If you want something that's pretty much kept up-to-date, check out the excel file at the bottom of the page.
you can tune in your computer's workings on your AM radio - set it on top or beside :-D mine works best about 1400MHz older computers are more fun-sounding because they are slower - works best with case open or with plastic case
hardest part is going to be:
- installing the cpu and cpu cooling fan and thermal grease (use antec formula 7)
- aligning the motherboard with the cards into the case
- figuring out whether to get the RAM installed before putting in the cpu cooler, or vice versa.
- don't try to dual-boot windows 8 and windows 7. instead, put win8 in a virtual machine on win7. otherwise, apparently it's not safe. that's what I was told.
- use the smiley face method when applying thermal paste. you don't want the paste squirting out the sides of the cooler, so not too much - if the paste is conductive, it will short out parts, and not too little, this will undercool the cpu.
- thermal paste, sealed closed loop liquid coolers, hard drives, optical drives, and laptops, I understand are supposed to last about 5 years
- avoid "hot plugging" if the usb device doesn't support it but instead plug them in with power off and maybe even with power unplugged or power sweitch in back of power supply turned off. I have seen my usb keyboard constantly lit up when plugged into my desktop usb 3.0 ports and the system power off!
- avoid "hot plugging" devices into the power supply while power is on, this can ruin equipment/parts/etc/maybe motherboard too but instead plug them in with power plug disconnnected or PSU power switch in back turned off.
- avoid unplugging devices from power supply while power is on, this can ruin equipment/parts/etc/maybe motherboard too but instead plug them in with power plug disconnnected or PSU power switch in back turned off.
- don't just go for adequate cooling. have enough fans to blow the dust out.
- clean your computer's vents regularly, like every 3 months or maybe even when you see it getting dusty if you have a liquid cooler
- avoid operating any computer in a room temperature over 80°F(26.7°C) - put in a room thermometer to monitor the temperature, instead, keep the computer cool if possible (just not frozen, that causes nasty conductive condensation)
- avoid exposing to dewpoint or temperatures beelow 45°(7.2°C). when this happens, acclimate it for 24-48 hours.
- cpu should not get over 55°C-60°C(131°F-140°F) see your cpu specifications on thermal. don't go for absolute maximum (that's edge at which the chip can burn up/smoke/etc)
- if you are getting an i7-3970x like processor, get a closed loop liquid cooler like the corsair h110i and a case compatible with it like the corsair carbide 500r, 400r, or similar series that handles the 140mm dual coolers, and a case with ALL the fans in it, you need the extra cooling, especially in the summer.
- don't underrate your power supply! this can cause it to fry things if the load is too high. instead, it might be wise to prepare for future upgrades and drive migrations and put in a power supply that can handle the FULL load. get parts specs and do diligence with calculating power requirements. see this power supply calculator first and this antec/outervision PSU calculator
- keep your liquid cooler vents and find and cpu cooler vents and fins clean. dirt and obstructions prevents cooling.
- avoid using a vaccuum cleaner to clean, use canned air & tweezers.
- when thinking about multithreading, think Amdahl's laws.
excellent video. but I wish they had maxed out the RAM. I think this was before 8GB DIMMs were available.
instructional videos on how to build a computer if you want to pay for it: NewtonVideos.com: I have not tried all but the demo video on putting computers together. this guy seems to make high quality stuff. the intro seemed to go into all the basics of preparation, but not into any building. you really should invest in some good videos or get someone who knows what they are doing to help you with your build session.
newegg tv Youtube videos:How to build a computer from scratch (for gaming, development)
part 3, windows 7 installation
all parts in one video, different, older newegg build, very detailed, oriented towards beginners and people new to computers. HW reconfig for and windows install to SSD at 1:12:00.
better details on why you want to remove the hard drive from system during SSD install!, also see this URL/video given in the video
the guy had a huge heatsink (that's the reality of today unless you are going with liquid cooling and that has its own issues like changing coolant out every 3 months). I don't mind using the one that came with the CPU, I have thought they were pretty good, and they last a long time, you just can't overclock with them.
1st mistake, he put the ram in AFTER the ginormous heatsink. this means he can't expand to 24GB later without removing the heatsink, taking off the old thermal paste, and reapplying new thermal paste, messy job since it's oil-based and sometimes sticky (artic silver).
2nd mistake, he put the motherboard on the nickel bag. if there was a CR2032 battery in the board, it's going to short something out and possibly cause damage. use cardboard or soemthing nonconductive.
This is an older,and much more instructive video for beginners to computers who wonder what's inside their computers. all parts in one newegg tv youtube video (socket 1155 system with ssd). after this was made, stock heatsinks were no longer shipped with boxed processors. the finger in the bag method makes air bubbles. use the smiley face method.
- SATA is backwards-compatible, meaning you can put a 3Gbps drive in a 6Gbps channel and use 3Gbps or 6Gbps cable.
- PCI-e appears to be backwards compatible.
- PSU calculators are available.
- match socket of processor to socket of motherboard.
- if you are not overclocking, do not match up with the OC spec values of the motherboard.
- you can piece together a system design using this web site.
my own instructions on how to build
you may find that it's best to assemble the motherboard and ram and cpu and cpu cooler first and then put it into the caserather than mounting the mobo in the case first.
there are toolless case designs and case designs which require tools (phillips screwdriver).
- wear wrist strap.
- install the ram.
- install the cpu.
- apply thermal paste in smiley fast pattern.
- install the cpu cooler.
- mount mobo into case.
- install case dangly wires according to motherboard manual.
- install cards.
- video card
- LAN or Wireless card
- RAID card
- TV Tuner card
- install power supply.
- install hard drives and ssd's
- install optical drive(s)
- install card reader, if any
- connect power cables. if it's a modular power supply, and you don't need a cable, keep it around in the box or in a bag in case you do.
- connect data cables for drives,make sure any latches latch, and BE CAREFUL.
you may find that it's best to assemble the motherboard and ram and cpu and cpu cooler first and then put it into the case rather than mounting the mobo in the case first.
I suggest you get a case with cooling that uses ball bearing fans. VERY FEW companies use ball bearing fans nowadays. ball bearing fans (if that's what they are) last a nice long time. we have equipment which I think uses ball bearing fans, and this equipment, including a windows 98 machine and a windows 3.1 machine from 1990, is still running (though the 3.1 box doesn't get used much anymore).
RECOMMENDED CASES: Antec is one of the few companies using ball bearing fans (at least they used to say that they did), specifically the "Antec nine hundred" (19" mid tower) and "Antec twelve hundred two v3" (full tower) (4/17/2012). I think this case is well-cooled (900 has 4 fans expandable to 6, 1200v3 has 6 fans expandable to 8), and it looks great (gaming case) and has lots of room, whether you choose the full tower or the mid tower.
The extra fans are for the front and side of the case. you will need to mount it with the direction arrow pointing the same direction as the other fan in the case, or you will have airflow problems. the fan that is already in the case is set up to work with the airflow of the PSU rather than against it. my guess is that the air will be flowing in through the front and out the back - that is how it usually goes.
if you can get ball bearing fans, these will last for 12-20 years, maybe more.
a $4.99 wrist strap is cheap insurance. clip it to your PC case bare metal and wear it during handling of your parts and installation.
Avoid using a power pci-e 6-pin or 8-pin Y cable to fill in the blank power connectors on your video card. get a power supply that has sufficient power connectors on it. you want a power supply whihc is capableof supplying the properamount of power. A Y cable is not going to do anything (well, except burn up a card maybe). think of a PSU power cable like a water hose, the water flow is the current (Amps). Using a y cable is like thinking you are going to get more water by putting a funnel with the small end at the end of the hose. What you really need is another faucet and hose if you want more water (they come in standard sizes). same with video power. if the video card comes with a 6+8 pin connector set, get a PSU which has those connectors on it. also, make sure that the wattage on your PSU meets the minimum wattage listed in the video card manual +100W for stability (especially when you start adding more drives).
got video drivers that aren't working great? try ones from the chipset mfr.
Nvidia video drivers here - just look for forceware drivers. it will work aith any nVidia chipset.
ATI Video drivers here.
case dangly wires (that's a technical term) :-)
follow the motherboard manual for the colored thin dangly wires in the case that are supposed to plug in. your motherboard manual is the key. it is one of the headers.
make sure you have a beefy enough PSU! here is a PSU calculator (80 plus bronze, (preferably silver or gold) certified is always best for saving on power bills). I am told this overestimates by about 2×.
You could probably stand to double the RAM in it though with vista/7/8 64-bit. vista was more of a RAM hog than windows 7 - just make sure you get the same kind.
burn your servicepacks to discs. ALL of them. after an OS is EOL (End-Of-Life), microsoft starts dropping service packs from their web site and also from http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
use Internet Explorer and go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com to finish applying updates.
review these Thermal Paste videos first:
- Thermal Paste Removal
- Review of Thermal Paste Application Methods part 1
- Review of Thermal Paste Application Methods part 2
make sure you are wearing clothes you don't care about throwing away. I would not put something through the washer or dryer which gets thermal compound on it,it would be icky and messy.
make sure you are using a cloth-based anti-static wrist strap (you can get one for $4 from radio shack). attach the alligator clip to something grounded, such as the case, if the PSU is in and PSU cable are plugged in (switch off first). if this is not possible, then at least touch something grounded before you start, especially if you sit down or get up from an office chair or walk across a rug.
a $4.99 wrist strap is cheap insurance. clip it to your PC case bare metal and wear it during handling of your parts and installation.
today's heatsinks are huge, and because of that, cases are larger and wider. that's the reality of today UNLESS you are going with closed-loop liquid cooling.
11/2013: CPU Coolers I recommend for most processors are:
- 140mm dual fan closed loop liquid cooling like corsair H110i (lasts 5 years I am told), requires compatible case like corsair carbide 400r or 500r
- thermaltake clp0575 (air)
- zalman cnps11x extreme (air)
- zalman cnps12x (air), can cool 300W, useful for socket 2011 procs
buy a BOXED processor - retail, not OEM. OEM you get the cpu only and no cooler. The boxed processors' fans are usually warrantied for 3 years. some boxed procs come with no fan, such as the newer i7's.
remove any of the thermal interface material that comes with the processor. it's bad. see video for how. the thermal interface material of a boxed processor+heatsink is made for one use only, and it must be scraped off with a thumbnail or a hard piece of plastic is fine (don't use a screwdriver, use something non-metal) and/or wiped off with Blue Shower Cleaner/Degreaser (maybe something you pick up at the car parts store will suffice) or ArctiClean and paper towels or a rag you can throw away. Yeah, it will ruin your thumbnail - hope it's tough. or use paper towels (and a short and pants that are not precious). wipe the processor clean also. I found out you really don't want finger oils on the processor.
avoid touching the pins. hold only by the edges and ground yourself often by touching the exposed metal part of your case or if possible, to avoid static damage, use an antistatic wrist strap, one with a resistor in it connected to exposed metal part of your case. the cpu is very static sensitive.
don't touch the cpu socket pins or let anything drop on it, they are very delicate and it could bend a pin and that will prevent your system from booting and you will probably need a new motherboard. it is a zero-insertion-force socket, meaning no force is needed to put the cpu in, you should be able to drop it in with correct orientation and latch it down.
flip the cpu latches out. if there is a plastic filler cap in place, carefully remove it and keep it for later use it is for protecting the socket from the latch.the socket has all the massive amount of pins.
make note of where the pin 1 indication is on the back or side, and align the cpu. don't touch the pins. don't force the cpu in. drop in the cpu, and then, if it has dropped in all the way (don't force or you will bend pins - you may have it in wrong) push down the cpu laptch. follow the directions that came with the cpu cooler to attach it to the cpu, making sure that either the thermal interface meterial is there (gray square hard stuff), or, if you had to buy your own cpu cooler/fan, apply the thermal grease as a thin layer to the top of the cpu where the heat sink and the CPU will meet (and ONLY there).
don't let the cpu cooler slide around.
apply cpu thermal paste.
try not to use too much thermal grease on the processor. The Smiley Face method works very well. see these videos youtube video:How Thermal Compound Spreads (MX-2 Edition) and youtube video:How Thermal Compound Spreads
you don't want it overflowing around the edges of the heatsink - spread it around on the surface and use just enough to cover the surface of the metal block.
...and try not to slip-n-slide the heatsink around on the processor - it removes thermal interface material from between the processor and the heatsink, and you don't want that, and it makes bubbles, which prevent cooling.
place carefully, and don't let the heat sink rock around on corners of the chip or you will damage the processor or the motherboard. screw heatsink screws a little bit at a time in a circle many times. see this newegg tv video or this one
I do not know the steps for a Zalman fan, but I do know that you have to be extra careful when moving your case if you have one installed, because they are extra heavy and stick out like a sore thumb.
But if you are a gamer, you're probably going to want one of those or a water cooling system on all your overclocked HW.
when putting RAM and CPU in the motherboard, make sure the motherboard is its original box on a non-conductive table (something solid, hard, flat, and non-conductive, you don't want to short out the circuitry related to the CR2032 battery), and then make sure the notches on the RAM align properly before putting them in. flip the DIMM socket latches out first. you will have to press firmly, probably one side at a time. make sure you only put in the sockets that the manual recommends and use RAM types compatible with your motherboard (for instance, DDR3-1600 for intel i7's as of 6/4/2012).
REMOVAL OF CPU FROM MOTHERBOARD:
see this list of supplies first (after this section)
don't remove CPU cooler from off the CPU/processor after you have installed it unless you have all the supplies.
cleaner/degereaser: spray the paper towel not the cpu! I like blue shower.
also suggest that if you have to remove the existing processor off and re-use it on a different motherboard, that you use cleaner/degreaser
alcohol (found out alcohol is as useless as water on this grease) and a paper towel to remove the thermal material (fingernail or piece of hard plastic if you have to, but not a screwdriver!). and clothes you don't care about destroying, the thermal grease won't come out, don't put it in the washer or dryer! just toss the soiled clothing in the garbage.
an improperly cooled CPU can cause havoc and instability with programs - essentially, the computer goes crazy so to speak, does random things or the cpu/gpu may go into thermal shutdown.
- unplug the computer!
- attach wrist strap to wrist. attach alligator clip to metal part of the case
- remove [old] cpu cooler
- remove old thermal compound or pad from cpu and cooler with blue shower degreaser or arcticlean or maybe you can get a degreaser from the auto parts store (if it has the thin spray tube attachment).
- then apply antec formula 7 in a smiley face configuration to the cpu.
- you want the thermal compound to not overflow the cpu edges (some are conductive, probably Arctic Silver 5).
- put [new] cpu cooler on. don't rub it in, that causes nasty bubbles, straight is nice, avoid angles, tighten evenly on all sides round-robin fashion so as not to put too much pressure on any corner of the cpu (no cpu corner-cracking-please).
- again, do not slide if you can avoid it (causes nasty air bubbles which make it less efficient), and do not rock the heatsink/cooler back or forth, or you could break the corners of the chip off or cause air bubbles, and most people try to avoid having to buy a new processor if they can avoid it because they are expensive. that cpu cooler is heavy and a lot of pressure is applied, and the proc is small, so have care...
- test memory with memtest86+ will take 2-3 hours maybe
- test your setup a bit. your setup is probably good if you can use it to the max and temps don't reach to 60°C for 3rd-gen procs or 90°C? for 4th-gen procs and it doesn't shut itself down. the i7-4960HQ and i7-4600U and i3-4102E (the whole line of 4th gen intel procs?) has a max of 100°C and the i7-3970x has an absioolute max of 66.8°C and most older procs have a max of 68°C and the 100°C so be sure to look up your cpu's max temperature at intel.com and monitor with with cpuid.com HWMonitor if it does get more than 55-60°C (again, check your cpu max temp), then maybe you should try again. maybe this time with a closed loop liquid cooler like the corsair H110i and a case that works with same like corsair 500R, 400R, or 600T. dropping the cpu 20°C from max would be great (not sure yet about new procs). closed loop liquid cooling is recommended to keep things cooler.
- monitor in windows with cpuid.com pc wizard or hwmonitor.
- stability testing (burn-in testing): (optionally test with prime95 in burn-in mode for stability for 4 hours if it's not a laptop. make sure your power supply has enough power to handle all your internal devices and usb ports. see this power supply calculator before you run the program. if your system is under-spec'd, it can maybe burn something out at this step, so user beware! don't say I didn't warn you! better to leave this step out if you are not sure. you assume the risk of possibly purchasing replacement parts or computer if you do a burn-in program. usually what happens with prime95 as I understand it is the cpu may simply shut itself down. prime95 is a program written to find prime numbers, and is cpu-intensive. people can share their cpu over a network to contribute to finding larger prime numbers. the burn-in mode doesn't use the network and is a courtesy to people who want to stress-test their cpu.
somebody wrongly flagged what I thought was good burn-in software package probably because of this. it's a risk you take to run the program. unlike that program, this doesn't exercise all the hardware at once, only the CPU and maybe memory. usually, burn-in software is used by system builders to make sure their builds are good over a period of at least 4 hours.
your actual computer use won't match the use a full burn-in does.
cpu/cpu cooler replacement/placement supplies:
- if you are replacing the cpu cooler or need better cooling, CPU Coolers I recommend for most processors are: preferably a closed-loop liquid cooler like corsair h110i liquid cooler and corsair 500r, 600t, or 400r case and up to 10 corsair AF120 or AF140 fans OR thermaltake clp0575 air-cooler, .
- Antec formula 7 nano diamond thermal compound $36.24
- Arctic Silver Arcticlean Thermal Material Remover and surface purifier $6.99 or Blue Shower cleaner/degreaser or cleaner/degreaser from auto parts store maybe(?) as long as it has the nozzle tube for keeping the spray area small or arctic silver 5 remover $8.99 if you are trying to remove the cpu cooler.
- paper towels
- clothing you don't mind throwing away, the stuff doesn't come out and don't try to put in clothes washer, will leave a mess
- screwdrivers, philips and flathead
- Rosewill RTK-002 Anti-Static Wrist Strap $4.99 (you can get an antistatic wrist strap from radio shack). alligator clip to the metal part of the case.
- optionally, prime95 (with caveat empotor and throrough warnings before use!)
- cpuid.com pc wizard or hwmonitor for monitoring the fan.
- intel proc specs
If you are removing a cpu cooler for whatever reason, be SURE you remove ALL the thermal interface material using arctic silver 5 remover. spray the paper towel, not the cpu, you don't want any of the spray getting on the board.
when putting RAM and CPU in the motherboard, make sure the motherboard is on a wood or other non-conductive, non-static-generating table (something solid, hard, flat, and non-conductive, you don't want to short out the circuitry related to the CR2032 battery if it's already installed, and you also need the flatness), and then make sure the notches on the RAM align properly before putting them in. flip the DIMM socket latches out first. you will have to press firmly, probably one side at a time. most likely, this will be best done with the mobo in the case. make sure you only put in the certain sockets that the manual recommends and use RAM types compatible with your motherboard, and that the timing (and hopefully the manufacturer and model) matches (for instance, DDR3-1600 for intel i7's as of 6/4/2012).
the default SPD speed of some ram may be lower than expected. when you look up the speed of your RAM in the system, it may report lower than what the RAM is rated for with XMP if it supports XMP. you can use the XMP speed, but you will have to set this in possibly the advanced section of the BIOS/UEFI if you used the AUTO DETECT to configure your RAM. in my case, SPD (serial-presence-detect) was DDR3-1333, but XMP is DDR3-1600 according to mfr (corsair). so I had to bump the speed up to DDR3-1600 in advanced manually. it tested fine with memtest86+.
buy the longest lasting CR2032 lithium coin cell battery you can. they are available at the office supply stores and run about $4. install this carefully in the motherboard, so as not to short it out. Medical kinds last the longest.
motherboard port plate
take out the case's old motherboard port plate. it's a throwaway - you can recycle it. put in the port plate that comes with your motherboard into the case, proper side up, BEFORE you put in the motherboard. you may have to tame some springs to get the motherboard in.
motherboard hex screw+socket standoffs (for mounting motherboard)
make sure the motherboard hex standoffs (usually brass and have a machine screw on one side and a machine screw socket on the other) holes are lined up and there are standoffs where there should be. the motherboard needs support.
now screw in the motherboard standoffs. they come with your case. they are usually little brass hex rods with a screw at one end and a threaded socket at the other. make sure you place these in alignment with the holes on your motherboard. tighten it down firmly, but don't wrench on it. I use pliers or a nutdriver. These come in the case's parts bag and are usually brass (gold-colored).
figure out which screws go into those sockets and set them aside. you may or may not have enough to do them all, so remember the priority is to get screws to the following places (we want to prevent board flexing in key places where there is going to be pressure or pulling) in the following order, lightly:
- where the cards plug in
- wherever you can fill them in
take the motherboard screws back out (but not the standoffs!) and set them aside again.
now carefully put in the motherboard into the case (the power supply and hard drives and other stuff must be out - you will see that this is so when you try this). insert a card into a slot and screw it in. screw in those screws you set aside into the motherboard holes, where the cards plug in first, then elsewhere. the card'spurpose is to get the case slots to align correctly with the motherboard. I find this to be extremely helpful. you will of course need to remove the card to finish installing the rest of the screws - do the best you can to securre the motherboard.
when installing the motherboard, be especially careful not to flay the metal prongs on the motherboard PS/2 ports. this is where taming the springs comes in. getting the ports side right is a bit of a headache, but do-able.
plug in the RAM.
plug in your CPU and line up "pin 1" (there's generally some sort of marking on the cpu, notch, or whatever). you do NOT have to force it!
a $4.99 wrist strap is cheap insurance. clip it to your PC case bare metal and wear it during handling of your parts and installation.
a bad hard drive can cause long delays if it has bad blocks, times when the hard drive disappears and it says "no disk".
I don't believe it when someone tells me that a new hard drive has bad blocks still to mark off. I have been told this by support folk at some software companies, and I don't believe it. those are marked off at the factory.
if you have any of these symptoms with a new drive, return the drive for warranty replacement, especially within the 14-day DOA period (or whatever number of days given by the vendor):
- doing a reset or park at any time while the power is on, which makes the drive go clunk and slam to track.
- making an unnatural clicking noise. this is not to be confused with regular seeks.
the hard drives should come with screws. mount them, preferably in front of a front case fan, if your hard drive bay has one. If you can get a case fan to blow air INTO the case, get one. they are inexpensive. today's hard drives need a cooling fan. usually a 120MM fan in the front of the case - if you case doesn't have this, get an antec nine hundred case. mount the drives, preferably with a space between them. this allows for a little bit of heat removal.
plug in the SATA III cables for your hard drives you got with your motherboard. hopefully you have 2+ SATA III cables. if you don't, get them.
examine the manual to see where to plug in and how to plug in the case dangly wires, and then do so. plug in any case fans into the fan sockets where the motherboard manual says case fans go. If you have extra fans left over, purchase molex-to-case-fan power adapters.
plug in your cards. If you have a difficult time doing this, loosen the motherboard screws and plug the card in and then retighten the motherboard (mb) screws. make sure you have screwed thge cards down or locked them in place (depends on the case - screws or screwless design).
PSU (Power Supply Unit)
buy an 80 Plus Bronze/Silver/Gold certified unit. you will save on power bills.
make sure it has sufficient connectors for your video and other peripherals, and some even for expansion, such as an extra hard disk (for powering an upgrade/replacement hd after 5 years when it wears out) or two if that's the way you work.
put in your power supply. plug in the power for your hard drives, and DVD drive, motherboard 24-pin molex and possible 4-or-8-pin molex (if your motherboard has one, plug it in - some 8-pin connectors split into 2 4-pin connectors but you can only do it once). If your graphics hard has 1 or 2 6-pin molex connectors, plug those in after you have plugged in your graphics card.
Antec High Current Gamer (HCG) series is good. PC Power and Cooling makes good power supplies. most systems won't need more than a 750W PSU.
Antec High Current Gamer Series HCG-750 750W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $109.99 and PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II 750W High Performance 80PLUS Silver SLI CrossFire ready Power Supply $79.99
Go into CMOS Setup (usually by hitting Delete or F2 or F12 or F1 or F10 (usually Delete for Asus I think) on bootup when it tell you to. type of processor to AUTO, unlock your cores, enable your drives including your cd-rom drive, set your boot order, OS type to PNP, and save your settings and exit.
OS installation should be done with the computer hooked up to the internet. so you should have the ethernet cable connected to the modem or router, so you can activate your copy of windows. otherwise, you will run into a black screen problem after a certain number of days. that being the case, there should be an activation icon at least on the screen only. you want to install windows onto the unpartitioned space on the first drive or onto an NTFS partition you have already created and formatted with a favorite partitioning utility such as gparted.
If you think you're done with the windows install, you're not. leave the OS media (DVD) in the drive beyond the first bootup, and don't press the key to boot the cd. it still needs the DVD and it will complain and basically fail the windows installation if you take it out.
you should know what timezone you are in. ask someone in your area who knows. Mine is UTC/GMT-8 or UTC/GMT-7, depending on DST (Daylight Saving Time) which my time zone is subject to. it is also known with multiple other names such as PST8PDT,PST, PDT, America/Los Angeles, America/Vancouver, Pacific time. Typically, this will be tied to a city that is in the same timezone, like America/Los Angeles.
install your motherboard, video card, drivers, and printer software, and any other drivers you have for devices. Install your Microsoft office package ($$$) if you have one, otherwise, there are 2 alternatives, OpenOffice.org (free) or LibreOffice.org (free) or Corel WordPerfect Office ($$$) or IBM Lotus Symphony (free).
[windows-logo-flag-key]-[Pause/break] will show you what service pack level you are running after you are finished installing. after this, apply service packs, and then updates repeatedly using http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com until there are no more to apply.
- memory test: MemTest86+, docmemory
- system diagnostics: