Are you planning to build your own PC? If it’s the first time you’re doing this, it is highly likely that you are not sure about what Motherboard Standoffs are for, what they do, and if you should install them.
Do not be alarmed as this happens with a lot of people. Especially when they try to venture down the pathway of building their own PCs. You’re not alone!
As technology has progressed, things have also gotten more complex. With so many different pieces of hardware out there, it is pretty hard to know about what everything does out of the box. And with Standoffs, because of how important they can be, it is necessary to know everything you can.
So we have prepared an article that will tell you all that you need to know. We will first explain what Motherboard Standoffs are, if and why they are Necessary, the Hazards of Getting Standoffs, and finally, how you can install Standoffs.
Table of Contents
What Motherboard Standoffs are?
Before we explain what this piece of hardware is, let us explain why it came to be. When it comes to Motherboards, not only their front but also their back has some sort of current running through them once they are in operation.
And as you may know, for electrical components, it is not healthy if they are in contact with other materials that are electrical conductors. While manufacturers make sure to make the back of the Motherboards as insulated as possible, you can never be too sure when it comes to safety. Especially hardware that costs a lot and holds a lot of precious data.
Standoffs are small screw-like structures with the purpose of providing a solution to the problem of electrical discharge to the PC case. It works by separating and insulating any exposed hardware that may come in contact with the PC’s case.
As their name suggests, they make the Motherboard stand apart from the PC’s case by lifting the hardware up. These screws are made up of either plastic or brass, which makes them non-conductors.
Structure of a Standoff
These screws basically have two different parts. On one end, they have a thread-like structure that is synonymous with screws all around the world. This part goes into a PC’s case. Looking at this part, you might think about how any type of screw could be used to do this job.
But, do not make that mistake. The main thing that makes these different than normal screws is that they are not made of a material that is a conductor.
The other end has a hole drilled inside of it. This is the part that is attached to the Motherboard or goes through it.
Where can you get them?
Standoffs usually come with PC cases. Though most people believe that they come with motherboards, that is not the case. Some motherboard manufacturers offer these screws with the package, but not all of them do.
Also when you unpack the items that you buy, make sure that you are careful. So that you do not end up losing these as they are tiny and it is really easy to misplace them.
Some manufacturers go a step further and they send you the PC case with the standoffs pre-installed. Although this can make life easier for you, there is a problem you need to look out for in such cases.
The problem is looking out for the Form Factor of the motherboard. And so, you will have to make sure that the form factor of the pre-installed screws matches the form factor of the motherboard that you have. If not, rather than making your life easier, you will have to do more work.
Are Standoffs Necessary?
The answer to this question is pretty clear. Standoffs are very necessary pieces of equipment that you need to install. There is no way around these screws and well you do not gain much by not going down this route.
Electrical components are very sensitive and need to be properly taken care of. And if a person is not careful, they can pay a heavy price in terms of money and time.
So we would suggest that you do not overlook this little piece of hardware when building your own PC. They offer many different advantages while not having any drawbacks. One of the biggest uses ends up being that they save your PC from damage while providing proper airflow to the internals of your PC. This helps in keeping the temperatures of your device lower, even when you put heavy loads on it.
Hazards of not installing Standoffs
As we have explained earlier, the motherboard has electricity running on both sides of it; as well as all the other pieces of hardware inside the PC case. So if you do not install a Standoff in your PC, you run the risk of Short-Circuiting your PC build.
What this means is that, because the PC case does not provide a lot of resistance to the current that will run through it, there will be an excess of current. This could result in the components of your PC getting more electricity than they can handle.
In some cases, when this has happened, some users have explained that all of their PC equipment got fried and ruined. While some have reported that only their motherboards took a hit, and stopped working. So, if this does happen to someone, how much you lose is purely on luck.
Other than the loss of hardware, in the case of a short circuit, there is also the risk of a fire hazard. People have reported that in situations where their PC short-circuited, there were sparks, crackles as well as smoke. After which, they hurried to turn off the PC. If someone lets this process run a little longer, there is even the possibility of a fire.
How to Install Standoffs?
Now that you know how important installing these little screws is, let us move on to how to properly install these in your case. If you got a case that comes with these screws pre-installed, you can then simply move on to the next step.
In order to install these, first, make sure you have taken the necessary precautions just in case. Such as, grounding yourself and installing the I/O panel shield of the case. Once done, you can then move on to installing the standoffs.
The main problem you will run into at this part is aligning the standoffs correctly with the holes, as there are many on the case. As we told you earlier, there are different form factors of motherboards on the market. And manufacturers try to cover all of those by giving holes for these screws for all form factors.
In order to hack this part of the installation, you could place a paper under the motherboard that you have. This will allow you to have a reference point. You can then move on to marking holes on the paper, in places where the motherboard has its standoff holes. Then, you can make actual holes in places that you have marked in the paper.
All you need to do next is, take the paper to the PC case, align the holes in the paper and the case, and screw the standoffs in. If you do not have a screwdriver, you can use a pair of pliers for this step of the process.
Beware of one thing though, make sure you do not over tighten the screws. Applying too much pressure can break the standoffs.
How to install the Motherboard?
Once the standoffs have been properly placed in the case, next you will have to screw the motherboard on top of the mini stands.
In order to do this, make sure you grip the motherboard from the edges rather than touching the motherboard from the bottom. As the soldered parts at the bottom are sensitive.
Next up, align the motherboard on top of the standoffs, starting off from either the top right or the top left. Once done, you can move on to slowly align the other holes on the motherboard and the PC case.
Once, aligned you will then move on to placing the screws that you got with the PC into the place. It will be easier for you to get this part done if you use a screwdriver. Again, make sure that you do not screw too tightly as this will damage the component.
You also need to make sure that the screws that you use are the ones that came with the PC. This is because these screws look identical to screws that are used to secure optical or storage hard drives. And in the case you mix these screws up, you will find stability problems down the road.
In conclusion, we suggest that Motherboard Standoffs are Necessary and everyone should install them. They provide a lot of advantages and not a lot of hassle. Getting this piece of hardware and installing it is straightforward.
Other than that, another reason is that if you do not install them, the drawbacks are pretty costly. As you will lose either just your motherboard or other components with it. And whether you build your own PC by hand, or buy it from a shop, this is one expense no one would want.