Rebuilding My PC [2]

After the power supply, the next thing to do is to assemble and install the main system board. The board comes with an I/O shield which fits into a space on the back of the chassis and this has the cutouts in it for the onboard connectors. Which in this case are PS/2 mouse and keyboard, VGA, four USB ports, RJ45, and three sound minijacks. Uggh, I just noticed there is no serial connector, which means the GPS won’t be able to connect to it. The board has a serial header, but you need to get a slot bracket with the connector and cable mounted on it, or a USB to serial adapter. I have to think about this one; I don’t use the GPS much, but I will have to make arrangements for it one way or the other. I hadn’t thought much about it because hardly anything these days is dependent on the old parallel or serial interface connectors, but Garmin has a backward attitude and even a 2 year old GPS still only comes with a bog standard DE-9 serial port interface. I think I can find an old slot serial connector at work somewhere (we have a small number of very old towers lying around), or I could look at getting an external adapter as they are very cheap nowadays. Four USBs isn’t much these days. The board has headers for another four, of which the two built into the front of the chassis and the card reader’s one will give me three at the front for seven total, one more than the old PC. Intel does make some boards that have more USBs on the rear; this board is a budget model.

Putting the board together is pretty straightforward but you just need to take it slowly and carefully as there are plenty of bits on it that can get broken and can’t be repaired. The key task you need to do before you put it into the chassis is to install the CPU and fan. On older style boards (here I’m thinking really old, like Socket 370) it was possible to install the fan with the board in the chassis, though risky; the fan was held on with a metal spring clip that took a lot of physical force to hook/unhook, and I have vague memories that I may have killed a board once trying to get the clip hooked on, because I missed hooking it over the retaining lug on the socket and gouged the board instead. The LGA775 boards use a heatsink/fan assembly that has four posts that lock into holes in the board, and believe me, it is nearly impossible to lock these into place with the board in the chassis. So put the CPU and fan in before you put the board in. And buy the model of CPU that comes with a heatsink and fan in the package (unless you are an overclocker of course). Have a good look at the locking posts on the fan to see how they go down and lock in position, because I found the arrows on them were anything but helpful. Basically you need to start by turning the posts in the direction of the arrows, put the post in, push the top part firmly down and then turn it in the opposite direction to the arrow. When you push it down, it’s best to put your finger under the board so you don’t bend the board too much. Check all the posts are properly locked so the heatsink-fan isn’t going to fall off. Then run the power cable around the posts to the onboard connector so the wires don’t get caught in the fan. Of course you should orient the fan in the first place so there isn’t any excess wire to float around and get caught in the fan.


The not-so-flat board with the heatsink-fan assembly locked into place on top of the CPU. This appears to be absolutely normal with these boards, although you’d think they could have extra support under that part.


The assembled board with, in this case, the RAM in place as well. Although, that is easy to install later. The heatsink in the middle is the northbridge which needs it because of the onboard GPU. Fortunately the board comes with this heatsink already installed. This is a microATX board so it is quite compact.


Earlier picture showing the board without the CPU installed, this was when I thought I could put the fan on in the chassis, I was sorely mistaken and had to take the board out again to get the fan in.


This picture shows the CPU being installed, the load plate still has to be lowered.