How to Disassemble the Motherboard
By Ruri Ranbe
Every hardware device installed to the computer connects to the system through the motherboard. Hard drives, power supplies, memory modules and adapter cards all connect to the motherboard via cables, which are inserted into the appropriate slots or connectors on the board. Along the motherboard are circuits that allow these components to transfer data back and forth.
To disassemble the motherboard, you must disconnect all of the components -- both internal and external hardware -- linked to the circuit board. Disassembling a motherboard requires a fair amount of computer expertise and at least a working knowledge of the different components installed to a computer.
Turn off the computer and disconnect the power cable from the power source. Remove the cables connecting the monitor, the keyboard, the mouse and any other peripheral devices. Put on an antistatic wrist strap to prevent damaging the interior components with electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Press the "Power" button on the front of the computer to drain the PC of any residual power. Loosen the screws at the rear of the case securing the cover to the computer.
Slide the cover off the case. Release the top and bottom tabs located inside the front of the case to remove the front panel.
Set the case on its side, and touch the chassis to dispel any static electricity.
Remove the 20-pin or 24-pin connector leading from the power supply to the motherboard.
Disconnect the data cables connected to the optical and hard disk drives. Remove the data cables from the motherboard.
Remove the screws securing the video and adapter cards to the back end of the case. Lift the cards straight up to remove them from their slots. Do not touch the surface of the cards, and do not touch the gold connectors. Grab the cards by their edges.
Remove from the motherboard any cables connecting the video card to the computer.
Release the tabs securing the memory modules in place. Remove the memory modules in the same manner as the adapter cards.
Remove the LED and power cables leading from the front of the case to the motherboard.
Loosen the screws mounting the motherboard to the computer case. Confirm no other cables are connected to the motherboard.
Lift the motherboard away from the case. Disengage the circuit board from the I/O (Input/Output) panel found on the back of the case.
Remove the screws attaching the CPU fan to the heat sink. Lift the fan away from the heat sink.
Use a pair of forceps to remove the fan's power supply from the circuit board. Push together the tabs located on either side of the heat sink.
Remove the tabs and wiggle the heat sink from side to side to loosen it. Hold down the tab locking the heat sink in place and lift the heat sink away from the motherboard.
Release the lever securing the CPU to the motherboard. Remove the processor to finish disassembling the motherboard.
- Never wiggle the memory modules or adapter cards back and forth to loosen them.
- To reassemble the computer, follow the above steps, but in reverse.
- In addition to the antistatic wrist strap, you can also work on an antistatic mat to protect your computer from static discharges.
- Electrostatic discharge (static electricity) can permanently damage the components of a computer. The motherboard and CPU are arguably the most costly components of a computer, and any electrostatic damage to either of these parts could render them permanently unresponsive. Don't disassemble a computer while sitting on the carpet or in bed, and don't touch the inside of a PC without first grounding yourself.
- Avoid cheap ESD wrist straps. Although the antistatic wrist strap should protect your components from ESD, cheap straps tend to be poorly made, and their effectiveness can decrease as the wrist strap ages.
Ruri Ranbe has been working as a writer since 2008. She received an A.A. in English literature from Valencia College and is completing a B.S. in computer science at the University of Central Florida. Ranbe also has more than six years of professional information-technology experience, specializing in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, server administration, virtualization and Web design.