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Building the Perfect Bleeding-Edge PC, Part 2
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Installing Drives and the Video Adapter

This system uses two Seagate Serial ATA hard drives. To install them, mount each drive in one of the removable hard drive trays. To do so, press inward on both of the spring-steel rails that secure a drive tray and pull the tray straight out. Secure the drive to the tray by driving four of the hard drive mounting screws, which have built-in washers, through the tray and into the screw holes on the bottom of the drive.

Once the drive is mounted in the tray, slide the tray into the chassis and press firmly until it snaps into place, as shown in Figure 18.

Installing the hard drives
Figure 18. Installing the hard drives

Unlike standard ATA drives, which must be configured as master or slave, Serial ATA drives do not require configuration because each drive connects to a dedicated interface. To finish installing the drives, connect an S-ATA data cable and an S-ATA power cable to each drive, as shown in Figures 19 and 20, respectively.

Connecting the S-ATA data cable to the drive
Figure 19. Connecting the S-ATA data cable to the drive

Connecting the S-ATA power cable to the drive
Figure 20. Connecting the S-ATA power cable to the drive

Once you have installed the hard drives and connected their data and power cables, the final step is to connect the S-ATA data cables to the motherboard, as shown in Figure 21. The D925XCV motherboard provides four S-ATA connectors, labeled 0 through 3. Good practice suggests connecting the primary hard drive to S-ATA 0 and the secondary hard drive to S-ATA 1. If you have a third hard drive, connect it to S-ATA 2 and the optical drive to S-ATA 3. Otherwise, connect the optical drive to S-ATA 2 and leave S-ATA 3 unused.

Connecting the S-ATA data cable to the motherboard
Figure 21. Connecting the S-ATA data cable to the motherboard

With the hard drives installed, the next step is to install the PCI Express nVIDIA 6800 GT video adapter. The PCI Express x16 video slot resembles a standard AGP slot and is located in the same position. In fact, the first time we saw a PCI Express video slot, we thought it was an AGP slot. To install the video adapter, remove the appropriate slot cover. With the Antec P160 case and the Intel D925XCV motherboard, that turns out to be the slot cover nearest the power supply. Slide the video adapter into position gently, making sure that the connectors on the rear slot cover clear the edges of the slot. When you have the card aligned properly, press down firmly with both thumbs to seat the video adapter, as shown in Figure 22. You should feel the adapter snap into place. Examine the junction between the card and slot to make certain that the card is seated fully and flush. When you're certain everything is aligned properly, reinsert the screw to secure the slot cover to the chassis.

Installing the PCI Express video adapter
Figure 22. Installing the PCI Express video adapter

Like any fast video adapter, the nVIDIA 6800 GT produces a lot of heat. So much heat, in fact, that it uses a built-in heat sink and fan to cool the graphics processor. Some slower video adapters use a small fan powered by the slot itself, but the 6800 GT is a very fast adapter and requires a serious fan for cooling. The PCI Express specification defines a special power connector that is designed to supply the additional power needed by fast PCI Express video adapters, both for processing and for running the cooling fan. When we assembled the Antec NeoPower 480 power supply, we installed the optional PCI Express power cable for just this reason. This cable plugs into a six-pin connector on the end of the video adapter, as shown in Figure 23. Don't forget to connect this cable, or your video adapter may burn itself to a crisp seconds after you apply power to the system.

Connecting the PCI Express power cable
Figure 23. Connecting the PCI Express power cable

We're nearing the end of assembly now. The only thing that remains to be installed is the Plextor PX-712SA S-ATA DVD burner. The first step is to install rails on the optical drive. You have two choices of mounting position for the rails. In the first position, the drive is mounted flush with the front panel of the case. Use this position if you want the drive bezel to be exposed. In the second position, the drive is recessed half an inch or so. Use this position if you want to use the chrome bezel covers supplied with the case. We chose to do the latter, and so mounted the rails in the recessed position. (Figure 24 shows the rails in the proper position for using the bezel cover.)

The front panel of the Antec P160 case must be removed to install the optical drive. To do so, locate the recess at bottom of the front panel (underneath the case) and pull firmly until the front panel snaps out. A cable connected to the front panel plugs into a socket on the front of the chassis. Unplug the cable and set the front panel aside. Slide the optical drive into the case, as shown in Figure 24, until the rails snap into place, and then reinstall the front panel. Don't forget to reconnect the cable.

Installing the optical drive
Figure 24. Installing the optical drive

Next we connected an S-ATA data cable to the drive and to S-ATA 2 on the motherboard. The final step was to connect power to the optical drive. Unfortunately, the S-ATA power cable from the power supply has only two connectors, and we'd used both of those for the hard drives. It was time to install one of the crimp-on connectors included with the power supply parts package to give us a third S-ATA power connector.

Figure 25 shows the procedure for installing the crimp-on connector. First, make absolutely certain you position the wires correctly in the connector body. If you crimp a wire in the wrong position, you might easily destroy the drive, the power supply, or even the system itself. Fortunately, the connector body is clearly labeled with the wire color for each position. Check and double-check each wire before you start crimping. When you are sure you have the correct wire in the correct position, use a flat-blade screwdriver to press it firmly into place, as shown in Figure 25. Make sure that the wire is pressed all the way down into the body of the connector so it makes full contact. Once you have crimped and verified all five wires, snap on the connector cap, as shown in Figure 26.

Crimping an additional S-ATA connector
Figure 25. Crimping an additional connector to the S-ATA power cable

Covering the crimped connector
Figure 26. Capping the newly crimped connector

The final step in assembling any PC is to dress the cables. That's particularly important for this system, which uses a CPU cooler with exposed fan blades. To dress the cables, arrange all of them to avoid impeding airflow and to ensure they can't foul a fan. Once you have them gathered, bunched, and routed appropriately, use twist ties, tie-wraps, or other means to secure the bundles together and to attach them to the chassis frame, as shown in Figure 27.

Dressing the cables
Figure 27. Dressing the cables

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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