How to Install a Motherboard Inside a PC Case: A Beginner’s Guide


Choosing the best motherboard might not be as exciting as choosing other basic build components, but it’s an important part of the build. The motherboard is basically a platform on which you install your PC components. It all starts with the motherboard when you start to install all the components on it. Installing the motherboard in a PC case is not as difficult as you might think. There are a few important things to consider, but otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward process. In this guide, we will tell you how to install a motherboard in a PC case.

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  • Main components: Before you even think about mounting the motherboard in a PC case, it is important to collect all the basic components from the build and install them on the board. This includes the processor, RAM modules, and M.2 SSD. It is best to install these basic components before mounting the board inside the case.
  • Tools: Unlike many other components, installing a motherboard isn’t a tool-less operation, at least not yet. You will definitely need a Phillips screwdriver to put everything together.
  • A compatible PC case: Choose the right PC case based on the size of the motherboard you plan to use. A full tower PC case, for example, supports E-ATX, ATX, mATX, and miniITX motherboards. An SFF case, however, will only support a miniITX motherboard, or sometimes a mATX motherboard.
  • Motherboard manual: Not all motherboards are built the same, so you’ll definitely need a manual to figure out power cables, headers for USB, fans, RGB lights, etc.

Installing basic components on the board

Intel Core i5-12600K installed on a Z690 motherboard

It is best to install some of the essential building components including processor, RAM modules, and M.2 SSD modules on the motherboard before mounting it in the case. Even the biggest PC cases on the market have limited space, so it’s easier to install as many components as possible before dropping the board inside the case.

An XPG RAM module with a red colored heat sink installed on a motherboard

The first step is to install a processor, followed by RAM modules and SSDs. You can refer to our guides “How to install RAM” and “How to install M.2 SSD” for how to install these components. You cannot install all the components on the motherboard before dropping it into the case, but the goal is to install as much as possible to avoid working with less space inside the chassis.

Installing the motherboard inside the case

Now that you’re ready to drop the motherboard inside the chassis, it’s time to determine the I / O plate situation. Many modern high-end motherboards now have an IO panel pre-installed. However, you will need to manually install this part if you are using a relatively old or low-end motherboard. The IO plates, if not already installed on the motherboard, are usually provided inside the box. Be careful not to injure yourself while handling IO plates as these metal plates tend to have very sharp edges. You can install the plate on the back of the PC case in the designated IO plate slot.

A motherboard IO plate

  • Once done, you need to hover over the motherboard inside the case to determine where the standoffs are. Some PC cases will have spacers preinstalled, but you may need to install them manually depending on your case.
  • The placement of these spacers will depend on the size of the board itself. It’s also important to make sure that your PC case is compatible and large enough to accommodate the motherboard of your choice.

One motherboard spacer hole highlighted

  • After locating the spacers, place your motherboard inside the case and properly align the spacers.
  • The next step is to screw in the motherboard. You will follow an “X” pattern to make the screws, which means you will be working the screw that is diagonally opposite to the one you tightened first.
  • Beware of the force applied when screwing in the board. The main idea is to fix the card inside the case, not to over tighten it.
  • You have now successfully seated the motherboard in the case, but we still have a few things to do.

Port to connect the ATX cable to the motherboard

  • After that, you need to connect the main ATX power cable and the processor power cables. These two cables will allow the board to supply power to the components.
  • Almost all cables and the corresponding ports and wires are labeled with their names, so you shouldn’t have any problems figuring out which cable goes where. Otherwise, you will have to refer to the motherboard manual to find the appropriate tracks.

As much as we would love to help you figure out which cables go where on the board, this is no easy task as no two motherboards are the same. The ports and wires will likely be different on your motherboard than where it is on the Aorus Z690 Pro motherboard that we are using for this guide.

How to Install a Motherboard: Final Thoughts

If you have followed all the steps carefully, you have now installed your motherboard inside the case. Installing the card itself, as you can see, is not a difficult task. Installing all the components before and after mounting the motherboard is what takes a lot of time. The next steps after dropping the motherboard inside the case is to install the rest of the components. After that turn on the PC to see that everything is working.

Motherboards are also not lacking in the market, unlike other components. We encourage you to check out our collection of the best gaming motherboards or even the best motherboards for overclocking if you are looking for buying guides. Also, don’t forget to spend some time on cable management as it helps a lot in keeping track of all cables. Good luck!


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