Motherboard Install


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A new motherboard install, did you read the accompanying documentation?

Sometimes a main board is the most contrary part to get set up correctly.

Observe ESD (Electro Static Discharge)

Pre motherboard install considerations -

Note: You do not want to connect every device (hard drives, DVD, etc) at this time, you only need the processor, heat sink, memory, and if there isn't an embedded video a video card. Just enough to check the motherboard, processor, and memory before adding on the other hardware. This will make troubleshooting a lot simpler if there is a problem.

Leave the motherboard in the anti-static bag, place it in the case, note where the screw holes are for the standoffs.

Check your user/installation manual that came with the motherboard, are there any special instructions that need to be done before securing it to the case?

The Termaltake heat sink and fan will reduce tempature of your processor drastically.One special step would be if you have a 3rd party heat sink. Some of these heat sinks are quite heavy and have a backing plate that attaches to the underside of the motherboard with the fasteners that secure the heat sink going through the motherboard in to the backing plate.

(Such as this Termaltake heat sink and fan, note the small plate on the bottom, four screws go through that plate and the motherboard to the backing plate on the underside of the motherboard.)

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In the accessories box for the case are the screws and standoffs. Look at the standoffs, they are either metal or plastic. The metal standoffs will be brass or steel, there may be aluminum but they are rare. If you have a mix of plastic and metal then you are ok, but if you do not have any metal stand offs you will have to stop your assembly until you acquire at least two metal standoffs.

Why metal? If you look at the screw holes in the motherboard you will notice they have bare solder showing, the reason for the bare solder is for the screw and standoff to contact the motherboard to ground it to the case.

Starting the motherboard install -

Screw the standoffs in to the case to match the screw holes in the motherboard. If you don't have a special heat sink then set the motherboard in the case.

Note: If you have the 3rd party heat sink install it now, you will have to install the processor now also. Some larger heat sinks have a backing plate that needs to be installed with the heat sink while the motherboard is out of the case.

Line up the screw holes with the standoffs, if all the standoffs are visible then start a screw in each standoff. Don't torque (tighten) any screws down until you have all of them started. Now begin tightening the screws, do not use a lot of force in tightening the screws - as I say in my books which you may not have: if you put to much torque on the screw you will crack the motherboard and that could ruin it and your whole day. Snug is good, I have never seen a screw back out of a motherboard, I have how ever ruined a motherboard by over tightening a screw. Ouch!

If you haven't installed the processor do it now, then the heat sink, connect the heat sink fan power cable.

Now you are ready to install the memory. If you bought enough memory to fill all the slots only use one module, check theI used this Gigagbyte motherboard to upgrade my server, nice motherboard. user/installation manual for the correct slot to install the memory. Modern day motherboards are mostly dual channel memory, that is you need two modules not one.

Connect the power connectors, there will be two or maybe three, one 28 pin connector, a four pin connector, and maybe a second four pin connector. (Check the user/installation manual for locations).

Next you are ready to connect up the power switch/hard drive activity led/reset button/power led connectors to the motherboard header block. ( A header block is a double row of copper pins that a small connector will fit over.)

If the motherboard has an embedded video use that for your power on test, otherwise insert your video card in the appropriate slot and connect the video cable from the monitor.

Connect mouse/keyboard to the appropriate ports.

You are ready to power up, but first check your work. Make sure there isn't any loose screws in side the case, check your power connections, all tight?

Power it up. From here, if it powers up, you should get the manufactures splash screen then it should go to the BIOS setup screen.

Set the current time and date, remember each time you add or remove hardware you will need to go into the BIOS setup, some hardware is listed in the BIOS some isn't.

The reason for going into the BIOS setup when you change hardware is for the BIOS program to see the added or removed hardware, even if it isn't listed the BIOS program has to have the information or it can not initialize the hardware or remove it from it's settings, not going into the BIOS setup will cause the computer to malfunction.


If it doesn't power up here is a short tutorial on motherboard install problems.

Once you have set the time and date save your setting and exit the BIOS settings page, power down. The motherboard install is complete, you are ready to install the other hardware the next step in your Building a Custom PC.

Read this page for Observing ESD

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You keyboard isn't thirsty, and it doesn't need calcium. Milk and other liquids will ruin a keyaboard!

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