Building A New PC? Ignore The Verge’s How To…

The Verge "How NOT To Build A PC"

I just had the misfortune of watching Stefan Etienne of The Verge demonstrate how to build a gaming PC. I say misfortune because the level of inaccuracies and build errors on display make a mockery of a well-respected tech channel, I’m surprised that it made it past QC to feature on their official YouTube channel.

I will post the video at the bottom of this write-up, here are my thoughts as an experienced PC builder.

0:24: Why do you need to build a PC on a table? I have built all my PC’s on the floor, on a carpet, in fact; and not once have I had a failure due to static shock, JayzTwoCents did a rather silly test, to prove that static shock is not an issue in general for modern components. While on the table scene, those tweezers sure look like zip ties to me, and that anti-static strap is not grounded so it won’t stop any static discharge.

2:25: Motherboards really are not that delicate, sure you could damage a motherboard while installing it, but it’s highly unlikely. As long as you have the motherboard in contact with the stand-offs, you will be fine. If you place the motherboard directly onto the motherboard tray, there is a likelihood of a short, which could kill your motherboard. Oh, are you listening Stefan? it’s called an I/O shield, not a brace.

3:12: 2666mhz RAM is not pretty fast by today’s standards, common speeds are 3000mhz to 3200mhz these days, we have speeds in excess of 4000mhz on the market today, should your hardware support it.

4:32: Notice the RAM as Stefan slots in the GPU, both modules are next to each other. To be able to run dual channel memory, and let’s face it, why would you not want to, there has to be an empty slot between the two DIMM’s. You would normally use the second and fourth slot for two DIMM’s.

5:19: The isolation pads for the power supply are to reduce vibrations through the chassis, not to protect against shorts, Stefan’s argument falls apart as soon as he screws the power supply into the same chassis, it’s still touching metal. Also take note that Stefan installs the power supply with the fan facing inwards, pressed against the back of the motherboard tray, so no cool air, or any airflow for the PSU then.

6:11: While installing the radiator for his AIO cooler, Stefan is using the screws designed to go through the fans into the radiator, where the fans would be mounted in front of the radiator, for example when mounting to the front of the case, not the top, or when implementing a push/pull fan configuration.

7:11: Don’t toss away the CPU socket cover as Stefan did, you’ll need that if you ever need to RMA or want to sell your motherboard in future, put it in the motherboard box for safe keeping. You really don’t need the motherboard installation tool from Asus, just align the triangle on the CPU with the triangle on the socket and gently drop it into place, this works for both LGA and PGA processors.

8:15: If you have a brand new cooler, be it an AIO liquid cooler or air cooler, the pre-applied thermal paste is just fine. If you do want to use a different thermal compound, please clean the pre-applied paste off the cooler cold plate first. I have always used the pre-applied paste on a new cooler and have never had an issue with cooling as long as the cooler is up to the TDP requirements of the CPU. Adding extra thermal paste to the CPU could actually cause an air gap, which is detrimental to cooling performance.

9:04: Finally, what a piss poor cable management job, Stefan has made no attempt to route the cables behind the motherboard tray, which is unforgivable, given the Corsair Crystal Series 280X case, which has a separate compartment for cables and the power supply. This is just plain sloppy and also impedes airflow, albeit slightly, with the air having to navigate a mass of cables to get to the hot components.

No wonder The Verge turned off comments on this particular YouTube video, they knew a shit storm was coming. I would have commented on the video, but as I couldn’t, I wrote this instead!

Update [Sep, 21 2018, 5:28]: It seems the whole Internet taking the piss out of The Verge’s “How we built a $2000 custom gaming PC” video has inspired the channel to take down the video on Youtube.

So, here’s the video, remember, once it’s on the Internet, it’s always on the Internet…

While updating this blog, I noticed another error, in the image at the top of the page, you’ll see that Stefan has neglected to install the thumbscrew in the bottom left of the CPU block, causing uneven pressure to be applied to the CPU’s IHS, which in turn could cause the AIO to perform suboptimally.

One final thought, according to the credits, 13 people worked on that video and not one person thought “there’s something not quite right here?”. That says a lot about The Verge as a publication if that level of fail can get past 13 freaking people, 2.1m subscribers and they don’t have the foggiest idea about PC’s.

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