Section 4.4. Building the SOHO Server

4.4. Building the SOHO Server

Figure 4-4 shows the major components of the SOHO server. The Antec P180 case is flanked on the left by the Intel Pentium D processor and Intel D945PVS motherboard. To the right of the case, a Kingwin external drive enclosure sits atop the Falcon Electric UPS and the Antec NeoHE power supply. Four 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 hard drives are visible at the lower left. The NEC ND-3550A DVD writer is front and center, with four 512 MB sticks of Crucial DDR2 memory sitting on top of it. Finally, the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500 dual tuner card is visible at the lower right.

Make sure you have everything you need before you start building the system. Open each box and verify the contents against the packing list.

Figure 4-4. SOHO server components, awaiting construction


As always, you needn't follow the exact sequence of steps we describe when you build your own SOHO server. Always install the processor and memory before you install the motherboard in the case, because doing otherwise risks damaging the processor, memory, or motherboard. The exact sequence doesn't matter for most other steps. Some steps must be taken in the order we describe, because completing one step is required for completing the next, but as you build your system it will be obvious when sequence matters.

4.4.1. Preparing the Case

As much as we like the Antec P180 case, using it involves a bit more work than a typical case requires. To begin preparing the case, remove both thumbscrews from the left side panel, as shown in Figure 4-5, and then slide the panel to the rear and remove it from the case, as shown in Figure 4-6.

Figure 4-5. Remove both thumbscrews from the left side panel

Figure 4-6. Slide the panel to the rear and remove it from the case

For some reason, Antec decided to use ordinary screws rather than thumbscrews on the right side panel. Remove the three screws that secure the panel, as shown in Figure 4-7. Remove the panel and set it aside.

Figure 4-7. Remove the three screws that secure the right side panel

The Antec P180 has two hard drive cages. One, located in the upper chamber of the case, holds three hard drives. The second, located in the lower chamber, holds four hard drives. We decided to install our hard drives in the lower cage. The number of positions happens to match the number of hard drives we are installing, but that wasn't the main reason for our decision. Putting the four hard drives at the bottom of the case places the center of gravity lower, which makes the system easier to move around safely. Most important, the lower drive cage is very well ventilated, with both the power supply fan and a supplemental fan constantly drawing cool outside air over the drives.

To remove the lower drive cage, remove the one thumbscrew that secures it, as shown in Figure 4-8, and then slide the drive cage out of the chassis, as shown in Figure 4-9. (We used a screwdriver because the thumbscrew was very tight.)

Figure 4-8. Remove the thumbscrew that secures the lower hard drive cage

Figure 4-9. Pull the drive cage out of the chassis

Remove the parts box, as shown in Figure 4-10. When we pulled out this box, we assumed it would contain screws and other small parts. Not so. It contains the spoiler for the fan mounted on the top of the case.

Figure 4-10. Remove the parts box from the hard drive cage

Remove the screws that secure the black plastic VGA ventilation duct and drive rail holder, as shown in Figure 4-11. Pull the duct straight out, as shown in Figure 4-12, and set it aside for now.

Figure 4-11. Remove the screws that secure the VGA ventilation duct and drive rail holder

Figure 4-12. Remove the VGA ventilation duct and set it aside

Removing the ventilation duct reveals the black plastic sliding panel assembly shown in Figure 4-13. Loosen both of the thumbscrews that secure this panel and slide the panel all the way toward the rear of the case to clear the opening into the power supply bay, as shown in Figure 4-14.

Figure 4-13. Loosen the two thumbscrews that secure the sliding panel

Figure 4-14. Slide the panel fully to the rear of the case to open the access hole to the power supply bay

With these steps complete, it's time to install the power supply. Assembling and installing the power supply

It still seems strange to us to talk about "assembling" a power supply. Most power supplies are ready to use out of the box, with all of their cables permanently attached. Several Antec power supply models, including our NeoHE, are different. They use a patented cable-management system that allows you to connect only the cables you actually need for your system, eliminating the rats' nest of unused cables.

Warning: The Antec NeoHE power supply is auto-sensing, which means that it automatically detects the input voltage and sets itself accordingly. Many power supplies are not autosensing, and must be set manually for 120V or 240V input. If you use such a power supply, make certain to set the input voltage switch correctly.If the switch is set to 240V and you connect the power supply to a 120V receptacle, nothing bad happens. The motherboard and other components get half the voltage they require, and simply don't run. But if the switch is set to 120V and you connect the power supply to a 240V receptacle, the components get twice the voltage they require. You'll realize your mistake immediately, as your new system disappears in a shower of sparks and clouds of smoke.

Figure 4-15 shows the NeoHE power supply and a selection of optional cables. Only the main ATX power cable and the ATX12V power cable are permanently connected. All other cables are optional. These optional cables use a proprietary plug on one end that connects to a matching proprietary jack on the power supply.

Figure 4-15. Antec NeoHE power supply with optional cables

Our system has four S-ATA hard drives, so we'll need to install two of the optional S-ATA power cables, each of which provides two connectors. We'll also install one or two Molex cables, which use the old-fashioned Molex hard drive connectors. We'll need those to power the optical drive as well as the case fans. Finally, we'll install one of the two optional PCI Express power cables that Antec includes with this power supply. We probably won't need that cable, but we'd prefer to have it available in case the video card we install temporarily to use while we do the initial software installation requires a PCI Express power cable.

Figure 4-16 shows Barbara connecting one of the optional cables to the power supply. One of the proprietary jacks is visible immediately to the right of the cable she's connecting. Note that the connector is keyed both by the shapes of the individual holes in the connector and by the keying tab visible at the top of the jack. Press each optional cable into a jack until it seats completely, which may require some pressure. After you seat each cable, tug gently on it to make sure that it's locked into place.

Figure 4-16. Connect the optional cables to the power supply

With the power supply prepared, the next step is to remove the power supply retaining cage. The retaining cage is secured by four screws, two on each side of the case. Remove those screws, as shown in Figure 4-17, and then slide the retaining cage out of the case, as shown in Figure 4-18.

Figure 4-17. Remove the four screws that secure the retaining cage

Figure 4-18. Slide the retaining cage out of the case

Orient the power supply so that its rear screw holes correspond with those in the back of the case, and then place the retaining cage over the power supply, as shown in Figure 4-19. This bracket was a very tight fit on our power supply. When we pressed the bracket down flush on the top of the power supply, the bottom of the retaining cage was forced outward, as is visible in Figure 4-19. At first, we thought we'd have to assemble the system without the retaining cage, but as it turned out we were able to use it, although it was a very tight fit.

Figure 4-19. Place the retaining cage over the power supply

Don't install the power supply and retaining cage assembly in the case quite yet. Instead, place the assembled unit near the rear of the case, with the cable side of the power supply toward the case. Feed all of the power cables up through the rear access hole into the upper chamber, as shown in Figure 4-20. Feed the main ATX power cable (the one with the largest connector) through first. We learned this by experience. We'd fed all the other cables through first, and attempted to feed the main ATX power cable through last. With the other cables already in place, there wasn't room for the main ATX power cable to fit through the access hole.

Figure 4-20. Feed all of the cables through the large (rear) hole into the upper chamber

Slide the assembled power supply and retaining cage assembly into the case, as shown in Figure 4-21. As you do so, take up the slack in the cables by pulling them gently into the upper chamber of the case. The goal is to have as little of the cables as possible remaining in the lower chamber, where they would block the air flow.

Figure 4-21. Slide the assembled power supply and retaining cage into position

Once the power supply and retaining cage assembly are in place, secure the retaining cage with four screws, as shown in Figure 4-22. (The white box on the white cable visible at the front of the power supply is a temperature sensor.)

Figure 4-22. Secure the power supply retaining bracket to the case with four screws

To complete installation of the power supply, insert the four mounting screws provided with the power supply to secure the power supply to the rear panel of the case. (With eight screws securing it, that power supply isn't going anywhere.) Installing the hard drives

With the power supply installed, the next step is to install the hard drives in the lower hard drive cage. This cage requires special mounting screws, which Antec supplies. For years, we've played the hide-the-screws game with Antec. Once or twice, we were convinced Antec hadn't included them, but each time we eventually found the cunningly concealed storage box.

We spent a couple of minutes looking around for the secret storage box this time, but without success. Where had they put it this time? Finally, we admitted defeat and looked in the manual, which told us the storage box was attached to the "back of the upper HDD cage." Hmmm. "Back" to us meant the open part of that cage, visible in Figure 4-24 with metal drive mounting rails protruding. Obviously, it wasn't there. Perhaps they meant the front of the hard drive cage, visible as a black plastic assembly to the right of the cage.

Figure 4-24. Slide the upper hard drive cage out of the case

Accessing that area requires removing the hard drive cage. To do so, remove the one thumbscrew securing the upper hard drive cage, as shown in Figure 4-23, and then slide the cage out of the case, as shown in Figure 4-24. (Once again, the thumbscrew was tightened enough that we found it easier to use a screwdriver to remove it.)

Figure 4-23. Remove the thumbscrew that secures the upper hard drive cage

As it turns out, the secret storage box is attached to the right side of the upper hard drive cage assembly. It's actually visible from the right side of the case when the panel is removed. We spotted it there after reading the manual, but with the limited clearance around the box, Robert wasn't able to open the latch, nearly breaking a fingernail in the attempt. With the upper hard drive cage removed, the secret storage box is easily accessible.

Open the latch, as shown in Figure 4-25, and remove the plastic baggie of screws and other small parts.

Figure 4-25. Open the secret storage box and remove the baggie of screws

Once you've retrieved the baggie, close the latch, slide the upper hard drive cage back into place, and reinsert the thumbscrew to secure it.

The next step, as shown in Figure 4-26, is to feed the S-ATA power cables from the upper chamber down through the front (smaller) access hole in the sliding panel assembly and into the area of the lower hard drive cage. For the time being, feed the full lengths of the S-ATA power cables down into the lower hard drive cage area. You'll need as much slack as possible when you connect the drives.

Figure 4-26. Feed the S-ATA power cables from the upper chamber to the front lower chamber

With four hard drives in this system, it's a good idea to do a little advance planning. The Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 drives are remarkably reliable. Chances are they'll all keep running until years from now when you decide to replace them with larger drives. Still, hard drives are mechanical devices, and even the most reliable mechanical devices sometimes fail.

If the hard drive fails in a typical system, there's no ambiguity. There's only one hard drive, and it failed. Even if the system has two hard drives, chances are good that one was installed as an upgrade and they're of different models or capacities. Identifying the failed drive is usually straightforward.

But we have four identical hard drives in this system. What happens if one fails? The operating system or BIOS tells us that, say, hard drive #2 has failed. Great. Which one is #2? They all look the same, so the only way to identify the failed drive is to trace the cable from the motherboard interface port to the drive. That can be easier said than done in an assembled system.

Spending an extra 30 seconds now can save you an hour of aggravation if a drive does fail. Simply use a permanent felt-tip marker to label both sides of both ends of all four cables, as shown in Figure 4-27. We keep it simple. The S-ATA interfaces are designated 0, 1, 2, and 3. We simply draw 0, 1, 2, or 3 bars across each cable to match it to an interface and drive. If a drive does fail, it's immediately clear which drive it is.

Figure 4-27. Label the S-ATA data cables to identify the port and drive they connect

After you label the cables, feed them through the access hole from the upper chamber of the case into the lower front chamber, as shown in Figure 4-28. Just leave them dangling for now.

Figure 4-28. Feed the S-ATA data cables from the top chamber to the lower chamber

The next step is to mount the four hard drives in the lower hard drive cage, as shown in Figure 4-29. Use the special screws from the baggie that was in the secret storage box. These screws have a very wide head and a long shaft, of which only the lower part is threaded. Secure each drive with four of these screws, driving them through the white silicone grommets. (These grommets fall out of the cage easily. If you lose one, locate the spare grommets in the secret storage box baggie.) Drive the screws in far enough to compress the grommets slightly. Driving them in too far squishes the grommet and eliminates its ability to isolate drive vibrations from the chassis structure.

Figure 4-29. Secure each hard drive with four special mounting screws

Once you have secured all four drives in the lower hard drive cage, connect an S-ATA data cable to each drive, as shown in Figure 4-30. The S-ATA data cable is keyed with an L-shaped notch. Align the cable connector with the drive connector and press firmly to seat the cable connector. S-ATA data connectors are relatively fragile. Avoid putting any torque on the connectors, or they may break off. Press the cable connector straight in to seat it. If you need to remove a cable, pull straight out on the connector.

Figure 4-30. Connect an S-ATA data cable to each drive


Because the connectors are so fragile, I use a white-out pen to draw a stripe across the connector and its block to make reconnecting them easier in the future.

By convention, we mount multiple drives with drive 0 in the topmost or leftmost bay. In fact, when we are using only two drives, we sometimes forget to label the cables (as we did when we built the Mainstream PC).

With all four S-ATA data cables connected, the next step is to connect the S-ATA power cables, as shown in Figure 4-31. Like the S-ATA data cables, the S-ATA power cables are keyed with an L-shaped slot. The power cables are also at least as fragile as the data cables, so take care when connecting or disconnecting them.

Figure 4-31. Connect an S-ATA power cable to each drive

With all of the S-ATA data and power cables connected, the next step is to reinstall the lower hard drive cage, as shown in Figure 4-32. Guide the cage into the chassis, using your left hand to press the excess cable lengths up into the upper chamber. Once again, the goal is to minimize the amount of cable in the lower chamber to provide as little impediment as possible to air flow. Once the drive cage is fully seated, secure it with one thumbscrew, as shown in Figure 4-33.

Figure 4-32. Slide the lower hard drive cage into position, feeding the cables into the upper chamber

Figure 4-33. Secure the lower hard drive cage with one thumbscrew Installing the I/O template and standoffs

Like most cases, the Antec P180 comes with a generic back-panel I/O template installed. We're not sure why case makers bother, because the generic template almost never matches the motherboard back-panel I/O ports. Remove the installed template by pressing gently along its edges from the outside of the case until the template pops loose. If the template is well and truly stuck, as sometimes happens, don't worry too much about bending it. You won't need it later.

With the original template removed, the next step is to install the template supplied with the motherboard. Before you do so, hold the template up against the motherboard rear-panel I/O ports to verify that the holes are in the right places. Although it doesn't happen often, we've received motherboards that included an incorrect template.

Working from inside the case, position the I/O template in the cutout, as shown in Figure 4-34, making sure that the lip on the edge of the template seats against the edge of the cutout. Once the I/O template is aligned, press gently against its edges until it snaps into place. If you have trouble seating the I/O template, use a screwdriver handle to apply even pressure until one corner seats, and then run the handle along the edges of template to seat it.

Figure 4-34. Position the I/O template in the case cutout and press until it snaps into place

The final step in preparing the case is to install standoffs to support the motherboard. Although the standoff positions are standardized, different motherboards use different subsets of the available standoff positions. Also, different cases come with standoffs preinstalled in various positions.

In addition to supporting the motherboard physically, standoffs provide electrical grounding points, so it's important to install a standoff that corresponds to each motherboard mounting hole. It's just as important to make sure that no standoffs are installed that don't have a matching motherboard mounting hole. An "extra" standoff can cause a short circuit in the motherboard. If that happens, the best outcome is that the system just won't boot. If you're unlucky, a short circuit may damage the motherboard, processor, memory, or other components.

The best way to ensure that there's a standoff for every mounting hole and a mounting hole for every standoff is to count the preinstalled standoffs and then count the mounting holes in the motherboard. With the clutter of components on the motherboard, it's easy to miss a mounting hole. We hold the motherboard up to a light, which makes the mounting holes stand out. (Don't include the CPU cooler mounting holes in your count. These four holes form a square pattern around the CPU socket, and don't require standoffs.)

Pen and Paper

One of our technical reviewers recommends another method. Place the motherboard flat on a large sheet of paper and use a felt-tip pen to make a large dot on the paper under each mounting hole. Then place the paper in the case with two of the dots aligned with two corresponding standoffs. Press the paper down until the standoffs puncture the paper. Continue pressing the paper down until it is flat against the bottom of the case. Each of the large dots on the paper should have a standoff protruding through it, and there should be no standoff protruding where there is no dot.

Once you have located all of the mounting holes, slide the motherboard into position, with the back-panel I/O ports mated to the corresponding holes in the I/O template, and examine each mounting hole to see if a standoff is visible. Count the visible standoffs, and compare that number with the number of preinstalled standoffs you counted earlier. The numbers should match. If they don't, one or more of the preinstalled standoffs needs to be removed. If no standoff is visible beneath a mounting hole, install a standoff as shown in Figure 4-35.

Figure 4-35. Remove any unneeded standoffs and install standoffs where they are needed

The Intel D945PVS motherboard has 11 mounting holes. The Antec P180 case has nine standoffs preinstalled, all of which correspond to mounting holes in the motherboard. If you use this case and motherboard you need install only two standoffs.

4.4.2. Populating the External Drive Bays

The Antec P180 case provides four externally accessible 5.25" bays and one externally-accessible 3.5" bay. We'll fill one of the 5.25" bays with the NEC ND-3550A optical drive, and the 3.5" bay with the port-expander supplied with the Intel D945PVS motherboard. Installing the optical drive

We decided to install the NEC ND-3550A DVD writer in the upper bay. Before installing the drive you have to remove the plastic bezel that covers the drive bay and the metal RF shield plate that is concealed by the bezel. To remove the bezel, simply pull gently with your finger until it snaps out, as shown in Figure 4-36. With the plastic bezel removed, the metal RF shield plate is visible. Twist that plate back and forth until the metal tabs snap, and then remove it from the case.

Figure 4-36. Remove the bezel to prepare the bay to receive the optical drive


Save those bezels! If you remove an optical drive, replacing the bezel will help maintain proper air circulation inside the case.

The P180 case uses drive rails for mounting the optical drive. Locate the white cardboard box that was stored in the lower hard drive bay. In addition to the spoiler for the top vent, this box contains a pair of 5.25" drive rails. Install the drive rails on the ND-3550A drive, as shown in Figure 4-37, using two screws to secure each rail. Position the metal spring tabs forward and angled outward, with the front lip of the spring tab flush with the rear surface of the drive bezel. The drive rails should be just above the centerline of the drive, which you can accomplish by driving the screws into the rear hole in each group of three holes in the rails.

Figure 4-37. Install the drive rails on the optical drive

Before you install the optical drive, verify the master/slave jumper settings, and slide the drive partway into the bay to verify you've positioned the rails correctly. Like most optical drives, the NEC ND-3550A DVD writer is set by default to be the master device on the ATA channel. Our hard drives are S-ATA, so the optical drive will be the only parallel ATA device in the system, and should be set as the master device on the ATA channel. If you use a different optical drive, verify that its jumper is set to master.

It's usually easier to connect the ATA cable to the drive before you install the drive in the case. The Intel D945PVS motherboard comes with a round 40-wire ATA cable, which we used. Because optical drives have relatively slow transfer rates, they can use the older 40-wire ATA cable rather than the 80-wire Ultra-ATA cable used for ATA hard drives. (An 80-wire cable works fine if that's all you have, but it's not necessary.)

To connect the cable, locate pin 1 on the drive connector, which is nearest the power connector. The pin 1 side of the cable is indicated by a red stripe. Align the cable connector with the drive connector, making sure the red stripe is on the pin 1 side of the drive connector, and press the cable into place, as shown in Figure 4-38. Nowadays, most optical drives and ATA cables are keyed with a protruding tab on the cable connector and a corresponding notch on the drive connector.

Figure 4-38. Connect the ATA cable to the optical drive


Pin 1 is almost always positioned closest to the power connector. I've never seen this otherwise.

To mount the optical drive in the case, feed the loose end of the ATA cable through the drive bay from the front, align the drive rails with the corresponding tracks in the case, and slide the drive into the bay, as shown in Figure 4-39. Make sure the drive rails snap into place to secure the drive.

Figure 4-39. Slide the optical drive into the drive bay until the rails snap into place

The final step in installing the optical drive is to connect power to the drive. Choose one of the power cables coming from the power supply and press the Molex connector onto the drive power connector, as shown in Figure 4-40. It may require significant pressure to get the power connector to seat, so use care to avoid hurting your fingers if the connector seats suddenly. The Molex power connector is keyed, so verify that it is oriented properly before you apply pressure to seat the power cable.

Figure 4-40. Connect the power cable to the optical drive

Color Contrast

Most people would choose a black optical drive for the P180 case. We chose a silver model instead. The silver drive bezel closely matches the silver portions of the P180 case, and the silver drive bezel makes it easier to locate the drive in the dimly lit area under Barbara's desk. Installing the front-panel port expander

The Antec P180 case provides five front-panel ports: two USB, one IEEE-1394 (FireWire), one audio-in, and one audio-out. The Intel D945PVS motherboard provides port connectors for four USB ports, two FireWire ports, one audio-in, and one audio-out. That means two USB ports and one FireWire port for which connections are available on the motherboard go unused in a standard configuration.

For a server, we don't care about audio, but more USB ports are always welcomeparticularly if they're easily accessible from the frontand a second FireWire port might be very handy indeed. Fortunately, Intel includes a front-panel port expander with the motherboard. The port expander installs in a 3.5" external drive bay, and provides two USB ports, one FireWire port, and a pair of audio ports. The audio ports are superfluous, but the other ports match up nicely with the "extra" port connectors on the Intel motherboard.

The Antec P180 has only one externally accessible 3.5" drive bay, so installing the port expander rules out installing a floppy drive or card reader (although we could use an adapter to mount any of those devices in an available 5.25" bay). We didn't plan to install a floppy drive or card reader in this server, so using the bay for the port expander was no sacrifice.

To install the port expander, use the same procedure you used to install the optical drive. Remove the plastic bezel that covers the 3.5" bay and twist the metal RF shield back and forth until it breaks loose. The white cardboard box that contained the rails for the optical drive also contains a set of 3.5" rails. Attach these rails to the port expander, as shown in Figure 4-41, positioning the metal spring tabs forward and angled outward. Secure the rails with two screws on each side, using the rear set of screw holes in the port expander and the rear of each group of three screw holes in the rails. When the rails are properly installed, the bottom of each rail should be flush with the bottom of the port expander, and the metal spring clips should be flush with the front bezel.

Figure 4-41. Install drive rails on the optical drive

Feed the cables on the back of the port expander through the bay from the front and then slide the port expander into the bay, as shown in Figure 4-42. Make sure that the rails snap into place to secure the port expander. With the port expander installed, our SOHO server now has four front USB 2.0 ports, two front IEEE-1394a (FireWire) ports, and two pairs of audio ports, one pair of which will remain disconnected. (Later, we'll apply tape over the unused audio port pair to provide a clear indication that those ports are unusable.)

Figure 4-42. Slide the port expander into the bay until it snaps into place

4.4.3. Preparing and Populating the Motherboard

It is always easier to prepare and populate the motherboardinstall the processor and memorywhile the motherboard is outside the case. In fact, you must do so with some systems, because installing the CPU cooler requires access to both sides of the motherboard. Even if it is possible to populate the motherboard while it is installed in the case, we always recommend doing so with the motherboard outside the case and lying flat on the work surface. More than once, we've tried to save a few minutes by replacing the processor without removing the motherboard. Too often, the result has been a damaged processor or motherboard.

Warning: Each time you handle the processor, memory modules, or any other static-sensitive components, first touch the power supply to ground yourself. Installing the Processor

To install the Pentium D processor, press the lever slightly away from the socket to unlatch it, as shown in Figure 4-43. Then lift the lever straight up until it comes to a stop vertical or slightly past vertical.

Figure 4-43. Lift the socket lever to unlock the metal retention plate

With the lever vertical, the metal retention plate is unlocked and free to swing up and away from the socket. Pivot the retention plate up and remove the plastic socket protector, as shown in Figures 4-44 and 4-45. Keep the plastic socket protector in the motherboard box, in case you ever remove the processor. The exposed Socket 775 connectors are very fragile, and should never be left unprotected.

Figure 4-44. Lift the metal retention plate to expose the socket contacts

Figure 4-45. Snap the plastic socket protector out of the retention plate

With the plastic retention plate removed, as shown in Figure 4-46, the socket is prepared to receive the processor.

Figure 4-46. The socket prepared to receive the processor

Remove the processor from its container. The contact side of the processor is covered by a plastic protector. Hold the processor by its edges, as shown in Figure 4-47, and snap the protector away from the processor. Store that protector with the processor box, in case you ever remove the processor. Always reinstall the protector when you store a bare processor.

Figure 4-47. Remove the plastic protector from the processor

Keying is indicated on the processor by a small gold triangle and on the socket by a matching beveled edge. The socket also has two protruding nubs that correspond to notches in the processor, one of which is visible in the figure just to the right of the gold triangle at the lower-left corner of the processor.

With the metal retention plate vertical, align the processor with the socket and drop the processor into place, as shown in Figure 4-48. The processor should seat flush with the socket just from the force of gravity. If the processor doesn't simply drop into place, something is misaligned. Remove the processor and verify that it is aligned properly. Never apply pressure to the processor. You'll bend one or more pins, destroying the socket (and the motherboard).

Figure 4-48. Drop the processor into place

With the processor in place and seated flush with the socket, lower the metal retention plate, as shown in Figure 4-49. If the processor is fully seated in its socket, the retention plate should freely seat flush with the top of the processor. Note the lip on the lower right of the retention plate and the corresponding cammed area of the clamping lever. When the retention plate is properly closed, the cammed portion of the clamping lever should engage that lip as the clamping lever is moved to the latched position.

Figure 4-49. Close the retention plate

With the retention plate closed, close the socket latching lever, as shown in Figure 4-50. Make certain that the lever is locked in place by the hook on the side of the socket.

Figure 4-50. Lock the processor into the socket Installing the CPU cooler

With the processor locked in its socket, the next step is to install the CPU cooler. We used a retail-boxed Intel Pentium D processor, which includes a quiet and effective CPU cooler. Before you install the CPU cooler, use a paper towel to polish the surface of the CPU heat spreader, as shown in Figure 4-51. The idea is to remove any skin oil or other foreign matter that might prevent the CPU cooler from making good thermal contact with the processor.

Figure 4-51. Polish the processor heat spreader with a paper towel

The stock Intel cooler has a pre-applied thermal pad on the surface that contacts the CPU. Our cooler had a bare pad, but we have seen Intel coolers with a plastic or paper film covering the thermal pad. If there's film covering the thermal pad on your cooler, peel it off before you proceed.

Position the CPU cooler over the processor socket, aligning the four posts of the cooler mounting assembly with the four corresponding holes in the motherboard, as shown in Figure 4-52. The four mounting holes form a square, so you can orient the CPU cooler any way you please. We generally orient the cooler so that the CPU fan cable has as little slack as possible after it's connected to the power header pins on the motherboard. Once you have aligned the CPU cooler with the mounting holes, press down each of the four mounting posts and rotate them until they lock into place, as shown in Figure 4-53.

Figure 4-52. Align the CPU cooler over the processor socket

Figure 4-53. Press down all four mounting posts and rotate them to the locked position to secure the CPU cooler

The last step required to install the CPU cooler is connecting the CPU fan power lead to the 4-pin CPU fan connector on the motherboard, as shown in Figure 4-54. The cable connector and motherboard connector are keyed to prevent misaligning the pins or connecting the cable backward. Align the cable connector with the motherboard header pins and press the connector into place until it seats completely.

Figure 4-54. Connect the CPU cooler fan lead to the motherboard CPU fan header Installing memory

Installing memory is always easy, but this time it's easier than usual. Because we're populating all four memory slots in the D945PVS motherboard with identical memory modules, we don't have to make any decisions about which modules should be installed in which slots. (If you're using a different motherboard or installing only two memory modules, make sure you install the modules in the proper slots to enable dual-channel memory operation. See the motherboard manual.)

To install the memory modules, pivot the locking tabs on both sides of all four DIMM sockets outward. Examine the contact side of a DIMM to locate its keying notch. Position the DIMM vertically above a memory slot, with the keying notch in the DIMM aligned with the keying tab in the slot, and slide the DIMM into place, as shown in Figure 4-55.

Figure 4-55. Orient the DIMM with the notch aligned properly with the socket

With the DIMM properly aligned with the slot and oriented vertically relative to the slot, use both thumbs to press down on the DIMM until it snaps into place, as shown in Figure 4-56. The locking tabs should automatically pivot back up into the locked position when the DIMM snaps into place. If they don't, close them manually to lock the DIMM into the socket. Install the three remaining DIMMs the same way.

Figure 4-56. Seat the DIMM by pressing firmly into the slot until it snaps into place

With the processor and memory installed, you're almost ready to install the motherboard in the case. Before you do that, check the motherboard documentation to determine if any configuration jumpers need to be set. The Intel D945PVS has only one jumper, which sets operating mode. On our motherboard, that jumper was set correctly by default, so we proceeded to the next step.

4.4.4. Installing the Motherboard

Installing the motherboard is time consuming because there are so many cables to connect. It's important to get them all connected properly, so check each connection before and after you make it. Seating and securing the motherboard

To begin, slide the motherboard into the case, as shown in Figure 4-57. Carefully align the back panel I/O connectors with the corresponding holes in the I/O template, and slide the motherboard toward the rear of the case until the motherboard mounting holes line up with the standoffs.

Figure 4-57. Slide the motherboard into position

Do one final check to make absolutely certain that there's a standoff installed for each mounting hole and that no extra standoffs are installed. Before you secure the motherboard, make sure the back panel I/O connectors mate cleanly with the I/O template, as shown in Figure 4-58. Make sure none of the metal grounding tabs on the I/O template intrude into a port connector. Although we've never seen a system actually damaged by an errant tab, we have worked on a few systems that exhibited mysterious boot failures that turned out to be caused by a tab protruding into a USB port.

Figure 4-58. Verify that the back panel connectors mate cleanly with the I/O template

After you position the motherboard and verify that the back panel I/O connectors mate cleanly with the I/O template, insert a screw through one mounting hole into the corresponding standoff. You may need to apply pressure to keep the motherboard positioned properly until you have inserted two or three screws.

If you have trouble getting all the holes and standoffs aligned, insert two screws but don't tighten them completely. Use one hand to press the motherboard into alignment, with all holes matching the standoffs. Then insert one or two more screws and tighten them completely. Finish mounting the motherboard by inserting screws into all standoffs and tightening them, as shown in Figure 4-59.

Figure 4-59. Install screws in all mounting holes to secure the motherboard

With high-quality products like the Antec P180 case and the Intel D945PVS motherboard, all the holes line up perfectly. With cheaper brands, that's not always the case. At times, we've been forced to use only a few screws to secure the motherboard. We prefer to use all of them, both to physically support the motherboard and to make sure all of the grounding points are in fact grounded, but if you can't get all of the holes lined up, simply install as many screws as you can.

After you've inserted all of the motherboard mounting screws, make one final check to verify that all of the ports on the back-panel I/O connector are clear of the metal grounding tabs on the I/O template. Connecting front-panel switch and indicator cables

With the motherboard secured, the next step is to connect the front panel switch and indicator cables to the motherboard. Before you begin connecting front panel cables, examine the cables. Each is labeled descriptively, e.g., "Power," "Reset," and "HDD LED." Match those descriptions with the front panel connector pins on the motherboard to make sure you connect the correct cable to the appropriate pins. The motherboard header pins are color-coded. Figure 4-60 shows the pin assignments for the Hard Drive Activity LED (yellow), Reset Switch (purple), Power LED (green), and Power Switch (red) connectors.

Figure 4-60. Front panel connector pin assignments (graphic courtesy of Intel Corporation)

  • The Power Switch and Reset Switch connectors are not polarized, and can be connected in either orientation.

  • The Hard Drive Activity LED is polarized, and should be connected with the ground (black) wire on Pin 3 and the signal (red) wire on Pin 1.

  • The Power LED connector on the Intel motherboard accepts a two-position Power LED cable. Like other Intel motherboards, the D945PVS also provides an alternative three-pin Power LED connector with pins in positions one and three. The Power LED connector is dual-polarized, and can support a single-color (usually green) Power LED, as is provided with the Antec P180 case, or a dual-color (usually green/yellow) LED. If you are using a case that has a dual-color Power LED, check the case documentation to determine how to connect the Power LED cable.

Once you determine the proper orientation for each cable, connect the Hard Drive Activity LED, Reset Switch, Power LED, and Power Switch cables to the motherboard, as shown in Figure 4-61. Not all cases have cables for every connector on the motherboard, and not all motherboards have connectors for all cables provided by the case. For example, some cases provide a speaker cable. The Intel D945PVS motherboard has a built-in speaker, but no connector for an external speaker, so that cable goes unused. Conversely, the Intel D945PVS has a Chassis Intrusion Connector, for which no corresponding cable exists on the Antec P180 case, so that connector goes unused.

Figure 4-61. Connect the front-panel switch and indicator cables

Despite Their Best Intentions

Intel has defined the standard front-panel connector block shown in Figure 4-61 and uses that standard for its current motherboards. Unfortunately, few other motherboard makers adhere to that standard. Accordingly, rather than provide an Intel-standard monolithic connector block that would be useless for motherboards that do not follow the Intel standard, most case makers, including Antec, provide individual one-, two-, or three-pin connectors for each switch and indicator. A few cases provide both a monolithic Intel connector block and individual wires for nonstandard motherboards. If your motherboard provides the monolithic connector block, use it to minimize the risk of connecting the cables incorrectly.

When you're connecting front-panel cables, try to get it right the first time, but don't worry too much about getting it wrong. Other than the power switch cable, which must be connected properly for the system to start, none of the other front-panel switch and indicator cables is essential, and connecting them wrong won't damage the system. Switch cablespower and resetare not polarized. You can connect them in either orientation, without worrying about which pin is signal and which ground. LED cables may or may not be polarized, but if you connect a polarized LED cable backward, the worst that happens is that the LED won't light. Most cases use a common wire color, usually black, for ground, and a colored wire for signal. Connecting front-panel USB ports

The Antec P180 case provides two front-panel USB 2.0 ports. Both are routed through one cable that terminates in an Intel-standard 10-pin monolithic USB connector block. The Intel D945PVS motherboard provides two internal dual-USB ports, which are black connectors located at the left front of the motherboard, near the S-ATA connectors. The two front-panel USB ports on the case require only one of these internal connectors, leaving the second one available to connect the front-panel port expander we installed earlier.

Other cases provide individual wires rather than a monolithic USB connector block. If your case has individual wires, refer to Figure 4-62 for the pin assignments for the dual front-panel internal USB connectors.

Figure 4-62. Front-panel USB connector pin assignments (graphic courtesy of Intel Corporation)

To route USB to the front panel of the P180, simply connect the USB cables from the front of the case and from the port expander to the corresponding internal connectors, as shown in Figures 4-63 and 4-64. It doesn't matter which cable you connect to which internal USB connector.

Figure 4-63. Connect the front-panel USB cable from the case

Figure 4-64. Connect the front-panel USB cable from the port extender Connecting the front-panel IEEE-1394a (FireWire) ports

The Antec P180 case provides one front-panel FireWire (IEEE-1394a) port. The Intel D945PVS motherboard provides two internal FireWire connectors. We'll connect the front-panel FireWire cable to one of those internal FireWire connectors, and the port expander FireWire cable to the second one.

Although the Antec P180 case provides a front-panel FireWire cable with an Intel-standard monolithic connector block, many cases provide only individual wires that must be connected one by one to the FireWire header on the motherboard. Figure 4-65 shows the pinouts for the internal FireWire connector.

Figure 4-65. Front panel IEEE-1394a (FireWire) connector pin assignments (graphic courtesy of Intel Corporation)

Connect one of the FireWire cables to one of the blue internal FireWire connectors, as shown in Figure 4-66, and the second FireWire cable to the second connector visible immediately below Barbara's finger, as shown in Figure 4-67. Once again, it doesn't matter which FireWire cable you connect to which FireWire internal connector. With the standard back-panel FireWire connector, our system now has three available FireWire ports, which should be more than enough for our purposes.

Figure 4-66. Connect the front-panel FireWire cable from the case

Figure 4-67. Connect the front-panel FireWire cable from the port Connecting the front-panel audio ports

The Antec P180 case provides two front-panel audio ports, line out and mic in. The port expander adds a second set of audio ports. Obviously, audio is unimportant on a server, but we decided to connect one set of ports (the set on the case itself) just for completeness. To enable the front-panel audio ports, connect the audio cable to the front-panel audio header pins at the back-left corner of the motherboard, as shown in Figure 4-68. That leaves the audio ports on the port expander unconnected. As a matter of good practice, we used a piece of tape to cover those disabled ports.

Figure 4-68. Connect the front-panel audio cable

4.4.5. Installing the Tuner Card

As long as we have the system on its side, we might as well install the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500 tuner card. To begin, remove the four screws that secure the black plastic vent shroud above the expansion slot covers, as shown in Figure 4-69. Pull the shroud off and put it aside.

Figure 4-69. Remove the four screws that secure the black plastic vent shroud

The next step is to choose an expansion slot in which to install the card. Position the card temporarily to determine which slot cover bracket it aligns with. Once you're sure you're removing the correct slot cover bracket, remove the screw that secures the bracket, as shown in Figure 4-70.

Figure 4-70. Remove the screw that secures the expansion slot cover bracket

With the screw removed, slide the expansion slot cover bracket up and tilt it toward the inside of the case, as shown in Figure 4-71. Remove the bracket completely and set it aside for now.

Figure 4-71. Remove the expansion slot cover bracket

Slide the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500 card into position, making sure that the card contacts are aligned with the expansion slot. Using your thumbs, press down on the card, as shown in Figure 4-72, until you feel the card snap into place in the expansion slot. After you seat the card, reinsert the slot cover screw to secure it.

Figure 4-72. Align the tuner card and press down until it snaps into the expansion slot

At this point, we also installed a PCI Express video adapter temporarily. We'll use it to install the operating system and other software, and then remove it.

Replace the expansion slot cover shroud, as shown in Figure 4-73, using four screws to secure it.

Figure 4-73. Reinstall the expansion slot cover shroud

4.4.6. Connecting the Remaining Motherboard Cables

All that remains is to connect the final few cables to the motherboard. Begin by connecting the Serial ATA data cables, as shown in Figure 4-74.

Figure 4-74. Connect the Serial ATA data cables

The four motherboard S-ATA ports are labeled 0 through 3. Connect each S-ATA cable to a port, making sure to align the keying notch on the cable connector with the corresponding tab on the S-ATA port. Also make sure to connect each cable to the correct port, cable 0 to port 0, and so on. Once you have aligned each cable connector, press it down firmly until it snaps into place. The motherboard S-ATA connectors are more robust than those on the drives, but they are still relatively fragile. Be careful not to put any sideways pressure or torque on the cable connector as you insert it.

The next step is to connect the main power cable from the power supply to the motherboard. The main ATX power connector is a 24-pin connector located near the front edge of the motherboard. Locate the corresponding cable coming from the power supply. The main ATX power connector is keyed, so verify that it is aligned properly before you attempt to seat it.

Once everything is aligned, press down firmly until the connector seats, as shown in Figure 4-75. It may take significant pressure to seat the connector, and you should feel it snap into place. The locking tab on the side of the connector should snap into place over the corresponding nub on the socket. Make sure the connector seats fully. A partially seated main ATX power connector may cause subtle problems that are very difficult to troubleshoot.

Figure 4-75. Connect the Main ATX Power Connector

As long as you're working near the front edge of the motherboard, locate the 40-pin ATA connector (labeled "IDE") adjacent to the main ATX connector. Align the data cable from the optical drive with the ATA interface connector, making sure that the cable keying nub aligns with the keying slot in the motherboard connector. Once the cable is aligned, press straight down to seat it, as shown in Figure 4-76.

Figure 4-76. Connect the ATA data cable

Modern processors require more power to the motherboard than the main ATX power connector can provide. Intel developed a supplemental connector, called the ATX12V connector, that routes additional +12V current directly to the VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) that powers the processor. There are actually two forms of ATX12V connector, the older 4-pin version and the newer 8-pin version. Both versions are still used. Which one a motherboard uses is determined by its current requirements. The 8-pin connector is a superset of the 4-pin connectorthe 8-pin connector simply supplies more current at the same voltages and the pin assignments are compatibleso a power supply with an 8-pin supplemental power connector can be used with a motherboard that has either an 4-pin or 8-pin connector.

As it happens, the Antec NeoHE 550 has an 8-pin supplemental power connector, and our Intel D945PVS motherboard has a 4-pin connector. That means we need to take care to align the four proper pins on the 8-pin power cable with the 4-pin connector on the motherboard. (Because both connectors are keyed with square and rounded sockets, it's impossible to seat the connector unless it's aligned properly.)

Examine the motherboard and cable connectors to determine how to orient them, and then press the cable connector into the motherboard socket, as shown in Figure 4-77. Make sure the plastic tab on the cable connector snaps into place over the motherboard socket to lock the connectors.

Figure 4-77. Connect the ATX12V Power Connector

Only one cable connection left. Well, two. Each of the two case fans has a Molex connector for power. The Molex cable you ran to the optical drive has two spare connectors. Connect each fan to one of those connectors, as shown in Figure 4-78.

Figure 4-78. Connect the fan power cables

4.4.7. Final Assembly Steps

Congratulations! You're almost finished building the system. Only a few final steps remain to be done, and those won't take long.

Before you go any further, dress the cables by routing them away from the motherboard and other componentsparticularly fansand tying them off so they don't flop around inside the case. Install the spoiler for the top vent (it's in the white cardboard box that contained the rails you used to mount the optical drive and port expander).

If you intend to run your server headless, as we do, leave the cover off for now. You can install the operating system and other software with the case open. Once the software is installed and tested, you can shut down the system and remove the video card. Slide the black plastic assembly that separates the upper and lower chambers of the case to seal the gap as well as possible and tighten both thumbscrews to secure it. Reinstall the VGA ventilation duct (the black plastic assembly that holds extra drive rails), and replace the side panels.

Before you proceed, take a few minutes to double-check everything. Verify that all cables are connected properly, that all drives are secured, and that there's nothing loose inside the case. If your power supply is not auto-sensing, check one last time to verify that it is set to the correct input voltage. It's a good idea to pick up the system and tilt it gently from side to side to make sure there are no loose screws or other items that could cause a short. Use the following checklist:

  • Power supply set to proper input voltage (the Antec NeoHE power supply is auto-sensing)

  • No loose tools or screws (shake the case gently)

  • CPU cooler properly mounted; CPU fan connected

  • Memory modules full seated and latched

  • Front-panel switch and indicator cables connected properly

  • Front-panel I/O cables connected properly

  • Hard drive data cables connected to drives and motherboard

  • Hard drive power cables connected

  • Optical drive data cable connected to drive and motherboard

  • Optical drive power cable connected

  • Floppy drive data and power cables connected (if applicable)

  • All drives secured to drive bay or chassis, as applicable

  • Expansion card(s) fully seated and secured to the chassis

  • Main ATX power cable and ATX12V power cable connected

  • Front and rear case fans installed and connected

  • All cables dressed and tucked

Once you're certain that all is as it should be, it's time for the smoke test. Connect the power cable to the wall receptacle and then to the system unit. Unlike some power supplies, the Antec unit has a separate rocker switch on the back that controls power to the power supply. By default, it's in the "0" or off position, which means the power supply is not receiving power from the wall receptacle. Move that switch to the "1" or on position. Press the main power button on the front of the case, and the system should start up. Check to make sure that all fans are spinning. You should also hear the hard drive spin up and the happy beep that tells you the system is starting normally. At that point, everything should be working properly.


When you turn on the rear power switch, the system will come to life momentarily and then die. That's perfectly normal behavior. When the power supply receives power, it begins to start up. It quickly notices that the motherboard hasn't told it to start, and so it shuts down again. All you need to do is press the front-panel power switch and the system will start normally.

Turn off the system, disconnect the power cord, and take these final steps to prepare the system for use:

Set the BIOS Setup Configuration jumper to Configure mode

The BIOS Setup Configuration jumper block on the Intel D945PVS motherboard is used to set the operation mode. This jumper is located at the rear center of the motherboard, near the speaker and the main ATX power connector. By default, the jumper is in the 12 or "normal" position. Move the jumper block to the 23 or "configure" position.

Reconnect the power cord and restart the system

When the configuration jumper is set to configure mode, starting the system automatically runs BIOS Setup and puts the system in maintenance mode. This step allows the motherboard to detect the type of processor installed and configure it automatically. When the BIOS Setup screen appears, reset the system clock and load the system defaults. Save your changes, exit, and power down the system. Disconnect the power cord.

Set the BIOS Setup Configuration jumper to Normal mode

With the power cord disconnected, move the BIOS Setup Configuration jumper block from 23 (Configure mode) to 12 (Normal mode).

Building the Perfect PC
Building the Perfect PC, Second Edition
ISBN: 0596526865
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 84

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