Articles :: Motherboard Installation ::

Billy Newsom · 01-01-1998 · Category: Guides

Note: not all of this will apply to ATX cases, although most of it will. ATX motherboards are much easier to install.

  • Decide which slots your motherboard will have cards in. When I describe the motherboard, I will assume you are looking at it with the card slots at the back left side of the motherboard.
  • Typically, a hard disk controller will be placed in the farthest right card slot, to be closest to the drives.
  • Typically, the video card will be placed as far to the left as possible.
  • Always leave gaps (wherever possible) between boards for clearance and being able to view the board without uninstalling it.
  • You may want to install all of the cards now to see how they will look and see where the cables will run.
  • Punch out the holes on the back of the case (if necessary) where you want the boards to go, or alternately unscrew the card slot blanks that cover the slots at the back of the case.
  • If you have blanks for the holes and you feel compelled, you could punch out all of the holes (or seven or eight of them, depending on how many card slots on your motherboard) at the back of your case.
  • You don't want to leave gaping holes, so make sure you have the blanks!
  • If the motherboard is to be mounted using plastic inserts, determine which holes will be used. Chances are, your case will have over a dozen holes, some of which should line up with your motherboard when you place it inside the case.
  • You may want to temporarily install a card (such as a video card or sound card) so you can line up the card with one of the holes punched out in the back of the case to give you an idea of alignment.
  • Keep an eye on the keyboard connector hole. This must line up, or you are in a world of hurt. (AT motherboards only)
  • Insert plastic inserts into the motherboard's tiny holes where they will slide into the case's slots.
  • If you are using some screw mounts, make sure now that they will align with threaded holes in the case. (I use only screw mounts for ATX boards, but on an AT board, I might use just 2 screws.)
  • Find the hex-shaped brass or steel standoffs that should have come with your case. You will screw them into the case, and then insert a small screw through the top of the motherboard into this standoff.
  • You should use a small washer on the motherboard whenever you put a screw through it. Cloth and rubber washers are best for this delicate installation. I don't think a washer is necessary on the bottom of the motherboard, however gluing one there can't hurt. I use a washer on top. This will not only electrically isolate the board from the chasis (ground), it will protect the motherboard's soft metal ring from damage.
  • If the screws are too large to clear the motherboard hole, you will probably have to enlargen the hole in the motherboard, since you cannot reasonably make the case's threaded hole any smaller.
  • It's not unusual to use both plastic standoffs and threaded fasteners to mount an AT motherboard.

Now mount the motherboard in the case.

  • You will slide the plastic inserts into the slots in the case and make sure they are firmly in place.
  • Make sure every plastic insert has stuck in the slotted hole before you screw in the finishing screws.
  • Make sure all of the hex-shaped screws are through the hole in the case and do not extend more than a few millimeters.
  • Ensure all four corners are supported, and that at least some part of the interior of the board has support. I recommend no less than six connections to the chassis. My motherboard has four plastic inserts and two screws.
  • Observe the board to see if it is laying flat - the overzealous installer will try to screw in a few fasteners and warp the board.
  • See if your motherboard can take torture by installing and removing an adapter card.
  • Use your hand on the bottom of the motherboard for support to see how much it bends during a forceful card insertion. This will also let you see if the motherboard is at the right height and position for a controller card.
  • Plug in the keyboard to see if it fits.
  • Install SIMM memory if you have not already done so.
  • Start connecting cables and stuff to the motherboard now.
  • Pull out floppy cables, hard disk cables, that PS/2 mouse cable you should have bought, and find those jumper wires for your case's doohickeys. Install all of this stuff in any order.
  • Just line up those pin 1's to the red side of cables, or for doohickeys (your case's LED and reset switches), use the colored wire as the primary pin.
  • Be sure to find the speaker and install it. It usually is a 4-pin connector with two wires (one red, one black), which can be installed either way on the motherboard.
  • If your case has holes for COM ports and LPT ports, you can punch these out and save a card slot by unscrewing the connectors that came on the slot-filler strip of metal, removing the connector, and mounting it directly on the case.

Power: this is the most important connection, so DON'T SCREW THIS UP.

  • The AT-style power connector comes in two pieces, and must be connected properly if you wish to see the motherboard ever work.THE BLACK WIRES MUST BE PLACED TOGETHER WHEN PLUGGING THEM INTO THE MOTHERBOARD! Failure to follow this rule will most certainly be the easiest way to fry a perfectly good motherboard.
  • The one-piece ATX power supply connector is a no-brainer, since pin 1 is a square peg.
  • ATX owners must connect a 4-pin or 2-pin connector from the front of case to the motherboard. A momentary switch is used for ATX motherboards to allow for soft-power, ACPI, and OnNow.