Wednesday, March 20, 2013

System Building Lessons Learned

As promised, here are some lessons learned (or re-learned) on system building:

  • Bring Screwdrivers - You will most likely need at least one phillips head and one flat head screwdriver.
  • Small bowls are useful - Your case, motherboard, and drives will likely come with screws to help secure them into place. Small bowls make excellent holders for the many different small screws you will work with.
  • Have a tablet, smartphone, or another computer on-hand - Instructions provided with many parts are sometimes less than helpful. Having a secondary device connected to the internet will be helpful for looking up little things will save you lots of time.
  • Give yourself plenty of time - It will take at least a good hour to unbox and assemble everything. Give yourself plenty of extra time, as patience, persistence, and careful assembly are key.
  • Setup a good, clean, well-lit work area - Make sure you are working on an elevated table that is well-lit and has plenty of room. You will have lots of parts, boxes, manuals, inserts, tools, and other stuff lying around.
  • Get comfortable with working in tight spaces - Most cases can easily become cramped environments when you begin installing power supplies, motherboards, drives, and add-in cards. Have a small flashlight on-hand that you can hold in hand or mouth, or a head-mounted light.
  • Cable Ties are awesome - Cable ties, whether you get the velcro type or the zip-tie type, are incredibly useful for keeping cables bundled and out of the way. Bind those cables and move them out of the path of flowing air! Your computer will breathe easier for it.
  • Read all directions - And there are a lot of them! Read everything carefully before you plug in or insert anything to ensure you don't put something in upside down, inside out, or wrong side forward.
  • Don't ever force parts - If something doesn't fit, you probably have it in the wrong way. Don't try to push a square peg in a round socket, or things just might break.
  • Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor - When it's all assembled, don't forget to take a moment and marvel at the technology. You just assembled a box that probably has several times the power of the computer that landed men on the moon... and now you're going to fire up a game and frag some zombies on it!