Motherboard Upgrade


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Motherboard Upgrade

Motherboard Upgrade? Fun!

So you want to do main board a in your computer. Ok, lets have a look at some of the things you need, things you need to do before, then things you need to do after the upgrade.

What you will need: Motherboards come in all shapes and sizes. The also vary in price - "Buy cheap, Get cheap!" Ok?



  • Screw drivers, flat tip and a cross point (Philips)
  • Older main boards use a metal stand off (this is a spacer that goes between the main board and the computer case/tray) these were normally 1/4" hex made out of brass or steel. A small adjustable wrench to hold the stand off while you remove the screw that connects to the motherboard.
  • Anti-Static strap.

Caution: Before you take anything apart insure you have a static ground strap and that it is connected to a known good ground. ESD will kill your project before you get to power it up.


Back up your data before you start this procedure!! Your OS may crash when the system is started!! If this is an upgrade for the main board you will have to install the operating system, plan accordingly!

Read the installation guide for your new part, note the section on processors and memory. It is easier to set jumpers and dip switches when the board is out in the open than inside the case.

If you are new at this I suggest you take a picture of the inside of your computer case, you can use it as a map on how the cables are laid out when you are at the point of reconnecting your devices. The cables need to be neat because having them in a jumbled mess restricts air flow.

Move your computer to a well lighted area with lots of room, you will have a lot of parts to remove, you  need to keep them ordered for when you start putting them back in to the computer.


Removal of old main board:

Open the case, take your picture. Disconnect all cables from the old main board, move them out of the way or remove them entirely from the case which ever gives you the most room.

If you are not re-using the processor or the memory you can leave them on the motherboard for now. If you are reusing them remove them now, put them in an anti-static bag, be careful with the processor, on older pre socket 775 the pins are on the processor, one bent pin may ruin it!

Disconnect any of the wires for the reset, led, case fan(s), and pc speaker, as you remove them note on them what they are for if they are not labeled, some frosted tape works well.

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Remove any expansion cards, sound, video, etc. You should have a bare main board by this time. Look at the motherboard, you will see screws in the board at the corners, there may be one or two in the middle of the board, remove the screws. (Some times the metal stand off will unscrew from the case, if this happens when the main board is out of the case, remove the stand off and put it back in the case before installing the new mother board)

This is where you have to be careful, slide the main board towards the front of the case, it should move about a quarter of an inch. Now you can pick the motherboard up out of the case, the board may be a little bigger than the opening you are trying to take it through so you may have to tilt it to get it out.

Don't have an extra computer to read these instructions to do your motherboard upgrade?

Motherboard Upgrade Installation:

Before you go any further you need to look at the installation guide and insure that any dip switches or jumpers are set correctly for your processor and memory.

Take the new main board out of the anti-static bag and place on top of the bag, take the old motherboard and set it gently on top of the new board. Check the mounting holes in the new board against the old board, all the same or are some located in a different position?

If they do not match look at the case, you may have to move some stand offs to match the new main board, you may have to remove some from the case because the new motherboard doesn't have holes for them.

Caution: Do not leave a standoff in the case where there isn't a mounting hole for a screw. The stand off could cause a short on a trace on the underside of the motherboard. If it needs support in that area the manufacture would have put a hole in the board for a screw and standoff to support it.

Newer cases and main boards have a template that covers the area for the external ports, remove the old one and install the new one.

Next set the main board into your case, if you have plastic standoffs they should come up through the holes in the motherboard, for the metal standoffs you should be able to see the standoff through the holes.

Slide the main board towards the back of the case, before securing the board put one of your expansion card into a slot (this will align the motherboard with the case giving the expansion cards clearance when the main board is secured).

 Secure the motherboard -

CAUTION - Do NOT over tighten the screws. If you use to much torque on the screws you take a chance of cracking the PCB (the material the motherboard is made of). If you crack or break the PCB you may have ruined your main board so use extreme care when tightening the screws.

Installing the processor -

Lift the Ziff Socket retainer lever, you should see the plate move towards the hinge portion of the socket. Note the alignment mark on the socket, note the alignment mark on the processor, it will only go into the socket with the marks in the same position. Insert the processor with the utmost caution.

CAUTION - A bent pin will ruin the processor! If the processor drops into the socket with out any force, press the lever down and lock it on the tab.

If the processor did not drop into the socket check it for alignment, look at the pins make sure none are bent!

 Note: - The newer LGA 775 and up processors use touch pads instead of the metal pins [Yea!] so you do not have to worry about bending the pins! Also the processor has two alignment slots on the side of the PCB so installing the processor the wrong way is eliminated!

If the processor did not have a heat sink and fan attached apply the heat sink compound to the heat sink sparingly! Then place it on top of the processor, attach the fan, connect the fan connector to the correct fan connection header on the main board. Lock the heat sink in place.

Installing memory:

Memory modules are manufactured so that they will only go into the socket on the motherboard in one direction. Note the slots on the module, orientate the module and set it into the socket. using both hands press both ends with equal pressure, you should hear a 'click' and the locking tabs one each end of the socket move inwards on the module. Insert the rest of your memory modules.


Connect up the case wiring, reset button (if applicable) led wires, computer case speaker, any other fans for the case. Next is the power connector. Now you are ready to put all the cables back, hard drive controller cable, CD/DVD controller cable, floppy drive cable.

Expansion cards

Insert each of your expansion cards, connect any wiring these require inside the case, i.e.: Audio cable from cd/dvd drive, some newer Audio and Video cards have a power connection, don't forget them, if the card fan uses direct power from the power supply you could fry the card when the computer powers up.

Looks like you are done.........

Well how about a Quality Assurance check?

Check that the memory is seated, check your cables are seated, check your cards are seated and secured. I usually pick the case up and turn it upside down, if there are any loose screws or foreign materials inside the case they will fall out or move and you will know they are in there and need to be removed before you power the computer up!

Considerations before powering up your system:

The motherboard may have different features and devices that the old board didn't. Windows 2000, XP, or Vista (which ever OS you had installed) may crash because the drivers are not available on the hard drive from the original install. Sometimes it will start and ask for those drivers, they should be on the CD that came with the motherboard. You may have to reinstall the OS and your applications!

All good? Nothing loose, no spare screws? Ok, put the cover on the case! The reason I say put the cover on the case is to preclude you from moving a part while the computer is powered up. Moving a part while the system is powered up could cause you extreme harm and certainly damage the computer.

Connect all your external cables.

Do you know how key press to get into the BIOS on the new motherboard?

Power it up -

Did it start?

No -

Did the fan on the power supply spin up?

If not open the case and see if all the case wires, cables, expansion cards, and memory is seated. Some thing has gone to ground.

If it did check the video cable, is it on the main board or the expansion card? If it is on the expansion card and you did not get any video check the installation guide on how to disable the onboard video, then restart.

Yes - press the appropriate keys to get into the bios, check that the maximum amount of memory is there, check that the hard drive and cd/dvd are listed. Set the time and date. Most newer motherboards will detect the processor speed and the FSB speed so you should not have to change these. ( I will not go into over clocking with this document) If the processor and FSB are not what they are supposed to be check the installation guide for the correct settings and where to change them.

Looks good? Save your settings and restart the system.


Because you have change a hardware component (maybe more) the drivers for these components may not reside on the hard drive. This may cause the OS to crash when it is started. It is rare that the OS will find enough generic drivers to start, normally an upgrade of this magnitude requires a reinstall of the OS.

When the system starts you should see a bios screen that gives you the processor speed, the amount of memory and sometimes the expansion cards.

If the OS starts and asks for drivers very good! If you have to reinstall the OS this is normal.

Enjoy your new Computer!!

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