAM!

RAMOkay the CPU is on the board, the cooler is ontop of that, we need some RAM for this party. So outcomes the 8gb of Corsair Vengeance – 2 x 4gb chips. In the package, there was literally just the 2 chips in little plastic cases – no instructions, no stickers, nothing. So little, I didn’t even take a photo at the time!

Installation

I’ve put RAM in many computers and laptops before, and so I went to the board as usual and attempted to push the little white tabs either side, sideways. The right one moved fine, the left however, did not. After a bit of poking and prodding, I realised that someone has changed the design of the ram slots – now one side is fixed! Fair enough.

Ram by cooler

I slotted in the 2 chips into slots A2 and B2 I believe (Instructions advise you on the optimal place to put 1,2 or 4 dimms). I did also check – and yes I could fit a chip into the slot closest to the cooler fan, but it was close. Very close.

Lets Build – PSU And Board Installation

Empty CaseOkay the board is pretty much ready to go in now. I first took both of the side panels off the case, and lay it on it’s side. The case already had 6 board mounts placed, and I added a further 3 (to make a 3 x 3 square of them) from the bag of bits that came with the case. Lots of bolts/screws etc in there. Next, I took away the case’s place holding backplate, and put in the Asus motherboard silver backplate. This just squeezed perfectly into the space, be sure to get it the right way up, though! Looks a bit symmetrical! With the backplate and all the board mounts in place (they keep the back of the board away from the metal – to stop short circuits), I had the scary task of placing the board laden with the cooler and ram into the case. Once this was in, I proceeded to screw the appropriate screws into the motherboard mounts, through the board. A task made much easier with my electric screwdriver! There seemed to be solder joints around some of the screw holes, I can only assume these are ground lines, and the screw connects them to the grounded metal case.

I then popped the power supply into the bottom, the instructions didn’t actually say which way to place the PSU – as it’s natural “upright” position with the fan on the bottom used to be used in all cases, as the power supply was at the top. Now however, the PSU is at the bottom of the case, and having the fan beneath it facing the case wouldn’t be very useful. I took the initiative and put it in upside down, so the fan would pull air from inside the main case area and blow it out the back. 4 screws went quickly in the back to secure it in place, then I could start looking at the modules. This OCZ 600w ModXStream PSU is a “modular” power supply – it has attachable cables – and so the case is tidier if they are not needed, and they can be left out. I actually proceeded to use all of them except one PCIe cable.

What’s in the box?

PSUThe power supply came accompanied with a kettle lead (3 pin UK to computer power lead) and what looked like an OCZ pencil case. Within there was 2 molex leads (PSU to 2 molex plus one floppy each), 2 SATA (PSU to 3 SATA each), 1 PSU to PCIe 6 and 1 PSU to PCIe 6+2. It is worth mentioning, the PSU has it’s “vital” wires connected, and they cannot be removed (20+4pin board, 8pin CPU and a 4 pin (board?) that I didn’t use).

On the back of the PSU, there is 4 “peripheral” connection points for the SATA and molex modules, and 2 PCIE connection points. I would guess if you invested in another PCIe 6+2, you could probably run 2 x 8pin powered graphics cards. Great pic of the back of the PSU on Amazon, second pic – Click here.  There was also 4 screws for the PSU in there, don’t think there were many/any instructions – but you really don’t need them. Just pop it in carefully and connect up! All of the cables have some sort of black mesh around them to keep them together, and protect them I suppose.

I plugged in the essential board connectors, and proceeded to attach almost all of the modular attachments – as I needed 5 SATA connections (hard drives, SSD, dock, DVD drive) and used 2-3 molex (for the fans). The CPU (8 pin) cable has to go over my graphics card and to the board, which looks rather untidy. I have bought a little 8 pin extender (45cm) so I can route it around the back of the case or around the back of the board – a few pounds off eBay. After connecting everything up, I added in the SSD – attempted to mount it on the special bottom SSD mounts, perfect – but the 90-degree SATA III 6gbps cable wanted to go out of the SSD and down 90 degrees – bit of a problem on the very bottom of the case. So the SSD is currently sat ontop of a disk drive spacer and screwed to one side of the drive bays. A straight cable is in the post (again a few pounds off eBay).

All SATA leads were connected to their respective devices, DVD drive, HDD1, HDD2 (Samsung 1tb drives), the OCZ SSD and also there was a SATA lead coming from the top of the case – from the dock. All in all, this filled all of my slower SATA 3gbps board connectors (HDD1 and 2, dock and DVD drive), and I connected the OCZ SSD to one of the two 6gbps ports. One SATA port left! Bit limiting. Also, no IDE port on this board for my old trust DVD drive, or old hard drives – but no big issue really. The disk drive I am using is a (liteon?) £11 of eBuyer super multi drive. It’s fine – but extremely loud. Reads and writes most things though. I installed this in the bottom drive bay, as there were many cables tight over where it would sit, were it higher up – and I didn’t mind too much where it went. I may add in at some point the on/off switch and molex powered CRT cathode ray tube lights. However I don’t fancy chopping up the cables of my new case just yet.. although there is a starter button on the board (glows red when off).

More coming on the case of the case..

Recommendations – things are going to get messy with wires going everywhere. I have tried pretty hard to get excess wires out of the way, and keep the case a bit clearer, mainly by sending most cables behind the side of the far drive bay wall. Best idea – put all of your devices in first, then proceed to connect them all up, tidily one by one, maybe do shorter distances first, and hide away the excess cable and move on.

Also don’t go out of your way to get a modular PSU – as you may end up using all the cables anyway.