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How to Build Your Own PC (Page 3/9)

Posted: September 09, 2002
Written by: Chris Angelini

Step Two: Populate the Motherboard

Working on a motherboard that has already been mounted can get tricky, so it is best to install the processor and memory before the board is installed in a case. Both the Pentium 4 and Athlon XP plug into a Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) socket, so there should be no reason to apply pressure when installing the processor. First, lift the arm adjacent to the socket. Then align the processor with the socket according to the pattern of pins on the socket interface. There is only one way the processor will fit, so again, do not apply pressure while inserting the chip. Finally, close the arm, securing the processor on the motherboard. Now, using the thermal grease mentioned previously, apply a thin film over the processorís core.

Click to enlarge.

Please note that the next step will be different for Pentium 4 and Athlon XP owners.

Tweak Tip!
Double-check the processorís fan connection Ė an Athlon processor will burn up within seconds if it isnít cooled actively.
If you purchased a retail Pentium 4 processor, you will find that the included heat sink fits over the processor and into what Intel likes to call the Heat Sink Retention Mechanism (a fancy name for the plastic clips keeping the heat sink from succumbing to gravity). Make sure all four corners snap firmly into place, and then pull the opposing levers to tighten the heat sink onto the processor. Be sure to connect the fanís three-pin power connector to a header on the motherboard.

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Click to enlarge.

The process isnít nearly as graceful for Athlon XP owners. In fact, be forewarned that the processor core is sensitive to pressure, so if you feel you may be pushing too hard to affix the heat sink, take a quick break to re-evaluate your strength, tough guy. There is only one way that a Socket A heat sink should fit, so be sure that the larger end of the socket aligns with the cut-out section of the heat sink. One end will clip easily onto the motherboard, while the other will require more persuasive coercion. In the following illustration, Iíve demonstrated my favorite technique for attaching a heat sink. Use a screwdriver to push down on the clip while pulling outwards with a set of pliers.

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Click to enlarge.

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