Before you delve any further into this post I lay fair warning that most of the way through I ran out of space on Nat's camera and didn't have the patience to actually hunt down the USB adapter for it. Plus the PC I was going to offload all the sweet ass pics onto was half disassembled at that point.
For the OS install and part of the end game (cable management...you really didn't miss much) you may have to use your imagination.
Here's the boxes!!! Aren't they...cardboardy?
This is my budget Case. I wanted to put a twenty dollar bill next to it for comparison but all I had was 16 ones, 12 quarters and one of those stupid buffalo dollars. The case is way sweeter.
Here's inside the case. Note the PSU to the left. The side panel with the black CPU vent is leaning on the old Dell. More on that later.
Check out the inside of the case. I know my hairy ass arm's in the way but you can see the detachable 120mm fan on the back and all the little case wires. They have to be connected to the Mobo so that the external USB ports, audio and power button all work.
Here's the bulk of the new parts. Even though they are laying on top those pieces on top of the Biostar mobo are going into Build I and their weaker cousins will inhabit Build II
This is the 500 watt PSU that came with the case from Build I. All that junk on the back part is the silicone noise killing kit that I ordered but never used for Build I. The point is that the fan on the PSU is going to be noisy and if its directly touching metal then it only gets worse. With a little buffer I can save an ear gnawing rattle from ruining my pseudo server.
This pic looks like crap but this is the front panel. The fan (top) is actually already placed but screwing the thing in was such a hassle that I forgot to accurately document it. No Pulitzer for me I guess. As you can see to the right the front panel of the case detaches and is more of a grate than a sealed edge. Air will pull through here over the HDD's and get spat out the back via the provided 120 mm fan.
So here's Build I. You'll immediately notice similarities to Build II. Thats because most PC mid tower cases look like this on the inside. Some will have little conduits for routing cables, see through side doors or separate chambers for the PSU. All that crap costs extra so...here's the basic stuff. Take it as you will. Also make a note of the small black tiny fan that came with the CPU.
Back to Build II where you can see the two HDD's have been mounted. The bumps on the case are actually built in standouts for the screws that hold the motherboard to the case interior.
This is just a shot of the IO port on the Biostar. Note the onboard VGA connector. Makes life so much easier!
I give you BIOSTAR (Galactica) The CPU is already attached as well as the big butterfly inspired copper heatsink. Its basically a series of pipes filled with liquid that boils at 35c and a shit load of surface area. Why copper? because its thermal conductivity is unparalleled for the cost. That doodad weighs about five pounds. Arctic Silver thermal paste was from Build I.
This is Build I again. The CPU cooler here is much rounder and heavier and looks so badass its not even funny. Getting the thing on was two and half pains in my buttocks but oh well. The thing rocks out 2,600,000,000 operations per second. Strike that. It does that on both cores at the same time!!
This is my stable temp speed fan reading. I made AVG chase its own tail for 30 minutes or so while doing a little folding at home. It topped out about 5 degrees higher but as I adjusted fan speeds and resealed the case it leveled off in this neighborhood. I made the icons to the left from WoW spells and items. Don't tell Blizzard!
So thats where the pics get scarce. I know this isn't much help for a first time builder but that was not my intent. I don't recommend my style of building to anyone else because it takes forever, uses marginal experience and I had to pull a Mission Impossible style head dodge to keep sweat from dripping onto my Mobo at one point.
I do feel compelled to share a few tips. These are the points that I feel most confident about.
-Research your components to death.
-Try to find others who have built similar systems or used some of the same parts you want.
-Don't just look at manufacturer specs. Read reviews and see what other people think. Take good notes and if someone says something is bigger or wider than it appears take that advice to heart. (In this case my cpu cooler was huge beyond reckoning. That was fine for me but if this had been a slim case build it would have been impossible.)
-Make sure your PSU has the right types of connectors for all your needs.
-Make sure everything fits.
-Try to dry dock all your components before they are installed. Take a look at all the pieces to make sure you can install them in a convenient order. Don't work yourself into corners. I had to take out the PSU for Build II to fit in the CPU cooler. That cost 20 mins and a lot of sweat time because it was already connected to a few other components.
-Cables will be messy no matter how well you plan your build. Tame them with zip ties and make good use of empty spaces. Even tucking a few stray wires can mean a big difference. Plan to spend some time tidying up. Before that plan which cables have to go where and try to get a feel for them. Don't zip tie until the end in case you make mistakes.
-Finally be prepared for things to go wrong. Hopefully all your parts will work correctly and better than that they will all synchronize well. If they don't then the world does not end. If the case looks cluttered or messier don't let it bum you out. Perfection isn't something you have to achieve to make a decent system.
(This how Alex reacted to the post. Two seconds later a bunch of pea soup hit me in the back of the head.)