I’m sure I’ll catch a lot of flack from the Intel fanboys out there on this one. And that’s fine. You’re all entitled to your biased opinions. But for the sake of this post let’s keep the “i7″ and “noob” comments to a minimum. This is all about compatibility and experimentation.
A few months ago I purchased a brand new AMD FX 4170 processor. From what I’ve heard from my fellow nerds this thing can be overclocked from its stock 4.2Ghz on all four cores to over 5Ghz with proper cooling. I wanted to try this for myself, and it’s a cheap build. Many Intel fanboys would sneer here and “blah blah blah i7″, but I’ve done it for you. Moving on.
I bought the shiny new FX-4170 processor Asus M5A78L-M LX motherboard, 8 gigabytes of RAM, used an Antec 650W PSU out of a side build, purchased a motherboard, and put it all together. And (drum roll, please), got nothing. Nada. Zip. No POST, no video, no beep from the onboard speaker. Anyone with any build experience knows that no sound is not good.
If there’s one piece of advice I could give to a new builder, it would be to test everything before you put it in the case. Here’s my usual M.O. for a new build:
Set the motherboard on the box it came in. Nothing else. Never use the antistatic bag, as it conducts electricity.
Connect your power supply as required, plug it into the wall, and use a screwdriver to touch the two pins on the mobo control panel that would turn on the computer.
If the motherboard gives you three short beeps, then it’s working so far. Some motherboards have different codes, but three indicates a RAM failure.
If you got the beeps, you can insert your processor and heatsink, then your RAM, and video card if no onboard video is available. If there is onboard video, use it for now. We put the mobo together now to avoid flexing the board due to the pressure it takes to insert some components. There’s no back support in a case.
Test everything again. If it fires up and you get video and/or BIOS, then you can start putting the entire system together.
Now check your standoffs. These are the brass screws that stick out on the inside of your case. Check where the holes on your mobo are and add or remove standoffs accordingly. Standoffs provide grounding for the motherboard, so use the same amount as your motherboard requires. If you have extra, remove them or risk a short.
Insert your motherboard into your case, wiggle it into place so everything lines up, and put the screws in loosely so you can adjust the board. It’s better to do this with the case on its side.
Tighten the screws down finger tight. You don’t want to risk warping or cracking your motherboard. Now you can install the video card if necessary and install your operating system. After that you can add components and peripherals to your heart’s content.
Troubleshooting the problem with beep codes on the next page…