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How to Build Your Own Athlon Computer
(Slot A Processor)
Part 4 - Install and Boot the Motherboard
Last updated: 12/13/99

Also see How to Build a Computer with a Socket A Athlon or Duron Processor

In Part 4 of this article we describe how to install the motherboard and display adapter (less driver), and bringing the computer to the point that it will boot-up the BIOS.

32.  There are nine mounting holes on the motherboard:  two at the very front, which are not used with this case, three in a row 1 1/2" from the front, and four along the back.   Set the motherboard with the anti-static bag on top of the side of the case.  Use it as visual guide to screw seven standoffs to the case.  Screw-in the standoffs by hand and then use a socket driver to tighten them (you could use an adjustable wrench or pliers if you are careful).

Do not over-tighten.  What remains can be very difficult to remove when they break.  Count them to verify there are seven.

33.  Gently place the motherboard in the case so the mounting holes are centered over their respective stand-offs.

Don't force the motherboard into the case--wiggle it into place if you have to.  If you see a mounting hole without a stand-off, you didn't install seven of them or, worse, one of them is in the wrong hole and under the motherboard where it will short-it-out.  I've done it more than once.   It is a very common mistake.

34.  Inspect the back of the computer to see if the I/O connectors are aligned with their respective cutouts.

35.  Attach the motherboard to the standoffs with seven M3*5L screws.  The correct screws look like chassis screws except they are smaller and have a finer thread.  I call them "Packard-Bell screws."

Other cases use larger screws.  I usually check alignment and screw-in one screw at the center of the rear of the board, check alignment again, and screw-in another at the front, followed by the remainder.  Do not over-tighten these screws. You could damage the motherboard.

36.  Double-check that you have secured the motherboard with seven screws and that all of them properly seated (not cross-threaded). 

Besides securing the motherboard to the case, most or all--I can't see all four layers of the board--of these screws electrically ground the board to the case.

37.  Remove the rubber band from the front panel cables.

38.  Attach the front panel cable labeled "POWER SW" to connector labeled "POWER SW" on the motherboard (front of the motherboard, right row, pair of pins furthest to the rear).

39.  Connect the front panel connector labeled "SPEAKER" to the motherboard connector labeled "SPEAKER."  

It is important to connect the speaker now so you can hear any BIOS error beeps when you first power-up the computer.  I do not install the rest of the front panel connectors until I'm sure I do not have to remove the motherboard.

40.  Remove the rubber band from the power supply connectors, untangle them and connect the ATX motherboard power plug  to the socket on the motherboard just in front CPU with clip facing towards the front of the case.  Firmly push it down until it snaps into place.  It will only connect one-way.

41.  Verify that the display adapter is jumpered for AGP 2X (J4 is in the A-B position = up and J3 open) and Insert it into the AGP slot (the brown one), fasten the back of the card to the case with chassis screw, and push firmly and evenly down on the card to be sure it properly seated.

Sometimes an expansion board will pop-up a little at the front when it is screwed down.

42.  Unbox your monitor in a way  similar to that used to unboxed the computer case .  Be careful not to break the styrofoam. Attach the monitor base according to the monitor instructions and make sure it is locked into place and won't come off.  Set the monitor on the workbench.  Plug the power cord into the monitor and into an active outlet (or into a surge protector and turn it on).  Attach the monitor's video cable to the back of the AGP display adapter.  Turn the monitor on and let it warm-up.

I use a known-good shop monitor.

43.  Unwrap the computer's power cord, plug it into the computer and into active outlet.

I leave it wrapped and use a shop cable.

44.  Hold your breath and push-in the power switch on the front of the case.  The computer should boot.

You should hear one short beep and see something on the monitor.  Here we gleefully say, "we have a Computer," when that happens.  I have a computer. How about you? If you don't see anything on the display, immediately turn-off the computer and unplug the power cord from the back of the power supply and check-over everything and verify that your monitor works.  If you hear one long beep, followed two  short ones (it might be three like other motherboards--fast CPU and video--I heard two), the display adapter is not properly seated or is defective (the first one I tried was defective).  Make sure the power cord is not connected to the computer before attempting to reseat the board (or installing or removing any boards).  If you hear a series of long beeps, the memory is not seated properly or is defective.  Many motherboards won't do anything at all if the memory is not seated properly.  See our FAQs on trouble-shooting a dead computer...

45.  Feel (don't touch) with your hand to make sure the CPU fan is spinning.  Turn off the computer if isn't; so your CPU doesn't become a crispy fry.

46.  Feel the outside the back of the case, behind the power supply, to make sure the power supply fan is pushing-out air (quietly).

This particular power supply adjusts the airflow automatically to the temperature inside the case.  It probably won't be blowing much with the case open and not everything in it yet.

47.  Turn-off the computer and unplug the power cord.

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