But if we think that changing the CPU or video card is enough to upgrade, you are wrong: the technological "heart" of any desktop computer is undoubtedly the motherboard, which provides the necessary connections and slots for connect modern components. If we want to update the PC then we will first have to understand how to change motherboard, and only then focus on the other components (CPU, video card etc.). In this guide we will show how to choose a modern motherboard able to support the latest generation processors and offer new connection ports (such as the new USB 3.1, M.2 slots or USB Type-C).
How to change motherboardWe carefully follow all the chapters described in this guide, since a minimum error is enough to end up with an unusable or damaged motherboard! If we do not know which motherboard we use, we can rely on the information obtainable with our guide on How to find out which motherboard in the PC.
Motherboard featuresA good modern motherboard must have the following features to be considered:
- Support for DDR4 RAM memories
- Support for M.2 mass storage (also known as NGFF M.2)
- PCI-Express x16 slot (minimum version 3.0)
- Slot PCI-Express x1
- 3.1 USB ports
- Porta USB Type-C
- Porta Ethernet Gigabit
We can also ignore the rest of the features, since often all motherboards offer at least 4 SATA connectors and at least 6 standard USB ports (two of which at least 3.0).
To avoid mistakes we need to pay attention to the socket and chipset, which will tell us what brand of processor we can mount on it and the performance that will be offered to us. Without going into too much technical details, below we have collected the necessary information to be able to choose the correct motherboard based on the processor we intend to use:
- Intel 8th (9xxx) and XNUMXth Generation (XNUMXxxx) processors: LGA 1151 socket and chipset of your choice between B360, Z370 and Z390 (the most performing).
- 3rd Generation AMD Ryzen Processors (XNUMXxxx): AM4 socket and chipset of your choice between X470 and X570 (the most performing).
Another feature not to be underestimated is the motherboard form factor: let's try to get a new motherboard able to enter the case already in our possession without problems! The most common form factors are:
- ATX (largest)
- microATX (slightly smaller)
- mini-ITX (suitable for mini PCs)
NOTE: : if we have a case that supports ATX, we can also connect the microATX without problems, since the guide slots are often available to attach the screws for motherboards that have this form factor. For the rest of the guide, we will only recommend ATX motherboards, which typically offer a greater number of ports and slots.
Best motherboardsAfter taking a look at the features to watch for the motherboard, let's see what models can we take to make a modern desktop PC, capable of supporting all the latest technologies.
- Best generic motherboard for Intel: ASUS PRIME Z390-A Intel ATX LGA 1151 (142€)
- Best advanced motherboard for Intel: Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO WIFI (199 €)
- Best generic motherboard for AMD: MSI X570-A PRO (156€)
- Best advanced motherboard for AMD: ASUS Prime X570-PRO (250€)
How to disassemble and reassemble the motherboardNow that we know which motherboard to take to upgrade our desktop computer, let's see together how to disassemble the motherboard and how to mount the new one, keeping the same case.
We remove the socket and any type of cable connected to the PC (power cable, USB cables, video cable, audio cables etc.) and place the case on a high and stable surface (a table is fine). From here we access the inside of the case by removing the fixing screws of one of the side panels (we can use simple hands to unscrew), so as to see the motherboard with all the internal components.
At this stage we will have to proceed with order and precision: remove all the cables connected to the motherboard, remove the heatsink and the processor, extract the RAM memory banks and finally remove the video card and any other type of internal card / mass memory (if any). As soon as we find ourselves with the "bare" board, we use a very small screwdriver to remove the fixing screws that we can find on all corners of the motherboard and, in some cases, even on the side edges; removed the screws, the motherboard should come out without problems.
Finally, we also remove the metal mask for the rear sockets, placing the one available on the new motherboard (which will surely have different types of ports and connectors).
Now we will have to proceed in reverse: we place the new motherboard inside the case, making sure to match the fixing screws, we screw them in and start connecting the new components (new CPU, new heatsink, new RAM, new M.2 module, new card video etc.). As soon as all the components are in place, we connect the necessary internal cables (power cables, front button cables, fan cables, SATA cables, etc.) and do a first power-up test, taking care not to connect the system (to avoid damaging Windows during testing).
For the test we immediately connect the power cable (with the case still open), turn on the rear button of the power supply and press the start button, so as to see the new motherboard "come to life". If the card remains stable for at least 10 minutes, without sudden shutdowns, the test is passed: we remove the power cable again, wait 2 minutes then connect the system disk and close the side panel of the case. Reconnect the external cables (video cable, USB cables, etc.) needed and turn the PC back on normally.
At the first start, Windows will immediately notice the motherboard change and will install the necessary new drivers: in case of problems we can always read our guide on how find the right drivers.
ConclusionsSumming up it's not that difficult to replace the old motherboard, we will only have to pay attention to some details and buy the new compatible components(new processor, new type of RAM etc.). If we have difficulty connecting some internal cables or do not have enough manual skills, we can always get help from some experienced friend or an IT technician.
An important thing to consider when changing the motherboard is to check the compatibility between the CPU, RAM and motherboard, if they work together in a PC, as each motherboard only supports specific types of processor.
To build and assemble our new computer, we can read our guides on How to choose the parts of the new computer to assemble e How to assemble the PC, assemble the parts and build a computer from scratch.