Connecting all the Components to the Motherboard... Step 9 of 21 in Building Your Own PC

Chuck Lunsford

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In this article I’ll explain what you have to do to make all the connections correctly once the motherboard has been installed. This particular step may appear intimidating, but in fact can be done quite easily as most of the connectors as you’ll find out will only fit into certain plugs on the motherboard.

  • Connect the power to the motherboard. There are two power connectors on most motherboards. One is a large multicolor 20/24-wire plug and one four pin plug. These are keyed for correct installation. Just plug them in.

  • Connect the CPU fan to the power. Many CPU fans connect to one of the power supply leads. Others have a little 3-pin lead that connects to a small connector on the motherboard itself. Just plug it into the motherboard. The connector is usually labeled in such a manner to let you know it’s the correct one.

  • Study the case connectors on the motherboard and match them up with case connector wires. Typically the connectors are usually a big block of pins located in the lower right section of the board. Even though some boards are labeled it’s best to use the manual since it can sometimes be difficult to determine which label goes to which set of pins. When connecting, consult the manual for pin 1's, to make sure each connector is plugged in the right way. The worst thing that may happen is a particular case feature is not working later, you may only have to turn the connector around on the motherboard.

    Did You Know?

    The first motherboard appeared in the original IBM personal computer in 1981. It measured about 8 x 11.5 inches and had five expansion card slots in the back left of the board. In 1982, with the introduction of the Extended Technology computer, motherboard dimensions grew to about 8.5 x 12 inches. The XT board had eight expansion slots. In 1984, IBM introduced the first Advanced Technology form factor, measuring 12 x 13.5 inches. Again the board had room for eight. The AT form factor quickly became the model emulated by many board manufacturers.

    The following steps outline how each wire should connects:

  • Connect the power switch. - ATX form factor only. On ATX machines, the power switch is connected to the motherboard instead of the power supply itself. Consult your manual. The connector is usually labeled PWR_SW, or maybe just PWR. Doing this wrong could cause your system not to start later.

  • Connect the reset switch. It can be plugged in any way, just make sure you connect it to the right pins. The pins may be labeled RST or RESET, but it is best to also consult the manual. Connect Power LED/ Keylock Switch. Just insert the plugs. If your system has separate plugs for each, connect them separately.

  • Connect the PC speaker. Most cases put this onto a 4-wire plug. Just plug it in to the 4 pins on the motherboard. Other cases put the speaker connector on two 1-wire plugs.

    Review your work, or as Grandma always said” Measure twice … Cut once”

    Chuck Lunsford is an owner and developer of He offers advice on how to get design and build your own personal computer. Visit his website and learn more about how to build a computer for personal or professional use.

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