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[ The PC Guide | Procedure Guide | Setup and Inspection Procedures ]

Post-Assembly Inspection Procedure

This procedure describes some overall system checks that I recommend you perform after completing significant assembly procedures, such as a new PC build or a motherboard upgrade. While each subprocedure of a build concludes with a step recommending that you check what you just did, it is still worth a few minutes to double-check some of the more important aspects of the assembly, to reduce the chances of an unsuccessful initial turn-on of the system. I focus here primarily on the most common "gotchas" that I have run into in assembling systems.

Procedure Overview:

  • Difficulty Level: 1 (Very low).
  • Risk Factor: 1 (Very low).
  • Hardware Required: A small flashlight is helpful but not required.
  • Software Required: None.
  • Time to Perform: About 5 minutes.
  • Preparation / Warnings: None, other than to be careful while checking for problems not to introduce any new ones. :^)

Procedure Steps:

  1. Power Inspection: Verify the following key items related to the system power:
    • If the system case has a dual voltage switch, make sure it is set to the correct voltage for your part of the world.
    • Make sure the power switch is off. You don't want the PC booting up as soon as you connect the power cord. Most power switches are toggles; you can tell if the power is on or off by pushing the switch in several times; it will feel in most cases as if you have to push the button in farther to make it toggle, when it is on before you press the button.
    • If you are working in an AT system, double-check that the two 6-wire power cables that go between the power supply and the motherboard have been inserted fully and correctly, and that the four black wires are together in the middle.
    • If you are working in an ATX system, double-check that you have connected the power switch to the motherboard properly.
    • Make sure all your drives have a power connector attached to them correctly.
    • Make sure that the CPU fan and any additional case fans have their power connectors attached.
  2. Cable Inspection: Check these cable connections to make sure they are correct. Check for "off by one" alignment errors, loose connections or cables that are overly taut. Make sure that you have lined up the red edge of the cable to pin 1 of each device:
    • Check the IDE cable(s) going to the hard disk drive and CD-ROM drive. Make sure you have lined up the red edge to pin 1 of each device.
    • Check the floppy cable going to the floppy disk drive(s).
    • Check the cables that attach the I/O port connectors and PS/2 mouse port connector to the motherboard (if appropriate).
    • Make sure the cables running to the case switches and LEDs are correct.
  3. Motherboard Inspection: Double-check these configuration and installation aspects relevant to the motherboard:
    • Double-check the motherboard jumper settings. If you decide not to bother checking all of these, at least check the CPU voltage settings.
    • Make sure the memory is inserted into the correct socket(s) and is fully seated.
    • Make sure the processor is inserted correctly and is all the way into its socket.
    • Ensure that the heat sink is secured properly to the processor.
    • Wipe up any thermal compound that may have leaked out from around the CPU, if you used too much the way I always do. :^)
    • Make sure the video card is seated properly in its slot.
  4. Physical Interference Inspection: Check the following physical issues:
    • Ensure that all the drives are properly physically secured in their bays.
    • Make sure there are no loose wires in the case that may interfere with any moving objects inside the case; for the mostpart, this refers to the CPU fan.
    • You are most likely going to be turning on the PC at first with the cover off. Make sure that nothing from outside the case can poke or fall into the case by accident.

Next: Post-Assembly Initial Boot Procedure

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