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Install a MainBoard

Step By Step Mainboard installation

Unplug everything from the computer: power cords, keyboard and mouse cables, the monitor cable, Zip drives, etc.

Before you open the computer case, discharge any static electricity that you may have built up. (Touch a doorknob, the metal part of a desk, anything to ground yourself and discharge the electricity.) Even the smallest spark of static electricity can fry a circuit and ruin a board.

Once the case is open, make a rough sketch of the PC’s inner workings. Now start to disconnect the wires and cables that connect the myriad of components to the motherboard. You will find three types of wires in the motherboard: wires that supply power, wires that transfer data, and wires that turn indicator lights on and off.

Power wires will run from the power supply to the motherboard, diskette drive, and some expansion cards in the expansion bus, such as the diskette drive controller.

Not all devices draw power from the power supply. Some, such as the video controller, will take all the power they need from the expansion slot socket. If your computer uses a small fan to keep the microprocessor from overheating, a small power lead will run from the motherboard to the fan.

Data transfer wires connect the disk drives to the motherboard.

Wires connect some devices inside the computer to indicator lights on the exterior of the computer. For example, a wire leading from the drive controller indicates when the hard drive is downloading data to the microprocessor.

Every time you disconnect a wire or a cable, make a note on your sketch. Each note should include:

The location of the motherboard connector or expansion board to which the cable or wire was attached. With the exception of the larger connectors for the ribbon cables, there should be a small mark on the motherboard. Some will be labeled plainly, such as “Pwr LED” for the connector that leads to the “Power” light on the front of the case or “Spkr” for the connector to the internal speaker. Some will use more cryptic labels, such as “J7.” Any marking on the cable or wire plug, such as “Spkr” or “Pwr LED” should be noted as well as the color and number of the wires for each connector.

This information will help you when you are reconnecting the wires and cables to the proper plugs after you install the motherboard.

Now, remove any expansion cards from the old motherboard’s expansion bus. Unscrew the plate that holds the expansion cards to the back of the PC case, then lift them up and out of their sockets. Be careful with these cards--you will almost certainly need to reseat them in the new motherboard.

You also can reuse the older motherboard’s SIMMs or DIMMs in many of today’s newer motherboards. If you are reusing your old memory, remove it from the motherboard as follows. There should be a tab at each end of the module, holding it into the socket. For the SIMM modules, pull the tab away and tilt the module back until it pops up slightly out of the socket. Remove DIMM modules by pushing the tabs straight down until the module pops out of the slot, then simply lift the module out.

Most likely, you’ll also need to remove the power supply, a hard drive, a diskette drive, a CD-ROM drive, or any combination of these devices before you can remove the motherboard.

Find the bolts that hold the motherboard to the case. There will only be two or three. Now you’re ready to remove the motherboard. This is a bit tricky. Although screws hold the motherboard firmly to the case, small stand-off posts or “spacers” keep the motherboard from touching the case and creating electrical short circuits. The posts fit in a hole-and-slot socket in the case, so you have to slide the motherboard out of the slot before you can lift the posts out of the hole.

Small plastic tabs keep the stand-off posts from slipping out of the holes in the motherboard. Once you have the motherboard out of the case, use needle-nosed pliers to depress the tabs on the posts, then pull the posts through the bottom of the motherboard. (Be careful. The bottom of the motherboard has lots of small sharp wire ends that can cut your fingertips.)

Before installing the stand-off posts on the new motherboard, test fit the motherboard by lowering it into the case to see where the holes for the spacers and the screws line up. Check how the expansion slots and mouse and keyboard sockets line up with openings in the case, too.

Don’t be concerned if the new board is smaller than the previous motherboard (particularly if you’ve moved from an AT to a baby AT-style motherboard). As long as all of the holes and sockets on the new motherboard line up with appropriate holes in the case, you’re in good shape.

Look over your new motherboard and make a rough sketch of the connectors and sockets that will connect it to your hard drive, power supply, etc. It will be a lot easier to read the small type on the motherboard now than after you’ve installed it in the case. If your motherboard came with a schematic diagram showing the connectors and sockets, compare it to the motherboard .

You’re ready to install the new motherboard. Insert the new microprocessor in the motherboard and install the old memory.

Insert the stand-off posts by pushing them up through the bottom of the motherboard until the plastic clips snap into place. Lower the motherboard into the case so the posts fit into the appropriate mounting holes, then slide the board until the spacers are snug in the slots. Screw board in place.

Replace the power supply, hard drive, and any other components that you removed from the case to take out the motherboard.

Reattach the wires and cables to the motherboard. Use the notes you made during disassembly to identify the wires and cables, then insert them into the appropriate connectors on the motherboard.

Don’t be surprised if you have a few wires with no sockets, especially if you have a 3- or 4-year-old computer case. Older PCs had a “turbo” switch that could be used to speed up the motherboard’s internal clock and had two sets of wires; one connecting the switch to the motherboard and another connecting the motherboard to a light-emitting diode (LED, indicator light) to show whether the turbo function was turned on. New PCs automatically operate at the fastest clock speed, so these sets of wires aren’t accounted for on new motherboards. Just tie them in a knot so they won’t touch the motherboard and push them out of the way.

Your new motherboard may be equipped with built-in circuits that control communications to the disk drives, monitors, and external speakers. What you do next depends on whether you want to use these built-in “controllers” or use controllers that plug in to the expansion bus.

If you use the built-in controllers, life is easy. Install the ribbon cable attached to the disk drives to the disk drive controller socket on the motherboard. Plug the monitor cable and speaker wires to the sockets on the back of the computer case.

If you don’t use these built-in controllers, life is a bit more difficult. Start by inserting the controller cards into sockets (“slots”) on the new motherboard’s expansion bus. Screw the metal plate at the rear of the controller card into the case. (This simply keeps it from wiggling around and coming loose.)

You’re not done yet. The CMOS chip on your new motherboard expects to use the built-in controllers. If the hard drives, etc., are not plugged into the onboard controller, CMOS won’t know where to find them and will act as if they don’t exist.

That means you’ll need to “disable” these devices, then reinstruct the CMOS where to find them. To disable the onboard controllers, consult the technical documents that came with the new motherboard. If the documentation doesn’t provide the information you need, it’s time to call the technical support number for the motherboard manufacturer.

Sometimes, disabling a controller may require moving tiny “jumpers” (which connect two or more wires to complete a circuit) or flipping dual in-line package (DIP) switches. But with today’s motherboards, it’s unlikely you’ll ever touch a jumper or a DIP switch. It’s more likely that you’ll reconfigure the motherboard using the CMOS when you boot up the PC for the first time.

If your new motherboard doesn’t have built-in controllers, simply reinstall your old controller cards. Remember to connect wires from the power supply to the controller cards.

Next step is to GET CONNECTED  (click here)