A motherboard standoff is a small metal object of cylindrical shape. These cylindrical metallic objects go into the dedicated mounting holes on your PC case and are used to uplift the motherboard away from the CPU case.
Motherboard standoffs act as a partition between the motherboard and its case. As the motherboard is equipped with hundreds of electrical circuits, it’s crucial to maintain a distance between the motherboard and its outer case to avoid a short circuit.
This article will discuss what motherboard standoffs are, why you need them, and how to install them. Keep on reading and find answers to all of your queries.
Why Do You Need Motherboard Standoffs?
Motherboards are equipped with electrical connections at the top and on the bottom. As these are electrical connections, it’s evident that they will have current passing through them most of the time.
Although the manufacturers make sure to isolate these circuits to avoid any disastrous situation, you need to play your part as a user. That’s when these standoffs come to your rescue.
As the outer case of motherboards is usually metallic, a standoff is used for raising the board of the case to prevent any short circuits, which can happen if multiple circuits get in touch within the computer case.
In addition to preventing these short circuits, standoffs serve other purposes too. For instance, they are responsible for keeping the boards in place and cool during operation by creating a gap between the board and case.
Do Standoffs Come With the Motherboard?
This is a scorching question, and its answer is a big turn-off for most people. You don’t get standoffs with the motherboard, but they come with your PC’s case and are usually a built-in feature.
The reason for this is the standardized shape of motherboards. As they don’t come in varied forms, unlike cases, standoffs have to be placed inside without compromising the case specifications.
So if the standoffs come pre-installed, you are left with very few motherboard options that can fit into these cases. Usually, the standoffs are explicitly built for particular motherboards of particular brands.
The good news is that many companies and PC cases follow specific standards. For example, if you have standoffs built for an ATX case, you can fit them with any board from the ATX series.
Where Can You Find Standoffs?
Usually, standoffs come with the package when you buy a computer setup or case. But if you are looking to get your hands on a new batch, head to a local computer shop and buy one according to your PC case standard.
However, the best thing to do is contact the supplier who sold you the computer setup or find these standoffs on online shopping platforms like Walmart, AliExpress, Amazon, etc.
How Do You Install Motherboard Standoffs?
Here is how you can install motherboard standoffs inside the computer case.
- Keep the motherboard on the top part of the case tray.
- Align both mounting holes and standoffs together.
- Using screws or clips that usually come with the standoffs, start attaching them through standoffs one after the other. It’s best to start from the middle portion and keep on attaching the screws as it will keep the board in place.
If you find it hard to attach the screws or cannot keep the board or screws in place, ask for help from your supplier or ask a technician to do the installation. Ensure to double-check the case once you are done with installing the motherboard.
What Happens If You Don’t Use Standoffs?
As mentioned earlier, a motherboard is equipped with several different intricate electrical circuits, and when there is no spacer used, the circuits come in contact with the metal case.
This will converge all the circuits into a single point resulting in a short circuit, and it can also cause permanent damage to the motherboard, the CPU, and all other components attached to it. You will notice the damage once you try to turn your PC on.
In short, using a motherboard without standoff/spacer between board and case will eventually ruin your entire computer setup. Another disastrous situation you can encounter is fire, and a short circuit is never a good thing and can lead to colossal burnout if not taken care of immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use needle-nose claws to keep the standoff in place. Afterward, start unscrewing the motherboard screws and remove the motherboard and the standoff.
The standoffs’ most common or standard size is the #6–32 x 3/16″ (M3x0.5 in metric). However, they come in various sizes, shapes, and depths.