paper washers that came with my case - do I need to use these?

Citizen Snips

Limp Gawd
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I am in the middle of my first build and my case came with these little rings that seem to be made of some type of paper/cardboard material. I assume these are supposed to go on top of the motherboard, and underneath the screws that screw into the standoffs on the motherboard - basically a washer to go with the screws that are used to screw the motherboard to the standoffs.

What is the actual purpose of these things? Do I really need them?
 

dr.stevil

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nah, you don't need them.

honestly, I've never even seen anything like you described so... :D it's probably for packaging or something
 

Citizen Snips

Limp Gawd
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nah, you don't need them.

honestly, I've never even seen anything like you described so... :D it's probably for packaging or something
Well they came in the same plastic bag as some of the screws, so I figured they had a purpose.
 

schizrade

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No, but I recently had somebody use them when their board was shorting out on a standoff. Cheap case.
 

MrF

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The purpose of the fiber washers is to provide some cushioning for the motherboard.
The last thing you want is to cause a crack in a track that runs near one of the motherboard screw holes.
 

skipsargent

Limp Gawd
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If what you describe as "paper" are little red colored washers, they are insulating washers, not cushions or pads. If you image search on Google for "motherboard insulating washers" you will see what he is talking about. They provide extra protection against grounding out the motherboard. Use is optional.
 

Citizen Snips

Limp Gawd
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If what you describe as "paper" are little red colored washers, they are insulating washers, not cushions or pads. If you image search on Google for "motherboard insulating washers" you will see what he is talking about. They provide extra protection against grounding out the motherboard. Use is optional.
How would the motherboard get grounded out?
 

MrF

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Unfortunately, you see a lot of misinformation on the web.
Ages ago, there may have been motherboards that required electrical isolation from the screw due to poor design. Not today.

The motherboard is grounded by the power supply.
 

skipsargent

Limp Gawd
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Unfortunately, you see a lot of misinformation on the web.
Ages ago, there may have been motherboards that required electrical isolation from the screw due to poor design. Not today.

The motherboard is grounded by the power supply.
And yet some manufacturers still include insulating washers...
 

Citizen Snips

Limp Gawd
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Unfortunately, you see a lot of misinformation on the web.
Ages ago, there may have been motherboards that required electrical isolation from the screw due to poor design. Not today.

The motherboard is grounded by the power supply.
If the case itself is grounded through the power supply's ground prong, and the motherboard is connected to the case through brass standoffs, then isn't the motherboard already grounded?

I guess I don't see how electrically isolating the motherboard from the screws accomplishes anything - the motherboard would still be electrically connected to ground through the standoffs and the case.
 

schizrade

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Unfortunately, you see a lot of misinformation on the web.
Ages ago, there may have been motherboards that required electrical isolation from the screw due to poor design. Not today.

The motherboard is grounded by the power supply.
Sure, but it still happens today.
 

skipsargent

Limp Gawd
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Messages
146
If the case itself is grounded through the power supply's ground prong, and the motherboard is connected to the case through brass standoffs, then isn't the motherboard already grounded?

I guess I don't see how electrically isolating the motherboard from the screws accomplishes anything - the motherboard would still be electrically connected to ground through the standoffs and the case.
You are assuming that all elements of the PCB are grounded on the same plane, when really the board is a composite of multiple layers, not all of which are electrically identical.
 

MrF

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Unfortunately, you see a lot of misinformation on the web.
Ages ago, there may have been motherboards that required electrical isolation from the screw due to poor design. Not today.

The motherboard is grounded by the power supply.
If the case itself is grounded through the power supply's ground prong, and the motherboard is connected to the case through brass standoffs, then isn't the motherboard already grounded?

I guess I don't see how electrically isolating the motherboard from the screws accomplishes anything - the motherboard would still be electrically connected to ground through the standoffs and the case.
In the old days, there may have been motherboards that had tracks coming so close to the screw holes that the metal screw head could short the tracks and cause malfunction. In that case, insulating washers could have helped as an afterthought to the poor design.

These days, no track comes that close to a screw hole on a motherboard.
As I said before, use the washers to cushion the motherboard.
You have nothing to lose by using them.

There is no grounding issue or concern here whatsoever.
 
Last edited:

Citizen Snips

Limp Gawd
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In the old days, there may have been motherboards that had tracks coming so close to the screw holes that the metal screw head could short the tracks and cause malfunction. In that case, insulating washers could have helped as an afterthought to the poor design.

These days, no track comes that close to a screw hole on a motherboard.
As I said before, use the washers to cushion the motherboard.
You have nothing to lose by using them.

There is no grounding issue or concern here whatsoever.
Thanks, this explanation makes sense.
 

skipsargent

Limp Gawd
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Well if you insist on not believing me here is a link to a product page of these washers, notice what the item description says:

Paper Washer

Oh wait here is another one:

Washer

Use them or not, up to you. I do not use them personally. But the intended purpose of the item in question IS insulation. So says the manufacturers of the products.
 

Citizen Snips

Limp Gawd
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Well if you insist on not believing me here is a link to a product page of these washers, notice what the item description says:

Paper Washer

Oh wait here is another one:

Washer

Use them or not, up to you. I do not use them personally. But the intended purpose of the item in question IS insulation. So says the manufacturers of the products.
The description says they "isolate a new motherboard from the metal contacts inside a PC case", but the washers are placed between the motherboard and the screws, so I don't see how they isolate a motherboard from metal contacts inside a case.
 

skipsargent

Limp Gawd
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If you do not use the proper button screws (the ones that come with your motherboard), you are supposed to use the insulating washers, this prevents extra large screw heads from incidental contact with circuit traces that may run close to the mounting holes. As MrF correctly pointed out most, if not all modern motherboards have engineered this issue out of existence. What you are neglecting to consider is the fact that it was your CASE that came with the washers and not your motherboard. Your case will have many holes drilled in it for various standoff positions to accommodate several form factors of motherboard. The case manufacturer also provides an excess of hardware mounting solutions for the end users convenience. Consider the insulating washers for legacy applications or use with poorly designed boards.
 

MrF

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I thank you for the links and I have no arguments against those.

I never tighten, even loosely, a screw without a washer. It is just a habit I have developed over the years. A washer protects what you tighten the screw on because the washer distributes the pressure of the screw head over a larger surface area and also reduces friction while you rotate the screw to tighten or loosen.

A printed circuit board is fragile (in my book). I do not use metal washers for a motherboard for that reason.
I use the provided washers or I even get plastic washers from Home Depot and use those. Such material absorbs pressure by yielding more than metal would.
I never over-tighten motherboard screws.

If I had a choice between two washers that both provided the cushioning I desire and one was conductive and the other was insulating, I would use the insulating one just to be sure.

I do not think we are in disagreement here.
Different styles and preferences? May be.
 

skipsargent

Limp Gawd
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I do not think that we are in disagreement either. As a person who designs, cuts and etches his own project boards I can say with out hesitation that in the world of PCBs a PC motherboard is definitely a complex animal consisting of multiple layers of material. Care should absolutely be taken when handling, even though modern boards a quite a bit more rugged than they were just five years ago. Two basic rules I always use when installing a board are, always use the appropriate screws (be sure to check the thread size), and to always use the correct number of standoff posts for support. If you also follow MrF's advice on washers you're sure to have a very solid install.
 

ascorbic

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Dec 7, 2006
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There are certain cases with something that looks like dimples on the board tray rather than stand off screws. If you are using stand offs, you do not need these paper/cardboard washers. If using stand offs will make the board sit too high, then do not use the standoffs, and do use the paper/cardboard washers.
 
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