A motherboard is basically the main circuit board inside a computer case. It connects different components of a computer together. Moreover, it has a socket for CPU, DIMM slots for RAM, and expansion cards which includes graphics cards, sound cards, and network cards.
Additionally, a motherboard is also hooked up to hard drives and front panel ports with cable & wires. It is also known as the mainboard, mobo, system board, or MB.
Types of Motherboard
Laptop motherboards are usually custom-made and specifically designed for the laptop. On the other hand, PC motherboards follow certain design standards. This means, at first glance – you can easily tell where to plug in CPU, RAM, or hard drive.
Although, this doesn’t mean that any computer of your system will work with any type of motherboard. While most of the hard drives and graphics cards are easily compatible with almost all motherboards. But the processor is all over the place; it just has to properly fit in both motherboard’s socket and chipset.
So, if you’re planning to replace your motherboard, then you must double-check that the mobo you’re going with is compatible with your CPU.
Things You Should Consider Before Buying The Best Motherboard
If you’re in the market or online for the best motherboard, then there are some things that you must need to consider before making the final decision. Below, we discuss some of the most crucial things. So, let’s get started!
Technically, the form factor determines the overall size and dimensions of a motherboard. So, you should go with a motherboard that properly fits in your PC case.
Currently, motherboards come with three different form factors ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. The most commonly used form factor is the ATX form factor. It measures 9.6×12 inches. ATX motherboards are generally used in mid-tower and large PC cases. It comes with more PCIe slots and some additional features as well.
While small computer systems use Micro ATX and Mini ITX form factors, the Micro ATX motherboards measure up to 9.6-inches square and have lesser PCIe slots as compared to ATX motherboards.
Moreover, if you want to build an extremely compact gaming PC, then Mini ITX motherboards are a great option to consider. These boards measure 6.7-inches square and come with few PCIe slots. So, it all depends on your need!
Wait a minute! Most computer cases support a specific form factor. So, always check the specifications for confirmation before buying a motherboard.
The chipset is a silicon chip on the motherboard that provides the pathways between different subsystems within a computer. In a motherboard’s shopper’s context, the chipset defines the motherboard family whether it is from Intel or AMD.
A motherboard manufacturer offers a whole host of motherboards based on a single chipset, but the differences are in form factors and features.
The socket is a square receptacle into which the CPU fits. The CPU’s particular socket type must need to match the socket type that the motherboard supports. Moreover, not all processors of a given socket will work with every motherboard that has that socket.
Therefore, you should check the manufacturer’s CPU compatibility list details.
DIMM Stands For Dual-In-Line Memory Module. These memory slots accept the system’s RAM. While the levers on one or both sides lock the memory stick.
In modern motherboards, they support dual-rate data 4 (DDR4) memory for maximum speed. Although, the DDR3 is still used in some last-generation motherboards.
For AMD’s Pre-Ryzen processors, where the DDR comes in, you will see a performance benefit if the RAM sticks are used in identical pairs and inserted in designated paired slots on the board for dual-channel throughput.
However, Quad-Channel memory is also supported by few high-end platforms like X299 for Intel Core X-Series of Processors. But it works under the same principle as dual-channel.
These are the expansion slots that accept graphics cards, sound cards, TV cards, and network cards. These slots are available in x16, x8, x4, and x1. The “X” describes two things; the physical size of the slot and the bandwidth of the slot. Although, these two things can be different for a given single slot.
The higher the “x” number, the PCIe slot will be, and you will ideally want a match a card with the same kind of slot. On a modern motherboard, you will only see x16 and x1 slots.
BIOS & UEFI BIOS:
BIOS Stands For Basic Input/Output System. It is a long standard firmware that manages your PC outside the operating system. Accessed during the startup sequence, the BIOS lives in a dedicated chip that is removable and governs essential system settings such as Boot-device order and parameters for integrated components.
When it comes to UEFI, it is a 21st-century refinement of the old-school BIOS. The UEFI BIOS outlines something closer to a mini operating system with more programmability and enhanced customization abilities for motherboard manufacturers. For motherboard buyers, the presence of UEFI BIOS is a definite plus to look out for. But now, it is the standard.
If you have ever built a PC from parts, then you have probably cut your fingers on one of these. This is where I/O Shield comes into play. Basically, the I/O Shield is a rectangular metal plate that snaps into a gap on the back of your computer case.
Moreover, the shield has cutouts for specific ports on the board. Besides, it also protects the rest of the motherboard during everyday use.
SLI & CrossfireX Support:
Both these terms refer to the ability of a motherboard to accept more than one graphics card at the same time. The Scalable Link Interface (SLI) is the standard method that works with NVIDIA Ge Force graphics cards. While the CrossfireX works with AMD Radeon Vega Graphics Cards.
Although, the card needs to employ the same graphics processor. That’s why a physical bridging connector is often supplied with SLI or CrossfireX compatible motherboards. The latest NVIDIA Ge Force GTX 1000-Series GPUs require a special bandwidth SLI connector to maximize SLI performance.
MOSFETs & Capacitors:
A MOSFET is a type of transistor that is used for voltage regulation in the motherboard.
From a non-technical customer point of view, MOSFETs aren’t differentiating features beyond a motherboard’s manufacturer’s claims of premium components. Although, the actual components are hidden beneath a passive heatsink for innovative cooling.
When it comes to capacitors, you will see capacitors are scattered across the motherboard performing in various subsystems. But their basic function is to act as “holding pens” for electrical charges.
Depending on where they are used, they can take on different shapes, colors, and sizes.
The front-panel header is a set of pins on a motherboard. It often comes with some color-coding or other onboard labeling that accepts wires from your computer case. With a front-panel header, you will connect the thin cables for the case’s power and reset switches.
Most of the types, the pins of each connector are in pairs. However, keep this thing in mind – the polarity of the pairs doesn’t matter for switch cables, but it does for the LEDs.
USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Gen2 Headers:
Here is another kind of motherboard pin header. Nowadays, USB headers come in three different types; USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1. These ports connect matching wires in your PC’s chassis that lead to a front-panel USB connector.
Moreover, a USB 2.0 header has two rows of five pins, with one pin missing out of the 10 as a key for proper orientation of the connector.
So, these are some of the most crucial things that you must need to consider while also having some basic knowledge about these for a better decision. We tried our best to give you the most precise and point-to-point information so you can easily pick the best motherboard for yourself.