Assembling the Dream Gaming Computer

Additional purchases needed:

ESD table mat with grounding wire and plug-in for ESD wrist strap.

ESD wrist strap with grounding wire, 1MΩ.

ESD grounding cable attached to heating copper water pipe, metal outlet box, or grounding screw of a wall outlet.

Stainless steel mechanic's wire. Any hardware or car parts store.

6-32 bolts, quantity 4, TODO head, preferably black color.

Filter media. DustEND G3 - Premium dust filter material for PC case/fan 950x155x5mm (Black). $24.

Black duct tape. 3M Duct Tape Black, 3920-BK, 1.88 Inches by 20 Yards. $6 (any hardware store).

Socket head screwdriver.

Straightedge (metal ruler). Any hardware / office supply store.

120mm PWM slim 15mm wide fan optimized for radiator use (high static air pressure). Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM premium-quality quiet slim 120mm fan (NOTE: this fan does not claim to be optimized for radiator use). $20.

120mm PWM fan optimized for radiator use (high static air pressure), 140mm/120mm compatible.
Fractal Design Venturi HP Series Black Fluid Dynamic Bearing High Pressure PWM 140mm Radiator/Heatsink Optimized Fan. $16.

Fan extension cable (borrow from kit provided by one of Noctua case fans).

Philips screwdriver, large head.

8-32 bolt, 3 nuts, 4 washers (for fan hub).

 

NOTE: After assembling my system, I have found out that there is an interference issue in the top left corner, where CPU and GPU AIO radiators meet. It will be necessary to replace one CPU AIO fan with a slim 15mm width version, and even then this will be a tight fit. If you like to solve problems with innovative thinking and some handiwork, keep building. If you get upset when things don't quite fit like they say in the manual, then buy a larger case. BTW, I have notified the manufacturer, and their response was "we never claimed it supports BOTH the top 360+mm and 120mm rear radiators at the same time". That's BS, because it is only about a 1/4" clearance issue which could have been solved by a slight redesign.

NOTE: Read this procedure in its entirety, and look at all the photos, before beginning assembly, to ensure you have all tools needed, know of all issues listed here which may come up, and to be prepared for the overall process.

ALL SUBSEQUENT STEPS, AND ALL HANDLING OF ELECTRONIC PRODUCTS MUST BE DONE IN AN ESD CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT (PREFERABLY, NO CARPET ON FLOOR, ESD MAT CONNECTED TO AN EARTHING GROUND SYSTEM, ESD WRIST STRAP CONNECTED TO AN EARTHING GROUND SYSTEM, ESD DISSIPATIVE (SHINY SILVER) STORAGE BAGS). KEEP ALL ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS IN THEIR ESD BAGS WHILE NOT IN USE / INSTALLED INTO SYSTEM. TOUCH EXPOSED METAL (SHINY SILVER, NOT PAINTED) SURFACE OF THE CASE OFTEN TO DISCHARGE ANY ESD BUILDUP.

Refer to this partial assembly photo to get a feel for overall system:

dream gaming computer partial assembly

Follow this recommended assembly procedure to make the process easier:

Onto the case, install front case fans. The front plastic cover is a snap-on, but it may take a little force to snap it off and install it back on. Orient fans so that all three power cables point the same way towards where the fan hub will be installed (e.g. the location of where optical bays usually are), and that the airflow blows into the case (refer to arrow marking on side of fan). The rubber corner over-molding will make the fans touch each other and a little force may be necessary to align three fans on the same surface. Do not tighten mounting screws with excessive torque, as this will strip out plastic of fan body.

Install the power supply, with its intake fan pointing UP. Install

Install motherboard standoffs at positions indicated for your motherboard size. Install by hand ONLY initially to prevent cross-threading, then tighten with a socket head screwdriver. Be careful to not over-tighten. Verify all standoffs top surfaces are parallel to each other and the case with the metal straightedge to avoid damage to the motherboard.

Place the motherboard on top of an ESD mat placed on top of your assembly table. Place a grounded ESD wrist strap over your wrist. I recommend checking that your ESD wrist strap is working by using a DMM to measure resistance from earthing ground from say a metal wallplate screw of an outlet, to metal part which is to contact your wrist skin. It should read about 1MΩ.

Several major components will be installed onto the motherboard while it is lying on table surface, since assembling components with a motherboard mounted in the case will cause motherboard twisting and potential cracking.

Install the ATX and CPU power cables onto the motherboard. While it is possible to do this in the case, these connectors usually require too much force to engage.

Install the CPU onto the motherboard. Be careful to align the alignment corner mark. It is very hard to see, so make absolutely sure alignment is correct before installing it. Do not drop the CPU into the socket, rather lower it gently. Rotate down and lock the locking pins in place after CPU is installed.

Install RAM onto the motherboard. Install sticks only in slots which are identified in the motherboard manual.

Install GPU onto the motherboard. Be extremely careful to not rotate motherboard or accidentally hit the GPU card with your hand while assembling or handling products. The GPU card is a very large and heavy component, and it can easily cause damage to the PCI-Express mounting slot of the motherboard. Be very careful with the radiator not putting stress onto the GPU. It is OK to leave the AIO radiator lying on the table in any orientation, since it is a sealed system.

Remove top three plastic sections which are installed on top of the case. They are snap-in, but bowing out the center makes it easier to pop them out. If you will be pausing assembly for a long time, loosely place plastic sections back on top of the case to prevent dust from falling down into the case. Install only two out of three fans on the CPU AIO radiator per instructions from the manual. Leave the fan farthest from the tubes not installed due to interference issue with the 120mm rear AIO radiator for the GPU. Install the CPU AIO radiator below top of the case, being careful to not bend radiator fins from handling. NOTE: mounting screw holes do not align exactly with the radiator (from the same manufacturer!) - it will take a little force and skill to nudge components and be able to install mounting bolts straight into the radiator. Be very careful to not cross-thread the screw threads in the radiator, as it only sheet metal. Keep the plastic protector on the water block, and plastic bag wrapped over piping, to protect parts from scratches and impact. TODO install slim fan prior.

Install motherboard connectors bezel onto the case. Remove second and third down PCI slot metal brackets / covers.

Place a large ESD bag over motherboard stand-offs (to prevent scratches to bottom side of motherboard). Lay computer on the rear side. Very carefully position the motherboard on the bottom of the case, and slide into place. Be extremely careful to alight everything: GPU PCI bracket slot on bottom edge of card, motherboard connectors bezel, standoffs, etc. Be very careful to not scratch the bottom of the motherboard with standoffs while sliding motherboard around. Install appropriate motherboard screws. Make sure you are installing a screw at every standoff location. Be careful to not cross-thread the fine threads of motherboard standoff screws.

At any time before computer is placed top side up, install mechanic's wire from the GPU card corner to the CPU GPU system underneath, to support the very heavy card and prevent torque / twisting transfer to motherboard PCI-E connector.

Install case cabling per instructions in case and motherboard manuals. Pass cabling thru rubber grommet system behind the rear plate of the case to hide cables from view. Use zip-ties as necessary. Install fan hub, using a couple of nuts as a stand-off between case and rear of PCB. Use washers between hardware and PCB surfaces. Also install fan cabling, and GPU card power cabling.

On the 120mm radiator pull fan you purchased separately, install the 120mm rubber corners over-molding. Keeping protective plastic over radiator and being very careful to not bend radiator fins from handling, push 6-32 long bolts thru rubber over-molding and into the radiator surface, installing bolts only loosely / finger-tight. If radiator fins were bent from manufacturing (as I have seen it in my case) or assembly, use a toothpick to gently bend them back into shape to restore air flow. Using black duct tape, cover up sides of assembly where fan extends past radiator body, to prevent air being sucked in from sides, rather than from the radiator. Remove 6-32 bolts, place GPU AIO assembly behind rear side of the case, and install bolts into the 120mm hole pattern in the case rear side. After all assembly has been completed, unwrap and slip off the plastic protective sleeve.

Install appropriate stand-offs from CPU AIO kit (TODO) into CPU mount already present on the motherboard. Ignore owner's manual instructions to install plastic backing plate / pierce thru soft material inside motherboard holes. Remove protective plastic cover and plastic bag, then install the CPU waterblock/pump combo very carefully over the CPU. Center it over all four spacers, and install thumb nuts one or two turns over all stand-offs. By hand, gently position, center, and level the waterblock/pump combo over the CPU. Following the cross-pattern torquing pattern (shown in the manual), torque down the thumb nuts, in many cross passes. Do not tighten any one thumb nut more than the others. Only tighten thumb nuts finger-tight.

Tape over any case openings / holes where fans are NOT present (front strip of holes for drive bays, mesh underneath, areas on the top not covered by CPU AIO radiator, small holes around exterior of case, etc with black duct tape.

Unroll adhesive-covered fan filter media and install over all fan intakes (front intakes at three fans, top of case over AIO radiator to prevent dust from falling into the case thru radiator). I have even installed filter media over internal intake of the power supply, to keep power supply internals pristine clean and dust free. Press against filter media to have adhesive grab firmly to all surfaces. Dust clings to electronics, decreasing heat dissipation, decreasing airflow, causing obstructions, causing mechanical failures, and potentially causing electrical problems as well. I would happily trade off airflow (which I can compensate for my bumping my fan speed curves) for a computer which always stays dust-free. The filter media may even dampen fan noises somewhat.

Insert AC cord, turn power supply AC switch ON, and press the case power button. Computer should power up. Watch the hexadecimal display on the motherboard for any fault codes. A couple of power cycles may be needed. Otherwise, the problem is most likely with one of power cables not installed, CPU not seated properly, RAM not seated properly or RAM installed in incorrect slots.

Good luck!



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Page last modified 01-May-18 17:55:33 EDT
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