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Removing your motherboard is one of the most cumbersome tasks when it comes to computers. At least it is not very difficult. You will, however, have to plug out all the cables, remove your graphics card, and unscrew all the screws holding it in place. This will take you at least 20 to 30 minutes, so be prepared for that.
Since the motherboard connects together every single component in the computer, you can see why this can take some time, especially if you have a lot of case fans and other stuff plugged in. You will even have to plug out the buttons and LED lights from the case. Without any further ado, this is how to remove a motherboard.
Before you do anything, you need to make sure that you are wearing an antistatic wrist band. If you can’t get one right now, which is very likely due to the ongoing pandemic, then the next best thing is to keep yourself grounded at all times. You can do this by touching your computer case to discharge the static electricity. You should do it every minute just to be extra sure.
The reason why you have to be grounded is that even a minor electric discharge can instantly kill your motherboard, graphics card, and many other exposed parts inside the computer. You also need to make sure that the power is off before doing anything. Turn off your power supply by pressing the button on the back of the computer that has an on/off symbol and pulls the cable out. Note that not all power supplies have buttons on the back, though.
The next thing that you have to do is to plug out all the cables from the back of the computer. You need to lay your computer horizontally on a flat surface, preferably a desk. Do not lay it on a carpet or similar surfaces, as that can cause static electricity to build up.
Once your computer is in place and you made sure that you are grounded, it is time to open the case by taking off the left side panel. Most standard cases use a few thumb screws in the back that you can easily undo, as the name suggests, with your fingers. If they are too tight, you can use a Phillips screwdriver to get them off instead.
Now that your computer is open, you could optionally clean it from any dust. It will make the process of removing the motherboard that much easier and cleaner. A can of compressed air will get the job done nice and fast. Once you are done with the cleaning, you are ready to take your hardware out.
Removing Other Hardware
Before taking out the motherboard, you will, unfortunately, have to remove most other components. It will take some time to do this, but you should never rush it. The first thing that you have to remove is the graphics card. This is probably the largest computer part that is attached, but it is actually very easy to remove.
First, you want to plug out the power cables that go into the graphics card. If you have a low-end graphics card that does not use a ton of power, then there are no cables to unplug. Then, simply undo the screws on the left that are located on the I/O part of the graphics card. The only thing that is left to do now is to pull on the PCIe slot lever to release the graphics card. You will feel the card pop out. Then gently pull it out and place it somewhere safe.
If you have any other components installed into the PCI slots, now is the time to remove them too. This includes but is not limited to, the sound card, the network card, capture card, adapters, and so on. Your computer may not have any of these, not even the graphics card.
You will have to remove everything else that goes in the way. On older computers, this could include things like the hard, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM drive. You do not have to remove your CPU and RAM, but you may have to remove the CPU cooler if you are using a very large aftermarket cooler that gets in the way. This means that all AIO liquid coolers will have to be detached.
Unplugging the Cables
Now that you got the big parts out of the way, it is time to unplug all internal cables. The cables that you have to unplug vary based on your configuration, but some things are universal. You will have to unplug the main power connector, which is the largest and widest cable on the right side of the motherboard.
You will also have to unplug the CPU power cables, which can be a 4-pin or an 8-pin connector that is plugged in on the left side of your CPU. This is why you may have had to remove the CPU cooler if it was too bulky and got in the way. There are also the 3-pin and 4-pin fans that you will have to unplug and tuck their cables away.
The next step is to unplug all SATA cables on the bottom right as well as the case cables. The SATA cables are usually color-coded and look very different from all other cables. The case cables, on the other hand, are tiny and there are many of them, which is why taking a picture is easier than having to troubleshoot later when you plug the cables back in if your computer won’t start when you push the power button.
You probably have to unplug the cables that connect the USB ports from the case as well, which are located on the bottom part of the board. Once you have unplugged all the cables, do a quick check to make sure that you did not overlook something before moving on to the following step.
Removing the Motherboard
This is it. The final stretch. Now is the time to grab your little Phillips screwdriver and start removing the screws. Once again, the number and the location of all the screws that hold the motherboard in place vary a lot. This largely depends on the type. The most common are standard ATX, micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, and extended-ATX (EATX).
The best idea would be to check the user manual for your specific motherboard and check where all the screws are located. Now undo all the screws that hold the motherboard in place. Be slow and gentle because you can kill your motherboard if your screwdriver hits it hard enough.
You can grab onto the CPU heatsink to prevent the motherboard from moving around if you have not removed it. Otherwise, try to hold it from the sides or even the chipset heatsink. Do not touch the capacitors or any other part of the motherboard.
Once all screws have been removed, gently lift the motherboard by grabbing onto the CPU cooler or chipset heatsink and the sides of the motherboard. Pay close attention to the I/O shield because it may hold the motherboard in place. You will have to gently move the motherboard to the right side until the I/O shield detaches. Now put the motherboard on a flat surface where it can’t get damaged (hint: you can use the motherboard’s box or any other piece of cardboard for that).
That is pretty much it. The motherboard is out, which means that you are finally done. Now you can install the new motherboard into the case. If you want to remove the RAM and processor from the motherboard, you can now easily do that. If you plan to store your old motherboard, we recommend that you first put it in an anti-static bag and store it in a rigid cardboard box.
All in all, removing the motherboard is a fairly simple process that takes a lot of time because all computer parts are attached to it, including the PSU cables. If you do not have a graphics card or a large aftermarket CPU cooler, removing the motherboard will be much easier.
Always be very gentle and do not rush anything whenever you are doing something on your computer. Make sure that you are grounded using an antistatic wrist band or by touching the metal parts of the computer case.