Step 5: How To Build A Computer: Preparing The Motherboard

Motherboards over time have lost many of the ‘jumpers’ that were required for configuring the board. Most of the setup is done with the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) that is accessible when you first turn on your computer.

It may not even be necessary to do anything on this step, depending on the age and type of your motherboard.

You will need to view your motherboard instruction manual, and see if any jumpers need to be set on the motherboard itself for configuration. Common settings include CPU voltage and bus speed, so read through the directions and make sure that these or anything else does not need to be configured on motherboard before continuing.

After you set anything on the motherboard that is necessary, you will want to lay out the number of screws you need to install the motherboard inside the case, and set the motherboard on a flat surface so we can install the CPU and memory. It is a good idea to keep the motherboard on the anti static bag that it came with to reduce the possibility of damage due to static.

We also recommend to have the motherboard manual handy as we start to build your computer.

CPU Installation

Before installing the CPU, we recommend that you take it out of the packaging and verify that you have received the correct one that you ordered. With all of the different core types and speeds, it is necessary to check before installing. You also want to check the pins on the underside of the processor, and make sure that all are straight with no damage. Try to avoid touching the pins with your bare fingers if possible.

If everything looks good continue on below.

Depending on your choice of Intel or AMD, your socket type may look different. Generally, all sockets on a motherboard have a latching feature, which holds the CPU in place.

NOTE: If these instructions do not match your motherboard and CPU type then consult the directions that came with your CPU for proper installation.

  1. Unlatch the socket on the motherboard by pulling the lever up.
  2. You should see a small triangle on one corner of the socket. You will need to match this up to the triangle on the processor, so the triangles are oriented and in the same position. Once you have these lined up, simply set the CPU onto the socket and gently move until it falls into place. (You shouldn’t have to force the CPU in the socket, and if it is not going in easily, something is wrong. Check the pins for damage if it is not sliding in correctly)
  3. Push the lever back down to secure the CPU into the socket.

Heatsink/Fan Installation

Processors run very hot, and it is necessary to attach a cooling device to control the temperature as your computer runs. If you bought the retail version of your CPU selection like we recommended, it should have come with a fan and heatsink combo. Again, depending on your choice between AMD and Intel, your heatsink and fan may look different. We recommend following the directions that came with your CPU for specifics on attaching to the top of the CPU, but here are the general directions.

  1. Remove the heatsink/fan from the box, and make sure to remove the plastic cover that is over the bottom. This plastic cover is to keep the thermal grease in place with shipment. You need to remove the plastic cover so the thermal grease can attach to the CPU and improve heat transfer.
  2. Place the heatsink and fan combo squarely on the CPU
  3. Attach the mounting brackets from the heatsink over the tabbed parts of your CPU socket. Many times this is a small square tab sticking out on each side of the socket. It will probably be necessary to use a flat screwdriver to push down when attaching the second side.
  4. There may be a large lever that you need to turn clockwise and push down to finish attaching the heatsink. This insures the heatsink and fan are firmly attached.

Connect CPU Fan to Motherboard

Your motherboard should have a place to connect the wire from the CPU fan to, and it should match the number of pins that the connector has. Please consult your motherboard manual to see where you need to connect your CPU fan to for power. This is an important step, because we do not want to run the computer without proper cooling to the CPU, as it may cause damage.

We have just installed the Processor and are ready to continue building your new computer. The next step in the process is memory installation.

Memory (RAM) Installation

The next step is to get the memory installed and this is a very easy step.

  1. Remove the memory from the packaging and notice the number of pins on the bottom of the memory module. One side will have more pins than the other side, and there will be a large gap in between the two sides of pins.
  2. Look at the memory slots on the motherboard and you can see the same pattern, with one side having more pins than the other.
  3. Make sure you match the pattern up on both the memory stick and the motherboard, and place the memory into the slot, and firmly push down.
  4. The memory should ‘snap’ into place, and you want to make sure that the plastic tabs at each end of the memory slot are tightly secure to the sides of the memory.
  5. If you have more than one memory module, repeat the above process to install the remainder of the memory.

NOTE: You should not have to really force the memory into the slot, it should go fairly easily. Make sure you have the memory turned the right way, and that the side tabs are not in your way as you push it into the slot.

That was easy huh? Now that we have the ‘core’ of our components installed on the motherboard, it is time to install the motherboard itself. We installed the CPU and memory before installing the motherboard because it is generally easier to work with the motherboard out of the case. You could however install these things while the motherboard was in the case.

Step 6: How To Build A Computer: Motherboard Installation

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