Building Computer: Lessons that I have learned

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Last week when I wrote a post explaining my intent to build a computer, I listed number of parts for my build. A week later, I finished building my computer but not without hiccups. Today on this post, I will share some of the lessons that I have learned while building my new computer. Hopefully some of you would find them to be useful.

Out of everything, the most important lesson was “do not pick a proprietary case”. By proprietary, I meant popularly known computer brands like Dell, HP, IBM etc. In most cases, desktop computers from these brands are made to fit to a very specific motherboard or a product line and that’s where things gets very complicated. Buying of the shelf components and expect them to perfectly fit to a branded computer case is nothing but a dream. At least for me that was the case. I picked Dell Optiplex 9010 Mini Tower (Micro ATX) case which I still think is a class Dell computer case. I also explained my reasons behind picking up this case, so if you are interested to know check out my previous post. I will number some of the issues that I have faced

Power Supply: I picked an Asus Z370 chipset based Micro ATX motherboard which fits nicely on this case and that’s where your conveniences ends. This particular case comes with a 275W power supply which doesn’t have 8 pin power connector that goes to the motherboard. I panicked and ordered a 4 pin to 8 pin converter for the sake of compatibility issue. It took me little while to understand that the 4 pin power supply would do just fine if I don’t want to overclock. Gosh!

CPU Cooler: After watching few YouTube video review and reading some article, I decided to go ahead with the Cryorig C7 CPU cooler. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic cooler and it works much better than the stock cooler. However, added additional plastic based at the back of the motherboard created a issue for me. After tightening it up, i realized the plastic base got bended slightly. This created another issue with the case. It touched the case and the motherboard won’t lay flat on the case legs. I loosened the screws to make the base flat but that still didn’t fix the issue. I couldn’t put all screw with similar torque as one corner of the motherboard was little tilted. Screwing up tightly created pressure (it bends) on the motherboard which I didn’t want, so I screwed one croner very lightly.

Power Switch: Dell’s power and reset switch has LED light inside and Dell designed them to fit on their own motherboard with a small 5 pin connector. This is very different from the typical system panel located on the motherboard. On top this dedicated cable was short in length and won’t connect to my motherboard. I am not electronics expert so I ordered some “dupont male to female jumper cable” which looks something like the picture attached below.
Dupont Male to Female Jumper Cable
After so many trial and error attempt, it finally worked.

Front Panel: Yet another issue with proprietary dell stuff. The front panel of my case has four USB port, LED light for HDD and audio input output jack. Out of four USB port, it turns out two of them were USB 3.0. There are three cables that came out from this little front panel. One is for the 2 USB 3.0, another one is for the 2 USB 2.0 and the last one is for the HDD indicator and audio input output. On top all of them were short in length. Apart from the USB 3.0 female port from the front panel, rest of the cables were joined together using one one big dupont female connector. I have to sit one day to figure out all the cables and then manually build a male dupont connector and then split the other end so that USB 2.0 and audio in/out female connectors can go on their own separate route. Until then, I am happy with my current HDD indicator connection only.

Card Reader & DVD Combo: I purchased a dell 19-1 card reader and a slimline DVD writer combo which fits within single 5.25″ bay nicely. Card reader worked out of the box as it goes straight to one of the USB 2.0 male connector (there are two on my motherboard). However, the slimline DVD rom required 13 pin SATA (combined) cable. So I just purchased another converter to get it done and it works flawlessly.

Chassis Fan: Surprisingly the Dell’s on case fan didn’t work with my motherboard. The 5 pin (1 empty) cable was too small so I used the dupont jumper cable to extend them. But chassis fan won’t start even though everything else was working. I checked the chassis fan port on motherboard using other fans and all of them worked. Motherboards BIOS didn’t recognize the case fan either. Most probably it’s a faulty item. I will get in touch with the seller asking for a replacement as it was DOA.

Thermal Sensor: Tiny two pin female connector was too tight for my motherboard and once again it’s too small. However, I used the jumper cable and finally it worked.

This is a very tall list of things that went wrong. Took me hours but my PC is currently up and running. Without any issue. However, for the long run though I will slowly fix the minor issues thats been left over. Even after all these I am super happy with my build and I am looking forward to use this machine for next few years. I hope if you are planning to build something like this soon enough, stay away from the branded case. Good luck.

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