Part Six: Building a PC -- inserting the drives

Installing multiple hard disk and optical drives gives your computer more flexibility

This article is the sixth in a series of how-to stories on building a computer. For a video version of part six, click here.

After installing the motherboard, adding cards and a processor, it's time to install the computers drives. You can select any number of configurations, but we decided to install three hard drives and two optical drives.

All our drives are SATA, which is the method of connection. You may see some older drives marked as IDE.

Our primary hard drive is a Western Digital150GB 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor. We will be installing Windows 7 and our primary applications like Adobe CS5 to this drive.

The other two drives are 7200 RPM storage drives at one terabyte each. We will use these to store all of our video footage and other files.

The Cooler Master case that we bought has pull-out, hard drive trays.

First, unscrew the tray and pull it out using its handle. Then slide the drive into the tray securing it with the provided screws.

Carefully slide the tray back into the case. We did this two more times and spaced out the drives so that they have room to breathe. Hard drives can get very warm and heat can shorten a drive's life.

We also decided to have two SATA optical drives, a Blu-ray burner and a DVD burner. To install the optical drives, we need to remove the front panels from the case. Every case is a little bit different, but after removing the panels, you'll probably need to twist and force the metal blockers from the bays. Be careful, as the corners on the metal can be very sharp.

Then simply slide each of the optical drives into the bays and line them up so they're flush with the front of the case. On our case, the bays have a button to press to secure them in place with friction. Other cases may need screws to secure the drives.

Using the SATA cables included with your motherboard, attach one end to each drive and then feed them to the SATA headers on your motherboard. We made sure to attach our primary hard drive to the SATA Zero port for easier initial booting.

The next and final article in the series discusses setting up the BIOS.

(Justin Meisinger in Boston contributed to this report.)

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

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