Help me install a new CPU/mobo
July 3, 2009 3:01 PM   Subscribe

I broke my PC's motherboard :( Please help me pick a replacement and guide me through the installation process...

Being very clumsy and impatient, I managed to break my motherboard while installing a second hard drive in my desktop PC. Now it doesn't work.

I've never installed a motherboard, but I enjoy fiddling around with this stuff so I'm going to give it a go. While I'm doing it, I figure I might as well upgrade my CPU too. I bought this PC from one of those generic configure-to-order websites, so I'm pretty sure I can just buy some off-the-rack replacements.

Here's what I had:
AMD 64 Athlon X2 4200+

Here's what I'm thinking of buying:
Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz
GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard

The Gigabyte website confirms that the E5200 CPU will work with that motherboard, and prices seems good to me. Any comments on my selection?

Here are some of the other components I have that I plan to keep:
2GB of DDR2 800 RAM (4 x 512MB)
COOLER MASTER Praetorian 730 case
420w power supply that says on the box it supports LGA 775 socket
I think an ATI Radeon X300 PCI-E graphics card (or something very similar)
And, of course, other stuff like 2 SATA HDDs, a DVD burner and stuff that probably isn't relevant.

I think all this stuff should work together. Any problems I'm overlooking?

Seems like hardware installation should be pretty straightforward, though perhaps time consuming. Any tips or additional things I may need to acquire? I have the right screwdrivers, but no other PC-specific tools.

Now my next problem: once I get all the hardware in place, what the heck do I do next?

My primary hard drive has Windows 7 RC installed. I still have the installation disk I made, and also the original XP disk that I bought along with the computer. Is it possible to salvage the Win7 installation and the current data on the drive? I have backups of my important files, so it's not a life or death issue. But if I can get away with it, I'd like to keep things as they are.

posted by mullacc to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Buy a tube of Arctic Silver 5 heat sink paste. The motherboard may come with a tiny tube, but the Arctic 5 is good to have around, and better than the stock stuff. If you're comfortable buying from ebay, there are sellers there who sell the stuff ultra cheap and new.

Dollar for dollar, your CPU selection is only marginally faster - in fact you probably won't notice a difference. If you can splurge on the E8400, it would be a significant upgrade from the E5200.
posted by wfrgms at 3:10 PM on July 3, 2009

If you have a Fry's around you, they regularly have a E5200 + motherboard for $99. Right now it looks like they have the E6300 + mobo for $129. Link.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:56 PM on July 3, 2009

Best answer: Installing a new motherboard and cpu is really not all that difficult. The major things you'll need to get/keep in mind are:
1 - an anti-static bracelet. I've replaced tons of motherboards without them, but, whenever working on my own stuff, I always use one, just in case.
2 - the correct spacers. There are generally three types of screws in computers: ones with a small thread (these usually hold in CD, DVD, and floppy drives), ones with a larger thread (these are for most everything else in the case, including the hard drive and holding the motherboard down), and the screws holding in the various fans. Make sure the thread of the screws holding in the motherboard match that of the inside of the spacers, or else you'll be in for a fair amount of frustration. Also: spacers keep the motherboard from shorting on the case itself.
3 - don't screw things in too forcefully. Get it all in tight, but don't go overboard -- you can crack the motherboard.
4 - be careful attaching the heatsink. Some of them can require a bit of force to get on, occasionally prying things with screwdrivers and whatnot. Look out not to use too much force and, again, crack the motherboard.

Beyond all that, the rest is pretty straightforward. Sometimes the labels on the board can be difficult to read, but the connection for the cpu fan is usually closer to the cpu than any connection for the case fan. Getting the plugs in the right places for the power button, hard disk light, power light, and reset switch can get a little hairy -- just follow the diagram in the book that comes with the motherboard and you should be alright. Plus, if you screw that up, it doesn't really do any damage, so pay attention but don't get too nervous.

You may be able to salvage the Win7 installation if it has a "repair installation" option -- I haven't much used it yet, so I don't know off the top of my head. First, try turning the machine as you normally would. If it goes straight into Windows, well, then you're in business, and the next step is to load up all the drivers. If not, look for a "repair installation" option -- with both XP and Vista, this is found by going along as you would if you were loading in a fresh copy of Windows, only, once you get to the screen where it lists your partitions, the option of a repair installation comes up as well as that of installing a fresh copy. Choose the repair installation. Again, I'm not entirely sure if that is an option, but it has been in the past. After that, install the drivers, and you should be all set.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:46 PM on July 3, 2009

(Well, I mean, there are more than three types of screws, but, typically, you won't be messing with them.)
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:51 PM on July 3, 2009

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