At this point, you should have the new case in front of you with the cover removed. Before you can use it for a new system, you must prepare it for use. Go through the following checklist to make sure it is prepared. Not all of this may be necessary on your case, and if you’re using a case you already had, much or all it has likely been done already. Nonetheless, this is a useful guideline.
Now that the case is open, now is a good time to go through the screw supply provided with the case. These are usually held in a small plastic bag nestled inside the case. Inside this bag you should find:
- Chassis screws – this is the type used to tighten down cards, etc.
- Smaller screws – just like the chassis screws, just with a smaller diameter. It is used to fasten the motherboard in.
- Standoffs – these are screws that are used to hold the motherboard about 1/8″ from the motherboard mounting plate. Their ends have a threaded opening in them that accept the smaller chassis screws. If you have an AT case, you may find small white standoffs. These serve the same function as the metal standoff, but are simply punched through the board and slid into slots on the case. They are rather clumsy to use compared to the metal standoffs, but they get the job done. Lastly, some cases use small metal clip-looking stand-offs. They are pinched together and slipped into small rectangular holes in the motherboard mounting plate and they snap in. These are, too, a bit awkward.
- Washers. These are typically small, loose washers, not the metal kind you’ve seen in your toolbox. These will be used to cushion your motherboard from the screws you will be using to hold it in. Some motherboards have metal plates around the holes to keep the screws from shorting the circuitry, and in this case, washers are not necessary and may not be included.
Now, verify a few things have been done, if they need to be done.
- Clean Case – If the case is new, this should be no big deal. But, if the case has been used before, it could probably stand a cleaning. Clean out the inside with a rag or compressed air. Make sure the fan in the power supply is free of furry dust. Also take a rag and wipe it off.
- Inspect the Power Supply – Make sure it is tightly attached to the case, make sure it is free of dust, and make sure it is set to the proper voltage of your area- 110V for U.S. and 220V for outside countries.
- Inspect Power Switch – Make sure the power switch is securely tightened and correctly connected to the power supply. In ATX cases, the power switch will have one loose wire coming off of it. This wire will then connect to the Power Switch connector on the motherboard.
- Install Feet – These are little tabs inserted into holes at the bottom of the case. The case sits on these tabs when on your desk. If the case has been used before or it is a more expensive case, this may not need to be done.
- Install Case Fan – Sometimes, you may want to install a separate fan that screws onto a rack next to the vent on the front of the case. This helps increase circulation of air through the system. Many cases already have this installed, so you may not need to worry about it. Some like to put a little filter over the hole so as to prevent dust from being drawn in. An ideal and simple setup for proper airflow is to set the front, lower fan to pull air in, and have the higher, rear fan exhaust.
- Free Up the Drive Bays – Brand new (cheaper) cases sometimes have the drive bays sealed with metal plates. It’s the most annoying thing. If you want to install any drives, and you probably do, you’ll need to remove these. Choose the drive bays you want to use (usually the ones at the top on tower cases) and remove the metal plates. These are attached by metal, so they take some cutting, prying and twisting to break them free. Be careful not to hurt the case or yourself. The plate will likely have sharp edges once removed. Better cases have these bays covered with plastic, replaceable plates which are a lot easier and make infinitely more sense.
- Replace I/O Shield. The Input/Output shield is a piece of metal with various holes punched in it that allow for the motherboard connections, such as mouse and keyboard, USB and LAN to poke out the rear of your case. All cases will come with one but since all motherboards are laid out differently, you’ll need to install the one that came with your board. Remove the old one simply by pushing it from the rear of the case inward. It usually will pop out easily, if not use a flat-head screwdriver to pry the edges so it comes loose. Push the new one in from the inside of the case and allow it to pop into place. Check to be sure it is secure.