How To Build A Recording Computer- Part5- Installing Cpu, Memory and Cooling

© recordinghound 2016


Installing The CPU

This part of a computer build might make some nervous. I assure you that this stage of the build is no more worrisome than any other. There are precautions that need to be taken, but these aren’t difficult. I’ll walk you through each step.

The first thing to do is lay the case on it’s side with the cpu socket facing you. There should be a plastic cover located over the cpu socket which can now be removed. This is a simple matter of pulling it off. No tools necessary. This is where you need to take extra precaution to prevent anything from falling onto the socket pins. DO NOT touch anything on the cpu socket with tools or hands. Something like a whisker from the mornings shave laying on your shirt has the potential to fall from your shirt onto the socket pins, so make sure that there is no kind of debris on your clothing or in your hair. This kind of thing seldom happens, but it does happen and you don’t want to be the one it happens to.

Notice my hand in the picture is unhooking one of the cpu locking arms. There are two, one on each side of the cpu. These arms are what provide the locking force to hold the cpu against the socket connections. Push down, pull the arms from under the locking points and pull each arm back.Once this is done, you can pull back the socket carriage mount.

opening the cpu mount arms

opening the cpu mount arms

Preparing The Cpu for installation

The next step is to remove the cpu and get it ready to install. The documentation for cpu installation is detailed and written in various languages. I’m going to recap that information here so there’s no doubt about how to do it.The cpu will be packaged in a clear protective plastic package. This pulls open book style. Make sure you are grounded and no static electricity charges are present before handling. Handle only by the edges. IMG_0556

Inserting The CPU

Once you’re certain of the alignment, place the cpu into the socket sitting it squarely over the designated spot.The cpu will have a reference mark on one corner of the case that will align with the proper orientation on the cpu socket.The orange marker is pointing at the alignment triangle on the cpu. Just to the right of the orange marker in the picure you can see the small triangle located on the socket housing, see picture.IMG_0559
You may now bring the socket carriage cover down over the cpu.Secure the cpu to the socket with the two metal arms on either side of the cpu. You will feel a crunching sensation as the socket assembly exerts pressure on the cpu to the pins. This is normal. This is a dry fit from pins to cpu. Nothing else is needed.

Congratulations! You’ve installed the cpu to your motherboard!IMG_0567

Installing The Memory

Some of these steps can be swapped, for instance you can install the cooling fan before the memory is installed, I have some reasons for taking the sequence I have taken. Installing memory cards before the cooling fan gives better access since the fan won’t be in the way. Since there is a possibility debris or foreign objects could fall into the memory slots during the cooling fan install. I opted to install the memory first.As mentioned in a previous article, determine the type of memory your motherboard is designed to use and only use this type. This build uses DDR4 memory.

Consult the information that came with your motherboard concerning memory stick location. There are different location layouts for memory and not all motherboards do it the same way. Size and quantity of memory sticks usually determines where the memory will need to be installed. Memory should be installed in matched pairs no matter how much you install. I highly recommend using only one brand. Notice the memory sockets are color coded. This is one way you can determine memory channels.IMG_0576IMG_0572

Slot descriptions are printed on the motherboard by each socket corresponding to that socket. Look at these and your motherboard manual before you install the memory. It’s easy to put memory in the wrong slot since the memory sticks will fit into any slot. I opted to spread the memory over several channels, so I bought smaller 4gb sticks to make up 16gb. I still had room to spare.You could also buy two 8gb sticks and so forth.I don’t recommend having all memory in one stick, but spread it out over multiple memory slots. I prefer to maximize the motherboard capability, even for smaller amounts of memory.

After you have determined the right locations for the memory, find the white tabs at each end of the memory slots. These pull back into an open position. Pull the white tabs back on all sockets you plan to install into. The memory is keyed to only fit in the socket one way, so you can’t put it in backwards. If you meet resistance while attempting to install check that the direction is correct, then simply place each memory stick uniformly into the socket and push the memory into place.Apply pressure until the white tabs click into place. Pushing in the memory should automatically lock the white tabs.IMG_0579IMG_0580IMG_0581

Recap- Double check memory locations for optimum operation. Make sure memory is seated well into sockets.

Installing A CPU Cooling Fan

The last section of this article will describe how to install a cpu cooling fan. Although models and performance differ, the installation is all basically the same. Some cpu’s come with a fan. While you can use this fan, I opted to use a fan rated for higher performance and lower noise levels. For a high performance DAW computer I recommend you don’t use the stock fan. The health of your cpu lies in how well the fan performs.

Cpu’s come with a heat transfer paste designed to be placed between the fan heat sink and the top of the cpu where heat will be emitted. Although this is perfectly acceptable, I opted for an aftermarket heat transfer paste rated to be one of the best. The paste come in a syringe as shown.IMG_0548

Apply the heat transfer paste to the top of the cpu. Too little and the heat won’t transfer well. Too much and the paste might run from the sides onto the motherboard. Use just enough to cover the top of the cpu well.IMG_0654

Cooling fan manufacturers make mounts similar. The motherboard provides mounting lugs located around the cpu. These lugs are designed for the cooling fan mounting bracket which is mounted first.The cooling fan is then mounted to the bracket with a basic screwdriver and small wrench.
Only a very small amount of torque is needed.IMG_0652

The smooth contact surface on the heat distribution header transfers the heat to to the fan cooling fins where the heat is removed via the cooling fan. This is why a perfect contact and good heat paste distribution allows optimum heat transfer. The fan is attached with two screws to the mounting bracket. The screws are spring loaded so that the pressure exerted to the cpu is the correct amount.




Check that the cooling fan is moving air in the same direction as the case fan. If not, remove the cpu cooling fan from the radiator and reverse it to the other side.

Next up- Part 6 – Installing Hard drives, adding PCIe cards and Connecting Motherboard

%d bloggers like this: