How to Wire the Front Panel of the ATX Motherboard

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How to Wire the Front Panel of the ATX Motherboard
Most front panel connection header pins are located on the motherboard near the front panel. (motherboard image by jovica antoski from Fotolia.com)

Wire the front panel of the ATX motherboard in order to get the most use out of the computer. With front panel connections for sound, USB, LEDs, power and reset switches, eSATA and FireWire available on many computers, the convenience of having the front panel fully functional is expected. ATX cases that offer these features already have the connections wired and terminated, all that is left to do it to plug the connector into the motherboard, which is clearly marked and easily accessible.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Anti-static wrist strap
  • Motherboard manual
  • Flashlight

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Connect the anti-static wrist strap between one wrist and a bare metal part of the case.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the power cable. Open the case to expose the motherboard and the front panel connectors.

  3. 3

    Connect the lead that is marked "Power" to the row of pins on the motherboard that are marked "PON" or "PSW" or "Power."

  4. 4

    Connect the lead that is labelled "Reset" to the row of pins on the motherboard that are marked "RS" or "RSW" or "Reset."

  5. 5

    Connect the lead that is labelled "Power LED" to the row of pins on the motherboard that are marked "PLED" or "LED" or "Power LED."

  6. 6

    Connect the lead that is labelled "HDD LED" to the row of pins on the motherboard that are marked "HDLED" or "HDDLED."

  7. 7

    Connect the lead that is labelled "Speaker" to the row of pins on the motherboard that are marked "SPKR" or "Speaker."

  8. 8

    Connect the USB front panel connector to one of the sockets on the motherboard marked "USB." Orient the connector to match the socket by aligning the key pin that is missing on the socket.

  9. 9

    Connect the front panel audio connector to the motherboard socket labelled "Audio" and connect any other front panel connectors in a similar manner.

Tips and warnings

  • Orient each of the connectors so that the markings on the ends of the cables are visible from the front panel end of the computer for proper polarity. Some case designs have a combination of these connections bundled together in one larger plug, and some motherboards have proprietary designs that are made to match the case they were built with. These can present a challenge for connection and often require the connector to be cut off and replaced with standard connectors to work.
  • Use caution when working with the motherboard connections to avoid static discharge.

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