How to Build a Gaming PC

by turbolence1988dec 22nd, 2018

Motherboard Installation

Our breadboard system is now ready to go into your computer case. Unbox the case and lay it on a flat surface. You may cover the surface with a towel or sheet to prevent scratches to the case. Unscrew and remove the left side panel (and if your case has one, the right side panel), and remove any boxes or packages of extra hardware packed inside the case. You should have a set of cables that run from the front panel towards the motherboard tray for each of the front panel connections you have, and there may be some cables dangling about from pre-installed fans as well. Take these and route or fold them out of the way so you have a clear view of the motherboard tray.

Now, If you install the motherboard immediately, you could break it the moment it powers on. This is because you may be screwing the motherboard directly into a metal tray, and any small electronic components touching the tray could cause an electrical short. What you need to do is make sure motherboard standoffs are installed first. These are small, hexagonal screws that are designed specifically to raise the motherboard slightly away from the metal tray so the components have clearance. They’re usually made of brass, plastic, or another non-conductive material. Some motherboards have them pre-installed, some don’t, and a few will have them integrated into the tray itself. If a small pack of six to ten standoffs was not included with your case, check the manual to see whether they’re integrated or need to be purchased separately.

Typical motherboard standoff. This one black steel, but yours may be brass or aluminum.

Every motherboard has a set of holes aligned in specific locations that are used to mount it into a case, and your case should have screw holes in the same spots on the motherboard tray. These are where the standoffs will need to be inserted. Take as many standoffs as are applicable for your case and motherboard and screw them in tightly. Some locations where a standoff would be expected may have a raised nub or plastic clip in their place instead, which is fine.

Before you screw the motherboard into these standoffs, you’ll want to install the rear I/O shield as it’s much easier to do this now than once the motherboard’s in place. Note the orientation of how your motherboard will install, then take the I/O shield and align it accordingly (it will only match the motherboard’s connections facing one way). Take the I/O shield and press it into the shield slot from the inside of the case outward. This will often take a lot of force and at times a little bit of bending, but should snap into place firmly.

Remember to check the orientation of your I/O shield before you install it.

Now you’re ready to install the motherboard. Orient and lower the motherboard into the case at a slight angle towards the I/O shield. Gently press the motherboard’s external connectors into their slots on the I/O shield to align the motherboard as it’s lowered into place. Bring the motherboard down slowly to rest atop the standoffs. It likely will not align perfectly with the standoffs but should be close, and you can shift the motherboard by hand to line them up. Resistance from the I/O shield will push the motherboard slightly away from its ideal position, but so long as you can see the screw hole in each of the standoffs through the motherboard’s mounting holes, you’re close enough to continue. If you don’t see any, lift the motherboard out and reposition rather than dragging it across the standoffs as you could damage the board’s circuitry.

Your case should have come with motherboard screws that will fit into the standoffs that were installed two steps ago. Starting at the corner closest to the I/O shield, line the motherboard up, place the screw into position, and tighten until it just starts to give resistance. Repeat the process at the opposite corner of the board, then continue until all applicable motherboard screws are lightly in place. Then, tighten all the motherboard screws until they are firm.