Step 6: How To Build A Computer: Motherboard Installation

Since we have already prepared the case, installing the motherboard into the case should be fairly easy.

Mount the Motherboard onto the Standoffs

  1. Put the motherboard into the case, and set it onto the open screw holes which have been created by the standoffs. If you matched the pattern before to the case, you should have the same number of openings to insert screws into. (To get the holes to line up perfectly, you may need to push the motherboard back towards where the I/O plate is, as this generally fits snugly)
  2. Insert screws into all of the holes and tighten gently. It is not necessary to overtighten these screws.

You should now be looking at your motherboard installed inside the case! The I/O ports should be sticking out the back and should fit squarely and snug. If you could not install all of the screws or the I/O ports do not fit correctly through the plate, make sure to correct this before you continue. The slots on the motherboard to line up correctly and be straight for add on cards to be easily installed.

We have the motherboard installed, and now it is time to get all of the cables on the inside connected.

Connect Case Cables to Motherboard

With the motherboard installed, it is time to connect the internal cables that run from the case.

Connect the Cables from the Case

It is difficult to give detailed instructions for this, because every motherboard and case is different. In general, you should have twisted cables for the speaker, case fan, hard drive light, power light, power switch and reset buttons. You may also have cables for USB ports if your case has them built in.

Your motherboard manual will have a detailed diagram on where to attach these. Follow the directions on where these go for a smooth installation. Make sure to attach the wires in the correct orientation, usually each set of wires has a ground so it is pretty easy to figure out which way they go.

Installing the Video Card

If you bought and plan on installing a separate video card for your new computer please continue below. If you bought a motherboard that has onboard video built in, you may skip this step.

  1. Remove the card from the original packaging and look at the slot type on the card. It should match the slot that is on your motherboard. (AGP and PCI Express are currently the most popular video card types)
  2. Hold the card in the proxmity of where it will be installed in the slot. You will need to remove the back cover plate with your screwdriver where the card will stick through the back of the case.
  3. Gently install the card into the slot, by pushing until it fits snug into place. There may be an extra tab as part of the slot the wraps around and helps secure the card.
  4. Replace the screw that you removed for the slot, to secure the card to the back of the case.

That is it for the video card installation, not too difficult is it? Next we need to attach the power supply connector(s) to our motherboard.

Connecting Power Supply To Motherboard

This is a very quick step, and will allow us to prepare ourselves for a test to see how smoothly our computer building project is going.

Attach the Power Supply Connector

If you have an ATX style power supply, it will have one large connector, and possibly a smaller square connector that both need to be attached to provide power to the motherboard. They can only be attached on way, and each have a tab that needs to be pressed as you push them into their respective slots. You should here a ‘click’ and be able to feel when they are secure.

 Performing A Power On Self Test (POST)

With the CPU, memory, and video card installed on the motherboard, and our case cables and power supply connected, now is a good time to do a quick power up test to see if we get video or not, and to make sure that the fans are all operating correctly.

  1. Plug in your power strip to the wall and turn it on, and then plug the PC power cable that came with your motherboard or power supply from the surge strip to the back of the power supply. Make sure the power supply is set to the proper voltage (115v in the US) and that the switch is in the on position.
  2. A small LED light may come on somewhere on the motherboard, telling you that the motherboard now has power. Your motherboard may or may not have such a light.
  3. Plug the monitor and keyboard into their respective ports.
  4. Make sure your monitor is also plugged in to your power strip.

NOTE: Make sure you have the CPU fan connected to the proper place on the motherboard for power. Starting the computer without proper CPU cooling can cause damage to the processor, even if it does not run for very long.

Now comes the moment of truth. Go ahead and push the power button on the front of the case (it usually is the largest button on the front) and see what happens.

If all is well, you should hear the power supply fan, CPU fan and case fan(s) start, and see some video on the monitor for the first time. Here we want to make sure that all fans are operating as they should, and that we have video. If we can see something on the monitor, then it is very likely that the CPU and memory are operating properly and that everything is installed OK.

If everything that was just mentioned happens, then shut off the computer and move on to the next step.

Oh No, Nothing is Happening!

If the computer will not power on, then double check your power connections from the power supply to the motherboard and try again. Double check to make sure your power switch cable is installed correctly to the motherboard.

If you fail to see video then make sure your monitor is attached correctly. If you hear the fans starting but do not see any video make sure that you attached the second power connector from your power supply to the motherboard. It should be a smaller type connector.

If you are still having problems, reverse your steps and reinstall the memory and video card and CPU. If you cannot get the machine to power on at this point, and are sure everything is installed correctly, then it is likely that you have a defective component. You will know if the power supply is defective because the fan will not run when you power it on. Consult with who you bought your parts from for more assistance on troubleshooting and determining which part is defective.

Step 7: How To Build A Computer: Install Your Drives

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