How to Replace a Motherboard
Level of difficulty:
In computing technology, the motherboard represents perhaps the most important components of the Personal Computer system primarily because it provides the underlying hardware structure which allows all other elements from the micro-processor chip to the hard drive storage to interact with each other and take advantage of the functionality of other elements. A computer user may opt to replace the motherboard component because it has already ceased to function properly or as part of a computer system upgrade to replace the processor or memory modules. The process of replacing the motherboard is somewhat delicate because it involves opening up the computer casing and removing all other installed hardware components in the computer system. This guide takes into consideration that the replacement motherboard is of similar architecture (no processor or memory replacement) including similar input and output port and guide screw holes as the original motherboard used in the machine.
- Pliers or Vise Grip
- Philips-head screwdriver
- backup storage media
The initial step to replacing a functioning motherboard is to back up all data to a separate storage media to make sure that it can be readily reintroduced into the system in case any problem arises
After doing a data backup, shut down the computer system and unplug the power cord connected to the power supply unit at the back panel of the machine.
Take the Philips-head screwdriver and proceed to loosen and remove all screws that hold the PC case cover in place. Remove the PC cover.
Prior to touching the internal components of the computer system, make sure not to touch any metal part of the casing or the metal portion of the screwdriver so as not to ground yourself.
Remove the ATX power connector running from the power supply unit to the motherboard. Press on the locking mechanism and pull it straight out to minimize the possibility of damaging the connector.
Unplug all power supply connectors attached to all internal devices like optical drive, hard drives, auxiliary fans, and even the CPU fan.
Remove the data cable of the hard drive connected to the motherboard and if necessary, disconnect it from the hard drive to allow for more rooms when putting in the new motherboard.
Unscrew all PCI adapter and video cards inserted into the motherboard slots. Make sure that you hold these add-on cards only by the edges to prevent any damage to the expansion card components. Take note of any locking mechanism in the slots (especially for video cards) and try pulling the expansion cards straight out. Avoid touching the gold contacts of the cards. Place all screws in a glass or small container to avoid losing them.
Remove the connections running from the PC case to the motherboard. These normally represent the indicator lights for the power, hard drive activity, power and reset buttons, case speaker, and in certain cases, the connection to the front USB and audio panels. Since the wiring for these connectors are relatively thinner, pull them out by holding the connectors themselves rather than the wiring.
The actual motherboard is mounted in the PC case via a series of screws evenly spread throughout the PCB. Proceed to removing these screws one at a time taking caution not to cause undue strain on the motherboard. In some instances, an over-tightened screw may cause the brass standoff to turn simultaneously making it almost impossible to remove the screw. In this case, take your pliers or vise grip and grab the other end of the standoff from the back portion of the plate and continue removing its screw.
Once all the connections and screws that hold down the motherboard are removed, slowly slip it out of the case and disengage the input/output core shield. Remove the CPU heatsink and fan along with the processor. Remember not to touch the processor pins and take extra care not to bend them.
After all components have been removed from the old motherboard, install the new motherboard by following the same procedure in reverse order from Step 11 to Step 2. Always keep yourself grounded prior to touching any internal components of the machine.