Photos: building a Sandy Bridge PC

Photos: building a Sandy Bridge PC

Summary: We needed a testbed PC running Intel's latest-generation Core i7 processor, so we built our own. Here's how it turned out.

TOPICS: Hardware, Reviews

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  • The Fractal Design Define R3 tower case has a clean appearance that carries through to the internals. The bulk of the inside is finished in black, but the eight drive bays are fitted with white slide-out trays that make it simple to swap drives in and out. This diminutive 80GB Intel X25-M SSD, secured using the supplied thumbscrews, looks a bit lost in all that space.

  • With the motherboard installed in the case and everything up and running, this machine is a riot of light. The Ballistix DIMMs include red LEDs (we didn't notice that when specifying them), and right next to them is a pair of seven-segment diagnostic panels. Cables are kept to a minimum thanks to the Scythe Stronger PSU's plug-in cable sets, so you only install as many sets as you need; this avoids having lots of redundant cabling to tidy away and potentially block the airflow. The green reflections off the top of the PSU casing will be explained later. One thing this photo doesn't show is that the fan on the Sweex-built graphics card was the noisiest component by far.

  • Zooming in shows the diagnostic panels, the system battery, the pair of DDR3 DIMMs (complete with LEDs) and the power and reset switches that Intel has mounted on the board. This makes benchtesting much easier — helping you to test over-clocking before full installation, should that prove necessary. Just above the battery, you can also see the cable plugged into the front fan header, while over on the left is a corner of the heatsink and fan assembly.

Topics: Hardware, Reviews

Manek Dubash

About Manek Dubash

Editor, journalist, analyst, presenter and blogger.

As well as blogging and writing news & features here on ZDNet, I work as a cloud analyst with STL Partners, and write for a number of other news and feature sites.

I also provide research and analysis services, video and audio production, white papers, event photography, voiceovers, event moderation, you name it...

Back story
An IT journalist for 25+ years, I worked for Ziff-Davis UK for almost 10 years on PC Magazine, reaching editor-in-chief. Before that, I worked for a number of other business & technology publications and was published in national and international titles.

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  • Update: We will, of course, be keeping an eye out for the SATA II bug in this system's P67 (Cougar Point) chipset
    Charles McLellan
  • Jeez thats a massive heatsink lol! Typical of a big company like Intel to make such a small error :(
  • The heatsink IS pretty big, especially for a 95W part, but it'll cope easily when this extreme version of the chip is computing flat-out.
    Manek Dubash