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Are motherboard standoffs screw universal?
You have decided to build a new PC and have bought all the parts needed for it. You start assembling the pieces, the power supply, graphic card and every other component. Still, when it comes to placing the motherboard, you realize that it does not come with screws, and now you are wondering if you can use your old motherboard screws or not.
So, we know that motherboards do not come with any mounting hardware, but if you purchase a PC frame, it does come with all the screws you need, but those are for mounting the SSD slot.
Mostly motherboard screws and standoffs are universal, so you can use them with any PC you want. The quantity of screws and standoffs that you need depends on the motherboard size and model. Moreover, some PC frames cannot fit large motherboards, so pay attention to that. Some PC cases or motherboards (mostly ATX) require extraordinary standoff or screws, but it is scarce.
Types of Motherboard Standoff
Usually, the motherboard standoff has a #6-32 UNC male thread #6-32 UNC female thread on the other end accepts a screw to retain the motherboard. The #6-32 UNC also expands with its types. #6-32 UNC comes with a flanged hex/Phillips head, commonly provided in PC cases and also comes in Phillips pan head,
Some motherboard standoffs use the M3 female thread (which is faced towards the motherboard). Instead of #6-32 UNC, and on a rare occasion, a mixture of types can be used in the same case.
The M3 female is used only in specific places of the motherboard, which are fragile and need more attention.
The M5X10 comes with a socket head cap. A size of 0.8mm is variably suitable for screwing in the outside fit of the motherboard and keeping it sturdy.
Phillips screws allow a tighter fit than a flat head screw, which is why it is the best screw for motherboard standoffs. These screws are lightweight and relatively small. The only problem is to match your screwdriver to the type and size of screws you’re using.
The Thumbscrews are used as an alternative to Philip head screws as the size of the thread is the same. Still, the diameter of the neck varies between them, and that is the only reason people tend to avoid using the thumbscrews, as there is a chance of short-circuiting the motherboard.
The 6-32 screw, M3*5 Flat, 6-32 *2 screw, and 6-32 screw Hexagon are other types used in motherboard standoffs. Some motherboards require special standoff screws like mentioned above, which are hard to find sometimes and may require a lot of research.
Which standoff is most common?
Most PC frames use the threaded brass standoffs (Jack Screw Standoffs) for attaching the motherboard to the frame. Because the case material is usually a conductor, connecting the motherboard directly to the mounts can cause severe damage. In some cases, threaded or snap-lock plastic standoffs are used, which are less secure, but equally applicable if you build a PC. The standoff gives a margin of space between the motherboard and the frame to keep the multiple solder points below from killing the motherboard.
Alternative to standoffs?
First of all, you shouldn’t even think about installing your motherboard if you don’t have any standoffs. If you need an improvisation, you can use a non-conductive sheet between the motherboard and case material.
But make sure this is a temporary alternative and make sure to use proper tools for your motherboard. Otherwise, it can cause some severe damage to other components.
Sizes of standoff and screws
So the standoff screws also come in different sizes for screwing in other areas and dimensions, which can get complicated sometimes.
According to the ATX 2.1 standard:
- The standoff for the motherboard has to be a minimum of 6.5mm. The external cross-section must fit within a 10mm x 10mm area around the standoff hole or the female thread.
- The mounting screws must match the standoff screw wells (usually 6/32 or M3 thread size). Otherwise, it can damage the motherboard and cause performance issues.
- The standoff length can be whatever you want as long as the components fit in your case, but make sure it does not touch any electrical part beneath the screw.
- A more protracted standoff allows cables to be run under the motherboard and may also improve airflow.
There are a lot of options on how various companies meet those specifications.
Still, as long as the mounting screws match the standoff screw wells (usually 6/32 or M3 thread size), it is not a big issue what the external width is, As long as it’s within the 10 x 10 mm max size requirement (the most frequently used).
What happens if you don’t use all standoffs?
As long as you install it in the corners and the centre, you do not need to worry. There’s no need for all of them, but you should make sure the motherboard doesn’t get in contact with the frame.
Do motherboard standoffs need to be made of brass?
No, motherboard standoffs can be made of other materials—for example, plastic. However, most of the standoffs you will see will be made of brass, and that’s because it can even work as a grounding technique and prevents any damage to the motherboard.
What if you lose a standoff or screw?
If you lose a screw or standoff, most computer or hardware stores have similar screws and standoffs. It is a good idea to bring the motherboard to purchase the one that fits accurately.
How to read motherboard screws?
The motherboard screws are more often M3*5 screws and come with a flat head, just like any other screw. The name M3 stands for the diameter, which is 3 millimetres, and the five stands for the length, which is 5 millimetres. You can find standard M3*5 screws online or at any hardware store, so even if you don’t have any right now, you don’t need to worry.
So, are motherboard screws universal?
Yes, mostly, you do not need to buy new screws to mount your new motherboard. However, it is essential to have suitable standoff screws to mount the motherboard. Standoff screws are mounted into the frame, and they create a small margin of space so that your motherboard won’t damage or short circuits by touching the case.
Like universal motherboard screws, the threaded standoffs used in standard PC cases can be used for other PC’s. Few non-standard cases use other standoffs, but the chance that you have one is nearly null.
Just like motherboard screws, standoffs screws for ATX motherboard and PC frames are universal.
How can you mount a motherboard?
After opening the PC frame, it’s pretty simple. You have to thread all the standoffs in the right places inside the frame. If you are stuck anywhere, you can always check online or see the motherboard manual.
Once standoffs are in place, Place the motherboard inside the frame and line up all the holes on the board with the standoffs, respectively. Then screw in all the M3 or any other required motherboard screws until no spots are left, and make sure that you do not overtighten the screws because you could end up cracking your motherboard.
Sometimes standoff screws come in different sizes but only with some unusual cases. If you have a unique point, double-check that your motherboard screws can go into the standoffs. Usually, this does not happen, and chances are nearly zero.
Many motherboards come with M.2 standoffs and screws. Those are different from the screws you use to mount the motherboard. They should only be used to mount SSDs using the appropriate slot. But M.2 screws are usually pre-screwed for you.
Do not screw the motherboard directly on the case if you have universal motherboard screws but no standoffs. There are a few weak spots on the back of the motherboard that can cause severe damage or, the worst instantly killing your motherboard and if it’s a bad day, it might kill your CPU, RAM, GPU, or some other components as well.
Motherboard screws are universal. Almost all motherboards use standard M3*5 screws that go through the appropriate holes on the motherboard and then thread into the standoffs. The motherboard standoff screws are universal as well. You can use almost any standoff with your motherboard in most cases. But you should always look out first which standoff is best for your computer if you don’t want any trouble.
Is there any alternative to standoff?
No, there are no alternatives to standoffs but there are temporary solutions that you can use. Using a non-conductive can help, but not for a longer period of time. You will need standoffs to keep your computer safe.
Note: If you are using standoffs, you create a margin of space between your motherboard and case to avoid short-circuits or damage. Some instances have unique standoffs, but almost all PC frames use the standard ATX design layout with standard standoffs. If you do not have motherboard screws or standoff, you can easily find them online or at any hardware shop.