PC hardware

PC Hardware Computer Information, Guides, News, and Reviews find the latest prices for technology and gadgets here

View Prices

How to Install a Motherboard

Illustrated guide to help install or upgrade your motherboard or mainboard

Upgrading your motherboard will allow you to add newer functionality such as USB 2.0, FireWire, SATA, PCI-E, alongside of course a compatible CPU and RAM upgrade. Your motherboard specification will detail the make, and model CPU that you can use within your system.

Power down your PC and switch it off at the wall. Remove the screws holding the sides of the case on and carefully slide off both panels.

First you need to open your computer caseWearing an anti-static wristband is preferable whenever working with sensitive electrical equipment.

Keeping one hand on a metal part of the case will have the same effect, though you may need both hands when installing certain items of hardware.


Remove cables connected to your exisiting motherboardIf you are replacing an existing motherboard, remove any cables that are currently plugged in to the motherboard, such as ATA or power cables. You will also need to remove a series of connecting wires that relate to the power switch, hard drive light and so forth. It may be worth making a note of how these were arranged, though it may be different for your new motherboard.

Next, remove any expansion cards, such as graphics and sound cards, by removing the screw holding the backing plate in place and gently sliding them out of their slot. Put these on an anti-static surface for reinstallation later on.

You may wish to remove any drives you have installed to make removing the motherboard itself easier.

Remove the motherboard tray or gently remove the screws holding the motherboard into place If you're lucky, your motherboard will sit on a tray, and you will be able to slide it out. If not, you will need to remove the series of screws holding the motherboard to the case and gently ease it out. Place it on an anti-static surface for now, as you may need it at a later date or wish to sell if it is still in good working order.

If you are replacing the motherboard, remove the RAM modules by pushing the white clips outwards and lay them on an anti-static surface.View of CPU socket with CPU installed Remove the heatsink by pulling the lever arm upwards if yours is a newer model, or by pushing down on the metal clip with a flat-bladed screwdriver. You should then be able to remove the heatsink and fan assembly. Finally, pull the metal lever to the vertical position and lift the old CPU out of its socket.

You are now in a position to install the CPU and RAM in your new motherboard, before fitting it into the case. First, take your CPU and locate the marker on one corner. Line this up with the marker on the socket on the motherboard and drop the CPU into place. Push down the metal lever arm to lock the CPU into place.

Reinstalling the heatsink into placeIf necessary, apply a small amount of thermal paste to the top of the CPU and place the heatsink and fan assembly on top. Lock it in place by pushing the level arm fully down, or by locking the metal clip down to the plastic base using a flat-bladed screwdriver. This will require significant force, so apply pressure gently at first and increase until the heatsink locks into place.

Reinstalling the RAM ready for the motherboard to be installedNext, install the RAM modules by lining them up with the appropriate slots on the motherboard and pushing down firmly. If the module is sat correctly, the white clips will lock in the upright position, holding the RAM securely.

If you are replacing your motherboard, you may not need to screw any nuts into the case to support the motherboard. If you are installing into a new case, you will need to screw nuts into the case as shown in the photograph. These are needed to screw the motherboard to the case, so you will need to ensure that they are located where there are metal-ringed holes in the motherboard.

Closeup of the motherboard studs which secure the motherboard to the caseNext, slot the motherboard into the case and ensure that the back plate lines up with the back of the case. You may need to manoeuvre the motherboard a little to get the screw holes to line up. Once in place, secure the motherboard to the case using the screws provided.

Plug in any cables from the front panel, power supply or system fans. Refer to your motherboard manual to locate the appropriate pins for these if you are unsure.

With the motherboard installed you can install expansion cardsNow, replace any drives or expansion cards, such as graphics, sound and network cards.

Slide them one by one into their respective slots and fasten down to the case securely.

Finally, plug in any data or power cables to drives or expansion cards. Make sure you have seated the cables in the appropriate channels and that all the plugs are firmly secured.Now reconnect all the leads, making sure you dont forget to connect the heatsink fan to the motherboard

Plug your machine in and boot it up. Ideally you should reinstall your operating system, though this is not always essential. Install any motherboard drivers using the CD provided with your motherboard. If everything is working correctly, all your drives and cards should be recognised.

If you have any problems, you should consult your motherboard manual. Your first port of call is to check all the connections and ensure that everything is plugged in. It is also possible you will need to reinstall Windows, though this should be done with caution if you haven't got a full back up of all your data.