How to Install a Motherboard


The motherboard is the backbone of your desktop computer. All of your components plug into the motherboard, so ensuring that you install it correctly is the first step towards building your own computer or upgrading an old one. Read on after the jump to get a new motherboard installed in your computer case in just a few minutes.

Part 1

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Then remove both side panels for easy access to the motherboard tray. The motherboard tray can be removed from the case, which will allow you to easily install the motherboard without having to work at weird angles. Not all cases have removable motherboard trays. The motherboard tray is typically held in with two screws. Set these aside so that you don’t lose them. Installing a motherboard typically means you are essentially building a new computer. You will need to reinstall your operating system if you are upgrading, and you will need to format any system drives. You cannot simply upgrade to a new motherboard without reinstalling everything on your computer.

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Before you begin working on the interior of your computer or handling the motherboard, make sure you discharge any electrostatic charge you may have. You can touch a water tap to discharge your electrostatic charge. Wear an antistatic wrist strap while working on the computer to prevent causing electrostatic damage.

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This is located at the rear of the case, where the connectors for the motherboard extend out for your monitor, USB devices, and other peripherals. Most cases have a default panel shield installed, which will need to be removed and replaced with the panel that came with your motherboard.[1] Apply pressure to all four corners of the panel to secure it into the case. It should snap into place. Make sure that you are installing the panel in the correct direction. Compare it to the actual layout of the connectors on the motherboard to make sure it is going in the right way.

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Standoffs keep the motherboard above the case. This prevents it from shorting out and helps cooling. Some cases will come with standoffs, while others do not. Your motherboard should come with its own standoffs as well that you can use.

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Match the holes on the motherboard with the available standoff locations on the motherboard tray. Every case and motherboard tray is different, and all will have different hole configurations. Line up the motherboard to see where you can use standoffs to secure it. Every hole possible on your motherboard should have a standoff installed. Most standoffs screw into their holes, but some are pushed in like pegs. Not all motherboards will be able to attach with all of the available holes. Connect as many standoffs as possible, but never use any extra standoffs. Standoffs should only be installed in locations with a corresponding motherboard hole.[2]

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The holes and the standoffs should all line up. If your motherboard tray does not come out of the case, you may need to gently force the motherboard against the I/O panel on the back of the case to fit it. Start securing the motherboard with screws. Don’t overtighten the screws. Make sure it is firm but not too tight. Do not use an electric screwdriver. Holes that don’t have metal on them will need cardboard washers between the screw and the motherboard. It is best to avoid using non-metallic holes at all.

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Before reinserting the motherboard tray with the newly-fastened motherboard into the case, install your CPU, CPU cooler, and RAM. Doing this now will make it much easier to reach everything. If your motherboard is not on a removable tray, install your components after wiring.

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Once the motherboard is secured, you can start connecting your components to it. It is recommended that you connect the power supply first, as the plugs will be difficult to reach later. Make sure that both the 20/24-pin connector is attached as well as the 4/8-pin 12V connector. Refer to your power supply’s documentation if you are unsure which cables to use.

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In order to turn on your computer with the front power button or see when the hard drive is being accessed, you will need to connect the front panel switches and indicators. Locate the following wires and connect them to the appropriate pins on the motherboard: Power switch Reset switch Power LED Hard drive (HDD) LED Speaker

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Connect any front USB ports to the appropriate connectors on the motherboard. These are typically labeled. Make sure the correct plugs are placed on the correct pins.

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Connect any case and CPU fans to the appropriate pins on the motherboard. There are typically several places to plug in chassis fans, as well as a two-pin connector near the CPU for the CPU fan.

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Once the motherboard is secure and connected, you can start attaching your drives to it. Make sure that you attach your SATA hard drives and optical drives to the correct SATA ports on your motherboard.

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One of the last components you should install is the video card. The card will take up the most space, and will make reaching other areas difficult. Installing a video card may be optional, depending on your system and needs.

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Now that everything is connected to your motherboard, it’s time to move that wiring around so that heat doesn’t get trapped or wires don’t get stuck in fans. Tuck excess cable into spare drive bays and use zip ties to bundle cables together. Make sure that all of your components have room to breathe.

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Return the side panels of the case to their original positions and screw them back in. Plug your computer and components in. Turn your computer on and prepare for operating system installation. Follow the guides below for specific instructions for your operating system: Install Windows 7. Install Windows 8. Install Windows XP. Install Windows Vista. Install Linux.