Lesson 3: Motherboard installation – make a computer


In lesson 3 we’ll take the next step to make a computer by installing the motherboard into the case.  We’ll attach the Intel CPU cooler to the motherboard and connect the cables to the motherboard.

Motherboard Risers

To install the motherboard into our case we first have to position the risers. The risers are designed to raise the motherboard off the back of the case to prevent an electrical short.  Some cases will come with the standard ATX risers installed.

The risers are screwed into positions around the back of the case to match up with screw holes on the motherboard. The risers have screw holes in them to allow another screw to go through the motherboards holes and secure the motherboard to the case.

Some cases, like this one, come with risers that are built in.

The best way to find the positions for the risers in the case, is to hold the motherboard in place and look for the holes in the case that correspond to the holes in the motherboard.

Be sure to put risers where ever a screw can go through a hole in the motherboard. It’s important not to add unneeded risers because any risers that don’t correspond to a hole in the motherboard will make contact with the circuits on the back and short out the motherboard.

Once the risers are in place we need to install the face plate for the motherboards external connectors on the back of the case.

Face Plate (rear panel)

The faceplate is included with the motherboard. {unreg}

The case will usually come with a generic plate that you have to remove.  Press the edges of it from the outside of the case and it will pop out.

Then slide the face plate that came with the motherboard into place, from the inside of the case. Press around it’s edges and it will snap in.

Installing the Motherboard

To attach the motherboard, insert it into position and move it to the back of the case, so the external connectors are sticking out the back.  We have the case standing up because it is easier for shooting this video.  Laying the case on it’s side before installing the motherboard is the best way.

You should see the risers through the holes in the motherboard. Put the first screw in the top left hole, but leave the screw a little loose. This will hold the motherboard in place and still allow you to move it slightly in order to center therisers in the holes and add the remaining screws.

Add the next screw at the bottom right of the motherboard and leave it loose as well. The rest of the screws can go in any order.

Once all the screws are in, push the motherboard toward the back of the case and tighten all of the screws down.

Connecting Front Case Cables

The last step in installing the motherboard is to connect the cables from the front of the case.

On this case there are separate cables for the Power and Reset buttons, a HDD LED and Power LED, which attach to pins at the bottom of the motherboard.

We’ll check our motherboard manual to locate and identify the pins.

On the power and reset switch cables the direction of the connector doesn’t matter. For the power LED and HDD LED connect the cables so the wire marked with plus or a triangle is facing left. If there isn’t a marking the colored cable is the positive one.

This will insure, in most cases, that they are attached in the correct direction. If it turns out that a light on the front of the case doesn’t work. Make sure the cable is connected to the right pins and try flipping it over.

Most cases also have ports on the front panel for audio in and out and, USB.

The audio cable from the front panel connects to a F Audio or AAFP header on the motherboard. The connector has one missing pin and will only go in one way.

We’re installing an add-on sound card in Lesson 8, so we’ll wait to install the audio cable.

The USB cables from the front panel will go into headers on the motherboard. For USB 3.0 it is a 20 pin connector which is tabbed so it can only go in one way. For USB 2.0 it is a 9 pin connector and there is a missing pin on one corner so it will only go in one way.

That’s it, the motherboard is installed. In lesson 4, we’ll install the cooling fans into the case.