Computers play an integral role in our daily lives. Whether you primarily use your computer for business or personal reasons, chances are you most likely come into contact with one at least once during the day! If you have ever wondered what's inside the big tower that is probably sitting under (or next to) your desk, the answer is simpler than you might think.
The most important component of any computer is the motherboard. This is not to slight the other components, but without the motherboard things like hard drives and CPUs would be useless. If you were to open up your computer case, the first thing you would likely notice is the large circuit board that is attached to its side. This circuit board is the motherboard.
There are many different types of motherboards available today. These different types are categorized but what is known as the form factor. Popular computer motherboard form factors include ATX, Micro ATX, and LPX.
While form factors may vary between different computers, every motherboard has a number of common denominators. In order to function, every computer motherboard needs power. This is accomplished through power connectors. Look around inside your computer case and you will likely find a rectangular box that has several colorful cables coming out of it. This is the computer's power supply.
One of the cables coming from the power supply will have a particularly large connector on it and this is the one that will attach to your motherboard. The cables with smaller connectors will be used to power other components, such as the hard drive, optical drives, and even fans to keep your computer cool.
Another thing that every motherboard will have is a processor socket. This socket is where the central processing unit (CPU) is installed. There are different types of processor sockets that accommodate the various CPUs that are available. This includes AMD and Intel.
Look around the computer motherboard for some smaller circuit boards shaped like rectangles. This is your computer's memory commonly referred to as RAM. The motherboard has memory sockets that house the RAM after you install it. Like the CPU, there are multiple times of RAM used in computers today.
In order to interact with a computer, users need input and output devices. Every motherboard will have a selection of input and output connectors to accommodate devices, such as mice, printers, monitors, keyboards, webcams, speakers, etc!
To provide additional functionality to a computer, motherboards offer peripheral connectors. These connectors are used to install things such as advanced graphics cards and network interface cards.