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This chapter is from the book

Upgrading and Replacing Motherboards

When upgrading a motherboard or processor, you must consider several issues. The following list guides you through making the decision (or helping a customer make the decision) whether to upgrade a motherboard:

  • Why is the computer being upgraded? For example, does the computer need more memory? Are more expansion slots needed? Does the computer need a bigger/faster CPU to run certain operating systems or applications? Is more space wanted in the computer area? Sometimes upgrading the motherboard does not help unless the other computer components are upgraded. The most expensive and fastest motherboard/CPU will not run applications well unless it has the proper amount of memory. Hard drives are another issue. If software access is slow, the solution might not be a new motherboard but a faster and larger hard drive or more RAM.

  • Which type of expansion slot (PCI, AGP, or PCIe) and how many adapters of each type are needed from the old motherboard? Does the new motherboard have the required expansion slots?

  • What type of chipsets does the new motherboard support? What features, if any, would this bring to the new motherboard?

  • Will the new motherboard fit in the current computer case, or is a new one required?

  • If upgrading the CPU, will the motherboard support the new type of CPU?

  • Does the motherboard allow for future CPU upgrades?

  • How much memory (RAM) does the motherboard allow? What memory chips are required on the new motherboard? Will the old memory chips work in the new motherboard or with the new CPU?

Before replacing a motherboard, it is important to do all the following:

  • Remove the CPU and CPU fan.

  • Remove adapters from expansion slots.

  • Remove memory chips from expansion slots.

  • Disconnect power connectors.

  • Disconnect ribbon cables.

  • Disconnect external devices such as mouse, keyboard, and monitor.

Replacement motherboards do not normally come with RAM, so the old modules are removed from the bad/older motherboard. A motherboard usually does not come with a CPU. Make note of the CPU orientation before removing it from the bad/older motherboard. Some retailers sell kits that include the computer case, power supply, motherboard, and CPU so that the components match, function together correctly, and are physically compatible.

When upgrading any component or the entire computer, remember that the older part can be donated to a charity or educational institution. Something that one person considers outdated may be an upgrade to someone else. Educational institutions are always seeking components to use in classrooms. Many stores have recycling programs for computer parts.

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