Your motherboard is one of the most important, if not the most important, components you will find inside your computer.
While it doesn't do that much on its own, it's the central point for all of your other hardware to connect physically. This is like one of the huge highway interchanges; everything passes through here.
Installing one will be one of the important steps you will have to do in order to build a computer. This is easy to do but requires strict adherence to the instructions and a patient hand.
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Steps For Installing A Motherboard
1 - Open The Case
The first step you are going to undertake is to open the computer case. If you are upgrading an old computer, make sure you ground yourself and turn all power off from the machine.
Once you have the case open, look for the motherboard tray. This is a tray that usually will be removable from the computer. This makes installation a lot easier, but many cases will not have this feature.
In most formats, two screws hold the motherboard in place. You need to make sure that you keep these screws safe, or you will be in trouble later on.
Remember, when installing a new motherboard, you need to make sure you know how to format your system drives and install your new operating system. If you don't know how to do this, here is a great guide to follow.
2 - Ground Yourself
One of the biggest dangers when installing a motherboard is static discharge. If you accidentally touch your motherboard while you are statically charged, you can fry your motherboard, ruining it forever.
A great way to prepare for this is to buy an anti-static wrist strap that discharges the electricity before you touch anything.
Another great tip is to remove your socks. When you walk across carpeting with socks on, you build up a static charge. I'm sure everyone has experienced this when you touch someone or a piece of metal and feel a jolt.
3 - Remove the I/O Panel
On the back of your computer case, you will find a special panel called the I/O shield. Most cases come with these installed at the factory. This panel will need to be removed from the case in order for the new one to be installed.
After taking the panel off, you will need to look for the panel that came with your new motherboard.
To install this, line it up where you removed the old one and apply pressure in all four corners. This should result in a click that informs you that the panel has snapped into place correctly.
Make sure you check the direction of the panel and install it in the proper orientation.
4 - The Standoffs
Standoffs are screws that hold your motherboard away from the case. These are crucial for stopping the metal elements of your motherboard and case from touching, which would discharge your card, making it useless.
You will find these standoffs inside the box that your motherboard was shipped in. There may also be standoffs installed inside your case already if it is new. Both will work.
5 - Install Standoffs Correctly
You now need to match your motherboard with its location on the tray. Once you line them up, you will see where the standoff holes match the motherboard holes.
Motherboards will come with different numbers of standoff holes, but you should make sure that you use every single one that your card has.
Most standoffs are installed by either screwing them into the holes or pushing them in like a peg until they click.
6 - Line up your Motherboard and Secure
Now your standoffs are installed, it's time to place your motherboard on top of them. If you have followed the steps up until the point correctly, the holes should line up properly.
Once you have lined up your motherboard correctly and you are happy, it's time to begin screwing in your motherboard to the tray.
This is a delicate process and should be done in a certain way.
Our advice is to install each screw loosely before tightening them all up in increments at the same time. This stops over-tightening, which can cause the card to bend and flex under pressure.
7 - Components
Hopefully, you now have a motherboard tray with your motherboard installed in a secure manner good to go.
Before you install this tray back into your computer, you are going to need to install the motherboard parts, such as your CPU and its cooler, and your RAM.
It is a much better idea to do this at this point as it can get cramped inside your case later on, making it very difficult to maneuver and work with delicate screws.
8 - Power
Now your motherboard is hooked up with the right parts and has all of the correct fixings, you will now be installing the power supply.
Connect the 20/24 pin connecter to your motherboard and then the other end into your power supply.
Next, you will need to install the 4/8 pin 12v connector too.
For help with this, make sure you read the manual that came inside your power supply box. This will give you the correct information regarding connectors.
9 – Buttons/Front Panel
In order for you to run your computer, you will need to be able to use the buttons on the front panel, so the next step is to hook them up to your board.
Get your motherboard manual and find the page that explains which color each wire is and what function that relates to.
The important ones will be:
Find these cables and connect them to the motherboard's relevant part before connecting them to their locations on the front of the case.
10 - Fans
There may be fans installed inside your case or to the CPU. These will need to be connected via a two-pin connector to your motherboard in order for them to run correctly when loaded up.
Related: How To Increase CPU Fan Speed
11 - Storage Drivers
Your motherboard is nearly complete at this point and should be set securely on your computer.
This is the point where you install your storage devices to your motherboard.
This is really easy. New motherboards come with ample SATA ports. These almost look like those old game cartridges from old consoles like the N64.
They work the same way too. Simply align your storage to the slot in the correct orientation and push them in until they click. Don't force it; if it requires force, you are not located correctly.
12 - Graphics Processing Unit
Finally, we have the graphics card. This is normally the biggest component to install, so we leave it until last to make the previous steps easier.
Your GPU will connect to your motherboard like any other part and will then need to be slotted into the relevant GPU slot on the case.
Make sure you check the backing plate. Some of them come with slots that can be removed or added as you need them. Make sure all of your ports are accessible from the case.
13 - Clean Up and Cable Management
All of the installations are now done, but your jobs haven't been finished yet. Now is your time to get your cable management correct.
Poor cable management is perhaps the biggest killer of computers. They reduce airflow; they make the computer hotter, they look awful, and they can even touch the motherboard, causing system failure.
Bundle all the different cables together using zip-ties at a minimum. To go one further by some cable sleeves and wrap all of the cables together.
Fix the wiring as far out of the way as possible and out of any potential airflow streams.
If you have followed all of the steps so far to the letter, you will now be ready to turn your computer on. You will need to fix any of the panels currently off back onto your case and screw them in.
Plug your computer in and turn it on. If everything has been done correctly, it should power up.
Now, that is the hardware installation process over. Now we will talk you through the steps necessary to install and update the relevant BIOS for your computer to run.
Your BIOS is your operating system, and if this is not done correctly, your computer might not run.
We will use an ASUS motherboard as our example as they probably the most popular motherboard choice at the moment.
Other boards will install similarly, but you need to check online or in the manual for any differences to the steps.
- 1The first step is to boot your computer up and head to the BIOS menu that should show up. There will be a way to navigate the menu. Make your way to the section that says "Tool." Click on it. Inside that menu will be an option called "EZ Flash," click on that too.
- 2Now you will see some data on the screen. The most important thing to take note of is the BIOS version. Write this down, so you don't forget it.
- 3On another computer, you will now need to head over to the ASUS website. For other brands, you will head to their website instead. On their website will be the most up-to-date BIOS version. This will be free to download to grab it and stick it on a memory stick.
- 4Now you have that, plug it into your new computer, head back to your BIOS, enter the Tool section, and click easy flash again. This time, you want to select the USB drive you just installed the BIOS onto. Select the file and press enter. You will now be given a final ultimatum, so read anything the warning has to say and make sure you have not done anything wrong. Once you click to accept, your computer should install the latest BIOS for your motherboard. When this is complete, reboot your computer.
- 5The last thing that we recommend you do is install the operating system that you want to use. If you want to use Windows 10 or Linux, download the operating system files from their website. Download these onto a clear memory stick separate from the one that you used to install the BIOS. If, when you come to turn your computer on, Windows doesn't load, plug in that memory stick, and you should instantly be placed into the operating system installer, which will allow you to install Windows.
If everything has gone well and you have not run into any problems, your computer should now turn on and run with the operating system you installed.
How To Install Case Fans To Motherboard
If you're planning to install additional case fans to help keep your motherboard cool, here is what to do.
Position the fans in the correct place; remember that the fans only blow in one direction so consider the airflow.
Locate your new fans and screw them in. Make sure you screw them in tight enough that they don't rattle but not too tight that you can never remove them.
Once installed, simply hook them up via the relevant plus to your motherboard. You should be able to find the right slot on your motherboard diagram.
Tips And Tricks For Easier Installation
If you are upgrading a motherboard instead of installing it into a new computer, you should make a bombproof backup of all your files and data. Motherboards can be tricky, and if something goes wrong, you could lose everything.
Again, for those who are upgrading instead of building, this is the perfect chance to open up your case and do some house cleaning. Get an aerosol cleaner and get rid of all the dust that might be building up. If wires have come loose, re-tie them.
Upgrade Other Parts at the Same Time
Replacing a motherboard requires you to unplug almost all of your other components. This makes it the perfect time to install better ones, such as more powerful fans or an upgrade to a faster CPU.
Sterility and Socks
Computer maintenance needs to be done in as sterile a place as possible. Create a sterile space by wiping down the surface with alco-wipes and then let it dry.
Next, take off your socks. This may seem silly, but we have heard horror stories from those who have thick carpets zapping their card as soon as they open them.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How do I install a new motherboard driver?
To install a new motherboard driver, you will need to download it first from the relevant brand. Put it on a memory stick, and then boot your computer up in BIOS mode with the memory stick plugged in. This should automatically update your driver.
How to install SSD on Motherboard?
On your motherboard, you will find slots that look like game cartridges. To install your SSD, simply slot it in the correct orientation until it clicks.
Installing a motherboard can feel like a daunting task, especially for those with no experience, but by following this article to the letter, you should have no problems.
If you run into problems after following all of the steps, start at step one again and make sure you haven't missed anything.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.