1. One of the most important things to remember when swapping out your old motherboard for a new one is getting one that will work with the components that you have on hand. Make sure that it will work with you processor, memory, heat sink, power supply, hard drive and case. Not all motherboards are created equal and you should either replace your old motherboard with an exact duplicate of the original or do your homework on the new, upgraded one. Being in the business of selling Dell motherboards, we have seen many people replace their motherboard with an incorrect model. This leads to extra time, effort and maybe even money when dealing with an RMA. A little research will save you a load of time and energy.
2. Always be careful when removing the original motherboard in your system. This is especially important if you are planning to use any of the pieces that are currently attached to it. Be careful to observe Standard ESD procedures as to not shock any of the electronic components and make them useless. Generally all you must do to stay ESD safe is be mindful of static build up (avoid standing on a carpeted area in your socks, for example) and be sure to touch a grounded metal surface every couple of minutes. You will want to be careful when removing the screws on the motherboard as you may need them later and if you strip the screw you also stand a chance of stripping a lead. This will make screwing in the new motherboard a bit more difficult. When removing the motherboard, try to avoid pulling it from any sensitive areas of the motherboard. Look for a firm place to grip such at a PCIE slot or if necessary the heat sink as long as it is very secure innotechreviews.
3. When unhooking the cables that are attached to your motherboard, keep in mind what it is you are unplugging and where it is plugged into on the motherboard. To help make your reconnection task easier, temporarily label the different cables or write down the connection/wire color for a point of reference. If you are changing out to a new motherboard that is completely different, try to remember what the plugs looked like that the cables were plugged into. When unplugging the cables, be sure to lightly pull on the connector part of the cable and not the cable itself as you may end up pulling the cable completely out of the connector.
4. Carefully remove the components that you are going to reuse from the original motherboard. If you are too rough with any of them you stand the chance of damaging them. Be sure to salvage whatever you can from the old motherboard. It is helpful to have any spare parts that may come about as you never know when you are going to need an extra screw or heat sink. Once you have removed all salvageable parts off of the motherboard, put the old motherboard to the side so you can remember to recycle it later. Now is also a good time to see if your new motherboard needs some kind of mount screwed into it from the underside to attach the heat sink to.
5. Installing the new motherboard is often times tricky as many system cables and power supply cables tend to get in the way. Some systems require very specific boards will seem even harder to install as it will have a very snug fit. Remember, patience is a virtue. Try to put all of your cables out of the way as much as possible but be sure that none of them get trapped underneath, either. You will not want to force the motherboard in with brute strength because it is a sensitive piece of electronic equipment. In some cases, tilting the board one way or the other when putting it in will yield a much easier fit then just trying to go straight down into it. Once you are flush in, make sure that your screw holes line up flush with the leads on the bottom of the case. Upon verification that the motherboard is in correctly, continue to screw in your new motherboard. Do not over tighten or get too rough with it as you do not want to strip a screw. I usually recommend tightening screws on your motherboard by hand then with an electric screw driver.
6. Now that your motherboard is in, the rest of the swap is pretty easy. The first thing I recommend doing is putting in your processor. The processor probably currently has a thick, crusty layer of thermal grease on it right now. It is important to wipe off any preexisting thermal grease. The old grease might not provide a good enough conductive connection to the heat sink. Once you have wiped of the grease with a dry cloth, go ahead and place the new processor in the processor socket. Usually this either entails sliding the pins into a bunch of tiny holes or with new processors the pins are on the motherboard and the processor is flat on the bottom. You must CAREFULLY place the processor flat onto the motherboard. Always be sure to match up the arrow on the processor with the arrow on the socket. This allows you to know it is seated in the correct way.
7. After placing the processor in, you are going to need a new layer of thermal grease. Simply place a small dab about the size of a pea on the processor. Once you have done that you can put your heat sink on. It is usually recommended to place it straight down on it instead of at an angle to ensure proper distribution of the grease. There are several different types of heat sinks so it is best to find instructions for your specific heat sink or install it the same way that you removed the old one. Many modern day heat sinks also have built in and there will be a small cable coming off of it. Use your cord labels or map to find the coordinating connector for this.
8. Your next step will be to plug in the memory. Memory is very sensitive to static shock so be very careful with it. Place your memory in the memory slot labeled 1 and line it up so that it is straight up and down. Make sure that the space on the bottom gold parts of the stick of memory lines up with the raised indention on the slot. Once you see that these two spaces line up perfectly push straight down on the memory with your thumbs and the memory should slide right into the slot and the two clips on the side should clip it into place. If for some reason it does not want to go in do not force it in as this may be a bigger issue and you do not want to hurt the board or the memory. There are slots that are all labeled 1-4 and memory must be put in them in that order even though several times number 1 and number 2 will not be side by side. If your memory did not fit, you more than likely have the wrong type of memory or you had the stick backwards. If the wrong memory is used, be sure to read the motherboard’s manual for compatible model numbers.
9. Now is the time to pull out your map of connectors if you had one. If they are marked with labels, this will be even easier. Try to avoid bending any pins on IDE connectors as bending them back into place is nearly impossible unless you have the right tools. If you have any leftover cables that were not needed, simply tuck them into any empty part of the case that is away from fans. Be sure to plug in any cards back into the spots where they were located before.