When building a PC, you might run into many parts that you don’t know about. It can be an alien cable or an unheard port, and such things will make you scour the Internet and skim the instruction manual.

Similarly, you might also find a metal plate along with your motherboard. It has cutouts for all the different ports and sharp prongs around them. This plate you’re looking at is an IO shield.

Now if you don’t know what is an IO shield, and how to install it, then worry not as this guide will cover everything there’s to know about it.

Let’s get started!


Key Takeaways

  • An IO shield is a metal plate that comes with your motherboard. It protects the motherboard against EMI and static discharge.
  • It also blocks off any dust or moisture that might be getting into your PC.
  • First, you need to remove the old IO shield. After that, find the right orientation of the IO shield by aligning it with the motherboard. Finally, place the IO shield in the hole and push it in. If needed, bend the prongs so they can touch the ports.

What Is An IO Shield?

IO Shield
Here is an IO Shield – Image Captured By Us.

In almost all cases, every motherboard comes with a metal plate called the IO shield. As the name suggests, it shields the input/output ports of the motherboard.

You might notice there’s a giant hole at the back of your PC case right where the motherboard ports will be accessible. Well, that’s where the IO shield is installed, and it’s the first step before screwing the motherboard in the casing.

That’s because once the motherboard is in place, and you have not installed the IO Shield, then you will have to take it out again to install it. Which can be quite hectic, so, it’s always recommended to install the IO shield right after you unbox everything.

Now you may be wondering if the IO shield is so necessary that it must be installed before anything, then what is it used for?

Uses of An IO Shield 

Originally, IO shields were used to protect analog computers from electromagnetic interference coming from external components.

Well today, everything has gone digital, and even though your computer will probably not get any EMI, it is still best to use an IO shield. Other than that, since an IO shield is installed on the PC casing, which is grounded by the PSU, it can also protect your motherboard again static discharge from your fingers. 

Additionally, an IO shield also protects your computer from tons of dust. Just imagine for a second, without an IO shield, the back of your casing will have a huge hole from which you can see inside your casing, and a lot of dust will get inside from that hole.

Not just dust, a huge hole right at the back of your casing will also invite all sorts of insects and bugs, which can get messy.

So, it’s best to install an IO shield to protect your PC.

How To Install An IO Shield

Now that you know what’s an IO shield and how it is useful, you should also learn how to install it on the PC case. The process is not difficult at all, and if you plan to build your entire rig by yourself, then installing an IO shield should be a cakewalk.

Remove The Old IO Shield

If your case has an old IO shield already installed, and your new motherboard came with its own IO shield, then you should remove the old one from the case first.

If you use the old IO shield, then chances are it will not be compatible with your new motherboard, and that can cause difficulties while screwing the motherboard in the case.

So, to remove the old IO shield, simply press it gently with your fingers from outside the case. You will hear a few clicking sounds and that means the Ield is coming out. If needed, you can apply more pressure and it will finally fall down inside the case.

Find The Right Orientation And Bend The Prongs

Installing an IO Shield
Here is how to find the correct combination, while installing an IO Shield on Motherboard – Image Captured by Nauman/Tech4Gamers.

Before installing the new IO shield, it is best to align it correctly with the motherboard to find the right orientation. That’s because you might end up installing the IO shield upside down, which simply will not work.

So, first, bring out the motherboard, and precisely align the IO shield with the ports. Make sure every port cut-out is aligned perfectly with its respective port, and not a single port is blocked from the IO shield, this way you will know the right orientation of the IO shield.

You might also notice that there are prongs around the port cut-outs. In order to protect the motherboard from static discharge, these prongs touch the ports to ground it. That’s why it is best to bend the prongs as well before installing the IO shield to the case.

While keeping the IO shield and the motherboard aligned, push forward the motherboard so the ports come out of the IO shield’s port cut-outs. After that, bend the prongs so that they are in contact with the ports. You will notice that the bigger prongs are touching the top of the ports, while the smaller ones are simply touching the ports.

Once done, you can move ahead and start installing the IO shield on the case.

Install The IO Shield

Installing IO Shield
Image Credits Robtech 

To install the IO shield:

  1. First, make sure the case is placed on a flat surface and it will not move when you’re installing the IO shield.
  2. With its right orientation, place the IO shield in its place on the case from the inside.
  3. Once placed, you need to fit it correctly. So, gently push the shield by applying equal force to each corner one by one. 
  4. You will hear lots of clicking noises, that’s the sound of the IO shield sitting in its place.

You might notice that the entire installation process was not difficult at all. In fact, compared to the rest of the build, the IO shield is one of the easiest parts to install. However, once it is in its place, you need to make sure it is installed correctly.

IO shield bumps after installation
IO Shield Bracket

Notice that there are little metal bumps around the entire IO shield. If installed correctly, these bumps will be visible from inside the case. On top of that, you can also apply just a little force on the IO shield to try to move it. If it wiggles, then it means it is not installed correctly. 

Make sure the IO shield is sturdy when in place, because otherwise, the motherboard ports will not align perfectly with their respective cut-outs.

What To Do When IO Shield Is Not Installed Correctly

If there is not enough room to work with, then you might find it difficult to install the IO shield. In such cases, it’s best to remove the exhaust fan on the back of the casing. This way, you will have more space to push the IO shield into its place correctly.

To remove the rear exhaust fan on the casing, all you have to do is unscrew it and it will come out on its own.

Similarly, after installation, if you find that the IO shield is wiggling a lot, then:

  1. Place the case down, so that the IO shield lines up with the table.
  2. Next, put the motherboard inside the case and align its ports with the port cut-outs on the IO shield.
  3. Gently push the motherboard to bring the ports out of their respective cut-outs. Bend the prongs again if needed to make sure they are touching the ports.
  4. Finally, start screwing the motherboard to install it in the motherboard.

After following these steps, you will notice that the IO shield does not move around anymore.

How Important Is An IO Shield On Motherboard

A dusty PC
A prebuilt PC with dust buildup

You may wonder how important is an IO shield, and what could go wrong if you don’t install one on your PC. Well, other than the basic protection against EMI and static discharges that can potentially fry your motherboard or at least its ports, the lack of an IO shield also exposes your motherboard to a ton of dust.

Over time, dust can build up over your motherboard, and thus it will begin to retain heat that can cause overheating problems. In the long run, this can significantly reduce your motherboard’s lifespan.

On the other hand, to prevent this, you will have to clean your PC a lot. Granted it is a good thing to regularly maintain and clean your PC, but the lack of an IO shield will increase the job to quite an extent.

Overall, having a huge hole on the back of your casing is never a good idea, other than dust, it will also allow moisture and humid air to get in. So, when building your rig, it is highly recommended that you install an IO shield.

Summary

An IO shield is a metal plate that comes with your motherboard. It has port cut-outs so it can align with the motherboard perfectly. It protects the motherboard against EMI that might come from external components, and against your finger’s static discharge

On top of that, the IO shield also plays an important role in blocking any dust or moist air from getting into your PC. 

Installing an IO shield is not difficult at all. You just have to do is find the right orientation, and then place it in the hole by pushing it.

FAQs

Where can I get an IO shield?

Usually, every motherboard comes with its own IO shield. However, if you have lost yours, or if yours didn’t ship with one, then you can simply order it from eBay. It shouldn’t cost above $10.

How should I mount a motherboard with a pre-installed IO shield?

If your case comes with a pre-installed IO shield, then check if it’s compatible with the motherboard you’re using. If it is, then simply screw in the motherboard, otherwise, take out the pre-installed IO shield and install your new IO shield.

Also Read: HDMI On Motherboard Not Working [SOLVED]

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Ali Rashid Khan is an avid gamer, hardware enthusiast, photographer, and devoted litterateur with a period of experience spanning more than 14 years. Sporting a specialization with regards to the latest tech in flagship phones, gaming laptops, and top-of-the-line PCs, Ali is known for consistently presenting the most detailed objective perspective on all types of gaming products, ranging from the Best Motherboards, CPU Coolers, RAM kits, GPUs, and PSUs amongst numerous other peripherals. When he’s not busy writing, you’ll find Ali meddling with mechanical keyboards, indulging in vehicular racing, or professionally competing worldwide with fellow mind-sport athletes in Scrabble at an international level. Currently speaking, Ali has completed his A-Level GCEs with plans to go into either Allopathic Medicine or Business Studies, or who knows, perhaps a full-time dedicated technological journalist.