First off I wanted to thank this entire community for all the help that was given. During the build, I must have asked several dozen questions, and all were answered with complete courteousness and respect. Not once did I feel uneasy or nervous asking a single question.
This is my first build in over 20 years. Last build was a 486.
The build consisted of 1.25 people, me and my 6 year old daughter. She was rather interested in helping which I was amazed that a little girl would be so interested in helping to build a computer. There was not a whole lot she could do, but I did let her unbox everything; install the RAM, MB back plate, PSU, keyboard, mouse, monitor, and power cables. I also let her remove the stock fans. The RAM was a little tricky for her, so I lined the sticks and helped her push them down. I performed the rest of the installs.
The things I learned from this build:
Install the CPU cooler first. It was a major pain to install the fans with the MB, RAM, and various cables in the way. I got it in, but was not the easiest to do and did not want to start removing components.
Realize how much distance you have for the rear cable management. I spent about 30 minutes making all the rear cables crisp, tight, and very clean, only to find out that some of it extended past the available space. I was fed up and just made it as nice as possible (me and my daughter will be the only ones to see them asides from you so I think it looks ok).
All the hardware that comes with all the components, yeah don’t put them all together LOL. I all the filled bags in a box and took me awhile when it was time to install a component. I had a tough time figuring out which screw was for this and that.
I should have done more research on the fans. I did not know the difference between air flow and static pressure fans. I initially had to AF fans mounted on the top of the radiator. Was told to use SP and my configuration was wrong, I bought the two SP fans and thermal paste, and reconfigured it to what you see in the pictures. After that, I saw a drop of 4 degrees of temp at idle. With the two AF fans just sitting there, I took off the 200mm front fan and installed them there as I was not going to return them.
The rest went great. The system powered on the first time and gave me my first error – CPU fan failure. This ended up being my fault. The X61 instructions clearly stated to connect the fans (2 of them) to connectors 1 and 2. I had them on 2 and 3. After moving them to 1 and 2, the error went away. After that the system booted to bios.
I loaded defaults and then installed Windows 7 via USB. After that placed all drivers on the USB, and installed. I was completely blown away at the speed Windows load off the SSD. I have never owned one but clocked it at 8 seconds from power on to login screen.
The performance of the GPU is astounding. First, all of my daughters’ games run flawlessly. All her Dora, Monster High, and some other games I have no idea what they are run like a champ. I have not done a lot of testing on games I play (going from console) but I am beta testing Elite: Dangerous, and it runs on ultra-settings at 1440p. I intend to purchase other mainstream game FPS, but mainly am into space sim and combat flying games.
The monitor is simply amazing to look at, I cannot complain about the cost. I was going to go for a 4k monitor, but they are a bit too pricey for the size I wanted. Will wait for prices to drop, hence the 980 GPU.
You will notice that I flipped the PSU (in later pics) as I was told it would be better with the fan facing down.
The keyboard and mouse are great; they are for basic usage, as I normally game with a HOTAS.
I have not done any stress testing yet, or done any overclocking. I am not up to date on this and want to learn more before doing this. I read in the manual for the MB (yes I actually read the whole thing) that this has an EZ overclock option and would love to read more about this, and if it is just as easy as going through the setup or if manually doing the overclock is better. I will ask these questions in the forum.
Let me know what you think about what I have built. My daughter and I thank you all for the help given to complete the project.
Total build time was about 9 hours.
Yes, the choice of wallpaper is mine! No, my daughter is a huge fan and I put that wallpaper up as a thank you for her help.