How to Install or Replace a Motherboard


When you purchase a motherboard, the package comes with the board, I/O shield, documentation, drivers, and various screws, cables, and connectors. When you replace a motherboard, you pretty much have to disassemble an entire computer, install the new motherboard, and reassemble the system, which you learned to do earlier. The following list is meant to be a general overview of the process and is not meant to include the details of all possible installation scenarios, which can vary according to the components and case you are using. The best place to go for detailed instructions on installing a motherboard is the motherboard user guide.


The general process for replacing a motherboard is as follows:

1. Verify that you have selected the right motherboard to install in the system. The new motherboard should have the same form factor as the case, support the RAM modules and processor you want to install on it, and have other internal and external connectors you need for your system.
2. Get familiar with the motherboard documentation, features, and settings. Especially important are any connectors and jumpers on the motherboard. It’s a great idea to read the motherboard user guide from cover to cover. At the least, get familiar with what it has to offer and study the diagrams in it that label all the components on the board. Learn how each connector and jumper is used. You can also check the manufacturer’s website for answers to any questions you might have.
3. Remove components so you can reach the old motherboard. Use an ESD strap. Turn off the system and disconnect all cables and cords. Press the power button to dissipate the power. Open the case cover and remove all expansion cards. Disconnect all internal cables and cords connected to the old motherboard. To safely remove the old motherboard, you might have to remove drives. If the processor cooler is heavy and bulky, you might remove it from the old motherboard before you remove the motherboard from the case.
4. Install the I/O shield. The I/O shield is a metal plate that comes with the motherboard and fits over the ports to create a well-fitting enclosure for them. A case might come with a standard I/O shield already in place. Hold the motherboard up to the shield and make sure the ports on the board will fit the holes in the shield (see Figure 1-0). If the holes in the shield don’t match up with the ports on the board, punch out the shield and replace it with the one that came bundled with the motherboard.


5. Install the motherboard. Place the motherboard into the case and, using spacers or screws, securely fasten the board to the case. Because coolers are heavy, most processor instructions say to install the motherboard before installing the processor and cooler to better protect the board or processor from being damaged. On the other hand, some motherboard manufacturers say to install the processor and cooler and then install the motherboard. Follow the order given in the motherboard user guide. The easiest approach is to install the processor, cooler, and memory modules on the board and then place the board in the case (see Figure 1.01).













6. Install the processor and processor cooler. The processor comes already installed on some motherboards, in which case you just need to install the cooler. How to install a processor and cooler is covered , “Supporting Processors and Upgrading Memory.”
7. Install RAM into the appropriate slots on the motherboard. How to install RAM is covered, “Supporting Processors and Upgrading Memory.”
8. Attach cabling that goes from the case switches to the motherboard, and from the power supply and drives to the motherboard. Pay attention to how cables are labeled and to any information in the documentation about where to attach them. The chapter, “First Look at Computer Parts and Tools,” can help you identify the types of power connectors. You’ll need to connect the P1 connector, the fan connectors, and the processor auxiliary power connector. Position and tie cables neatly together to make sure they don’t obstruct the fans and the airflow.
9. Install the video card on the motherboard. This card should go into the primary PCI Express ×16 slot. If you plan to install multiple video cards, install only one now and check out how the system functions before installing the second one.

10. Plug the computer into a power source, and attach the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Initially install only the devices you absolutely need.
11. Boot the system and enter UEFI/BIOS setup. Make sure settings are set to the default. If the motherboard comes new from the manufacturer, it will already be at default settings. If you are salvaging a motherboard from another system, you might need to reset settings to the default. You will need to do the following while you are in UEFI/BIOS setup:

  • Check the time and date.
  • Make sure fast boot (also called abbreviated POST) is disabled. While you’re installing a motherboard, you generally want it to do as many diagnostic tests as possible. After you know the system is working, you can choose fast boot.
  • Set the boot order to the hard drive, and then the optical drive, if you will be booting the OS from
    the hard drive.
  • Leave everything else at their defaults unless you know that particular settings should be otherwise.
    Save and exit

12. Observe POST and verify that no errors occur.
13. Verify Windows starts with no errors. If Windows is already installed on the hard drive, boot to the Windows desktop. Use Device Manager to verify that the OS recognizes all devices and that no conflicts are reported.
14. Install the motherboard drivers. If your motherboard comes with a CD that contains some motherboard drivers, install them now. You will probably need Internet access so that the setup process can download the latest drivers from the motherboard manufacturer’s website. Reboot the system one more time, checking for errors.
15. Install any other expansion cards and drivers. Install each device and its drivers, one device at a time, rebooting and checking for conflicts after each installation.
16. Verify that everything is operating properly, and make any final OS and UEFI/BIOS adjustments, such as setting power-on passwords.


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