2018 Gaming PC Build – Part 3 – Motherboard and I/O Wiring


Installing IO Shield

Before you can install your motherboard, you need to install your IO shield, a plate that comes with your motherboard package. This should “snap” into place to the back of the PC case, and in this instance, I had to push quite firmly before it was fully attached.

 

Installing Motherboard

These days the procedure for installing any motherboard is pretty standardised, all PC cases should come with some “standoff screws” – a small metal cylinder that screws into the case in various spots to help “stand” the motherboard “off” the surface of the case. For this step, you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver, preferably magnetic, and of decent length (phrasing), as some spots are quite narrow.

Fractal Design neatly summarised every step in a small, handy manual. These are the parts you’ll be needing:

fractal-design-install-01

Some cases may come with 9 screws + standoffs – but the Meshify C has a dummy standoff already in place to help “guide” your motherboard into the correct position, hence there are only 8 sets of these, as highlighted in the picture below:

img_9933

Before you screw the motherboard down completely – it’s worthwhile to double check that ALL of your IOs on the back are accessible, e.g. HDMI, DVI ports – and make sure they’re perfectly aligned. Test them with some spare cables, make sure you are able to plug in/out smoothly.

System Panel Connector & HD Audio Wiring

Once you have the motherboard in place, you should be able to wire the I/O on your PC case. These are things like:

  • Power switch
  • Reset switch
  • Power LED indicator
  • HDD activity LED indicator
  • System speaker (your motherboard may not have one)
  • USB3.0
  • HD Audio

These connectors are probably some of the more delicate pieces throughout the entire PC build, so be sure to pay attention when handling them. You’ll have to reference both your motherboard guide + your PC case guide to understand which pin goes where. I’d recommend starting with the motherboard manual first, and find the connector layout diagram, it’ll look something like this:

fractal-design-install-02
ASUS Z370-E motherboard manual system panel diagram.
fractal-design-install-03
Fractal Design Meshify C’s manual, IMO, it’s not as detailed as it could’ve been and may be unfriendly to first-time PC builders.

I’ve added some colours so you can see which pin does what. All you need to do is match the corresponding plastic connectors (which usually has white text labels printed on them) and slot the connector into the right pins.

HD Audio lead is usually connected towards to the bottom-left hand of the motherboard (see diagram below), the HD Audio cable from the Meshify C case is generously long, so kudos to Fractal Design for making it that much easier for us.

fractal-design-install-04
From ASUS Z370-E manual, the HD audio connector is towards to the bottom-left hand corner.

With the Asus Z370-E motherboard, there are 2x USB3.1(Gen 1) headers available, one to the right of the motherboard, and one towards to the bottom, see diagram below:

fractal-design-install-05

However, the USB 3.0 cable on Meshify C is a bit on the short side, so it can only fit the header to the right of the motherboard (header A), but as long as it fits, it’s not really a big deal.

In theory, the cable is long enough to fit the USB 3.1 (Gen 2) header on this motherboard, which is located just below the 24-pin power header, but in practice, it was a bit tough to install along with the main motherboard power supply cable and the result was a bit out of my comfort zone, so for this build I chose to stick with header A, as shown in the below diagram, for ease of access and better cable management.

usb-3-connection
USB3.0 connection from case to motherboard, neatly hidden away.

That concludes the installation of the motherboard and the wiring of the physical IOs on the PC case, while we still have a decent amount of room, we want to install the really tricky things, so in the next blog post – I’ll go through the Cooler Master ML120 ARGB AIO liquid cooler, and also case fans arrangement 🙂

Love it or hate it? Let me know either way.

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