"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 4

Time to assemble the parts!  In this segment, I will test, clean, and assemble the parts for this budget/performance Overwatch PC build.  The process should be pretty similar to most other PC assembly guides, but follow along if you want to see me muddle my way through this build after the jump.

If you missed the previous portions of this build, check out the links below to catch up:

"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - INTRODUCTION
"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 2 (parts hunting)
"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 3 (case hacking)

Alright, first off, I will test the motherboard and CPU combo outside of the case to see if they are functional.  I start by gently placing the CPU in the socket.  This motherboard did not look like it had any bent pins or other anomalies to contend with except being a bit dusty.

Two 1GB sticks of ram were included with the purchase, so I left those on the motherboard for now.  I latch the CPU in and apply a little "pea" bead of thermal past.

I am using Arctic MX-4 not from any in-depth research or experience in the matter, but among the overwhelming number of thermal paste options available today, the MX-4 seemed to have relatively good performance, and it is non-conductive so if I muck it up and the paste spreads to any critical contacts, I will not be in any danger of smoke and fire.  For post testing, I am using a cheap stock Intel cooler because it does not require any fancy brackets at the back of the motherboard for installation.

The fan connects to the 4 pin CPU fan header.

And, I plug in a USB keyboard and a spare "known-working" graphics card.  This one happens to be a GTX 750ti that I have waiting for an arcade emulator build that I have not gotten around to.

I am using a known working power supply for testing. . . a corsair CX500 also slated for the highly delayed arcade machine build, but convenient now to have lying around.

First, I connect the 24 pin motherboard connector.

And then the PCIe connector to the graphics card.

Next, I connect a monitor.

And am ready to try and power up.

Flipping on the power supply lights some green lights on the motherboard which is a good sign. . . so, I short the power button pins on the motherboard with a screwdriver.

Aaaaaand. . . . nothing. . . . . after freaking out for a while, changing from a DVI to a VGA cable, reseating the memory, putting in other memory, I sat down and realized I had not connected the cpu power lead.

I was wondering why there were only 4 exposed pins, but the 8 pin connector went on with 4 active pins and the other 4 hanging off, so I went with it.  I later discovered that the black cover could be removed to utilize all 8 pins of the power supply cable.

But, after connecting both motherboard power cables, I kick the power button pins again with a screwdriver and. . . .

Success!  The system posts.  We have our xeon x3460 chip recognized as well as our RAM.

The high idle temperature of the chip (51 degrees) raising a little bit of suspicion, but I'm hoping that is either using too little thermal paste, or not having the cooler seated firmly on all 4 corners since it was installed quickly for testing.

Upon removal of the cooler, here is my thermal paste coverage.

I will leave it for now and observe my final temps when I install the final CPU cooler.  With the CPU/motherboard combo tested, I begin disassembly and cleaning.  First, I remove the cmos battery.

Next, I start removing the heatsinks from the motherboard.  The spring pins come out by gently squeezing the latches from the bottom of the motherboard.  At first I used pliers but discovered that for this motherboard at least, I could just use my fingernails and pinch the pin latches and push them out.

Heatsink removal reveals ~.6mm thermal pads that seem in relatively decent shape.  I will be replacing these just to be safe, but it seems everything was working still.  I guess it doesn't hurt to check and make sure.

The same process removes the second heatsink.

The Southbridge heatsink is attached with two screw pins that have springs attached.

On this motherboard, this comes out pretty easily after the screw pins are removed.

The thermal paste appeared pliable, tacky,  and was likely ok to leave undisturbed, but since I removed the heatsink, I will need to clean and replace the paste.

Because the heatsink seems to balance rather precariously on the two screw pins, I opt to keep the fragile foam surround and try to surgically scrape the original thermal compound off of the center part of the heatsink.

Next, I get a big pan and use 99% isopropyl alcohol and an old toothbrush to try cleaning up the PCB.  I ended up changing the alcohol a couple of times while scrubbing.  I left the CPU in place to I would reduce my chances of damaging the fragile socket pins.

Some people online have used aerosol brake cleaner for this task and after doing it this way, if indeed the brake cleaner does not damage components, I would consider it as I feel that method would get into a lot the small crevices more thoroughly than this brush technique, remove dust/dirt faster, and be much faster.  But, for this build, I went with the 100% safe solution and stuck with simple isopropyl alcohol and some elbow grease.

Next, I put some new thermal paste on the Southbridge chip. . . likely too much, but the Arctic MX-4 is non conductive, so I went with it.

And reinstalled the heatsink.

Next, I got some Arctic .5mm thermal pad to put under the aluminum heatsinks.  There are cheaper solutions available on ebay and other sources, but this stuff had a heat transfer rating specified, and I felt safer using it as opposed to a more generic product, and I think one sheet will go a long way.

Using the heatsink as a guide, I cut the thermal pad with a sharp knife.  There are plastic covers on both sides that need to be removed to reveal a mild adhesive surface.

The thermal pad itself is very squishy and deforms easily once the plastic pieces are removed.

Next, I reinstall the two aluminum heatsinks.

The spring clips automatically lock back in place when pressed through the PCB.

Next, I replace the cmos battery.

With that, the motherboard is prepped and ready to be deployed!

Next, I take a look at the power supply and note that it is very dusty.  I decide to take the cover off and clean it out.  Be warned, the high voltage capacitors in the power supply can retain LETHAL charge even when the power supply is not plugged in.  People have died mucking around inside computer power supplies so take proper precautions before opening one up.  Be sure to fully discharge the power supply or, if you are unsure about any part you may come in contact with, it is way safer to just leave the thing dusty!

With that being said, I opt to go in and clean out the PSU a bit.  Top cover removal is straight forward with 4 screws.

Which reveals quite a dusty interior.  I doubt this has ever been cleaned.

I decide that a vacuum cleaner and a paint brush to loosen the dust would be minimally invasive and would improve the dust situation significantly.

I end up removing the fan guard and fan to clean in some of the hard to reach areas.

And, we are looking much better after a bit of brushing and vacuuming!

Reassembly is pretty straight forward.

And with that, the power supply is ready to go.

Next, I decide to install the CPU cooler.  The free cooler that I had available is a Thermalright Ultra 120.  One feature that I really like about this cooler is it appears I will be able to do the majority of the installation procedures from the front side of the motherboard which is great in the case that I am using because it does not have any motherboard tray cutouts to access the back side of the board behind the CPU socket.

The first step is installing the back side bracket that just slides on.

The orientation aligns with the cpu socket screws.

Flipping the motherboard over, 2 secondary brackets screw in and sandwich the motherboard securing the backing bracket.

Because I had a bit of CPU idle temperature anomalies happen when I tested the Motherboard/CPU combo, I am extra cautious and do a dry test fit.

I find a bit more wobble on the cooler than I would like and investigate a bit further and figure out which component is out of square.  The CPU heat spread seems to have a slight bit of a hump along one axis.

Also, the cooler's thermal surface seems to have an even more distinct convex shape.

After reading up a bit about CPU contact surface, lapping heat spreaders and coolers, and kicking the problem around a few times in my head, I came across a few notes of consensus on the web.  It does not seem like tests showed significant improvements in performance from lapping components to tighter tolerances.  I also read that Thermalright and many other cooler manufacturers intentionally put a convex shape to their coolers as that generally works better for thermal paste flow and centers the contact surface in the most important zone.  I decide to leave it for now, screw the thing in tightly and see what happens in my temps. I don't really know how much deflection there actually is when everything is tightened down, and it could very well be a non-issue.

But, one adjustment I do make is flip the top side retaining brackets so the screw holes are aligned closer to the CPU.  This will give the screws a bit more leverage or less "bracket bend" when everything is tightened down.

I confirm that the fan will not interfere with RAM installation.

And with that confirmed, I go for a more generous "pea blob" of thermal paste as I am aware of some geometric differences between the CPU and cooler thermal surface that will need to be bridged. . . unless there is enough deflection for everything to bend into place once tightened.

And, I install the cooler tightly.

A close inspection of the mating surface area confirms that I have complete thermal paste coverage on the CPU heat spreader.

With the cooler installed, I install my 8GB RAM sticks.

And the CPU cooler fan.

With questions about cooling performance lingering in the air and this being the first motherboard I have cleaned and prepared . . . as well as a power supply that I have not yet tested personally, I decide it is best to do another post test outside of the case just to see what we have.  This time, I am also using the final EVGA GTX 970 graphics card.

SUCCESS!!! And, our idle temps are settled in at a much more reasonable 34.5 degrees.

The the core components tested and running, I start the system assembly by installing the PSU in the case.

Four screws secure it to the back top corner.

Next, the cover plate for the motherboard goes in.  It installs from the inside of the case.

Next, I clear all of the wires so I have ample space to put the motherboard in position.

And slide the motherboard into place.

This motherboard has some convenient clips that secure the case fans without screws so I install the front intake and rear exhaust fan in the stock locations using new Arctic F12 fans.

And, it's starting to look a bit like a computer!  This whole time, I'm kicking around in the back of my mind how I am going to handle the cable management on this case that does not have some of the nice conveniences of modern cases.  Most of the builds that I see with non modular power supplies in old cases tend to look a bit messier than I like.

Moving forward, I try to install the graphics card but run into a slight roadblock as it refuses to go all the way in.

As it turns out, the quick clips for PCI cards is not designed for double width cards, so I remove the clips.

This web part interferes with the edge plate for the graphics card.

I have the option of cutting out that section of web but I end up just using a screw to secure the graphics card and reinstalling the clips.

In hindsight, I should probably remove the clip assembly because I have a nice blue and silver color scheme happening in the build and the purple green clashes pretty badly with it, but all of the aluminum PCI slot covers are latch type without screw holes, so I leave it for now.

Next, I install the 256GB Samsung OEM SSD  which for now will be the only drive in the system.

It slides toolessly and easily into the Icy Dock 5.25" drive adapter that is designed to hold another 2.5" SSD as well as a single 3.5" hard drive.

The original quick clips from the case attach easily to the Icy Dock, and the entire assembly slides into the case without tools.

After putting in the 5.25" drive adapter, I realize there is no physical way I can connect the SSD power and data cables from the back, so I look more closely at the Icy Dock manual, and there is a removeable flap in the moulding that comes off and is re-installed as a front cover piece.

With the main drive secured, I decide to start my cable management with the fans.  The upper 3 fans (CPU, top front intake, and rear exhaust) will be driven by the "CPU fan" PWM signal on the motherboard, but the fans will be powered directly from the power supply.  The tach feedback signal that the motherboard receives will come from the CPU fan.  I am using this PWM fan splitter cable to make it happen.  A PCB based fan hub may be cleaner for the installation, but costs ~$10 more and this is a budget build, so I'm hoping this Ebay sourced Chinese cable is solid.

This end goes to the motherboard.  It has a PWM split that takes the motherboard's PWM signal and splits it out to all 4 fan outputs in the harness supports, and receives the tach signal (green wire) from one of the fans in the harness (which I will connect to the CPU fan).  Notice the power pins are not populated. . . power for the fans will come directly from the powers supply, so these do not connect to the motherboard jack.

This plugs into the motherboard here.

The lower intake fan will be independently controlled by the "CHA FAN" header on the motherboard.  I thought that it might be good to make one of the intake fans feed the GPU and be controlled by GPU temp demands while the upper 3 fans are controlled by the CPU temp.

Cable management is something that I hear talked about a lot, but I have seen very little explanations on how they tidy up the necessary cable runs in a computer build.  In general, after envisioning where I want my main cable pathways/bundles to be and how I would to route the sub-branches to join up with the main bundle, what I like to do is pick one "end" of each grouping of wires and make that side perfect and either allow the "other end" of the run to be messy in preferably a hidden spot, or try to make some sort of mid-run correction to rebundle the cables so that both ends are neat.  It is 100% possible to control one side of the cable run perfectly, so for me, that's a good place to start.  Choose the end that is most visually important and go from there.  Trying to tidy up both ends simultaneously with the connectors at both ends plugged in makes my head explode, and I usually end up not being able to succeed at getting EITHER end pretty.  Another fact of life for me in cable management is that I will bundle, cut, rebundle, cut, reroute, rebundle, add a wire, cut, rebundle. . . a lot of times.  So, I just resign myself to use as many zip ties as I need knowing that likely 3x or more will be cut off and replaced before I'm done.  This way, I do not hesitate to straighten out the area that I'm working on am able to move forward with organizing the chaos one step at a time without second guessing.  If I need to come back and rework a section later, that's fine.  This way, the entire cable management incrementally improves as I work and re-work the runs and all I have lost is some zip ties with each revision.

That being said, one of the first "problematic" runs which will go all the way across the top of the motherboard are my cpu and rear exhaust fan cables.  I will also need to integrate my PWM fan splitter cable as the connector that sends PWM signal to all of the fans in the splitter as well as receives RPM or "tach" signal from my main fan (the CPU cooler fan) connects to the "CPU fan" header on the motherboard.  I choose to bundle and run my fan cables along this path across the motherboard towards the main cable bundle.  As this is a primary visible area, I bundle everything neatly here and run it across the face of the motherboard as neatly as I can not worrying about the tangled mess downstream for now.  I have not exactly located the main trunk of cables yet, but the motherboard power supply header is right here, so I know the main trunk will need to be closeby.

This is a more old-school power supply in an old school case without modern routing spaces behind the motherboard tray, so decisions on where to route the main bundle of cables coming off of the power supply will need to be thought through carefully if I am to have any chance of success.  I choose to start by running all of the cables behind the drive tray.  This requires squeezing all of the connectors individually through a narrow slot, and not all of the connectors were slim enough to make it through, but most were and the rest, I may be able to fudge and hide.

Note the "loop" in the bundle where the CPU cable needs to enter the main bundle and then exit right away and circle right back to the header on the motherboard which is located on top right near the CPU fan grill.

I also have a SATA power cable that needs to run to the top of the case for my SSD/hard-drive bay.  For these two cables, I'm tidying up "both ends" of the run as the PSU cable exit is visible as well as the spot on the motherboard where the cable connects.  I secure both ends as cleanly as I can and will try to hide or bundle in the extra loops in the middle of the run as best I can.

I don't know if this will work out in the end, but what I am thinking is, I will keep the PSU cables as tidy as I can starting from the power supply.  Then, I will branch out all of my power feeds as needed but continue to run all of the unused cables downward towards this bottom drive tray.  I will attempt to stuff all of my extra cables under that drive tray and hopefully out of sight.

Here, I am trying to branch power cables (VGA and motherboard) off of the main trunk as needed as well as tie in my IO connectors (USB, Firewire, and audio) that need to go from the top center of the case all the way down to the bottom of the motherboard.  I use as many zip ties as I need and cut/rework as many times as I need to.

After taking a step back and evaluating my progress, I do not like the IO cable bundle running across the "top" side of the case and decide to run it underneath the motherboard which requires clearing out all of the cables I just bundled and removing the motherboard.

My new IO cable pathway will run here.

In hindsight this was a bad idea because the audio cables ran too close to the motherboard and its various components, and picked up all kinds of digital chirps, buzzes, and beeps in the headphone audio!  I will need to come back and pull it back out to the original location, but for now, at least it's clean looking.  The cables need to lay perfectly flat in order to fit behind the motherboard standoffs, so I used some console tape to hold them in place as they would not cooperate without some assistance.

Here is where the IO cables enter to run under the motherboard. . . pretty tidy.

And, we are all put back together with the new IO cable run going underneath the motherboard and the connectors popping out at the bottom right next to the headers on the motherboard.

At this point, I realize that this motherboard actually has an 8 connector header for CPU power, and it just had a little plastic removable plug on it.  So, I remove the plug and connect all 8 pins which my PSU has provision for.

Here, I have everything tied in and the PSU cables running as neatly as I could get them towards that bottom hard drive bracket.

With that, the majority of the internal wiring is complete.  I pre-ran SATA power connectors to the front middle drive bay as well which has mount points for 2x 3.5" drives.

The front cover can now be latched back on, and the build is almost complete!

The last cable to get connected is the 12V power connector for the two front panel LED's that are hidden under the "wave" feature on the front door.  These came with a little adapter which I inserted and stuffed under the bottom hard drive bracket along with all of my other loose PSU cables.

With that, the build is complete, and I can move on to installing Windows 10, system setup, and overclocking in the next segment.

But, as a quick preview, it appears I am running pretty solidly for 144fps setup on high settings with this build!

If you want to catch up on the previous parts of this series, they are linked below:

"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - INTRODUCTION
"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 2 (parts hunting)
"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 3 (case hacking)
"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 4 (assembly)
"Needy Healing" - Used Parts Overwatch PC Build - PART 5 (setup and overclock)

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