”Figure out What to Do”, Says the Manual

I just spend some hours building a new living room PC for the home. I based on common components like a Fractal Design Node 202 chassis and an MSI Z270i motherboard for my Intel Core i7-7700 processor.  Trying to figure out how to put it together was a bit interesting though – especially if I had tried to do so without the help of the Internet.  The manuals that came with some of the components were just completely useless, essentially boiling down to “please figure out what to do”.

The motherboard was the first to trip me up. The “Quick Start Guide” which you pick up first is entirely generic and covers all kinds of motherboards with all kinds of processors and sockets. Here are a couple of examples:

MSI manual with sockets

There were a couple of more in the manual… basically, the manual had no idea which product it was for. Thankfully the reference guide that came in the box did refer to the actual connectors of the actual board. And by visiting the homepage of the product at MSI, I could actually locate a Youtube video that did show the right way to install the processor. The QR codes in the quick start sheet led to dead links, at least for me yesterday.

How hard can it be to package a specific manual?

The answer seems to be “very hard”, and for the graphics card, a Gigabyte GTX 1050 Low Profile (which fit inside the case with a millimeter to spare), they clearly decided not to even try. Its Quick Start guide helpfully shows you the different types of ports that might exist on a graphics card:

If you move on to the actual instructions, they basically say: “put the thing in the right slot, attach a power cable if it is necessary, and port on the machine”:

It even mentions AGP!

Also, most machines these days do not come with optical drives and the drivers are best downloaded… it seems the Quick Start Guide was created a few years ago and has not been updated nor made specific to the particular card.  At this low level of effort, why not just include a piece of paper saying “google it”?

The Good One: Node 202

There was one exception though: the manual for the case itself was well-written and mostly easy to follow. The case is a tight fit and there are some interesting maneuvers you need to do to take it apart before mounting things… but the manual did make it clear what you needed to do.

Fractal Design is a Swedish company, maybe some of the IKEA tradition of great manuals rubbed off?


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