Building the Ryzen 5 1500X PC
If you’ve never put together a computer, PCWorld’s exhaustive guide to building a PC can provide step-by-step instructions for the entire process. I’m just going to cover highlights and unique quirks for this particular build here.
As ever, start by building out your motherboard before installing it in your PC—it’s much, much easier that way. Storage is usually the last hardware I install in a build, but since we’re using a tiny M.2 stick, it’s the first thing I installed today, followed by the two sticks of memory. (Be sure to read your motherboard manual to make sure you install RAM in the optimal slots!)
Next up: the star of this build, AMD’s Ryzen 5 1500X processor. All those delicate pins on the underside of the chip may seem scary, but installing it’s actually dead simple. One of the corners on the bottom of Ryzen will be marked with a triangle; simply match it with the triangle on the motherboard socket and the CPU slips right in. Tighten the retention lever to lock it in place and you’re good to go.
Installing the included Wraith Spire cooler couldn’t be easier. You just remove the black plastic brackets from the motherboard’s mounting hardware and screw in the cooler. It even comes with preinstalled thermal paste. That’s standard for a stock cooler, sure, but I found the Wraith Spire’s straightforward installation a breath of fresh air after spending time installing custom coolers in recent PC builds. The four bolts are far less fiddly than the Wraith Max’s retention clip system.
With the motherboard built out, the build took a slight left turn.
Usually, I save the power supply installation and cable routing for the final step of the build process, as I find it’s easier to tidy things up that way. But the Spec-Alpha leaves miserably little room for cable routing over the motherboard; I can’t even fit my pinkie finger in the gap between the top of the motherboard and the top of the case. There’s no way the 8-pin CPU power connector would comfortably fit through there. So I bucked tradition and wired up the power supply before inserting the motherboard, happily reflecting on my wise decision to plan things out before I started slinging hardware.
That wasn’t the only cabling issue I encountered, but the next one was the motherboard’s fault. The Gigabyte Gaming 3 bucks tradition by not placing a system fan header in the upper-left corner of the motherboard. That left me with two options for the rear fan’s cabling: either plug the fan into a header just above the top PCIe slot and let the long wire hang loose in the case, or route it behind the motherboard and plug it into a fan header on the right edge of the board. Wire clutter doesn’t cut it in a case with a window so I obviously went with the latter option.
Doing so caused a chain reaction. The Gaming 3 only includes three system fan headers, and the Spec-Alpha has three fans. Snatching the right-edge header for the rear fan forced me to run one of the front fan wires across the middle of the motherboard to reach the fan header over the PCIe slot. That isn’t ideal but it looks much cleaner than a tangle of cabling just sitting on top of your graphics card.
Beyond those cabling concerns—which probably aren’t concerns to people who aren’t vain jerks like myself—the rest of the build went swimmingly. What Corsair’s Spec-Alpha lacks in space at the top of the motherboard, it makes up for with elbow room in the rest of the case.
Next page: Testing the PC