Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Build

Since so many of you are actually here for baby stuff, first, I give you Halloween Tori:

She was a cat. Super-cute costume, but as you can see, she generally wasn't a fan. Too warm. But no worries.... halloween with a kid this young is pretty much a non-event. We took her around to 'trick or treat' some friends and relatives, but that's about it. But still: awfuly cute, isn't she?

At five months, this kid is a pure joy. I hate to sound like a cheeseball, but it's true. We got a lucky draw, I think: she fusses relatively little, but smiles and laughs fairly often. I even catch myself having agood time playing with her, which is saying something, since it's not like she can go out and throw frisbee or something. Mostly we just hang out, I tickle her, and watch her laugh. That's it... but it's actually a good time. For a half-hour or so, anyway.

But this is a good stage. She's not mobile, she doesn't get bored so easily that we can't take her to restaurants, she's still fairly easy to feed and change and whatnot.

My wife has been an absolute angel about some things. For one- I can't handle dirty diapers. I've tried; I just can't. When the smell hits me my gag reflex goes beserk. So she handles all dirty diapers without complaint. (I try to offset it by taking on more of the wet diapers) We're also still breastfeeding. Guys, let me tell you: if your wife wants to go this route, it'll make your life easier. Because who's the only person who can feed the baby at night? Mom, that's who. I don't mean to be selfish, but among my many quirks is the fact that I need my sleep, and this whole breastfeeding thing means I rarely have to get up at night. Woot. Again, all kudos to my lady on this count.

So yeah, life on the kid front is good.


Now, to the HTPC. It's time to put it all together.

First, I'm not going to spell out every little step- there are directions included in the manuals, and if you haven't built a PC before you probably should have a tech-savvy friend oversee you anyway. Instead, I'm mostly going to point out the potential pitfalls for this particular hardware combo, along with a handful of other observations.

- Important first step: if you've surveyed the connectors coming out ofthe Antec Fusion 430 case, you'll find that there are two two-pin headers labeled "POWER SW". This isn't mentioned anywhere in the manual; the only reference you get to this in the documentation is a poorly drawn diagram of the back of the front panel, and that diagram has no instructions whatsoever. After a little tinkering, I discovered that the black and white one, which comesoff of the main power switch, needs to be routed and plugged in rightbehind the OLED display.

Here's the spot where it goes:

And here it is plugged in:

The remaining red and black POWER SW connector plugs into the mobo in the normal power switch spot. This allows both the front panel power switch and the IR remote power switch to work.

- When mounting the mobo, you will need to install the two additional risers included in the hardware packet that came with the mobo. The spots where they need to go are circled here. (Sorry I didn't get this as a before pic. I really should have).

- The 5.25" and 3.5" bays are both removable, and are insulated for noise with nice thick silicon washers- this really impressed me. However, the lower mounting for the hard drives require you to screw from underneath the case. So I'd recommend carefully thinking through which bay you're going to mount your drive in, so you only have to upend your case once. But overall, both the optical and hard drives mounted with no problems.

- Hooking up power - For the most part, things went as planned. The Antec PSU only has one line of SATA power sources, and they can't reach both the hard drive and the optical drive, but thankfully, ASUS included several molex-to-SATA adaptors among their bundled goodies. More reason to love ASUS.

There was one hitch, however. See this plug coming off the power supply?

Looks an awful lot like an PSU_FAN connector, doesn't it? WARNING: it isn't. I actually hooked this up to the PSU_FAN spot on the mobo and tried to start up the computer; thankfully, either the PSU or the mobo was smart enough not to fire up. After some digging, I found another three pin connector hiding under one of the case partitions:

This is the power source for the OLED on the front of the case. The Antec instructions had led me to believe that the whole front panel was powered by a two-pin molex connector. Not so much. Plug these two together and you're good to go.

And I'd like to take a moment to recommend getting the full retail package when buying the motherboard- ASUS includes a wealth of extra cables, adaptors, and other goodies. They also include a driver that you'll need to get your network plug to work. So- don't jump on any open box deals; you probably want the full retail on this one.
After initial assembly, I decided that it might be a good idea to fire it up and get everything stable before installing the tuner card. Aside from the aforementioned PSU_FAN fiasco, startup with problem-free.

I installed Vista 32, which took maybe 30-45 minutes all told. Next order of business was to install everything on the ASUS disk. With that done, I could connect to the net and reflash my BIOS with the latest version.

Then I proceeded to install the software that came with the blu-ray drive. I had a couple of issues here. I installed their whole suite, but upon launching PowerDVD, it prompted me to update. It sent me to a site to download a patch- I instructed it to download & run- but after doing so, I was still getting the prompt. I ended up needing to manually download the file and run it myself. With that done, it'd play both BRD and HD-DVDs on my monitor with no problems. Looks great, no skipping or hesitation. The OLED on the front of the box tells me I'm using about 45% of my CPU during BRD playback. I watched about half of Iron Man and even with the stock CPU cooler, temps in the case never went above 22 C.

The drive also didn't come with any Lightscribe software. This may be because I got the OEM pack... so I went to and grabbed theLightscribe System Software and Lightscribe Template Labeler (free in theirdownload section). I tested this out by making a mix CD for a friend; the lightscribe art looked great and the CD played fine using the burner software included with the drive.
Later that night I hit my first snag: I wanted to watch Transformers on mySamsung HDTV, so I took the box downstairs and plugged it in via HDMI cable. First problem was that the desktop was bigger than the display whenset at 1920x1080, for some reason- it cut off the task bar at the bottom and about half the icons on the left of the desktop. I used the included tools to scale it down to make everything viewable. But still: annoying. And then I got hit with my second annoyance: when I tried to play eitherHD-DVDs or BRDs, I got an error message saying that my display wasn't HDCP (high def copy protection) compliant. Now, I took a moment to check-the drive is compliant, the mobo and integrated graphics are HDCP compliant, and the TV is compliant. So, something's not handshaking right.

But I haven't even installed the tuner card yet, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Next installment will involve getting things up and running.

1 comment:

Harmony said...

Tori is adorable!! Yay for generally happy babies :D