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Alright, so my new computer is structurally almost done. Finally got my RAM, plugged in all 8gb's. Hard drive is in place, front panel wiring is go. All data is backed-up on my MyBook. Windows 7 Disc ready. Just need to get some thermal paste, snap on the heatsink, turn off the machine I'm using now and transplant the 600 watt PSU and my 8800gt.

However, the one last area I'm uncertain on is the BIOS. I've never really dealt with it outside of reformatting and I don't know what steps I need to take to set it all up properly. I've seen my neighbor do it before, setting clock speeds and RAM frequencies, dates and things, but I'm really uncertain as to how I would set it up and how it might need to be optimized to properly utilize my hardware.

Can anyone help me at least establish a check-list of things I need to sort out in order to be sure I'm not improperly running my machine?
 
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Unless you got a RAID set up, there isn't much to do.

HPET set to 64 bit (assuming you're running a 64 bit operating system)
If you arn't in raid, make sure the HDD are set in ACHI mode.
Go through and make sure the timings and speeds on the RAM are correct (don't change them until you boot up properly at least once)
Make sure all devices plugged to the motherboard are detected and listed.
 
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Boot properly at least once? You mean, I install the OS before I tweak the BIOS settings?

Also, what sort of devices, just Motherboard components, or things like the mouse, keyboard, monitor? Or just the hardware like the RAM, GPU and such?
 
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No, you're going to need to do the OS install after setting a lot of bios stuff, especially the SATA configuration. You can't switch from ATA to AHCI on the fly (and vise versa) despite what MS may say. Need the correct driver first. I'm pretty sure what he means is to get everything going, and then screw with your clock frequencies and whatnot. AKA set everything at stock, OS install (will probably need to apply the AHCI and other needed drivers AFTER partitioning), then tweak as needed.
 
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So basically, there's no way I can do this myself. I have to wait for my damned tech-wise neighbor to reappear so he can help me...

I hate this part of computer building, one mistake and you ruin hundreds of dollars of equipment.

I don't even trust myself to apply thermal paste between the heatsink and processor. Why does it have to be paste in the first place? Why can't they do something more sophisticated, like making little paste-filled thermal caps that sit on top instead of something so primitive and sloppy as slathering glue on top of a microprocessor? Try as I might, I just can't summon the nerve to do it, I'm afraid I'll use too much and the excess will ooze onto the motherboard.

And the stupid BIOS, all these switches and things. What do you mean by ATA and AHCI? Where is a driver involved? My hard drive didn't come with anything like a driver, I thought hard drives were plug and play?
 
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Relax. When I did it the first time, I had no help either.

1) Put a drop of paste on the chip and spread it out using a piece of plastic. Nothing to it. Make sure the heatsink is installed properly by reading the instruction manual.

2) ACHI mode just means that you are running a non-RAID set up.

3) After that is set up, boot from the Windows CD, and install.

4) Once you have Windows up and running, go back and check to make sure the RAM is running at the timings and speeds you want. This would also be the time to begin overclocking, if that's what you want to do.

It really isn't as bad as you might think. Just got to relax a bit. And don't forgot that magic little acronym: RMA.
 
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Well, I've looked up paste application techniques on Youtube, and supposedly the most effective method is to place a drop in the center and squash it with the heatsink, therefore eliminating potential air-bubbles that might prevent proper heat dispersion.

Also, do the speeds I'm going to see correlate somehow to the make? Is my 800mhz RAM going to be set to that setting? Does "Wolfdale 8400" mean I set it to 8400, or since it's dual core, is it 4200?

---------- Double Post below was added at - 11:33 PM has been merged with this post created - 10:13 PM at ----------

**** MY LIFE!!!

I'm a failure, I can't do ANYTHING right! I might as well kill my ****ing self!

I tried to stop being scared and put the heatsink on, I practiced with the gunk on some paper to see how much I'd need, and then I tried it on the processor. I went to install the heatsink and lines up the four prong things with the holes, but I didn't see that the manual said to push in the pins diagonal from each other, so I stuck the top two in, and then I realized they were so uneven, so I decided to stop and remove them, but I couldn't figure out how. I know it said to turn the pins in the direction it says to remove them, but it only worked for the one, and the other one just wouldn't move, and I started to panic, I didn't know what to do, and the paste was probably ruined by now from all the exposure to air, and I was afraid I was going to crack the motherboard trying to get it off, and eventually I tugged enough that it came off and I set it down, and I looked down to see the CPU, and it was covered with almost the exact right amount of paste, but part of the tape or whatever that was on the bottom of the heatsink had stuck to the processor, and the manual said at the bottom "Use extreme care when removing the CPU cooler because the thermal grease/tape between the CPU cooler and CPU may adhere to the CPU. Inadequately removing the CPU cooler may damage the CPU".

I've broken it, I know I have, it's going to be ruined, inoperable along with everything else! It doesn't look damaged looking at it, but I know it, my stupid clumsy hands can't do anything! The motherboard probably already broke when I was installing it after I tried time after time to get it in and once dropped my screwdriver while fastening it into the case. I probably already broke everything with static without feeling it or seeing it, even if I always kept part of my body touching the inside of the case.

And now I can't do anything, I have no way of removing the paste for another try and I have to wait for my neighbor who knows how to work with computers to do it for me. I KNEW I couldn't be trusted to do something like this! All you have to do is barely TOUCH a computer the wrong way for it to be broke forever. I've always hated how EVERYTHING to do with hardware takes tons of strength and force, it's like they WANT you to **** up and snap your motherboard in two by installing your RAM.

I just can't do it anymore, I'll never have my better computer, it's all going to be ruined...
 
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Dude, dude.... you're making this too hard on yourself. You need to chill and somehow gain some self confidence.
As for the hardware installation part, maybe it's not broken. Bring someone that knows how to deal with this and watch him fix/install the parts, ask questions.
It would be a good idea trying to do it yourself under your friend's surveillance. So that he can tell you how to do it.
The RAM installation is not that hard. As long as you open those clips wide and install it easy and carefully it's ok.
The CPU cooler and heatsink,well, that's a little harder but not impossible.
 
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Take a pic? You're using the stock cooler that came with the cpu right? If so, you probably don't need to apply thermal paste yourself, since the "tape" you speak of is a pad of thermal interface that comes with the cooler.See this pic It probably just came off from uneven force on the heatsink. Don't panic.
Heat paste comes off from itself when you use paper towel or a lint free cloth. If it's the stock heat pad, I'd remove everything and reapply the thermal paste you got/bought (I don't trust these pads) then reseat the cooler.

Get some self confidence, I'm sure you haven't broken anything. I've probably build like 10 PCs in my life and I've had worse stuff happen without consequences. I've never really taken care of static protection of stuff, even been using magnetic screwdrivers most of the time.
On one of my old PCs, I used to have that awful heatsink where you had to literally snap the MB in two to remove it. I had to remove it once, used a screwdriver to loosen the brackets and slipped 2-3 times without breaking the MB.


Edit: As for your settings question:

The E8400 runs at 3GHz with an FSB of 1333MHz. Most MB will set it correctly by themselves, but in case it doesn't, set the FSB to 1333 (or 333 depending if the MB shows true FSB or the quad pumped FSB) and the multiplier to 9 (9*333 = 3000).
You may have to set the memory divider too (again, only if your MB doesn't set the right one itself). For your situation, a 5/4 divider should do it.
 
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Okay, okay, I've calmed down a bit. I just freaked, it's not so much self-confidence as it is my paranoia of just how fragile the internal components of a computer are. My instinct tells me if you goofed and accidentally gave your CPU a smart smack with the tip of your screwdriver, it's done, RMA, hope you have that warranty. In reality it's probably a lot more resistant to typical shock than I think, but I watch all these PC installation videos where the tech teacher grabs the motherboard one handed, no static protection, fingers on the damn chipset, and even bangs the damn thing on the side of the case while setting it in. I wince every time this happens. I'd either make a really good bomb-squad guy, or a really BAD one. I handle these things like they're made of graham-cracker. I just imagine that some super factor machine puts these things in precisely, and here I am with my screwdriver and my big toe pressed against the side of the case trying to navigate an intricate cutting of some crazy-ass tree into a little sorta-jagged aluminum box while gingerly holding it with both hands with my fingertips on the edges, the only part I can reasonably believe doesn't have some unknown circuit underneath the surface who's simple destruction would probably set your capacitors on fire.

But like I said, it really doesn't help me that I'm applying a liquid, something that computers are notorious for not getting along with, and dropping it right onto the core of the whole shebang. I said it before, I don't see how we haven't found a more elegant solution to this.

But regardless, the pic you provided is most definitely what I'm looking at, and given that it's nearing 3AM, the best I can think to do at the moment is scrape some of it off with the little plastic applicator that came with the paste and see if we have any rubbing alcohol in the morning. I doubt the residue on the heatsink itself will need such care, but I'll take no chances where that processor is concerned. Rubbing alcohol with cue-tips I mean, as I've researched. I'm not going to be bathing a PC's brain in a volatile fluid a mere night after freaking out about a bit of toothpaste-looking **** on it's "head".
 
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Well thermal paste isn't really a liquid, and it's non (electrically) conductive. I mean it's made to be applied on the cpu, there's not much that can go wrong. I find mounting heatsinks these days is child's play compared to a few years ago.
Rubbing alcohol works on cpus, the more alcohol content the better since it evaporates faster than water. I personally use a thermal paste cleaning kit, which seems based on citric acid.
The thing is, the surface where you apply the paste (and the cleaning) is an internal heatspreader anyways, you can't really damage the cpu when applying stuff to that. Hell some overclockers go as far as to "lap" it, meaning making it thinner with sand paper and polishing it afterwards.
 
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Honestly if you're not that computer savvy, all you have to do is hook everything up and go into BIOS and make your first boot device your cd/dvd rom drive. As long as your computer posts you should be fine. IF you must mess with overclocking and changing memory voltages, buy a crap computer that you can mess around with, or even a laptop. There should honestly be no reason for you to mess with your clocks or memory voltages if your computers passes a POST.

And feel free to use some force when putting in those intel stock cpu coolers. They are pieces of crap. just make sure not to bend the motherboard before.

Once that happens you can put restart the computer, pop the windows cd in and let it install.
 
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Alright, took some swabs and some 70% rubbing alcohol and cleaned both surfaces to the best of my ability. It was mostly pretty simple to do. Then I had to break one of the cooler's plastic fasteners for the fan power wire, because last time I tried the plug wouldn't reach the CPUFan socket on the board. That problems out of the way. I reapplied a proper amount, even used a swab to take a little off when I wasn't sure how it would spread when pressed thin.

Long-story short, it took a LOT more force to get those damned things fastened than I'd have liked, and it didn't help that the locking mechanisms almost sound like crunching. Used a flashlight to see between the risers under the board to make sure the spokes were all the way through on all four prongs, and they were thank God. I'm reasonably convinced it's seated properly. It doesn't budge, sits there with a firmness that I associate with a job well done.

I'm going to see if I can get a hold of my neighbor today for the BIOS stuff, and if I can't, I'll wait till later tonight and then see if I can put the rest of this ***** together. The PSU for the new PC, after all, currently resides in the machine I'm typing on now, as does the GPU, so if it's a matter of signing off this machine that's served me well since Christmas of 2005 for the last time, I at least want to be able to simply sleep on it rather than spend the remainder of a day without a working computer or moodily re-installing my PSU into the old one a mere hour after doing the same for the new one.

As to clock speeds and such, I should have no need or desire to overclock anything, at least not before I understand my processor's tolerances for heat and see how effective the fans are, at what percentages of speed, under load, and just how noisy they are. If my cooling is more than effective, and I can afford to boost up my power, I'll look into overclocking. But as it is, I shouldn't need it.

The reason I asked about the speeds was because the last time I saw my neighbor set up a computer, he went into the BIOS and said he had to make sure the timing of the memory was right. Maybe it's automatic now, I don't know. It's been a while.
 
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Memory settings mostly depend on the mainboard ( or more specifically, the bios). Some MB allow you to set every sub timing, some just the very very basic stuff. To just get it working check if the frequency is right (400/800 MHz) and if the main timings are set correctly (mostly the stuff the ram is advertised with, like 5-5-5-15 for tCL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS,, naming again depends on the bios, but they should always be the first 4 things you can set for memory timings).

The rest can be left on auto, unless you want to OC the RAM or if there are stability problems.
 
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Well anyway, still waiting for a neighbor sighting. This guy goes out of town plenty, so in the meantime I thought I might better understand some things. I've never been under any doubt that the components would all work with each other, but PSU's are always such finicky things to understand. I get the Watts, my PSU has 600, but the voltage and rails have never been something I understood. I seem to remember folks telling me my 600W is more than good enough for my intended build, but I'd like to know why.

I have good ol' Speedfan on my PC, and the PSU in question is running as we speak. These are the reported voltages:

+2.5: 0.00V
VCore: 0.00V
+3.3V: 0.00V
+5V: 0.00V
+12V: 11.63V
+3.3V: 3.37V
+1.5V: 0.00V
+1.8V: 0.00V

None of that really means much of anything to me, though I expect it does to you. Naturally, this is with my older machine and not my new one.

This is my PSU model: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182032#spec

This is my other components that will be in the new computer:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227290
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128358
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115037
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136313
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130319

Plus of course, two DVD drives.

But yes, could someone explain how the voltages factor in, what they mean and maybe why my PSU is or isn't good enough for my build?
 
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These numbers are more important than Speedfan's crap: +3.3@30A,+5V@55A,+12V1@19A,+12V2@19A,-12V@1A,+5V SB@2.5A

That tells you the amount of amps you can pull off each PSU rail. If you want to know more about PSUs, here's a good link: http://www.techjamaica.com/forums/showthread.php?t=52054
 
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God damn...

Well okay, now I have a better idea, but that also means the PSU I'm using NOW is inadequate for my OLD machine, because the maximum amps on any of the 12V's is 18, and the minimum power for my 8800GT is 22.

Well, at least I won't have to worry about transferring my old PSU, that's out of the question now. So I need a new one...good thing they're relatively cheaper than most other components...

I'm currently looking at this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006&cm_re=PSU-_-17-139-006-_-Product

Best rated for 2009 on Newegg, and it's 12V packs 60 amps, rendering my GPU worries null. This is the whole deal:

+3.3V@30A,+5V@28A,+12V@60A, -12V@0.8A,+5VSB@3.0A

Only problem is, I can't figure out the needs of my drives, CPU or RAM. The RAM only tells me what voltage it runs on, and the CPU just brags about it's power-efficient design at 65W.

Most of the PSU sounds pretty choice based on the ample amperage. But naturally, I want to fill in the blanks here so I can feel safe knowing everything is running with room to spare. As it is now, I feel fortunate I'm moving to a new machine, and that in taking my power-sucking GPU with me, my younger brother who will inherit my old machine...well, any power abuse damage is his problem now, right? ;)
 
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Well RAM is negligible, 1 stick draws like 1W. CPUs depend on how much they're overclocked and how much they're loaded. I think 150W max is a good estimate (mine draws something like 130W at full load, and it's a slightly overclocked quad). I'm not entirely sure how much HDDs draw, but it also depends on specs (like high rpm drives draw more than low rpm ones etc). I think an average is about 10W idle and about 30W while at full use. Might be a little off, but it shouldn't be that much.
 
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Well, I got my new 750 watt in the mail today, prompt as ever. Beautiful thing, came in a big velvet bag of all things. Lots of cords, and thankfully lots of little plastic cordons came with it so I could tuck and tie away the ones I didn't need. Installed in every applicable place, or anywhere I could fit one of their plugs, which included the HD. The fans of my case came with big converters to the PSU, but I found I could detach those and plug them into fan sockets on the motherboard instead, which helped against general clutter quite a bit. I also got a chance to speak to my neighbor, and he told me that was a good decision, since plugging them into the board meant I could measure and determine their speeds, which is definitely something I want to be able to adjust on the fly.

Speaking of my neighbor, as I said, I finally got a chance to talk to him today, and based on what I told him, he seems to think I've got a great setup going and that since modern day BIOS is so automatic when it comes to setting speeds and other things, particularly with a Gigabyte motherboard with dual BIOS (which he was quite pleased to see I'd chosen) that I really ought to have no problem undergoing the process myself. And I have to say I'm quite glad to hear that.

Well, tomorrow is when I plan to finally start this new beginning, mostly because I want to simultaneously set up the old machine for my little brother and have it ready for him in his room once he comes home. A little surprise for the kid, which should also be a grand improvement for me, since he constantly bugs me about playing on my computer since his old machine is a ghastly old thing with a mere 512mb of DDR1, a 128mb AGP graphics card and an AthlonXP 2800. Of course, he'll have to use my Steam account for the time being, but someday I'll see to it that he gets the Orange Box and an account of his own, and maybe sometime we'll be able to play TeamFortress 2 together without have to take turns or something.

Anyway, I want to get a nice photo of the new one's interior and submit it to you good folks for your approval, just to be sure that everything is in order. My only worry is for the darned PSU's numerous cords, though most of them are good and tucked away or tied off to the side. It's not especially pretty, but it's the best I can do. Though what kind of monstrous computer could use the literally DOZENS of PCI-Express sockets the PSU features is entirely beyond me.
 
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Well, fine kettle of fish now...

So right now I'm typing on my old computer, in the room my brother bade me to move it, because as of right now, I can't think of anything constructive to do with the new one. To my amazement today, when I finally got everything as ready as it was ever going to be, I plugged in the new machine, and pressed the power button with bated breath. It started, quiet as a breeze, no noisy fans. All fans were running, the POST was showing up, the brightest damn blue LED I've ever seen indicated my power light, and I celebrated the birth of the machine I constructed with my own two hands.

Well, after a few checks of the BIOS, I popped in my Windows 7 Disc and looked forward to a new age of computing for me.

Everything was going well, Windows 7 gave me no problems installing, partitioned the drive and rebooted to continue. And then, finally, I went to enter my product key... it was invalid @_@

So I called Microsoft about it, and they told me wherever I'd heard that my disc was a full-install, it was merely an upgrade disc, and I'd need a previous OS installed to put it on. They said even a 32-bit Windows XP would work, so I went to my other tech-handy neighbor about a copy I might use. I went home with a disc for plain XP Professional, XP with SP1 and XP with SP2. The plain XP disc ran until the install prompt, where it promptly and regularly gave me a blue screen message. The Service Pack 2 disc was deemed by the POST as having a disc-read error. Service Pack 1 was the most stable, allowing me to delete the old partition and format for a fresh install, which worked well up until it asked me to reboot to continue, tried to boot from the hard drive, and reported a disc-read error.

Now, I don't think it's the hard drive's fault. It was more than capable of installing Windows 7 and booting, and I'm sure it would have worked if my product key had activated. I think it more likely it was yet another disc problem, which makes sense given the results from when I tried the plain and SP2 copies were consistent failures but at different places of installation. I can only wait till tomorrow for my neighbor to help directly, but if any of this sounds as though I overlooked something obvious to you and all that's stopping me is my own ineptitude, please do correct me.
 

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