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How to Build Your Own Athlon Computer
(Slot A Processor)
Part 3 - Setup the Motherboard
Last updated: 5/10/00

Also see How to Build a Computer with a Socket A Athlon or Duron Processor

In Part 3 we describe how to install the heat sink-fan on the CPU and other steps for setting-up the motherboard.

19.  Observe antistatic procedures.

Many people don't realize that computer components can be damaged by static electricity and a problem may not appear for months later when a power surge completes the damage.  With the non-parity memory used in most recent computers, a damaged transistor in a memory chip can start corrupting files and you will not be alerted by an error message and not know about it until you see widespread damage much later.

Ideally, you should wear a grounded anti-static wrist strap when working on computer equipment, especially when handling memory and CPUs.  Also, the use of grounded anti-static mats on the floor and on the workbench is a good practice.  However, these items can be too expensive if you are building just one computer.  As a minimum, my advise is to make sure your body is touching the metal on the computer case when handling the CPU and the memory anytime between the time they are in their anti-static bag or container and installed on the motherboard, and any time when directly touching them.  It would also be a good idea to work with bare feet during this critical time.  Try to avoid touching drives, boards, memory, etc. with your clothes.  Clothing can quite often be charged with static electricity, especially during cold-dry, Winter days.

20.  Apply the Thermal Grease to the Heat Sink and CPU.  The HTS421B-SB heat-sink fan includes a 4" X 2" X 1.5" heat sink, a high speed fan, fan shroud, attachment clips and Shin-Etsu G749 thermal grease for maximum cooling efficiency.  The diagram to the right  came from the AMD Athlon Processor Thermal Solution document.  It is a bird's eye view of an Athlon mated with a heat sink.  I added the red to show where the heat sink comes into contact with the CPU and where the thermal grease goes.  This stuff comes in a small plastic bag and has the viscosity of old chewing gum.  The idea is to smear a very thin layer of the grease on the mating surfaces to fill microscopic scratches.  Be careful, the heat sink fins bend very easily and the grease likes to stay on skin and smear on everything but the intended surfaces.  I applied the grease by dabbing a little here and there on both surfaces and gently slicking it to a thin sheen with a disposable dishcloth.  Again, be careful.  The surfaces are easily scratched and you do not want to introduce any foreign materials (lint, dirt, or dog hairs).

21. Attach the Heat-Sink to the CPU. The CPU looks like a P3 Single Edge Contact Cartridge (SECC ) and retention mechanism looks very similar (they may be identical). The heat sink is married to the back of the CPU (side towards the front of the computer)  with two metal attachment clips.  The clips straddle the heat sink and go into the four holes shown in red to the right.   Slip the clips into the bottom holes first and then spring them firmly into the top holes.
It takes some fidgeting; so be patient.

This heat sink does not use a heat sink support like most others and it practically rests on the AMD North Bridge chip when installed on an MSI MS6167 motherboard.  Although it is physically large, I do not believe the unit has enough mass to be endanger of popping loose during shipping like some of the real large Socket 7 coolers.

You may need to install the heat-sink supports, which came with the motherboard, for heat sinks other than the one used for this computer.

22.  Gently snap the fan shroud with the fan onto the heat sink.

23.  Remove the motherboard  from its box and take it and the black foam pad out of the antistatic bag.  Place the antistatic bag on the workbench, set the foam pad on top of it, and set the motherboard on top of the pad.

24.  Remove the cardboard packing from the CPU box, put the power cord in the box with the items that came with the motherboard, and set the box aside.

25.  Fold the two legs of the CPU retention mechanism up.  

26.  Orient the CPU so the heat-sink fan is facing forward and evenly and firmly seat the CPU into its socket using both hands.  Pull the two CPU locking levers on the top of the CPU outward to lock.  Pull both locking levers on the retention mechanism upward to the locked position as indicated on the sides of the retention mechanism legs.

27.  Plug the CPU fan cable into the connector on the motherboard to the left of the CPU.

28.  Neatly coil-up the excess CPU fan wire and zip-tie it to keep the wire out of the CPU fan.   It is easier to do this now while the motherboard is out of the case

29.  The memory module has two notches on the bottom: one in the middle and another one near one of it's sides.  Orient the module so the notch on the side is to the right (the diagram in the motherboard book is wrong).  Hold the memory module with both hands and evenly and firmly insert it into the DIMM socket labeled "DIMM3," the one closest to the CPU, and make sure it is fully seated.  The  leavers at the ends of the socket  will come up when the module is inserted.  Push inward on them to be sure they are fully in place.

The memory in DIMM socket marked DIMM3 actually constitutes the first two memory banks, Bank 0 and Bank 1.  Furthermore, this board supports Table Free memory.  PC-100 modules can be plugged into any of the three DIMM sockets in any order.  Other motherboards may require that the memory be plugged into a specific socket.

30.  Push firmly down on the Award BIOS chip at the lower left corner of the motherboard to be sure it is fully seated.

31.  Verify that the Clear CMOS jumper, located just above the Award BIOS chip, is in the Keep Data position.  The diagram in the motherboard book is confusing.  The jumper should be on the two pins closest to the front of the motherboard.  Do not change this jumper when power is on.   It could damage the motherboard.

If you have a motherboard with jumpers, now is the time to set and double-check them.

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Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.