Ten things I learned building my Windows 7 PC

I have just finished building a new Windows 7 x64 PC based on the lovely Intel I5/750 with a Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H motherboard, Arctic Freezer Pro 7 Rev 2 cooler, 4 Gb RAM, 2x 500 GB WD discs and a Sapphire ATI HD 5670 graphics card all in an Asus TM-261 case. Despite a lot of research I still tripped up over a few things which I deemed worth capturing for posterity…

  1. No onboard graphics on the I5/750! I am not the first person to find this out, nor will I be the last. I assembled the motherboard with CPU and memory, and collar for the cooler; put them in the case (PSU already in) and switched on – case fan spins as does the PSU, then LEDs flash and the CPU fan starts to whir. I look at the screen plugged into the mobo – nothing happens. I restart a few times still nothing. My son suggests put in a graphics card – I wasn’t keen but run out of cables to fiddle. Lo, next reboot it works and I can fiddle with the BIOS. It turns out that not all the new (2010) Intel I3/5/7 come with the built in graphics – good job this wasn’t an htpc!
  2. The Realtek audio controller is fusy about the front port. I plugged in headphones and nothing happens – it turns out you have to disable some automatic sensor from the control utility to resolve this
  3. Don’t enable AHCI after you install – the discs doesn’t boot and you have to revert to IDE mode. I have probably lost a benefit of my motherboard but I can’t face re-installing at this point
  4. When you build and update this Windows can’t get a driver for an unspecified PCI device. If you hunt around this can be fixed with an Intel driver which works a thermal monitoring facility
  5. My discs rattle though I do have the PC next to my ear at present, and overall it is much quieter than the PC it has replaced. I knew that you could set Acoustic Management via SMART but finding a utility that did it under Windows 7 x64 was more of a challenge than I had expected. Many will display the SMART attributes but few will actually alter them – this should change as Windows 7 becomes more mainstream (I hope). My Windows 7 index for the disc stayed at 5.9 when I enabled this so fingers crossed!
  6. Windows Easy Transfer does what it says – install on the old XP machine, give it time and it will happily grab many gigabytes of data and profile items making this easy than copying by hand and I thought pretty efficient, often flooding my 100Mb LAN. This meant I could transfer accounts over a few days, leave the old computer running, check a few things then take the disc out of the old system last
  7. Windows 7 activation – I had taken a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium from a laptop now running Ubuntu (so legitimate) and expected it not to activate. I called Microsoft as requested and gave them a 54 digit code; I was expecting to have to declare why I was re-using a license but no, I just got back another 54 digit code! Was there a point?
  8. Cooler size – although I am pleased with my cooler, and it installed fine, however now I look it does overhang an unused memory lane. I may be able to swivel 90 degrees which means re-pasting. I suspect this is a natural consequnce of the micro-ATX format
  9. Cable tidying – the TM-261 doesn’t really help with cable tidying. I have bundled most things to get them clear of heat sinks and fans but a couple of fittings on the case would have helped
  10. Silent kit – I thought I would spend a bit of money on some noise reduction (despite my budget constraints) I think this should have been considered nice to have as the silent washers used to mount the discs aren’t curing the main source of (not very loud) noise which is the disc head seek noise (AAM now on) and the stock case fan which I could have replaced for roughly the budget of this silent PC kit. Still it does have some rubber fan mounting screws that will come in useful when I replace said fan, so not all is lost!

Well, that’s your lot, nothing too fatal, though the i5/750 graphics could have been. I will also post a shorter ‘What I learned from my research before I built my Windows 7 PC’ at some stage.

Hope this was of help to someone


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