Let's Build a Workstation PC! Part 4: Installing Windows + Drivers

Feb 25, 2017 at 09:43 pm by -gToon

In my previous two installments of Let's Build a Workstation PC (one, two), I covered research for the build, choosing the parts and putting the parts together to create the workstation. In this 3rd part, I'll be covering Windows 10 installation, drivers and dealing with any issues that might come up.

Planning the installation
There's a logical order to the process of installing the operating system and drivers. It's always good to plan and have the tools you need on hand to cope with any issues that come up (and they usually do).

First, we are going to install Windows 10 using the newest method of installation - a high speed thumb-drive. In the past, it's always been a 3D installation, so I'm curious about the process this time. With high speed USB on our workstation, the install should be very fast.

Imagine your best photo ever

m.2 drive
We'll be installing the operating system on our brand-new m.2 drive which should be interesting. We'll have to go into the motherboard's bios to set up some things first before the install

bios set up
What a huge difference in bios from the last pc build 4 years ago! Asus has done an amazing job of making the bios easier to understand and to interact with. You can use an EZ mode or an Advanced Mode depending upon your skill level. Plus, you can use a mouse pointer now instead of just using arrows on your keyboard.

In the Advanced Mode of the bios, we'll set the drive order so that USB drive is first. There's some debate about adjusting other settings for the m.2 drive, but I chose to use the default settings in the bios to be safe.

windows install
Now comes the most stressful moment in the build process - pressing the power button for the first time! It's probably me, but I always think the system is going to explode or make some terrible noise and burn up. Of course, nothing like that happens and everything powers up fine.

Once I'm in the bios (hold down the delete key during post to enter bios), I set the boot order to the Windows 10 USB, hit F10 to save and re-boot. The system finds the USB stick and starts the Windows 10 install. Yay!

In the past, Windows has taken up to a half hour to install. This Windows 10 USB install takes 5 minutes. Amazing!

mobo drivers install
Since I purchased a very new Windows 10 version, most of the drivers for the hardware in our system are current (we'll check them later in the build). The most important thing right now is to get our internet set up and to install the motherboard drivers.

Shutting down our Windows 10 install, I add the external Blu-ray drive. The system finds the drive just fine, so I insert the Asus motherboard CD and proceed to install the drivers and any additional help applications from ASUS.

problems with install and how to fix them
No build ever goes perfectly. That's one reason why so many people buy pre-built systems: they pay for problem solving. However, with a little manual-checking and google searching, I think we can deal with whatever comes along.

The first problem we encounter is in the bios. When the system boots up it doesn't go directly into the bios, but instead goes to a warning message and a note to proceed. It's easy enough to simply proceed into windows, but it bothers me that I have this hitch in starting up.

After an hour or so of research, checking the manual and trying some different bios settings (with no luck), I actually take the time to read the warning that comes up on boot. It's a warning that I don't have a CPU fan. This makes sense as we are using liquid cooling and there is no fan. I wonder if the is a way to turn this warning off? Sure enough, in the Advance Bios there is a setting that allows me to turn the fan warning off. I boot up and, Viola!, I'm strait into Window with no warnings. Problem solved.

Super-Wide Monitor Resolution Issue
The other issue I faced was one with the super-wide monitor I use mostly for video editing. I can't get the resolution required 2560x1080. The highest resolution I can get is 1920x1080. But the Quadro card can get much higher resolutions that these so what's the problem?

It appears that these wide monitors have trouble with combination cables meaning you can't use a cable unless both ends have the same format. My cable has dvi and display port which won't work (two different types of interfaces). So, I buy a new cable with display port on both ends. This does the job and I now have the correct 2560x1080 resolution on my monitor.

Adding the Rest of my Hardware
Now that all of the issues I've encountered are fixed, I go ahead and add additional hardware like my wifi card (much better than the temp usb I was using), my external soundblaster usb module and two additional sata hard drives. Everything goes smoothly.

Updating Bios and Drivers
Checking the Asus website, I realize that they have an update for the bios on my X99 motherboard. You can actually update the bios through the existing bios now by going to the Advanced section. So much easier than before. After an our or so of updating drivers for my Quadro card and other hardware, I'm done.

All told, I believe I spent about 4-5 hours with Windows install, problem solving and drivers update. This is much faster than previous installations which could take and entire day or two. I'm particularly impressed with how well designed the new bios are for Asus. So glad I chose this company for my motherboard. They are always innovative and dependable.

Next: Final chapter - overclocking and tests.

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