How to Install a Motherboard
A Guide to replacing a motherboard for upgrade or new build
How to Install a Motherboard - Introduction
This guide details how to install a motherboard for a new build or replacing a motherboard due to an upgrade for instance.
Installing a CPU and heat-sink / fan together with your RAM is far simpler with the motherboard outside of the case.
You will find it easier to install these parts and much less likely to damage your motherboard plus you can perform an initial test of the motherboard system before you install it in your case if you should wish.
This way, if there are any problems with your motherboard or CPU etc then you will know before wasting valuable time assembling the motherboard into your PC case.
For details on component fitment visit the following pages:
How to Install a CPU
How to Install a CPU Heatsink and Fan
How to Install RAM
How to Install a Motherboard – Quick Test
With your CPU, heatsink and fan and RAM installed in your motherboard you are all set to go ahead and perform a quick test.
To do this you will need to insert your graphics Card into the correct slot. See here for further details on this:
Installing a Graphics Card
Now you will need to sit the assembled motherboard system on an insulated surface for this quick power up test – your motherboard box is ideal for this!
Make sure that there are no metal tags, staples etc under the motherboard that could short out any tracking or component legs.
Sit your Power Supply close to the motherboard so that you can connect up the three power connectors required for the motherboard and graphics card.
Fit the two motherboard connectors first, a 24 pin ATX connector and also a 4 pin (ATX12V – older motherboards) or 8 pin (EPS12V – newer motherboards) connector.
The power connector for your graphics card will depend upon your card. An older or low end model may not even require a separate power connection but will receive all its power direct from the motherboard. Newer, mid to high end models, will require anything from a 6 pin PCI-E to two 8 pin connectors – refer to your graphics card manual for details.
Connect up a keyboard and mouse to your motherboard and a screen to your graphics card. You will also need to connect your case ‘Power ON’ button to the motherboard front panel header – refer to your motherboard manual for location.
How to Install a Motherboard – Initial Power Up
Ok, you are all set to power up now – so let’s go!
Turn on your power supply and hit the case power on switch. Immediately the power supply, CPU and Graphic card fans should kick into life.
Look at your screen while you power on and you should see the PC going through its POST (Power On Self Test) process.
You should hear a single beep after a short time, this is conformation of a Power On Self Test (POST) and this tells you that your PC is basically working correctly and that there are no processor, video card or memory problems.
One beep is good more than one is not good!
Keep watching your screen and you should see a message telling you which key to press in order to enter the BIOS settings.
BIOS stands for Basic Input and Output System and is where you set up your basic PC settings such as processor type, memory settings, hard disk drive auto detect, DVD drive auto detect, hard ware monitor etc.
You will need to enter the BIOS and set this all up first before you can progress to installing the operating system.
For now, reboot your PC but this time go into the BIOS and look for the page where the CPU temperature is monitored. Confirm that the CPU temperature is below +50ºC – you will need to monitor it a little while to make sue the temperature has stabilised.
If the temperature is above this then something is most likely wrong and you should power off immediately. This would probably indicate that your CPU heatsink / fan assembly is not fitted correctly and you will need to check this, correct and retry before continuing any further.
How to Install a Motherboard – Case Preparation
Ok, hopefully all was good, turn off your PC - now on to installing your motherboard set up into your case.
First off, if you did the quick test as recommended then you will need to remove the keyboard, mouse, Power On connector, graphics card and power supply connections.
You should of course have already confirmed that the motherboard and case are compatible (i.e. both are ATX standard format or whichever format you have chosen) with one another.
If your case has a removable tray this will make assembly a lot easier.
Firstly you need to remove the sides of your PC case.
Hopefully you have chosen a good quality case with a good selection of mounting screws and the holes for securing line up correctly with those in the motherboard.
How to Install a Motherboard – Blanking plate Installation
Once removed, at the rear of the case you will find a blanking plate with holes to fit your motherboard keyboard, mouse and USB connectors etc.
Unfortunately, the blanking plate which comes with your PCs case is almost never a match for your motherboard connector layout!
Not to worry though, your motherboard will come with its own blanking plate and removal and re-fitment of these is very easy.
To remove the blanking plate from your case, simply push from the outside of your case inwards all around the edge of the plate.
Be careful not to cut yourself on the thin metal edges of the plate as you do this.
Now fit your new blanking plate that came supplied with your motherboard.
Ensure that you have the blanking plate the correct way around and simply push the plate into place by pushing around the edge of the plate which will fit from the inside of you PC case.
Your plate will snap into place but be careful not to bend the thin metal plate as you fit it.
Now we need to prepare the inner sheet metal tray before we can fit the motherboard.
If your case will allow you to remove the tray for fitment of your motherboard outside of the case then all the better, as explained earlier.
How to Install a Motherboard – Standoff / Riser Installation
Whatever type you have you need to first install the little metal standoffs or risers as they are also called.
You will see that the motherboard tray has a number of holes pre-drilled and tapped and some of these will line up with the mounting holes in your motherboard.
The case has lots of these but your case is designed to fit a number of different manufacturer’s motherboards and board formats.
You should only fit the risers that line up with your motherboard fixing holes – the use of extra risers under your board where they are not required could cause a short circuit of the tracks or component pins on the bottom of your board and permanently damage it!
Take your motherboard and position it over the tray so that you can check which holes need to have risers fitted to them. These metal standoffs (risers) will come supplied in a little bag of fixings with your motherboard.
Fit the standoffs with your fingers and finish off with a light tweak with a pair of pliers to fully tighten them – not too tight now or you will strip the delicate tapped hole threads.
How to Install a Motherboard – Case Installation
Now we need to carefully lower the motherboard into our PC case.
You will need to slide it in at a slight angle to allow the connectors to locate into the blanking plate correctly.
Hey! You are wearing your anti-static wrist strap now aren’t you?
Lower the board fully onto the risers making sure that they line up correctly and that you have not fitted any extra risers that could short out the bottom of your motherboard.
Now you need to secure the motherboard in place using the screws that should also be in the bag of fixings that accompanied your motherboard.
Be careful not to drop any screws and forget they are there.
If you do then remove them carefully with a pair of anti-static tweezers.
Be careful not to slip with your screwdriver when securing the board in place – one tiny slip can cause a lot of damage to the thin, delicate printed circuit tracks.
How to Install a Motherboard – Case Fans
Your case may have one or more fans fitted for cooling and ventilation that need to be connected to your motherboard fan power connectors.
Refer to your motherboard manual for details of the fan connector sockets and locate the nearest one for each that you have fitted.
The fan connectors may be labelled as PWR-Fan, SYS-Fan or Case-Fan etc.
How to Install a Motherboard – Front Panel Wiring
Your case will have a number of connections that need to be made between the front panel and motherboard. These are for the Power On, Reset, Hard Disk Drive LED, Speaker and USB connectors etc.
You will find that these little black connectors are marked for identification but none too clearly!
Also, you may find that polarity is not identified and you will need to fit hoping for the correct polarity and change around later if you find that it doesn’t work. This only really applies to the Hard Disk Drive activity LED.
Check your motherboard manual for where to terminate these connectors. There may be other front panel connections such as Audio and SATA etc and you will need to refer to the motherboard manual again for information on termination of these connectors.
Well that about wraps it up for now folks - now its time to install your power supply, hard drive and optical drives etc.
Return from How to Install a Motherboard to PC Tips And Tricks Homepage