Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting My Nerd On (Part 3)

(Laying It All Out, Photo By Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
Finally, the long wait is over! All the pieces are in possession and it's time to build! For this, I have asked my good friend Martin to come over and help oversee the operation as he has more experience than I do. I've laid out all the parts in preparation for the assembly, that's the first step, getting organized.

(The Mounted Phenom II X6, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
Now we move onto the second step, the preparation phase. The first item to prep is the Motherboard, before laying it out, I took about 4 pieces of my rubber mats that I use for grappling and stacked them, I chose these because they are non conductive materials, but for added safety, I left the small foam lining that helped store the Motherboard and laid that out on the mats, on top of the Motherboard box, before touching the Motherboard, I made sure to grasp a hold of a metal surface in order to discharge any static electricity I may have, I have silver bracelet on but I just wanted to be extra cautious, I also made sure I handled the Motherboard by it's corners. After placing the board on the laid out surface, I opened up the processor socket latch to prepare for the mounting of the processor. I unboxed the processor and repeated the static discharge action on the metal leg of my table before removing the processor from it's plastic casing. I then proceeded to line it up correctly onto the socket before securing it in place with the latch. After which, I attached the heatsink fan onto the processor and locked the mount into place. The next component I mounted were the RAM modules. These are fairly easy to do, so long as you line them up correctly and make sure they lock into place. 
(All Lined Up, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)

(Motherboard Secure On Tray, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
The next step was to unscrew and unmount the motherboard tray, I removed the Power Supply cage as well, this may not be possible with all cases but in my case, I am using the Antec LanBoy Air, which is considered to be one of the most modular and most customizable of cases to date. In order to do this, you must first remove all panels of the case, this will make it easier to get all the cable management and wiring done once you've mounted the motherboard onto the case. After unmounting the motherboard tray, the motherboard is placed on top of the tray, making sure the slots on the board are lined up with the standoffs on the tray. Once these are aligned, the necessary screws can be placed and tightened, securing the motherboard onto the tray.

(Mounted Video Card, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
The next item I mounted was the video card. Making sure that it was lined properly on the correct PCI-e slot. This may require you to wiggle it until it clicks into place. It will feel loose and a bit wobbly at first which may be freaky but then it will be secured once you line it up onto the case and add more screws to secure it's position.

(The PSU, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
The next item that I focused on is the Power Supply Unit or PSU. As mentioned above, the case I am using is built to be very modular and customizable and in this particular situation, it is possible to have the PSU mounted on top or on the bottom, I opted to go with the bottom mounted setup to keep things simple so that my hardware isn't at risk in the weird event that the PSU falls from the top, destroying everything in it's path, in this case, that would be everything attached to my motherboard which is not a good thing. I'm exaggerating of course, but you really can't tell. So better safe than sorry. To mount the PSU, you need to slide it into the provided PSU cage and then this will allow you to slide it back onto the case via the rack that is a part of the case. The orientation of the PSU is up to your personal preference, orientation meaning the fan facing up (showing off the Strike X design which is the cage covering the exhaust of the PSU) or facing down. I decided to go with the orientation having the fan facing down because it's never a good thing to have hot air blowing upward onto the rest of your hardware like your video card and CPU.

(All Mounted, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
Now that everything is where it should be in terms of the motherboard, it is time to put it back into the case. Carefully, the motherboard tray is slid into place using the rails on the case. I had to ask my friend to support the video card as I was sliding the tray back because I was paranoid that it might somehow detach itself and fall off, thankfully it didn't. After the motherboard tray was secured into place, the PSU cage with the PSU was next to follow and secured. After it was in place, the next move would be to secure the back panel of the case, but before doing so, the stock I/O Shield was removed and replaced with the one that came with the motherboard. I also removed the 2nd and 3rd PCI slot covers on the back panel of the case in order to accommodate the ports of the video card. 

(The Mounted Optical Drive, Photo by of Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
The item I mounted was the Optical Drive. I chose the 2nd slot because I was having some difficulty putting it on the 1st slot due to the wiring that was coming from the ports on the front side of the case. Mounting the Optical Drive was a very simple process, simply remove 2 screws that secure the panel slot on the front of the case and slide the drive right in, screwing it into place after. A unique thing about this case is that you also have the option to mount your drive in a sideward orientation, meaning the drive tray would be coming from the side part of your case if you choose to do so. I opted to go with the normal, front facing orientation as this was the simplest and hassle free way to go about it.

(1TB WD Caviar Black on AirMount, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
The next item I mounted was the Hard Drive. This is another unique feature that only this specific case has. Antec uses what is trademarked as the AirMount. The AirMount is basically a hard drive mount that requires no case rails. It has detachable rails that you screw onto your hard drive and within these rails is a piece of flexible rubber tubing, something like bungee cord (one on each side) that has 2 hooks on each end. Now these hooks attach to the designated slots on case frame, thus leaving your hard drive suspended in the air, nothing surrounding it but air, hence the name. Now I know that most of you will think that is somewhat scary, it is at first, but then, after securing the hooks, the hard drive remains securely in place, there is a little play though, due to the fact that the rubber tubing is a bit long, giving the rails/hard drive some movement, if this bothers you, you can put some zip tie between on the tubing so that it doesn't move around. I opted to leave it as is because in reality, who shakes their rig around anyway? Again, you have the option to mount the hard drive in a sideward orientation or the traditional front facing orientation, which I decided to go to as well, simply because it would be easier to plug the cables. Another neat thing about this AirMount system is that it reduces vibrations and noise (not really noticeable noise because everything else is louder. Haha!) when the hard drive spins up because it won't be vibrating against any surface. Also, this system allows more airflow to keep your hard drive cool. The hard drive cage on this case has many levels (about 7), so you're free to place them wherever you see fit, I chose to keep it on the lower 4th level because it would be situated right in front of the 2 front side intake fans, this would mean optimum cooling. After mounting the Optical Drive and Hard Drive, I proceeded to connect the necessary cables used to power and operate these 2 components.

This was the easy part. Now for the more challenging aspect of this build. Cable Management.

(Successful Cable Management! Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)

After connecting the PCI-e Power cords to the video card and the 24-pin ATC connector as well as the 8-pin CPU power connector and the 4-pin Molex plugs for the case fans and the front panel connectors to the PSU and motherboard respectively, we are left with a multitude of wiring (despite the PSU being a modular one) to hide behind the motherboard panel which will be shielded by a mesh exterior case. It was quite a challenge trying to get it as clean as possible, hiding cables and wires in the nooks and crannies of the case without causing any interference or blockage to any of the moving parts in the system (the fans!). This took about thirty minutes and an extra set of hands to get the panel in place while making sure no wiring was protruding or casing the panel to bulge extensively. The last step to the assembly process was to connect the 4-pin Molex plugs for the rear fan and the 2 side panel fans to the PSU, hiding the wiring accordingly before fitting the side panel back and screwing it in place. And that's it, the assembly is done!

Now the moment of truth, fire up the machine! Random moment, during my first attempt at firing up the machine, it actually didn't power on. And I was like "Oh shit!" then it hit me, the PSU power switch wasn't flipped on yet. Too much excitement caused the memory lapse. But then once the PSU switch was flipped, the rig fired up with no issues. Like a plane taking off. The Wraith (Yes, I named my PC) was alive.

Here are some photos of The Wraith. :]

(The Wraith (rear), Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
(The Wraith (front), Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang) 

(The Wraith In The Dark, Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)
(The Wraith (side), Photo by Thomas Joseph C. Huang)

After the PC started up, the Operating System was installed and the hard drive was partitioned accordingly.

My current specs are:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition, currently running stock at 3.3GHz. I have yet to overclock it. >:]
Motherboard: ASRock 990FX Extreme3
GPU: Sapphire HD 6870, currently running stock at 900MHz. I have yet to overclock it as well. >:]
RAM: G. Skill Sniper 1600MHz DDR3 CL9, 1.25v, 4GB x 4 = 16GB, I have yet to overclock this too. >:]
Storage: Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate, 64-bit
Chassis: Antect LanBoy Air
Other items:
-Logitech K260 wireless keyboard and mouse (temporary)
-Viewsonic 24" VX2439WM 1920x1080 Full HD Monitor
-Creative Inspire 5.1 A500 SBS Surround Sound System

Stay tuned for my next post to see how the system performs when using games as benchmarks as well as some regular benchmarking tools!

Also stay tuned for when I put the Antec claim of positive airflow to the test by adding 10 more fans to the current setup! 

To see the steps I took to put this machine together, check the following links in sequential order.

For Part 1, check it here:
For Part 2, check it here:
For Part 2.1, check it here:
For Part 2.2, check it here:
For Part 2.3, check it here:
For Part 2.4, check it here:
For Part 2.5, check it here:


  1. You're a die-hard gamer,Tom! Set-up a good work-space for that. Like an office-type station. hehe..- Vinz Cueto