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Home >> Resources | Support >> Installation Guides >> 

Motherboard Installation and Upgrade Guide

Motherboard Installation and Upgrade Guide

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The following article is based on years of experience. It is provided as a free service to our customers and visitors. However, Directron.com is not responsible for any damage as a result of following any of this advice.

Copying the contents for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without Directron.com's written consent. However, you are welcome to distribute these computer support tips free to your friends and associates as long as it's not for commercial purposes and you acknowledge the source. You are permitted and encouraged to create links to this page from your own web site.

| Choose Motherboard | Motherboard Troubleshooting Tips |

Mounting the Motherboard onto the Casing.
  • WARNING: Handle motherboards gently by the edges. Some of the component leads under the board have sharp edges and may cause serious injury. To prevent electrostatic discharge damage to the components on your motherboard, do not remove the motherboard from the static-shielded bag until you have discharged any static electricity from your body by touching any unpainted surface on the case of your computer.
  • Most computer cases have a base with many mounting holes that allow the motherboards to be securely attached to the case and prevent the back of the motherboard touching the metal case and short circuits.
  • There are two ways to attach the mainboard to the base: (1) with plastic spacers or (2) with metal bolts
  • In principle, the best way to attach a motherboard is with bolts and only if you are unable to use a bolt should you attach the motherboard with spacers. Some cases come with a combination of spacers and bolts. Use bolts whenever you can.
  • Newer and better computer cases come with bolts built into the base, saving you the time to screw the bolts on.
  • Most detached motherboard base bolts come in either copper or stainless steel. Two sizes of screws are used, depending on the case manufacturer. Choose the screw size carefully. Do not use case screws for mounting motherboards or any drives. Case screws are designed to "lock" in the sheet metal, which may damage the female screw holes on the bolts or drives.
  • Take a careful look at the mainboard and you will see many mounting holes. Line these holes up with the mounting screw holes or slots on the base. For motherboard holes that line up screw holes on the base, you can attach them with bolts. For bolt positions, do not tighten the screws until all the screws are in. Sometimes, you may need to move the motherboard slightly to make the screw holes fit.
  • If the motherboard holes line up with slots, attach these positions with spacers. Take the tip of the spacers and insert it into the slots. After doing this to all the slots, you can slide the mainboard into position aligned with the slots.
  • If the motherboard has mounting holes, but they don't line up with the holes on the base and there are no slots to attach the spacers, the spacer would be too tall. Just cut the "feet" on the spacers with a wire cutter. (The spacers may be very hard, so be careful when cutting). In this way you can still attach the motherboard to the base without worrying about short circuits.
Standard External Connectors.
  • Several cables and plugs from the inside of the case must be connected to the motherboard. These cables and plugs are usually connected manually and one-by-one to connectors on the motherboard. You need to pay attention to any connection orientation for the cables and plugs. If any, notice the position of the first pins of the connectors on the motherboard, which are often marked.
  • The actual position and marking of the connectors on the motherboard vary greatly from brand to brand and from model to model. Read your motherboard manual carefully before any installation. Here is a list of most frequently used connections and their purposes:
    • System speaker (often 4-pin plug), for system sound
    • Hardware reset connector (often 2 pin plug), for resetting/rebooting the computer
    • Keylock and power LED connector (4 or 5-pin plug), for indicating computer on and off
    • HDD LED connector (often 2-pin plug), for indicating the usage of hard disc drives
    • Power connectors for case or microprocessor fan, supplying DC power to fans
    • Power switch (often 2-pin plug), for turning the computer on and off
    • DC power input connector (One 20-pin plug for ATX for 3.3V, +5, -5, +12, and -12V DC voltages; two 6-pin plugs for AT for +5, -5, +12 and -12V DC voltages), supplying DC power to the motherboard
    • For ATX motherboards, serial and parallel ports are built-in on the motherboard. For AT motherboards, you must also connect these ports to the corresponding connectors on the motherboards. Watch for the polarity of the plugs for the ports. Align the colored edge of the ribbon cables to Pin 1 on the connectors.
    • For ATX motherboards, PS2 mouse connectors are integrated into the motherboard. For AT motherboards you must attach a serial mouse to one of the serial port. Or you may have a PS2 mouse connector on the motherboard to use a PS2 mouse on an AT motherboard.
    • Some ATX motherboards come with ATX form factor connectors (8 pins)
    • Motherboards with integrated audio and/or video will come with special cables and plugs for these onboard devices. Consult your motherboard manual for details.
Jumper Settings
  • Jumper switches on the motherboard are often used to configure various hardware options. To avoid losing jumper caps, attach the removed jumper caps to one of the jumper pins. Putting a jumper cap on two jumper pins connects them.
  • You must change jumper settings if you change the microprocessor speed and type. Sometimes you need to change the jumper settings if you change the memory type.
  • Most jumper positions and pin assignment are marked on the motherboards. The actual positions and meaning of the jumpers vary greatly among motherboards. Read your motherboard manual carefully before any installation. Here is a list of most of used jumpers:
    • CPU type selection
    • CPU microprocessor external clock selection
    • CPU microprocessor internal clock speed selection
    • CPU microprocessor core voltage selection
    • PCI BUS clock selection
    • DIMM voltage selection (3.3V vs. 5V)
    • CMOS RAM discharge selection
Jumperless motherboards

Jumperless motherboards, most often used by QDI, ABIT and Intel, use software to configure the above hardware options, instead of hardware jumpers. The advantage of this technology is the convenience to change the configuration without opening the computer or know the jumper positions.

Installing microprocessors

The mounting mechanism for CPUs vary from one type to the other. Consult your motherboard manual for mounting these microprocessors. These are the main types of microprocessors that are still in the market and are not interchangeable:
  • Socket 478, for Pentium 4 and newer Celeron
  • Socket 423, for older Pentium 4
  • Socket A / 462, for AMD Athlon Thunderbird, Duron, and XP
  • Socket 603/604, for Intel Xeon
  • Socket 940, for AMD Opteron
  • Socket 7, for classic Pentium and Pentium MMX, AMD K6, and Cyrix microprocessors
  • Super Socket 7, for AMD K6-2 and K6-3 microprocessors
  • Socket 370, for Intel Celeron microprocessors and Pentium III
  • Slot 1, for Intel Pentium II and III microprocessors
  • Slot A, for AMD Athlon microprocessors
Installing memory modules

See Memory Installation Guide for more details.

BIOS setup
  • Warning: Changing motherboards from one brand to another sometimes requires reformatting the hard drive and reloading the operating system. Choose your motherboard and read the motherboard manual thoroughly before upgrading.
  • BIOS is a program located on a Read-Only Memory (ROM) chip on the motherboard. This program will not be lost when you turn the main power to your computer off. This program is also sometimes referred to as the boot program. It is the only channel for the hardware circuit to communicate with the operating system. Its main function is to manage the setup of the basic parameters for motherboard and interface cards. These parameters include simple ones such as time, date, hard disk drive, as well as more complex ones such as hardware synchronization, and device operating mode.
  • WARNING: Do not change any parameters inside the BIOS unless you know what you are doing! The parameters inside the BIOS are used to set up the hardware synchronization or the device operating mode. If these parameters are incorrect, they may produce error, the computer may crash, and sometimes you may even not be able to boot the computer after it crashes. We suggest you not to change the parameters inside the BIOS unless you are familiar with them.
  • When you start your computer, the computer is first controlled by the BIOS program. The BIOS runs an auto-diagnostic procedure for all the necessary hardware, configures the parameters for the hardware synchronization, and detects all the hardware. After it completes these tasks, BIOS gives up the control of the computer to the program of the next level, which is the operating system.
  • Since the BIOS is the only channel for hardware and software to communicate, it will be the key factor to system stability and optimal performance. You lose your customized BIOS setting if the CMOS battery on your motherboard is removed or fails. Your BIOS goes back to its original manufacturer default if that happens.
  • How to set up BIOS is beyond the scope of this guideline. We may add a section just for that. Please always consult your motherboard's manual. Here are list of most often used functions you can configure with BIOS:
    • Standard CMOS Setup Date, hour, HDD operating mode (Normal, LBA, Large), video card, and floppy drive.
    • BIOS Features Setup These are common features: Virus warning. CPU level 1 cache. CPU level 2 cache. CPU level 2 cache ECC checking. Quick power-on self-test. Boot sequence. Swap floppy drive. Boot-up floppy seek. Boot-up Numeric Keypad lock status. IDE HDD block mode. Security options.
    • Chipset Features Setup This menu is used to modify the contents of the buffers in the chipset on the motherboard. Since the parameters of the buffers are closely related to hardware, the motherboard may become unstable or you may not be able to boot up if the setup is not correct. If you don't know the hardware well, use default values.
    • Power Management Setup The difference between Green PCs and traditional computers is that Green PCs have a power management feature. With this feature when the computer is powered on but inactive, the power consumption is reduced in order to save energy. When the computer operates normally, it is in Normal mode. In this mode, the Power Management Program will monitor the access to video, parallel ports, serial ports, and drives and the operating status of the keyboard, mouse and other devices. These are referred to as Power Management Events. In cases when none of these events occur, the system enters the Power Saving Mode. When one of these events occurs, the system immediately returns to normal mode and operates at its maximum speed.
    • PCI & Onboard I/O Setup In this menu, you can change the INT# and IRQ of the PCI bus and the onboard I/O devices, I/O port addresses and other hardware settings.
    • Password Setting This option allows you to set a password required to start the system or to access to the BIOS setup.
    • IDE Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Auto Detect After you have installed the hard disk in an old system, you had to know the hard drive specifications, such as the number of cylinders, heads, and sectors, and to enter the relevant information into the hard disk information section of BIOS. If the CMOS data were erased and you had forgotten the hard disk specifications, it creates a big program. Nowadays, you can use this option to autodetect the hard disk type and specifications, and the BIOS will automatically detect all the relevant information and place them in the Hard Disk Data section of the Standard CMOS Setup Menu, in order to allow you to use your hard disk.

      However, you must partition and format your hard drive before using it! See Hard Drive Installation Guide for more details.
If you encounter any problems during installation, please e-mail our tech support department, support@directron.us. Please reference your order number and item. You may also call 1-713-773-9696 during our office business hours, 9-6 Monday-Friday. Directron.com customers receive FREE technical support for LIFE.

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