VideoGamer.com has teamed up with EA to offer readers a guide to building a Star Wars: The Old Republic PC. Every reader who follows the guide through to completion and builds their own PC will receive a copy of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. In addition, one lucky PC builder will win a Radeon HD 7850 graphics card.
The following guide has been produced by a freelancer commissioned by EA.
Want to start PC gaming but scared of the cost and effort involved? Last week we gave you a list of components that cost less than £370 and told you they were capable of playing Star Wars: The Old Republic at a comfortable 50 frames per second. Before they'll do that, though, you'll need to put them together.
If you've never built a PC before, you might be intimidated at the thought of putting together all those expensive components yourself. Don't be. Assembling a PC is simple, and once you've done it you'll be gaming on a machine you've put together by hand, rather than bought off the shelf. That's deeply satisfying.
All you have to do is follow our guide, take your time, and have fun. And remember all those who successfully build a SW:TOR ready PC will receive a copy of the game and will be in with the chance to win a an upgraded Radeon HD 7850 graphics card
1. First off, you'll need to take the motherboard out of its box. We're going to assemble as much as we can outside of the PC, where there's more room to put things together. In order to prevent damage to the motherboard, though, you'll want to place it on something soft but sturdy – like its own box. Remove all the cables, discs and instruction manuals first then place the motherboard on top.
2. Now you'll want to install the CPU. Find the large white socket for the CPU at the top of the motherboard and lift the small lever at its side. Now remove the CPU itself from its box. You'll need to be very careful as you handle it. On the bottom there are hundreds of delicate gold legs, and if you bend or break one the whole CPU is ruined.
3. You'll notice on the bottom of the CPU that there are four rectangular gaps in the grid of legs. Align these with the similarly shaped pieces of plastic in the socket itself and push the CPU into position. Gently hold it down with a forefinger as you push the lever back into position to lock the CPU into place.
4. Your CPU should have come with a heatsink, and fitting it is simple. On the base of the heatsink there should be a small square of thermal grease, which is essential to transferring heat away from the processor. If your heatsink doesn't have this preapplied, there will a small tube or sachet in the box. You'll need to put a small blob on top of the CPU itself before proceeding. A pea sized blob in the centre is fine.
5. Now attach the heatsink. With AMD processors, this means sitting the heatsink on top of the processor and hooking both ends of the retaining bar over the little catches on the sides of the socket. A lever on the bar will apply tension to keep it in place. Make sure that the heatsink is positioned so that the fan is blowing air towards the back of the motherboard, where the rear panel connectors are. Don't forget to attach the power cable to the four pins sticking up from the motherboard labelled 'CPU Fan'.
6. Now push the memory into slots one and two on the motherboard. These may be labelled, or the may be colour matched. Check the manual to make sure you're filling the right two slots first – putting memory into the wrong channels may cause the PC to lock up during the boot processor.
7. Leaving the motherboard to one side, it's time to open up the case. Remove it from the box and lay it on its right hand side as you look at it from the front. You might want to put a cloth underneath it first, to prevent it from getting scratched. Now take off the left hand side panel. You'll need to take out any boxes of fittings and wedge the loose cables off to one side so that you have a clear space to work in.
8. Next, you'll need to fit the RF shield. This is the silver rectangle that came with the motherboard which has holes cut out for the rear panel connections (audio ports and USB ports and so on). This just pushes into place in the hole cut into the back of the case. Make sure you get it the right way round – the audio ports should be closest to the bottom.
9. Before you fit the motherboard, you'll need to check that the risers are in place. With most cases, these are the small brass screw fittings that hold the motherboard away from the back of the case and stop the soldered connections behind the components from shorting out. With the Bitfenix chassis we're using, though, you don't need these as there are motherboard spacers cut into the backplate itself. There is a large brass screw sticking up you'll need to be aware of, though. This lines up with the central hole in the motherboard and can damage the PCB if you force it in the wrong place.
10. Now you're ready to put the motherboard into place. Lift it carefully up and supporting the weight of the heatsink as you carry it to the case. Gently lower it into the case and push it up against the RF sheild. Once you're absolutely sure that the RF shield is in correctly, and the correct motherboard risers are in position, you can screw it down using the screws that came with the case.
And finally you can take a break. Next week, we'll show you how to fit the graphics card, hard drive and power supply, and get your PC ready for its first boot.
Before we finish though, a word of reassurance. Some of the comments following last week's article raised concerns about the power supply and that it might not be powerful enough to run a higher quality graphics card if you upgrade. It's something to bear in mind if you're planning on adding a lot of extra hard drives, but don't worry if all you're planning a faster GPU. We've tested this particular PC exhaustively, and with a Radeon HD7850 card in it running the Heaven 2.5 benchmark it draws just 228W – well within the safe operating zone for a 400W PSU, so long as you go for a quality marque.
When you've completed this week's build take a snap and send it over together with your name and address to email@example.com. Remember that you'll need to send in pictures after each weekly guide in order to win a copy of the game and be in the running for the graphics card.
1. No employees of VideoGamer.com or this competition's partner(s) may enter this competition.
2. Only one entry is allowed per person.
3. Valid details must be provided - we will contact you if you win via e-mail.
4. This competition is open to UK residents only.
5. Proof of purchase required.
6. The closing date for this competition is June 7.