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Front Panel Connections

Building Your Own PC, Part 2: Assembly Step by Step

Front panel connections: HDD LED (hard disk light), power (on/ off) switch and RESET switch in the top row. Below: mini speaker.

All motherboards group the pins that provide front panel functions at the bottom right of the board. You should find these described in the handbook that came with your motherboard. The abbreviations printed on the board itself are not particularly helpful for beginners, who may find the following short explanation of the abbreviations useful.

  • SP, SPK, or SPEAK: the loudspeaker output. It has four pins.
  • RS, RE, RST or RESET: connect the two-pin Reset cable here.
  • PWR, PW, PW SW, PS or Power SW: power switch, the PC's on/ off switch. The plug is two-pin.
  • PW LED, PWR LED or Power LED: the light-emitting diode on the front panel of the case illuminates when the computer is switched on. It is a two-pin cable.
  • HD, HDD LED: these two pins connect to the cable for the hard disk activity LED.

Don't worry about polarity. The Reset and On/ Off switch will work no matter how they are connected, but the LEDs will not light up if they are connected in reverse polarity. If you can hear disk activity but the LED does not light, simply reverse the plug.

Final Check

Congratulations - you've done it! You have fitted and connected all components. Before you boot your new computer for the first time, recheck everything. It is very easy to overlook something obvious.

Consider the following:

  • Motherboard jumper configuration: are the settings for the processor correct?
  • Drive jumper settings: master/ slave correct?
  • Are the processor, RAM modules and plug-in cards firmly seated in their sockets?
  • Did you plug all the cables in? Do they all fit snugly?
  • Have you tightened all the screws on the plug-in cards or fitted the clips?
  • Are the drives secure?
  • Have you connected the power cables to all drives?

Once you have checked all of the above, you can start your PC and install your operating system.