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  How NOT to install computer hardware 
  Oct 20, 2003, 12:00pm EDT 


By: Sander Sassen

Most computer enthusiasts visit a computer shop on an almost daily basis, bringing home an ever-growing number of peripherals such as video cards, harddisks, DVD+/-RW drives and similar equipment that needs to be built into their computer system(s). These hardware-savvy computer enthusiasts can be easily recognized, as they start thinking about doing the next upgrade right after purchasing that new videocard and may actually never put their case side panels back on as that would only slow down a weekly upgrade. They also know all their motherboards’ BIOS settings by heart and how each affects performance. Also, don’t be surprised if they know every version number of the drivers they install and can write down a minimum of ten serial numbers for the installed third-party software.

Although such enthusiasts know what’s best for their computer systems, there’re a couple of drawbacks to this never-ending upgrade frenzy. First off, whenever these users buy a peripheral, for example a videocard, they usually bring it back within 30 days, to exchange, not refund, because the new revision of the videocard has 2.0 ns DDR SDRAM memory chips instead of 2.2 ns. Or, more commonly, they buy a motherboard and bring it back the next day ‘cause they want to use Revision X’s undocumented jumper settings, which the version they brought home does not support. And to give you a couple more fine examples, they’ll convince the service technician at the shop to pre-test their new processor, not because they want to know if it works, but because they want to be sure it runs at some insane overclocked speed. For that they bring their own system, lock themselves in a room with the technician and debate with him whether they should go with the Pentium 4 processor that runs 3.51GHz at default voltage or the one that hits 3.56GHz at 1.8 volts.

And the best one yet; they buy the next generation, state-of-the-art processor or videocard, of which the retailer has just one in stock since they are very hard to come by. They pay for it with dad’s credit card and bring it back the next day stating that it doesn’t work in their system. If the retailer browses the web that same evening he comes across a little ‘hardware’ website with just 12 people on the statcounter and a mere 6 more registered in the forums that has just done an ‘exclusive’ review of that very same product. Hopefully I’ve gotten my point across, that these enthusiasts are a retailer’s nightmare; the constant flow of hardware back and forth puts a considerable amount of stress on the retailer and his service personnel. They have to deal with awkward reasons for exchanging hardware such as perfectly fine, working videocards, unlike defective products which can be sent back to the manufacturer. As a result, they have stacks of opened boxes with products that have been used for a couple of hours each.

Well, for the sake of these retailers as well as those having to buy these opened boxes, this article covers the basics of how NOT to install newly purchased hardware. Please give it a good read and take the advice to heart. And keep in mind that it is only fair to keep the hardware you break, don't return it because of your own mistake to not properly install it. Furthermore, use these instructions at your own risk, we take NO responsibility whatsoever and do take the above with a grain of salt, we consider ourselves among the above mentioned enthusiasts too.

1. Introduction
2. Opening the case
3. Mounting peripherals
4. Mounting add-on cards
5. Connecting cables
6. Configuring the BIOS
7. Configuring the motherboard
8. Mounting the processor
9. Conclusion

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