Deciding whether to populate the board inside or outside
A lot of consideration has to do with that initial post test. How much time and effort will you have invested to test for post. If it doesn't work you'll have wasted it. So if you are in a crunch for time, a conservative approach would estimate and compare how much time and work is involved in getting it post-ready both in the case & outside the case.
Like you, my first complete build was with this board. My default approach was the same as AndyE's... I put the big Z9PE-D8 in the case first and built from there. But when I had my initial problems posting, getting RAM to be detected, and getting the GPU to send a DVI video signal to the monitor, I had already gone thru a decent amount of work fitting the mobo into my tight HAF X case. So at that point I was very reluctant to even consider RMAing the board. That was because of the work I had already invested and how much would be involved to get it back where it was. Considering my skill level and confidence at the time, I considered redoing it all to be a pretty big deal. It turns out that I didn't need to RMA the board after all; but even so, my reluctance affected my approach to diagnosis. It turned out that the mobo was not "RMA material"; bu if it had been, I would have had a lot to undo and then a lot to redo.
Since then I had looked at the Newegg build video
where Paul suggested doing the initial assembly/testing of the board outside of the case
(sitting on it's own packaging). That approach is designed to achieve that critical first successful post with minimal investment. On my second build I took that advice. It did seem like a wiser, more methodical approach. And actually, at no point was I ever worrying, "what if it doesn't work?".
For you, it's probably the same amount of work either way. Yes it's easier to get at everything out in the open like Newegg Paul demonstrates. And you don't need to screw in the board, but for you there are those Corsair H2O-based coolers with their unwieldy hoses and radiators... Once you've attached those beasts and scored a successful post, I could see how it might be harder to manage putting the mobo into the case with those floppy things attached (unless you have a couple of extra hands). Plus your case is so large open to begin with... plus
it has ready-made accommodations for those rads already. So it's probably easiest to use the case.As for the standoffs
Just make sure there are no metal standoffs touching your board anywhere that there isn't a mounting screw hole. I have a Corsair Vengeance case for my second build. That one and some others I've seen have one standoff in the middle which is a plastic pin. It helps by quickly orienting your board when you're putting the ports through the back plate. That's kinda nice.
Plastic standoffs were suggested by ZDngrfld. A very good suggestion. You'll most likely need them for two holes as I said in an earlier post. If you do decide to get 2 plastic standoffs for that, you will need to get the kind that doesn't have the threaded screw on one end (or you'll need to cut the threaded screw part off) because that type is designed to screw into a threaded hole in your case and of course there won't be a hole there. My approach was to file the threads off of 2 brass standoffs and screw them to the motherboard... Plastic SOs simply snap into the motherboard. But you will definitely need some kind of support for those two holes because both are centered in large spans of PCB where there aren't any any other standoffs for additional support. And without support there, the act of pushing RAM sticks in could impose extreme flex on the board
BTEdited by BlackenedTush - 8/1/13 at 6:08pm