Adventures in PC Crafting – Part 1

10 Feb

We’ve all made that mistake, jumped before we had done enough research, spent a little more than we’d intended. All I wanted was a new motherboard and CPU. A small upgrade, just $400. Good God, did I not have a clue what I was getting into.

The Journey Begins

After a little help from a friend, I was told a good upgrade for my CPU would be to an Intel Core i5 Processor which I picked up for $225. Doing some research, I find a good motherboard for said CPU is an ASUS Z87 Plus DDR3 which runs about $160. More than pleased with the price, I pull the trigger and (thanks to Amazon Prime) have my parts within three days.

At this point, I know that I have to unplug everything in the case, then reattach it to the new motherboard, but I’m not daunted. I’m excited! This is going to be awesome. My PC will run all my games faster, I can stream a little faster, everything will be amazing. Nothing could go wrong because I’m an independent female and I can totally do this.

A Slight Detour Gets me Lost

Turns out, I can totally not do this. Not because I don’t want to, because it’s simply not possible. Remember above where the motherboard is DDR3? Well, for those of you who are out of the loop (like I was), this refers to the type of RAM that can be installed onto the board. So that’s DDR3. Not DDR2, not DDR1. I don’t have any DDR3.

But it’s okay, I tell myself, I can get everything else put together inside the case and then buy some ram from Fry’s tomorrow. I’ll be good to go, just one more day of work. Not like it’s even much work! So I get down to business, unpluging the harddrive, DVD drive, graphics card, power supply, all four fans, and (because I’m in the groove!) the CPU from the old motherboard.

Side note for anyone trying this: You don’t need to uninstall the CPU from the old motherboard if you’re installing a NEW CPU onto a NEW motherboard. This is not just a waste of time, but if you want to give away/reuse the old CPU and motherboard, it makes things a bit trickier.

Back to the show. Now that everything is unplugged, I pull the old motherboard out (after unscrewing a million fucking screws) and try to put the new one in place. Nothing is plugged in yet, I just want to screw it to the case and go from there. But it’s not fitting? Oh, apparently there are different sizes of motherboards and not all cases can fit all motherboards inside. Mine is way, way too small. There’s nothing I can do to get it inside and if I can’t put it in my old case, then I have to have a new one.

Back Tracking Through the Forest

Heading back to Google, I use my trusty “how to” search and new motherboard manual to discover what a God damn idiot I am. An ASUS Z87 does not take DDR2 RAM, which is all that I currently own. It does not fit in a mini-tower case, which is also all that I currently own. More so, I didn’t buy any thermal paste, which is what you use to attach the CPU to its heatsink (kind of like glue….but not).

What can I do? Throw in the towel and send the parts back? No! Never give up; never surrender! I forge ahead, full steam because I will do this damn it! And I’m too stubborn to do the smart thing and just give up because I’ve now done all the research. Nothing else could possibly go wrong.

Once more thanks to Amazon Prime, my new parts are on the way. Four sticks of Corsair 4GB Ram running $42 each, a stick of thermal paste, two 120mm fans, a mid-tower Zalman z12 PC case ($70), and an ASUS Xonar sound card because I’ve always wanted a sound card (and it’s only $40). In total, I pay $500 dollars and think nothing more of it except to imagine drones lifting off somewhere, bringing me my shiny new computer parts. Ah, Saturday, what a glorious day you will be.

Attacked by the Mis-Click Monster

The morning of the big day dawns cold and grey, a sign I should have recognized. By 2PM, a package has arrived with RAM, some fans, a sound card, and that thermal paste. Just the case left and I would be all set to put my practically brand new PC together. I head off to my family’s for dinner, expecting the UPS guy to leave the package at my door while I’m gone. The second I return home, I’m checking for my case. It’s late, but I can get a little work done before I head to bed.

There is nothing on my doorstep. Where the hell is my case? Going back to the package I did get, I pull out the packing slip and scan the contents. 4 sticks of RAM, 2 fans, 1 sound card, 1 thing of thermal paste, 4…sticks of RAM? Okay, now I know something is wrong.

Booting up my trusty laptop (since my PC is still in pieces on the floor) I pull up my order on Amazon. There is no case listed on the manifest and there are 8 sticks of RAM. No one needs 8 sticks of RAM! (Okay, someone does, but it sure as hell isn’t me). How the hell did this happen?

Then it hits me. While choosing RAM, I changed my mind mid purchase to upgrade from one kind of Corsair RAM to another. When I tried to delete my original selection, I must have mis-clicked and deleted the case instead. Fucking awesome. I still cannot put my computer together and the next date they can ship me a case is Tuesday. I can’t wait that long! My lap top is okay for short periods of time, but I need my PC!

Taking a moment, I decide on a course of action. I’ll buy a brand new case at Best Buy on Sunday, spend the evening putting it together, and then have my PC all set and ready to use when I come home from work Monday. It’s Best Buy, so it’ll be a little more money then I want to spend, but that’s what you get for convenience. The store is only a 15 minute drive away.

Content with my decisions, I head to sleep.

To Be Continued…Part 2

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