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How to upgrade your motherboard the easy way

Follow our guide to ensure you don't run in to problems

You've taken the plunge and bought a hot new motherboard. Here's how to upgrade your motherboard, swap your hardware, and prep your system so that you won't have to reinstall your apps.

The upgrade

For this article, I picked a pretty straightforward project. The system to be upgraded had an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU running on an Intel DX48BT2 motherboard, which uses an Intel X48 chipset. Though it was already a fairly fast system, it served my purposes, as it consisted of a last-generation CPU running on top of an older chipset.

I replaced the DX48BT2 with an Intel DX58SO motherboard, plus a Core i7 930 processor (2.8GHz) and 6GB of DDR3 memory from OCZ.

The original system had a few games, Microsoft Office, and Windows 7 Professional 64bit edition. Office, of course, required activation, as did Windows itself.

To swap in the new gear, find a good work space that's flat, dry, and free of static electricity. If you live in a cold, dry area, running a humidifier in the background may be worthwhile. If possible, ground yourself with an antistatic strap; if you don't have one, be sure to touch bare metal to ensure that you've discharged static electricity before proceeding.

First, remove the old motherboard. You need to be careful when removing the CPU cooler and, in particular, the tiny connectors that run to the status LEDs, as well as the power and reset buttons. In fact, make sure to disconnect all wiring and cables before you start pulling out mounting screws. You'll probably want to remove the old memory and CPU, as well, storing them in appropriate, static-free containers. (Note: Tupperware and similar containers are not a good idea.)

You'll need a number 2 Phillips screwdriver, and possibly some fine needlenose pliers. Once you've disconnected all the wiring, take out the mounting screws and set them aside, and then wiggle the motherboard out carefully. Store the board in an antistatic envelope. Be sure to remove the ATX I/O plate, too.

NEXT PAGE: Motherboard installation

  1. How to avoid problems
  2. Preparing for the swap
  3. Check your storage settings
  4. The upgrade
  5. Motherboard installation
  6. Making the connections
  7. Post-upgrade follow up
  8. Cross-chipset upgrades


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