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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.

Making the connections

After you've installed the motherboard, CPU, memory, and cooler, it's time to attach all of the connectors. Your motherboard documentation will show you the layout for these, so consult that before proceeding. Here are the basics you'll need to connect.

  • Primary power
  • ATX12V secondary CPU power connector (four-pin or eight-pin; if you have a choice, go with eight-pin)
  • Power and reset switches, plus hard-drive and power-activity LEDs
  • Fan connectors, including the CPU cooling fan
  • USB and front-panel audio (your system may also have a front-panel FireWire connector; my Coolermaster Sileo 500 case lacked that amenity)
  • SATA connectors on the motherboard (make sure to do this before you install the graphics board)
  • Storage connectors to the hard drives and optical drives

Finally, install the PCI Express graphics card and make sure to attach the PCIe power connectors to the card.

Okay, now it's time to boot the system, right? Well, not quite.

Review: things to check

Always go back and review what you've done before booting up the PC--I always forget something.

  • Is the memory seated properly?
  • Is the CPU cooling fan connected to power?
  • Are the mounting screws screwed in properly?
  • Is the ATX I/O back plate installed?
  • Are the power and reset switch connectors attached?
  • Are the IDE and power LED connectors attached?
  • Is the case-fan power connected?
  • Are the storage data and power cables connected?
  • Are both the main and ATX12V power cables connected?
  • Is the PCI Express power connected to the graphics board?

Now that you've double-checked all the connections, you need to attach the external cabling, namely the power, keyboard, mouse, network, and video cables. Next, you'll power up the system.

NEXT PAGE: Post-upgrade follow up

  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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