Upgrading a computer, it’s something that I’m sure everyone interested in technology has either considered or completed, whether by themselves or with the help of that one tech guy that everyone seems to rely on for help. It’s something that I have just completed recently for the first time, upgrading from a 7 year old motherboard/CPU combo, to something a little more up to date. I have tinkered about inside a computer case before, swapping out optical drives and hard drives. I have moved my build from its original case to a roomier one to allow for a longer graphics card and a PSU to power it, which I had no apprehension about installing any of these and I ran into no difficulty in doing so either. I attribute this to being made to take note of what I was doing while tinkering in my grandfathers shed as a kid, as anything that I took apart I also had to be able to put back together once I was finished discovering what was inside.
This was an entirely different matter when faced with the task of changing the motherboard, alongside installing a CPU and cooler. I have watched countless installation videos, taking note of the various techniques used, and considered myself competent and able to perform what was necessary to complete the task at hand. But this time it was different, perspiration beaded on my brow, my hands became clammy and my stomach was churning in knots. I could recall step by step what I had to do; I knew to discharge static, to ensure that the cooler was firmly and evenly depressed onto the CPU and to alternate screws when tightening to avoid putting stress on one side. I had taken note of where I had unplugged cables and leads and was confident about removing my old hardware.
My problems came when I was about to install the cooler to the CPU, I had watched so many tutorials, from just placing a pea sized blob in the centre, drawing shapes or lines with thermal paste and depressing the cooler, or even spreading cooler evenly over the CPU with a credit card to ensure full coverage. This is when my nerves kicked in, I don’t know whether it was because I was overwhelmed with techniques, lack of experience in installing coolers or just afraid of causing damage to my new hardware I felt physically sick. It was at this point I asked for help from my fellow Play3r editors on their opinion on how to install thermal paste. I took a bit of a dissing for being a noob but the guys (and girls) really helped me refocus on the task at hand and gave me the confidence to proceed.
I foolishly installed the cooler to the motherboard outside the case, as I had seen done so many times in tutorial videos, installed the motherboard to the case without hitch, then came the time to plug in the cables. Disaster, I realised that I didn’t have enough room to plug in the CPU power cable; this left me with the decision to either remove the cooler from the motherboard or to contort my hand into a gap that a child’s would have difficulty fitting into. Me being a man of determination I decided that I would mould my hand into the world’s smallest gap between my cooler and case wall to insert the plug into the socket. After 15 minutes of struggling the pair finally met in what can only be described and the world’s most awkward mating ritual, and I was overcome with joy. Men wept tears of joy and angels sang as the remaining cables were installed into their relevant places.
The moment of truth, flicking the power on at the wall socket, so far so good; press the power button, the hard drives and fans spring into life. The machine boots, I was so overjoyed I missed hitting the button to enter BIOS to change boot settings, on the second try I was spritelier and managed to swap over to boot from USB. Windows installed without a hitch, until it came time to start installing antivirus and drivers, I realised I didn’t have the disk for the motherboard (also found out later I hadn’t plugged the optical drives into the motherboard) so couldn’t install the Ethernet port to get online. I was at a complete loss as to what to do but Play3r to the rescue yet again, I was advised to download the drivers on an android tablet and transferred over and everything from then on was plain sailing.
From my experiences of my first proper build I have learned that not everything is as simple as it looks in the videos, that at times things can be difficult or the outlook can be bleak, but asking for help is ok. My hands are covered in little nicks and scrapes from the strange and unusual shapes that I had them inside my case, but the sense of accomplishment that I have from completing my build makes them seem insignificant. I know that my machine now runs because of the hard work that I put into it; blood, sweat and tears went into making it work and from this I have accrued a depth of knowledge. Do you have any successes or failures that you would own up to?