I'm guessing you can see my PC specs on my profile (links on each item) so I'll simply reference them here instead of being more redundant than I already tend to be. :-p
My last PC build (before this one, obviously) was about a decade ago because I'd decided to move to high end laptops and City of Heroes. Two models and 3 melted GPU's later I decided to move back to desktops considering I nolonger needed portability. About a year and a half ago I decided to plan out/build my current rig based on the desire to play on the best settings for the game as well as be able to create my own BD archive (old home vids, etc). By the time I managed the $$ to get the basic hardware assembled, the game was cancelled and I summarily ended my MMO career. Honestly my arthritis was relieved more than I, but eh.
So that leaves me with a functional PC and some questions lingering about what the "Wish List" items would really bring to the table and how they actually work. More specifically, what is the mSATA connector used for on the board, how does it work, and would I actually see a worth while benefit?
Will I see a major change in temperatures (for the better) if I reseat the CPU fan after applying the thermal paste I purchased, but didn't use the first time for some unknown reason? If I should, then what's the best way / proper amount / technique to use?
Will I see a drastic improvement in temperatures if I add the 3rd party cooler I've chosen considering my environment? As I write this, the room temp is 87F and the CPU temp shows 65C. Which sucks because the outside temp is 72F and my window is open. >.<
You will definitely see an improvement in temperature from a third party cooler. Definitely. I would look into maybe a Coolermaster Hyper 212 because I hear it's a really good cooler for cheap. I am currently using an NZXT Respire T40 and I love it. Keeping my 3770k (overclocked to 4.2 GHz) at around 30 degrees celcius on the low fan setting for my case (I also have a Chaser MK-I). You wouldn't really find too much of a performance increase if you were to just reapply thermal paste on the stock cooler that comes with the 3770k since they are pretty shitty. Also, in relation to your graphics card question I would recommend an Asus gtx 680 direct cu ii top if you're set on going with Nvidia (thats what I'm currently using and I love it, keeps SUPER cool, has a really nice backplate, and looks really good) but if you are just wanting the best performance and aren't looking to use programs that utilize CUDA, I would definitely go with a 7970 (something like an HIS X2 or an MSI Lighting if they still have it available). In my opinion, this card is better than most EVGA cards because the build quality is just superb. You do have to take into consideration that the Asus 680 is a triple slot card because of the aftermarket cooler so it really depends on if you want to set up a SLI configuration later on. Of course that depends on your motherboard too.
Here is a link to a NZXT Respire T40: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835146026
I hope you found this helpful in some ways!
Any suggestions on best way to apply the paste in this situation? I've read that different dies should be done differently. Straight lines, dot in middle, etc.
About the equivalent of 3/4 of a piece of rice directly in the center of the CPU - any more than that, and you will be using too much, and possibly getting it on your other components.
Also, you ask if the CPU cooler in your wishlist would improve performance. Which specific cooler do you mean? Cooler Master has coolers from the 212 Plus to the V10.
The items were linked, but the 212 is what I was directed at during pre-build discussions.
The 212 is a solid choice - compared to the stock cooler, it is amazing, but compared to high-end air coolers, like the Phanteks PH-TC14PE or Cooler Master V10 (which is an abomination of thermal mass), it isn't too great. It will handle a 4.2-4.4gHz OC, though.
For those that are curious, I've installed the Push-Pull 3rd party cooler and my temps generally stay between 35C-40C in normal conditions, but in my test condition only goes up about 15C-20C instead of jumping to 80C. For some reason I thought the temps would be in the 20C-30C range for normal conditions, but that was probably misguided thinking considering my ambient is still 85F-95F. :-/
Yes, it sucks trying to sleep in that environment! >.<
You'd be better off with the line method. The current intel quads have a rectangle shape, check your alignment.
You really think the temps should be cooler? I've noticed that the stress temps are significantly better, but was disenchanted because of the idle temps. I did the center of the die drop, but I wasn't happy with the ability of the cooler to wiggle even a mm after installation.