A motherboard is a host for all the components of a computer. From the central processing unit to the USB ports, it holds everything together. Silicon Bronze Machine Screws are also useful for holding a computer together, but a motherboard keeps the electronics working in harmony. As the motherboard of a computer is so essential, the topic of “how to install a motherboard step by step” is crucial as well. Usually, you need to change all your computer’s parts when you change your motherboard because you only need to change the motherboard if there is a generational leap. But this does not mean that there can not be any other reasons behind a motherboard change. A broken motherboard can also be a cause behind it. In this article, we have discussed how to install a motherboard step by step.
Before knowing about installing a motherboard, let us know what a motherboard is and how it works. So, without further ado, let us dive right in.
What is a Motherboard?
While all the computer components are similarly important, a motherboard can be considered one of the more important ones alongside the processor. A motherboard does not take part in any kind of computing activity directly. Still, it is that component that maintains harmony among all the other pieces of equipment inside your computer and makes the computer run properly. It keeps the connection between the CPU, RAM, Hard Disk, and GPU to provide a balanced computing experience.
A motherboard can come in different sizes and shapes depending on what model you are getting from which generation of motherboards. Various motherboards can have their distinct features, but there are some common characteristics of every motherboard. These shared characteristics include a heat sink for disseminating the built-up heat inside while computing, all the necessary circuits for maintaining the balance between all the other components of a computer, and a secondary power source.
You will find many ports in every motherboard as it needs to maintain direct contact with all the essential elements required for a computer to operate. A motherboard generally includes a power connection slot, some RAM slots, one or two PCIe slots, a slot for inputting the CPU, USB slots, slots for audio and video, and a few expansion slots. You can also find tech for remotely connecting Bluetooth devices. Some input slots can vary depending on the generation of the motherboard. For example, older motherboards had a floppy disk port, which is non-existent in today’s day and age. Few modern motherboards have Wifi support embedded on them.
How does a motherboard work?
To know how a motherboard works, you need to know all the separate slots of a motherboard and its purpose.
As we told you before, motherboards can come in many form factors. People call them by different names, depending on their size. These are the available motherboard sizes that you can find in the market currently.
- ATX: This size is the standard for motherboards. ATX motherboards have all the necessary slots available that you will need.
- Micro-ATX: These motherboards are smaller compared to standard ATX ones but are usually equipped with the necessary slots apart from a few exceptions.
- Mini ATX: Mini ATX is your standard motherboard for storing mobile CPUs.
- Mini ITX: Mini ITX is a smaller version of the standard ATX motherboards. They are less power-hungry and do not produce much noise.
- Nano ITX: This form factor lies in between the Mini and Pico ITX boards.
- Pico ITX: This form factor is the smallest available for motherboards and has its separate use cases.
Chipset controls the flow of data between some critical components of your computer. You can divide it into two parts, known as the north and southbridge.
Their names come from their locations. You can find the northbridge and southbridge on the north and south side of the chipset.
The Northridge connects the processor, RAM, and the PCIe slot, and the Southbridge inter-connects the BIOS, external connections, storage system, and PCI slot. They work as a bridge in combining all these parts, so we call them the North and Southbridge.
The CPU-socket is used for inserting the CPU into the motherboard. CPU, also known as the central processing unit, is the heart of a computer system. It processes all the data that the northbridge provides. A CPU can directly impact the overall performance of the computer. So, it is better to have a powerful CPU.
You can find other supporting slots that are comparatively less important compared to the CPU but are essential nonetheless.
The standard motherboard slots are
- RAM slot
This slot holds the memory stick or RAM stick
- PCI slot
You can use this slot for inserting external cards
- PCIe slot
PCIe is like a big brother of PCI that is versatile enough to utilise any external cards.
- USB slot
You can use this slot for connecting all kinds of USB components.
Usually, the storage unit of your computer utilises a SATA port.
NVMe port works like a port for NVMe drives, such as NVMe SSDs.
Data-Bus works like a transportation bus. It helps in delivering data throughout all the components and maintains the inter-relation between the pieces of equipment.
The working process
The working process of a motherboard is simultaneous. It all starts by clicking on the power button. After clicking the power button, the Power Supply Unit supplies power to the motherboard. The data flow initiates and is carried to all the components by Data-Bus and the North and Southbridge’s.
The Northbridge then sends the data flow to the RAM, processor, and the PCIe. RAM sends data to the processor, and the processor works utilising those data. The PCIe sends its received data to the dedicated external or internal cards.
Southbridge connects data to the rest of the ports and awakens the whole system.
Before considering inserting a motherboard or replacing the old one, you will need to select a motherboard that you will buy. The next segment is about how you can choose a motherboard for your pc.
How do I choose a motherboard chipset?
Selecting a new motherboard can be very difficult because you need to connect all your PC components to your computer’s motherboard to operate. All the other parts of your PC should be compatible with your motherboard; otherwise, you will not be able to run the pc.
This choosing part can be especially tricky if your old motherboard is broken and plan to replace it.
No matter which motherboard you want to buy, you will not be able to buy it if you do not have enough budget. So we think that the first and foremost thing before selecting a motherboard is to consider your wallet’s state. The motherboard is not directly related to your PC’s performance, so this is where budget PC builders cut their corners, and we support this decision too. One model of the motherboard can have several versions that can cost differently.
Suppose the b450 motherboard all has AM4 sockets. But their price can be different based on whether it is a gaming variant or a normal one. The size of the motherboard can also determine its worth.
The next major step is selecting the processor. The whole pc setup should be based around your processor. Because the CPU-socket for ADM and INTEL CPUs are quite different. Not only that, but a CPU-socket can also be different based on what generation of CPU you are buying. A CPU-socket made for a second-generation INTEL CPU will not fit a third of fourth gen INTEL CPU even though INTEL is the manufacturer of both the CPUs.
If you have a gaming pc with Ryzen 5 processor, you might need a motherboard that is suitable for it. The reason can be, most gaming processor comes with overclocking to increase performance, and a compatible motherboard should have a better cooling system to deal with overheating due to overclocking. You can get additional info about the motherboards through a web search.
There are many other things to consider, like how many RAM slots a motherboard has or how many PCIe slots are available on the board. A mother can and cannot have an NVMe slot, which can also be a significant factor in choosing a motherboard.
We advise you to select your motherboard in the following manner.
- Confirm how much money you want to spend behind your total build.
- Based on your budget, select a suitable CPU that will fulfill your work purpose.
- Select a motherboard that has a matching CPU-socket.
- Consider the form factor and the extra features that you want before confirming your motherboard selection.
After selecting the motherboard, you will have to install the motherboard to your casing.
How to install a motherboard step by step?
In this part, we will talk about the complete process of install a motherboard step by step.
The installation process can be quite different depending on replacing an old motherboard or building a new system. We have covered both of these topics in our article.
How to replace a motherboard?
Replacing a motherboard consists of removing the old motherboard, reinserting the old components to the new motherboard, and installing the new motherboard.
Usually, it is pointless to replace a motherboard unless you have a broken motherboard or are eager to acquire those extra RAM slots.
Follow these steps to replace a motherboard.
- Turn off the PSU and unplug the power cable.
- Unplug everything external, including mouse, keyboard, speakers etc.
- Unscrew the VGA or HDMI cable and unplug the monitor.
- Take your PC and place it flat on a table. It is better to have a chest-high table as it is easier to work on it.
- Remove two screws from behind your CPU window and remove the side panel. This step will give you access to the inside of the CPU. Your casing may have a glass or plastic window instead of a solid board. Remove the window if you do not have a side panel.
- This part can be a bit tricky because you will have to figure it out yourself. If you have a small casing, you might need to take out the PSU entirely before you want to remove the old motherboard and install the new one.
First, unplug all the power connector of your PSU that is connected to the motherboard. Remove the PSU by removing the screws attaching the PSU to the casing but remember not to unscrew them from only one side. The PSU has four connecting screws. Remove one screw from each side then remove the other screws. Doing this makes the work easier and provides safety to the PSU.
- After removing the PSU, remove the CPU fan. To remove the CPU fan, rotate the four connecting pins towards the arrow. This action will unlock the fan, and then you can remove the fan. The removing process can be very different if you have an air or water cooler attached to your CPU.
- Then remove the CPU by simply pulling it out.
- Remove the RAM sticks by unlocking it from both sides of the RAM slot. Once you have opened it simply pull it out.
- If you have a GPU or a PCI express card, remove it by unlocking it from the slot and pulling it out.
- Remove all the other connection like the audio and USB connectors. Remove the SATA cable and all your storage units like SSD or NVMe drive.
- Remove the old motherboard by unscrewing the four attaching screws on the four corners. Follow the same pattern that you did while unlocking the PSU screws.
- Before installing the new motherboard, make sure to attach the CPU, CPU fan, RAM sticks, and the NVMe drives beforehand.
- Insert the new motherboard and re-screw the four corner screws in the same order as you unscrewed it.
- Re-insert the GPU( if you have one).
- Re-install the PSU( if you had removed it before).
- Reconnect all the motherboard connections.
- Connect the power connector to the motherboard and turn on the PSU.
- Re-attach the side panel or the side window.
- Attach the power cable to the PSU and the VGA or HDMI cable to the monitor and GPU ( if you do not have a GPU you will need to connect the VGA or HDMI cable directly to your motherboard).
- Turn on your computer and see if it is working correctly.
By following these steps, you can replace your old motherboard.
Now, let us know about installing a completely new motherboard.
How to install a new motherboard?
Compared to replacing, installing a new motherboard is quite simple as you do not need to remove the old one first.
Follow along to know about how to install a motherboard step by step.
- Firstly, prepare everything and put it on a flat table. It is better to have a chest-high table as it is easier to work on it.
- Get a screwdriver, a side cutter, a plier and a screw tray. We prefer a magnetic screwdriver and screw tray as you will surely lose your screws if you are not careful enough.
- Open the motherboard box and put the motherboard on the package for safekeeping.
- Take your CPU and install it on the CPU-socket.
To install it, take your CPU and hold it by the edges. Find the triangle on your CPU and find the triangle near the CPU socket. Lift the mounting bracket and softly place the CPU on the CPU-socket matching the triangles on them both.
Do not put any extra pressure while inserting the CPU or you might end up damaging it.
- After placing the CPU install the CPU cooler by removing the mounting bracket around the CPU-socket and screwing it in. After inserting the cooler connect its power cable to the motherboard.
This process can be quite different if you have an air or water cooler as your cooling solution.
- Take the RAM stick or sticks and lightly press them on the ram slots but make sure that the pins are correctly aligned or else they will break. The RAM sticks should lock themselves in.
If your motherboard has four RAM slots and you have two RAM sticks, make sure to connect them in the first and third slot or the second and fourth slot.
- Now you are ready to place the motherboard inside your casing. But we recommend a test run of the PC before putting it in because if there are any defective parts, it will be complicated to replace that part.
- Take your casing and remove the side panel. If you have a tempered glass side, make sure to store it in a safe spot.
- Install the motherboard mounting screws( if it is needed).
- Remove the I/O shield and put the motherboard inside the casing and screw it in.
- Attach the PSU with the casing and connect the power cables to the motherboard.
- Remove two PCI slot cover and connect your GPU to the PCI express slot. Make sure to align the GPU with the back panel and the motherboard.
- Take all your cables to the back of the case and tie them up with zip ties.
- Re-install the side panel. If you have a tempered glass side, it is better to attach it after the whole setup process is complete.
There you go. The motherboard installation process is now complete.
We hope this article has helped you in knowing about How to install a motherboard step by step.
Installing a motherboard can a bit complicated at first. But if you know how to install a motherboard step by step, it is not that hard, and once you have enough experience, it will be a piece of cake.