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How to Upgrade a Motherboard

A motherboard is easily the most complicated component of a computer to upgrade. Installing a new motherboard is often done in combination with a new processor and memory. Computer owners who replace the motherboard normally do so to make their computers compatible with the latest processors, memory and add-in cards. When purchasing a new motherboard, you will also need to make sure that it is going to be compatible with the rest of the components in your computer. The following steps will guide you through purchasing and installing a new motherboard.

1 - Remove the Old Motherboard
Uninstalling a motherboard involves dismantling the entire computer. You may wish to reinstall Windows afterwards, especially if you are replacing much of your hardware. To begin, turn off your computer, disconnect the power supply and remove the case cover.
Since every component in your computer is connected to the motherboard, you will need to remove all of the cables. This includes power cables, hard disk cables, optical drive cables, front panel connectors, fan cables, add-in cards, memory sticks and the CPU. You can leave the drives in place, but it is a good idea to disconnect the cables to them so you have more space to work with. Once you have disconnected everything connected to the motherboard, you can start removing the screws that hold the motherboard to the case. There will normally be 5 to 7 of these. Once you have removed the screws, slide the motherboard out of the case. Place all of your components safely aside in antistatic bags.

2 - Install the New Motherboard
Motherboards are available in different form factors, the two most popular being ATX and MicroATX. If the new motherboard you are installing is of a larger variety than the old one, you may need to install more spacers in the lower wall of the case. Before placing the new motherboard into the case, put the bracket onto the back where the connectors are. Attach the motherboard to the case.
Reinstall the CPU, heat sink, memory and add-in cards. Return the hard disk and optical drive cables. Reattach the large power cable and the smaller CPU power cable to the motherboard. Everything should be clearly labeled. There will also be a schematic of your new motherboard in the manual. Following this schematic, connect the front panel connectors for the power button, reset button, hard disk light and USB ports (if you have any on the front of the computer). Be sure to connect your CPU fan to the motherboard, or your computer will not start up.
Once you have installed all of the components, double-check to make sure that every internal cable is attached. Connect the monitor, keyboard, mouse and LAN cable to the back of your computer. Leave the case cover off for now, just in case you need to replace or relocate any cables. Turn the computer on and make sure that the buttons and lights on the front of the computer are working as they should.
You can configure various extra options in the BIOS of your new motherboard. You should disable any on-board graphics or sound chips if your computer already has dedicated add-in cards. For further details, consult the manual.
Finally, boot up into Windows and install all of the drivers that came with your motherboard. It is also a good idea to obtain the latest drivers from the manufacturer's website. You will also need to reinstall drivers for your graphics card and any other components.
Ideally, you should reinstall Windows after such a major upgrade.


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