Tips for rusty system builders

As promised.

Your mileage may vary, I give no warranties. For tips that give the colour order of wires, always view the motherboard in the correct orientation; i.e. when facing you, the CPU portion is on the top.

  1. Let the pros handle the difficult parts. I’ve always struggled with the mounting of the heatsink; most of the guys at Sim Lim Square take 15 seconds to mount the CPU, apply the thermal paste and mount the heatsink. Plus the fact that he actually curled up the CPU fan wire nicely so it looks neater.
  2. Mount the replacement rear panel before mounting the motherboard. In my case, the panel is mounted from the inside, so if you’ve done applying the screws to the motherboard, happy unscrewing.
  3. The power cable for floppy drives is plugged in reverse order to hard drives. The red wire is on the outside, whereas for hard drives, the read wire is on the inside. How do you know if the power is on the wrong way? When the drive read/write light is always on.
  4. Purchase a casing with front-mounted USB port wires that come in a bundle. Otherwise you’ll spend time cussing when plugging in four wires per connector, each of which is insy-weensy. For my case, the wires come unbundled, and from left to right: red yellow green black. Repeat as required.
  5. The mainboard manual is your best friend. Read it like the Bible, especially the “system panel connectors” part. This tells you how to fix up the hard drive/power LEDs, reset/power switches. If your Bible is too thin, consider another manufacturer.
  6. System connectors come in two or three pin bundles. The coloured bundle is always on the left; e.g. orange white or red white.
  7. Purchase DDR/DDR2 memory modules in pairs. So you get dual channel (fast) as opposed to single channel (slower). Get ones that are the same size (e.g. 512MB). Most modern motherboards have 4 slots for memory, and they look like (red) (black) (red) (black). If you have 2x 512MB, fix ’em in slots of the same color; e.g. black black or red red.

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