Making your PC Work for You – PC Self-Upgrade and Repairs, Part 4

Making your PC Work for You – PC Self-Upgrade and Repairs, Part 4

I have provided a list of terms at the end of the article since they are used many times throughout.

Whenever working inside your computer, turn it off and unplug all cords from the back. Also, either have an anti-static wrist band or touch the metal portion of the case at all times. The static build up in our bodies can short out a card. It is best to put your computer at a good working height.


When you first open your computer you’ll probably notice some circuit boards sticking out from a motherboard. These circuit boards are called “cards”. There are 3 main types of cards: ISA, PCI and AGP. ISA and PCI slots are used for modems, sound cards, network interface cards (NIC), SCSI adapters, video cards and many other items. AGP are used for video cards only. AGP slots are much faster than PCI slot, so they are better for 3-D Graphics and games. All three of these can have their items replaced the same fashion.

To begin, unscrew the card from the case, firmly grab hold of the card, but watch out for the soldering on the backside, OOOOUCH!!! Once you have a good grip, pull or wiggle the card free. Inserting a new card is just as easy. Align the card with the slot a push straight in. It may need some wiggling. Screw the card to the case, and put the cover on. DONE. (note: don’t use magnetic tools inside your computer case!)


Replacing your Central Processing Unit (CPU) is almost as easy as replacing a card. Refer to your motherboard manual before purchasing a new CPU as each motherboard can only accept certain CPUs. Once you have purchased a new CPU and your case is open, locate the unit on the motherboard. Unplug the cooling unit from the main board and if your CPU is square with little pins on it you will probably need release the bar holding your current CPU. Once released, it pops out and the new one goes in. *** Watch the pin placement as the pins may not be square so the CPU may only go in one way! *** Next, connect the fan, if you have one, to the new CPU. If you did not get a fan, take the one from your original CPU.

If you have a Slot 1 CPU, unplug the fan and remove the CPU like you would any other card, pull straight out. Push the new CPU in after putting on a fan if the new one does not have one and plug it in.


When replacing the motherboard, it’s best to remove anything big sticking out, such as cards. Also unplug any cables plugged into the board like power, hard drive, floppy drive and the little wires that connect to the front of the case. These little wires connect the power button, hard drive light, reset button, PC speaker and power light. These are usually in a bottom corner. After everything is unplugged, turn your computer around so you can see the back of your motherboard. Some of the pieces that hold the motherboard in place slide, while others just pop out. Once the motherboard is out, lay the new board where the old board was and try the line up as many of the holes as possible.

Once you find a good spot, start putting the clips in the appropriate holes on the motherboard then fasten them to the case. Plug in your wires, being careful everything is plugged in correctly. Remove wanted items from your old motherboard and place them on the new one.

In my last article I explained how the install a new hard drive. You’ll need to review the portion about setting the BIOS for the hard drives. After that, if everything was correct, presto, it starts right up.


AGP – Accelerated Graphics Port is a slot for video cards. It was based on PCI but was designed for 3d graphic. AGP allows 3D textures to be stored in main memory rather than on the video card’s memory.
BIOS – Basic Input/Output System is a collection of routines stored in ROM. It is the connection between the hardware (disc drives, memory, floppy drives etc) and the operating system.
CPUcentral processing unit. The CPU is the brains of the computer. Sometimes referred to simply as the processor or central processor, the CPU is where most calculations take place. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element of a computer system.
ISA – Industry Standard Architecture bus is a type of slot in a computer so that one can add components to the computer such as video, modem, and sound. It is also faster slower than a PCI slot.
PCI – Peripheral Component Interconnect is a type of slot in a computer so one can add components to the computer such as video, modem, and sound. It is also faster than an ISA slot.
SCSI -Small Computer System Interface (scuzzy) is a high-speed adaptor that allows 7 devices to be connected at once. The adaptor is usually card or chip at the devices “talk” with.


This Windows Easter Egg is hidden into the 3D Pipes (OpenGL) Screen Saver, bundled with all these Operating Systems: 95B/95C OSR2.x, 98, 98 SE, ME, NT 3.5x/4.0, 2000 + XP.

The file SSPIPES.SCR is located in windows\System (Win9x/ME) or in winnt\System32 or windows\system32 (WinNT/2000/XP).

To activate the Egg, follow these steps EXACTLY:
1. Right-click on an empty spot on your Desktop.
2. Select Properties.
3. Select the Screen Saver tab.
4. Select “3D Pipes (OpenGL)” from the Screen Saver list.
5. Click the Settings button.
6. Select Multiple for Pipes.
7. Select Traditional for Pipe Style.
8. Select Mixed for Joint Type.
9. Select Solid for Surface Style.
10. Click OK.
Start/Preview the screen saver: some of the joints are now “teapot” shaped.


Cool Site of the Week
The best Bush/Kerry debate!!!

If you have any questions or suggestions for topics you want discussed please email me c/o The Voice.

The Voice accepts no responsibility for loss of data or any other computer related problem you might encounter as a result of following computer advice in this or any other column. The tip of the week is intended to help you personalize your computer system. Novice users should ensure they understand the directions, and make backups of any files changed.