I often get asked whether an Intel, BioStar, Gigabyte, MSI or ASUS motherboard can be installed in an older computer case and generally the answer is YES! For me, I wanted a motherboard which could offer me more processing power than my ASUS NCCH-DL. The Intel Xeon Socket 604 processors were only able to address 4Gb of DDR memory and it was causing me problems with several of my software programming projects. I choose the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO Xtreme Design Motherboard because it could address up to 16Gb of memory and use AMD Phenom X6 core AM3 processors.
Installing a new ASUS motherboard in an older ATX computer case requires a little prior planning. First, consult the specifications for the board, processor and video cards to ensure you have a large enough power to supply the system. For any project, Planning Is Essential, you are going to save yourself a lot of time and money if you follow the tips below.
Ensure The BIOS Will Work With Your Processor
We all know to check that a new motherboard is compatible with the selected processor but you may not realize that the BIOS must be compatible as well. In the past, I have received Intel motherboards that were not compatible with the Core 2 Duo E8600 processor. As a result, the system would not power up and allow me to even use it. The only solution was to install and older processor. Then download and apply a BIOS update so that my Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 processor would work. To avoid all this hassle, consult with your computer hardware vendor to ensure that the BIOS on the motherboard you are buying is compatible with the processor being installed.
Pick The Right Computer Case
You want to buy a computer case that accept the form factor specified by the motherboard manufacturer. If you want to add an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, then you will need to ensure the computer case is deep enough to fit the product while at the same time allowing enough room for all the power cabling.
In my computer case, I had to remove some old temperature probes which were blocking the SATA port on the bottom right of the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO AM3 Motherboard.
Ground Yourself And The Computer Case To Prevent Static Shock
You should ground yourself while installing an ASUS motherboard or AMD processor to avoid shocking the sensitive electronics and damaging them. To do this, find a grounding strap at your local Radio Shack or simply hold the side of the case with the power supply plugged into a grounded wall outlet.
Install The Hex Nuts To Support The Board
You should place the hex nuts in your computer case so that they match the mounting pattern of the motherboard.
All aftermarket ATX motherboards today have a standard location for their screw holes which connect to the mounting hex nuts on the tray of the computer case.
Ensure Proper Ventilation Underneath The Motherboard If You Will Be Overclocking
If you are going to be core unlocking an AMD Sempron 140 AM3 processor or just increasing the FSB of the CPU then you will want to ensure that area underneath the processor section of the motherboard has adequate air flow. Just cooling the top of the processor is often not enough because the bottom of the processor or cpu socket can quickly heat up while over clocking causing permanent damage to the electrical components.
To check for this, simply place a pen light underneath the motherboard while in a dark room and see if you can see the light anywhere else in the case. To correct this problem, I often will drill 1/2″ in the computer case motherboard tray. This will open up the airflow a little bit more for you.
Don’t Forget The Backpanel!
The ASUS Q-Shield or backpanel fits into a rectangular opening on the back of your computer case. The back panel is a thin piece of metal with circular, rectangular and oval shaped holes cut into it. Like a glove, it fits the expansion ports on the back of the motherboard and allows you to plug in USB ports, HDMI ports and keyboard connections. The slot protects the inside of the computer case by preventing dust or other items from falling inside.
Placing The Motherboard Inside The Case
While making sure you are grounded, place the bare motherboard on top of the mounting bolts and see if they all line up. You may have to push a little bit on the motherboard due to the ASUS Q-Shield pushing back but this is normal. If all the bolt holes line up then you can begin installing the screws. Tighten the screws down until they are a little lose first. Next, with all of them in place, tighten them to about 10lbs of torque. Prior preparation should make this step a snap.
Next, Connect All Power Cables And Fan Connectors
With the power supply cord disconnected, plug in the EATX 12V, EATX Power, CPU fan connectors and System Panel leads so that you can turn the system on. Often overlooked by casual or newbie computer builders, the Fan connectors on your motherboard many not be compatible with your existing computer case fans. To correct this problem you will have to find special converters at your computer hardware supplier.
Install CPU And Memory
Now that you have cables connected, you should next install the memory and cpu. While doing so make sure that you do not flex the motherboard to much. Pressing to hard on the motherboard can cause micro cracks in the PCB material which will result in system instability issues later in its operational life span.
Place Hard Drives Last
Computer hard drives are large and bulky. They require two cables to operate which can block your access to the jumpers and fan headers on the ASUS motherboard. Since I do not like battling cables, I put my hard drives in last. At the same time I bundle the wiring in the computer case with Zip ties, cable ties and electrical tape to reduce the risk of the cables touching the spinning fans or hot heat sinks.
If you follow these recommendations every time you install a motherboard, you will be saving yourself hours of fighting cables and other components. In less than seven hours, I was able to replace my ASUS NCCH-DL with the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO and install Windows Server 2003 SP2. My programming efforts are now much faster because I have nearly quadrupled my hard drive bandwidth with this newer SATA 3 system. You can notice the same gains, if you follow these tips to revive an older computer.