You might be wondering if your motherboard is missing screws because it didn’t come with any, but they actually come with your PC case. Most new motherboards come with the small screws you need to secure your M.2 drives to the motherboard, however. So while some motherboards do come with screws, they aren’t the ones you use to attach your motherboard to the PC.
Motherboards Don’t Come With Mounting Screws
The screws you need to attach your motherboard to your PC always come with your computer chassis. These are known as standoff or mounting screws. If you quickly think about it, it would be redundant for every motherboard to come with new screws since you already have ones that fit into the back plate in your case.
You’ll always need both the standoffs and screws to secure your motherboard to your PC. Standoffs are usually metal or plastic and hexagonal in shape. Much like the name implies, standoffs keep your motherboard lifted away from the case so that it doesn’t rest directly on the metal chassis. You’ll need the screws to attach your motherboard to these standoffs.
Some PC cases come with the standoffs already pre-attached while others come loose with the screws. Here’s an important piece of advice: Carefully check the placement of holes on your motherboard for screws. Only insert the standoffs at those points because an extra standoff touching your motherboard could cause it to short circuit.
Never try to attach your motherboard directly to your PC chassis without standoffs. Unless you’re looking to replace your motherboard and any other parts that might have gotten fried in the process. The standoffs keep the tracks on the back of your motherboard from directly touching the base plate of the PC to prevent it from short-circuiting.
You’ll likely find the screws and standoffs you need in the case’s hard drive bays. Although some manufacturers prefer to put loose parts like screws in a separate plastic bag or box instead. Be sure to look for them in the PC case as well as the box it came in before you start putting your PC together.
Some Motherboards Come With Screws for M.2 Drives
Most newer motherboards come with support for M.2 drives, a small-sized type of SSD drive. These can be mounted directly onto the motherboard, so motherboards come with slots and M.2 screws where the drive can be attached.
M.2 drives can come in different sizes (although there are only a couple of standard sizes) so be sure to measure it before installing your motherboard. You’ll need to leave any slots under it free from standoffs as you won’t be screwing the motherboard into the PC’s back plate there.
Which Screws Should I Use to Install the Motherboard?
Metal motherboard standoffs generally have a #6-32 UNC male thread that screws into the back plate of the PC chassis. You can usually just turn them using your hand. It will have a similarly-sized (#6-32 UNC) hollow on top where you’ll insert the screws. You’ll typically need a #2 Phillips screwdriver to attach your motherboard (and pretty much anything else) to your computer.
After inserting the standoffs, carefully place the motherboard on top of them and start turning the screws into the top of the standoffs. The screws normally have either a pan or hexagonal head like the standoffs. Their heads will be slightly larger than the holes in the motherboard to keep it secured in place.
Is Installing the Motherboard With Only Screws Wrong?
Around 10 years ago I tried to build my own PC but didn’t realize what the standoffs were for and directly attached my motherboard to my PC case with the screws. There was a loud pop sound when I turned on my PC and I realized I might have blown my motherboard. My dad eventually came to help and pointed out that I hadn’t inserted the standoffs.
The PC wasn’t turning on and I thought this was it. Yet after nervously putting everything back in again with the standoffs in place this time, the PC turned on. It was fine. I was lucky that day because my motherboard had short-circuited but it hadn’t popped. So while this isn’t necessarily a fatal mistake, it’s best to not take any chances.