How to install a new motherboard

This post is the second part of a tutorial describing how to replace the motherboard of a computer.

We saw in the previous post how I uninstalled and removed the motherboard of my computer, we are going to see now how I installed the new motherboard into my computer.

Please note that you can damage some computers components if you do not proceed carefully. If you feel unsure about reproducing these steps, ask someone with good computer skills to help you. As always, the author and the website decline any responsibilities about the consequences of trying to reproduce these steps.

Be aware that static electricity can damage computer components. The charges may build up on your body when you walk on carpeted floors or if you wear woolen clothes for instance. You can easily neutralize these static charges by touching any conductive material not isolated from the ground (any metallic furniture or appliance will do).

I had purchased a cheap (36€) refurbished Gigabyte B450M DS3H motherboard to replace the previous one.

The Gigabyte B450M DS3H motherboard
The Gigabyte B450M DS3H motherboard

1) Removing the retention frame anchors

The motherboard was originally equipped with retention frame anchors needed to install a CPU cooler with retention clips. My CPU (an AMD Ryzen 3400G) was using a spring-screws CPU cooler and, as a consequence, I had to remove the frame anchors. I used a Phillips cruciform screwdriver to unscrew the four screws of the retention frame anchors.

The four screws of the retention frame anchors
The four screws of the retention frame anchors

The retention frame anchors could then be removed easily.

Retention frame anchors removed
Retention frame anchors removed

2) Inserting the CPU and locking into the motherboard socket

Before inserting an AMD CPU into the AM4 socket, be sure to check the proper pin alignment of the CPU and its socket or you may damage your CPU. The proper orientation of the pins is identified by a small gold colored triangle on the CPU and a small triangle on the socket.

Proper CPU and Socket pin alignment
Proper CPU and Socket pin alignment

I checked that the socket retention lever was unlatched (into the vertical position) before carefully inserting the CPU into the socket with the CPU pins lining up with the socket holes.

CPU inserted into the socket
CPU inserted into the socket

Then I locked the processor in place by pushing down on the socket retention lever with my index finger until it was locked in a horizontal position.

Pushing down on the socket retention lever
Pushing down on the socket retention lever

3) Adding the thermal paste

I added a bit of thermal paste on the top of the CPU integrated heat spreader (IHS). AMD recommends a 10mm diameter. I used the default thermal paste that had been provided with the CPU, but you may want to look for some high performance thermal paste if you want to improve the heat transfer between the CPU and CPU cooler.

Thermal paste droplet
Thermal paste droplet

I spread the thermal paste with the glove covering my index finger to cover the CPU IHS but you could use a plastic card (an old credit card for instance) for doing the job. The idea is to cover the CPU surface with a thin uniform layer. Keep in mind that the pressure exerted by the CPU cooler (once installed) will spread the thermal paste even more.

Spreading the thermal paste
Spreading the thermal paste

4) Installing the CPU cooler

I was now ready to install the CPU cooler. I positioned it so that its four spring-screws would align with the screw holes of the motherboard backplate then I carefully placed the heatsink on top of the CPU.

I started by turning the spring-screws half a turn clockwise with a Phillips cruciform screwdriver to connect them with the motherboard backplate by following a diagonal pattern. Then I tightened each spring-screw with a full turn and finally I tightened them until I could feel some resistance meaning that the CPU cooler was secured in place.

Securing the CPU cooler in place
Securing the CPU cooler in place

Finally I connected the CPU fan to the motherboard connector.

Connecting the CPU fan
Connecting the CPU fan

5) Installing the RAM modules

The next step was to install the DDR4 RAM memory modules. You should consult the motherboard documentation to identify the proper memory slots to use with your RAM modules.  I wanted to use two 16 GB DDR4 RAM modules and Gigabyte recommended to install them in the slots DDR4_1 and DDR4_2 for enabling the Dual Channel mode and improving the performance. I have added the memory slots names used by Gigabyte for this motherboard on the following photo.

DDR4 memory slots names
DDR4 memory slots names

Before inserting the memory module in their slots, you will have to open latches at the end of the memory slots by pushing them with a finger. This motherboard has two latches per memory slot but other design have a single latch.

DDR4 Memory slots latches
DDR4 Memory slots latches

Memory slots have a fool-proof design to identify the proper orientation of the memory module inside the slot. You simply have to align the memory module key notch (the small empty gap between the pins) with the raised position of the memory slot.

DDR4 module key notch and raised position of the memory slot
DDR4 module key notch and raised position of the memory slot

I started by inserting the first memory module in slot DDR4_1. I aligned correctly the memory module with its slot and I pressed in the memory module ends evenly with two fingers until I could hear a small “click” that meant that the latch had been closed and that the memory module was now fastened in its slot.

First DDR4 RAM module inserted in slot DDR4_1
First DDR4 RAM module inserted in slot DDR4_1

Then I did the same with the second DDR4 module in slot DDR4_2.

DDR4 modules inserted in slots DDR4_1 and DDR4_2
DDR4 modules inserted in slots DDR4_1 and DDR4_2

6) Installing the M.2 SSD

The next step was to install the M.2 SSD in its slot. M.2 SSD modules only fit in one orientation into a M.2 slot, a notch will help you to identify the proper orientation. I aligned the M.2 SSD module with the motherboard M.2 slot and I inserted it gently diagonally.

M.2 SSD inserted diagonally in its slot
M.2 SSD inserted diagonally in its slot

Then I used the small Phillips screwdriver to tighten the M.2 screw and to secure the M.2 SSD in place.

Securing the M.2 SSD in place
Securing the M.2 SSD in place

7) Installing the motherboard inside the computer case

I could now install the motherboard inside the computer case. I put the motherboard backplate in place and I aligned carefully the motherboard with the computer case standoffs and the backplate. Then I secured the motherboard inside the computer case with five screws. The amount of screws needed to secure the motherboard depends on the motherboard and the computer case but you should at least have a screw at each corner of the motherboard.

Motherboard secured inside the computer case with 5 screws
Motherboard secured inside the computer case with 5 screws

8) Connecting the 24 pin ATX power connector

Later I connected the 24 pin ATX power connector. The connector has a latch clip that has corresponding clip on the motherboard. I pressed gently until I could here a small clic meaning that the connector was secured in place.

 24 pin ATX power connector
24 pin ATX power connector

9) Connecting the 4 pin ATX power connectors

Next was the turn of the 4 pin 12V ATX power connectors. Once again they had a small clip to secure them in place. I matched the two connectors with the motherboard and I pressed them gently until they were secured in place.

Two 4 pin ATX connectors and their slot
Two 4 pin ATX connectors and their slot
The two 4 pin ATX connectors secured in place
The two 4 pin ATX connectors secured in place

10) USB connectors

Then I connected the USB 3.0 connectors also used by case ARGB lights controller and the USB 2.0 connectors.

USB 3.0 Connector
USB 3.0 Connector
USB 2.0 connector
USB 2.0 connector

11) Front panel audio connector

The next step was to connect the front panel audio connector.

Front Panel Audio Connector
Front Panel Audio Connector

12) System panel cables

The next step was to connect the System panel cables. You will have to check the motherboard documentation to identify the proper pins to use.

System panel cables
System panel cables
System panel cables connected
System panel cables connected

13) SATA cables

Finally I connected the SATA cables (two cables here as I had two SATA HDD to connect).

SATA cables connected
SATA cables connected

14) Closing the case and starting up the computer

I closed the computer case, I reconnected the power, Ethernet, USB, Video and Sound cables at the back the case andI switched on the computer and crossed my fingers. I could hear the fan spinning and after one or two seconds the Gigabyte Logo appeared. I entered the UEFI configuration to check that everything was OK. I enabled the XMP DDR4 profile to have the RAM working as DDR4-3200.  I saved the changes, restarted the computer and Windows 10 started without any issues. My computer now had a new motherboard and everything was working as expected!

Watch out as replacing the motherboard may require the reinstallation of some device drivers and even to enter a new Windows activation key.

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