How to Replace an ATX Push Button Power Switch

Written by jason artman
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In modern computer systems, the ATX power switch works by temporarily shorting the connection between two pins on the motherboard. This sends a signal to turn the computer on. In rare instances, a problem can cause the ATX power switch not to function properly. Replace the power switch to resolve this issue.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Replacement ATX power switch assembly

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Shut the computer down. Open the computer chassis to expose the motherboard. In most cases, the computer chassis is opened by pulling a lever on the back, pushing a button on the side, or removing a row of screws.

  2. 2

    Remove the plastic bezel covering the front of the computer chassis. Generally, this is accomplished by pushing a tab on each corner of the bezel. The bezel contains a plastic button which depresses the ATX power switch when pushed. After removing the bezel, the ATX power switch will be exposed. Push on the switch. If the computer boots successfully, the switch does not have a problem. A new plastic bezel should be ordered from the computer manufacturer, as the power button either sticks or does not depress fully.

  3. 3

    Unplug the power cable from the back of the computer.

  4. 4

    Find the power header on the motherboard. The power header is a small plastic piece connecting two pins on the motherboard. Coming from the header will be two wires, generally green and white. The wires will lead to the power switch at the front of the computer chassis. Make a note of the pins that the power header is connected to and then remove it from the motherboard.

  5. 5

    Examine the power switch at the front of the computer chassis. If it has a screw on either side, remove the screws and push the power switch assembly out of the chassis. If it has no screws, it should snap out of place.

  6. 6

    Thread the power header and the green and white wires of the new ATX power switch assembly through the hole in the front of the computer chassis and then push the assembly into place. Screw it down if necessary.

  7. 7

    Connect the power header to the motherboard and replace the power cable in the back of the computer. Push the new power switch and confirm that the computer turns on and boots.

  8. 8

    Replace the plastic front bezel and close the computer case.

Tips and warnings

  • An ATX power switch is a simple mechanism, and it is rare for one to fail outright. Before replacing the power switch, confirm that the current switch is faulty by using a metal object to short the motherboard pins that the power header would be connected to while the computer is plugged into a power outlet. Note that because of the risk of injury or damage to the computer, this should only be attempted by an experienced technician. If the computer turns on, the power switch must be replaced. If it does not, a problem exists with the motherboard or power supply.

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