Step By Step Guide to Building a New PC

Shoes at Pawas

Removing The Cover, and Preparing the Case

Minitower cases are usually chosen by build-it-yourself-ers, in part because the lower cost, and in part because they really are a better design to work on. Make sure the case you buy has a removable motherboard pan. The unique feature of the ATX style case is the large rectangular opening on the right side, where all of the motherboard mounted I/O ports will be accessed.

The first step to removing the cover from the standard minitower case is to remove the three to six screws that hold the cover to the frame. The easiest way to identify which screws to take out is to note which screws heads are completely surrounded by the painted edge of the cover.

Once the screws are removed, the cover may be very stubborn about coming off. Use both hands, placing the fingers of each along the top and side of the cover, then push with your thumbs against the back of the case. If the cover doesn't want to release, try lifting a little at the back, top edge, which helps free the sides of the cover from the channels they slide in.

One of the best features of the tower type case is the removeable motherboard pan, which allows you to mount the motherboard and components without obstructed reach or view from the case frame or installed components. You can usually hook up the power, LEDs, switches and ribbon cables, all before screwing the pan back in.

In order to remove the drive cage for the 3-1/2" drives (floppies and hard drives), you usually need to first remove the plastic front cover of the case. Check how this is attached before you start prying. This faceplate was held in place by six clusters of spring fingers. Some are held in place by screws from the inside.

With the faceplate removed, you can see the manufacturer assumes that at least a CD-ROM (5-1/4") and a 1.44MB floppy drive (3-1/2") will be installed in every case, because the openings in the sheet metal would otherwise be potential sources of RF interference.

One of the most important steps you don't want to forget at this stage is to install the shield for the I/O core. The metal cover shields RF emissions, and frames the ports so that dust and bugs (the insect kind) stay out of your warm and cozy PC. Match the shield plate against the I/O core on your ATX motherboard to make sure it fits and to get the orientation correct.

The shield is actually little thicker than tin foil, so it can't stand rough handling. On this shield, you can see the pictograph symbols for the device ports, mouse, keyboard, speakers, etc.. Some shields don't have these symbols, but the motherboard should be shipped with a large stick-on map of the port layout.

One more look at the I/O shield, properly installed in the case. The only thing that holds the shield in place is the spring force of the folded edges, which press against the sides of the opening. All of the little tabs shown press against the various ports, providing a little structural firmness, and maybe some additional grounding.

The speaker assembly can actually be left until after the motherboard is installed, but it doesn't hurt to put it in now. Four plastic legs lock into slots in the metal front of the case. The back of the speaker assembly provides supprt for any full length adapter cards you might install later.

Next > A Tour Around The Motherboard


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