Installing the Motherboard onto the Standoffs

It is common sense to upgrade your computer instead of buying a new one. By upgrading, one can save a considerable amount of money while also enjoying better speed and performance. Today, computer parts such as the motherboard, processor, ram and others are not only cheap but also deliver better performance.

So by buying new parts and configuring them yourself, you can easily upgrade your computer.

At first, it might sound like a challenging task to install a new motherboard. But a little attention to detail, proper planning & correct execution is all it takes!

During the process of installing a motherboard, the most important thing to keep in mind is to mount standoffs correctly. Making a mistake at this stage can prove to be costly. Why? Incorrectly mounting a motherboard standoff can cause it to touch the metal case. As a result, the motherboard might get short-circuit and stop working completely.

Common Types of Motherboard Standoffs

Two commonly used materials for the motherboard standoffs are:

  1. Plastic
  2. Metal

A key difference between metal and plastic standoffs is the option of securing it to the case base plate. Metal standoffs contain screws that can be used to secure it on the base plate. On the other hand, plastic standoffs do not have any screws & operate on a different methodology.

A commonly seen shape of metal standoffs is “hexagonal”. They usually contain screws that can be used to secure the standoffs into the base of the computer case. In this type, usually, a hollow cavity can be seen in which screws can be inserted.

In plastic standoffs, no such “hollow cavity” is seen. The sole purpose of these standoffs is to elevate the motherboard. With a flat bottom and a pointy top, the basic structure of plastic and metal standoffs is very different.

The pointy end which is present on the top can be pushed through the motherboard’s mounting hole. You may ask how? The pointy end can be slightly compressed, allowing it to be pushed through the mounting hole. Releasing the compressed pointy end locks the motherboard. Through this mechanism, the motherboard is secured to the base plate without any screws.

High-end Standoffs

The type of standoffs mentioned above are commonly used in cases and account for almost 95%. But some custom made, Proprietary, and high-end cases do include unique standoffs made from metal. In this type, clips are present, which can be used to secure the motherboard to the base plate. In some other proprietary cases, standoffs may contain screws or pointed tips for securing to the base plate.

However, there is not much difference between the proprietary and the common ones. If you know how to install the common ones, you can handle the proprietary standoffs too!

There is one problem with these types of standoffs, though… A lost or damaged standoff may prove difficult to be replaced or even to find a new one. Even if you find a replacement in a store or online, they will be expensive.

Motherboard Form Factors

What’s the point of a form factor? Well, it is the form factor that determines the compatibility with any computer case. Depending on the form factor, a different case may be required to ensure compatibility.

Some of the commonly found form factors are:

  1. microATX
  2. Mini-ATX
  3. ATX

The ATX form factor is bigger than the mini and microATX, as the name suggests.

In ATX boards, a mix of metal and plastic standoffs can be used at various locations. In the middle and rear edge, metal standoffs can be used. On the other hand, plastic standoffs can be installed on the edge present near the front of the case. In micro and mini-ATX, the number of mounting holes is less due to the small size.

The form factors mentioned above account for most of the motherboards. However, some other factors are also present, such as NLX, FlexATX, Mini LPX, LPX, etc. In these types, the location of standoff placement may vary, but the general procedure is still the same.

Create a Template Using Paper

Before rushing to connect the core base plate with standoffs, take a step back! It is better to do a thing correctly the first time instead of trying several times. As mentioned earlier, if the standoff touches the computer case, a short circuit may occur.

To plan things carefully, take a piece of paper & place your motherboard on top of the paper. Now, simply mark the standoff holes using a pen or pencil. Once the holes are marked, take the piece of paper and try to match the holes present on the paper and the base plate.important and is located below the power supply. Try to align the base plate hole with the location marked on the paper.

Once you have done that, finding the location of other standoffs will become easy.

Install the Standoffs

You may find some points on the paper that have no corresponding holes on the base plate. In this situation, you can simply use the plastic standoffs.

For the rest of them, you can use the standard metal standoffs and use a nut driver to tighten them until fully secured on the base plate. A word of caution, though – Do not use too much force when nut-driver to tighten the standoff. Excessive force can cause damage to the standoff, and it may break off.

Securing the Motherboard

Now comes the last but most important part. You have installed the standoffs and are now all ready to finally install the motherboard.

Carefully pick the motherboards from the edges and make sure not to touch any of the ICs, solder points or other important parts.

You will find a hoe on the top right side of the motherboard. Align it with the standoff that corresponds to that side. You may need to rotate the motherboard a little to make sure all the other holes also align with standoffs.

Once the motherboard is carefully placed at the right location, you can use an appropriate screwdriver to tighten the screws until the motherboard is fully screwed. At this stage, make sure that no screw fall off in the case during the process.

So there you have it… You have successfully installed the motherboard onto the standoffs!