Building a Computer and Other Things to do in Florida

Joe and I are back now from our trip to Florida! And this post is a day late (sorry!) because we spent our first day back yesterday doing a double feature (Deadpool & How to Be Single) and some shopping. That's an okay excuse, right?

Florida was really nice. We stayed at Joe's Mom's house (thanks Jeanette & Michael!) and got to see all the local southern Floridian sites. In the 8 or 9 days that we were there, we:

  • Played games at the Swap Shop arcade
  • Took a bunch of lovely walks
  • Were freezed off of Hollywood Beach
  • Visited the new Margaritaville
  • Watched the Super Bowl at a friend's apt in Fort Lauderdale
  • Got lunch in the super cute Lauderdale-by-the-Sea village with my aunt & uncle
  • Ate at some cool spots like Tap 42 and ROK:BRGR
  • Played the drums, Texas Hold'Em, & Monopoly
  • Had afternoon waffles courtesy Joe's Brother Connor
  • Watched Jordan Schlansky videos from Conan

We also built a computer. Joe helped his brother Hunter pick out the components and, since we extended our stay by two days due to the weather in NY, we were there when the parts arrived. So, Joe got to help Hunter put it all together as well. And I was there to watch - I've never built a computer before, so it was very interesting for me!

Hunter's Computer Build

Parts List

Day 1: Preparing the Motherboard

Joe & Hunter were excited to start as soon as the packages arrived. So, after Hunter got home from school and we had dinner, we began the unboxing. First, we prepared the motherboard. 

To make it easier, Joe says it's best to try to assemble as much of the computer outside of the case as possible. In our case, Hunter and Joe were able to get the motherboard ready along with the CPU, CPU cooler, memory sticks, and Wi-Fi & Bluetooth cards. Because Hunter's hard drive was M.2 form factor, we were able to install directly onto the motherboard. So, a large portion of the computer was built outside of the case. 

The trickiest part of Day 1 was getting the CPU cooler onto the CPU. Majority of building a computer is more or less plug and play and doesn't require much in the way of mechanics. Installing an aftermarket CPU cooler is more nuts and bolts. 

All the while, we were working with the melodious background of basic rock beats while Connor practiced in the garage:

Day 2: Preparing the Case & Installation

Joe and I worked on preparing the case while Hunter was in school. We installed the optical drive, placed the power supply, put the stand-offs in the case, and I helped with cable management. We tried to make the cables as neat & tidy as we could, running them beneath the motherboard. Because we had module power supply, we were able to limit the amount of cables that were in the case.

Once the cables were tidied up, and Hunter was home from school, we installed the motherboard into the case. And the last part of the build was putting in the video card.

The Challenger case that Hunter chose has both removable side-panels for access to the motherboard. Once the video card was installed, we put the doors back on and the computer was completed. We ran the cables into Hunters desk and set up the tower to his monitor to begin installing Windows. 

It was during software installation that we ran into a problem. When they first turned the computer on, they were unable to get a video signal. After testing different video cables along with trying to boot the computer from both the external and the on-board video card with no success,

Joe realized the problem was memory related. With further testing, it turned out that one of the two memory sticks was DOA. Joe removed the bad stick and continued installing windows and all the necessary drivers to finish the computer. Unfortunately for Hunter, he and his dad are sending back the two memory sticks for replacements so he can't use the new machine for a couple of weeks.

Bonus: Some Sunshiney Photos from Our Day in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea