Typical front panel connector pinouts image courtesy of Intel Corporation. Your motherboard might use different pinouts, so make sure to verify the correct pinouts before you connect the cables. The Power Switch and Reset Switch connectors are not polarized, and can be connected in either orientation. The Hard Drive Activity LED is polarized, and should be connected with the ground usually black wire on Pin 3 and the signal usually red or white wire on Pin 1.
How to fit the internal cables - Pictures
Use whichever is appropriate. Although Intel has defined a standard front-panel connector block and uses that standard for its own motherboards, few other motherboard makers adhere to that standard. Accordingly, rather than provide an Intel-standard monolithic connector block that would be useless for motherboards that do not follow the Intel standard, most case makers provide individual 1-, 2-, or 3-pin connectors for each switch and indicator.
Not all cases have cables for every connector on the motherboard, and not all motherboards have connectors for all cables provided by the case. For example, the case might provide a speaker cable, but the motherboard might have a built-in speaker and no connection for an external speaker. Conversely, the motherboard might provide connectors for features, such as a Chassis Intrusion Connector, for which no corresponding cable exists on the case; those connectors go unused.
Sometimes you'll encounter a situation where a 2-wire cable has a 3-pin connector, with the wires connected to pins 1 and 3. If the motherboard has a similar connector, there's no problem, but sometimes that cable needs to connect to a motherboard connector with two adjacent pins. Some motherboards provide an alternative 3-pin connector, but many do not. In that case, the best solution is to use a sharp knife or shears to cut the 3-pin connector in half, leaving you with two wires with individual connectors.
When you're connecting front-panel cables, try to get it right the first time, but don't worry too much about getting it wrong. Other than the power switch cable, which must be connected properly for the system to start, none of the other front-panel switch and indicator cables is essential, and connecting them wrong won't damage the system. Switch cables—power and reset—are not polarized. You can connect them in either orientation, without worrying about which pin is signal and which ground. Most cases use a common wire color, usually black, for ground, and a colored wire for signal.
Most cases provide one or two frontpanel USB 2. To route USB to the front panel, you must connect a cable from each frontpanel USB port to the corresponding internal connector. Figure shows the standard Intel pinouts for the internal front-panel USB connectors, which are also used by most other motherboard makers. With such a case, connecting the front-panel USB ports is a simple matter of plugging that monolithic connector into the header pins on the motherboard.
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Unfortunately, some cases instead provide eight individual wires, each with a single connector. Figure shows Robert finally getting all eight individual wires connected to the proper pins. Yes, we know it looks as though Robert is sliding a single 4-pin connector onto the header pins, but trust us, those are four individual wires. The best way Robert found to get all the wires connected properly was to clamp the four wires between his fingers aligned as a single connector and then slide the group of connectors onto the header pins.
And the second group of four is much harder to get onto the pins than the first set. Several of our tech reviewers are we the only ones who didn't think of this? Years ago, connecting an audio cable from the optical drive to the motherboard audio connector or sound card was an essential step, because systems used the analog audio delivered from the optical drive by that cable. If you didn't connect that cable, you didn't get audio from the drive. All recent optical drives and motherboards support digital audio, which is delivered across the bus rather than via a dedicated audio cable.
Few optical drives or motherboards include an analog audio cable nowadays, because one is seldom needed. The "Enable digital CD audio…" checkbox should be marked. If it is not, mark the checkbox to enable digital audio. Also, some older audio applications do not support digital audio, and so require an analog audio cable to be installed even if the system supports digital audio.
We suggest that you install an audio cable only if needed. Otherwise, you can do without. The next step is to reconnect the drive data cables to the motherboard interfaces, as shown in Figure and Figure Make sure to connect each data cable to the proper interface. See Chapters 7 and 8 for details. After you connect the drive data cables, don't just leave them flopping around loose. That not only looks amateurish, but can impede air flow and cause overheating. Tuck the cables neatly out of the way, using tape, cable ties, or tiewraps to secure them to the case.
If necessary, temporarily disconnect the cables to route them around other cables and obstructions, and reconnect them once you have them positioned properly. The next step is to reconnect the power connectors from the power supply to the motherboard. The Main ATX Power Connector is a pin or pin connector, usually located near the right front edge of the motherboard. Locate the corresponding cable coming from the power supply, verify that the cable is aligned properly with the connector, and press the cable firmly until it seats fully, as shown in Figure The locking tab on the side of the connector should snap into place over the corresponding nub on the socket.
A partially seated connector may cause subtle problems that are very difficult to troubleshoot. The power supply also has a 4-pin connector very similar to the ATX12V connector with matching tabs or rails that you can snap or slide into the pin connector, thus converting it to a pin connector.
I've seen people reject this kind of power supply because they don't understand how it works: either they need a pin power supply and the 4-pin connector is unlatched or they need a pin power supply and the 4-pin connector is latched. In either case, they don't figure out the combination mechanism, and so think the power supply is incompatible with their motherboard. Many recent motherboards are designed to accept the newer pin ATX Main Power Connector rather than the original pin version of that connector.
If the new motherboard is pin and your power supply is pin, you may be able to connect the pin cable to the pin motherboard, leaving the extra four pins unused. If the motherboard has components too near the connector, the pin cable may not seat. In that case, buy an adapter cable that adapts the pin cable to fit the pin motherboard connector. Conversely, if the motherboard is pin and your power supply pin, the motherboard may require more current than the pin cable can provide. In that case, the motherboard will have a standard Molex hard drive power connector.
After you connect the pin ATX Main Power Connector cable to the pin socket on the motherboard, connect one of the Molex hard drive power connectors from the power supply to the auxiliary power connector socket on the motherboard. Failing to do this may cause boot failures or other problems. The ATX12V connector is keyed. Orient the cable connector properly relative to the motherboard connector, and press the cable connector into place until the plastic tab locks, as shown in Figure Failing to connect the ATX12V connector is one of the most common causes of initial boot failures on newly built Pentium 4 systems.
If nothing happens the first time you power up the system, chances are it's because you forgot to connect the ATX12V connector. To do so, align each adapter with the corresponding motherboard slot. Make sure that any external connectors on the card bracket clear the edges of the slot.
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Carefully align the card with the slot and use both thumbs to press down firmly until it snaps into the slot, as shown in Figure When a newly built system fails to boot, the most common cause is that the video adapter is not fully seated. Some combinations of adapter, case, and motherboard make it devilishly hard to install the adapter properly. It may seem that the adapter is fully seated. You may even hear it snap into place.
That's no guarantee. Always verify that the card contacts have fully penetrated the slot, and that the base of the adapter is parallel to the slot and in full contact with it. Many motherboards have a retaining bracket, visible in Figure as two brown tabs to the lower right of the heatsink.
This bracket mates with a corresponding notch on the video adapter, snapping into place as the adapter is seated. If you need to remove the adapter later, remember to press those tabs to unlock the retaining bracket before you attempt to pull the card. After you are certain that the video adapter is fully seated, secure it by inserting a screw through the bracket into the chassis, as shown in Figure If the video card has an externally powered fan or requires an external power connection, make sure to connect a power cable to the video adapter before you move on to another task.
Install any other expansion cards in the same manner, making sure to connect any power or data cables they require before you start another step. At this point, the motherboard upgrade is nearly complete. Take a few minutes to double-check everything. Verify that all of the cables are connected properly and that there's nothing loose inside the case.
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We usually pick up the system and tilt it gently from side to side and then front to back to make sure there are no loose screws or other items that could cause a short. Use the following checklist:. Power supply set to proper input voltage see Chapter Memory modules full seated and latched see Chapter 6. Front-panel switch and indicator cables connected properly. Hard drive data cable see Chapter 7 connected to drive and motherboard. Optical drive data cable see Chapter 8 connected to drive and motherboard. When you turn on the rear power switch, the system will come to life momentarily and then die.
That's perfectly normal behavior. When the power supply receives power, it begins to start up. It quickly notices that the motherboard hasn't told it to start, and so it shuts down again.
All you need to do is press the frontpanel power switch and the system will start normally. Once you're certain that all is as it should be, it's time for the smoke test. Leave the cover off for now. Connect the power cable to the wall receptacle and then to the system unit. If your power supply has a separate rocker switch on the back that controls power to the power supply, turn that switch to the "1" or "on" position.
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