What to look for when purchasing a motherboard

Motherboard Info


When looking for a motherboard to purchase for a build, you'll need to have an educated mind about you. The motherboard is the most important piece of the computer. The motherboard connects all other components to each other, like a brain or heart. Essentially motherboards are electronic boards with a bunch of slots that you plug stuff into. Technically however a motherboard is a complex piece of technology that exists in almost every electronic device.

You'll need to decide what kind of computer you want. If money is no object, then the sky is the limit, however if you're strapped for cash your choices are more limited. Do you have enough money to build the computer that suits your needs? If not try making a list of all the parts you need to build the computer and buy it one part at a time every paycheck.

Most important mobo parts to learn. (In order of priority)

  • CPU Slots
  • Ram Slots
  • Chipset
  • PCI Slots
  • Size
CPU Slot

CPU Slots:
Your CPU slot determines if your processor is compatible with the mobo or not. This is why its important to choose your processor before you even start looking for motherboards. once you have a processor picked out, google which motherboards are compatible with your processor & you will narrow down your options for mainboards quickly.

Some motherboards are equipped with more than one CPU slot "Cpu Sockets" to the best of my knowledge there are only "Dual CPU Sockets & Quad CPU Sockets" they are used for hardcore server enthusiasts, also if you're thinking this will make your games run better than think again, you're better off getting a single socket cpu with a quad-core processor.

Dual Cpu Motherboard

Runs like a beast!

EVGA 270-WS-W555-A2 Classified SR-2 Dual LGA1366 Xeon/Intel 5520/SATA3&USB3.0/A&2GbE/HPTX Motherboard
Amazon Price: $529.99 $429.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 27, 2013)
With this motherboard you could play any game, or run any program. There is nothing you can't compute.

RAM Slot

Ram Slots:

The amount of slots you have in your systemboard determines how fast your computers potential is for processing video images. The average amount of ram slots are between 4-8 and you'll likely never use more than 8 ram slots when building a computer, unless you're a server fanatic!

Step-by-step guide to build your own PC!

Idiot proof guaranteed!

Build Your Own PC Do-It-Yourself For Dummies
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(price as of Apr 27, 2013)
Essential must have for anyone trying to build their own PC.

The slot type you have in your systemboard determines which type of ram is compatible with the systemboard, while also determining the frequency speed & max ram amount that the systemboard can hold.

As I am writing this the maximum number of ram slots that can be put in a motherboard are 24 it's a Dell PowerEdge R720xd be ready to dish out ten-grand!

The amount of ram slots that can be put in a motherboard  are; 2,3,4,6,8,10,12,16,18,20,24 & after 8 slots the motherboards become "server motherboards" which then do not serve the same functions as gaming & entertainment computers do, making server motherboards useless to most of us.

There are 5 different types of ram you should know about.

  1. SDRAM - Old school ram
  2. DDR1 - Twice as fast as SDRAM
  3. DDR2 - Twice as fast as DDR1
  4. DDR3 - Twice as fast as DDR2
  5. DDR4 - Twice as fast as DDR3

There are varying speeds of frequency that the ram slot might be compatible varying from 66Mhz-2400Mhz as a rule of thumb, the higher the frequency of the ram, the faster the ram carries out the task.

There are varying sizes of ram sticks that insert into the ram slots. Ram stick sizes vary from 64Mb-8Gb as a rule of thumb the larger the size of the ram, the faster image generation speed.

In most cases it's not necessary to have more than 16gb of ram total in your computer as you'll never be able to use all that ram at once anyways until years in the future.

Bios/ChipsetPCI Slots

Your chipset works like a spinal cord or a guy who directs traffic, telling the traffic which way to go, or in this case, telling the data which part to goto.

Chipsets are already embedded into your logic board most of the time, meaning you have to choose your chipset at the same time you choose your processor. Chipsets may allow you to use RAID, SATA, USB 3, SLI/Crosswire, Overclocking functions & other future technologies

PCI Slots:
Think of PCI slots like add-ons for Firefox, you can add or remove cards & each card serves you differently, in this article I go into great detail about how each PCI card functions & the differences between the different types of PCI slots and their function for a greater understanding.

PCI Cards have various abilities

This card records what you do on your computer.

Avertv HD DVR High Definition / Analog Video Capture Card PCIe MTVHDDVRR
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Capable of recording games in HD.
Good for monitoring students & workers!

PCI is not too vital or essential to a computer, however most computers wont work if they don't have a graphics card inserted into the PCI slot, PCI cards are mostly optional and not necessary.

PCI Jargon is a bit complicated so to keep it simple, use this as a rule of thumb.

PCI = Slow
PCI-X = Fast
PCI-Express = Fastest

Here are just a few of the types of add-ons you can add to your computer build;

  • Local Area Network
  • USB
  • TV Tuner
  • Ethernet
  • FireWire
  • SATA
  • RAID
  • Video Card
  • Sound Card
  • External Peripherals

You shouldnt need to worry too much about the size of your motherboard, stick with the "Standard ATX" size, it's the most common and has the largest variety of compatible parts.
If you're looking to build a smaller computer then use a "Micro ATX" or "Mini ATX" and for laptop or netbook builds I suggest either a "Flex ATX" or "Mini ITX".
If you're a server enthusiast then I recommend taking a look at the "Workstation ATX" "Enhanced ATX" & "Extended ATX"

Building a micro-computer?

Use a micro-ATX motherboard

Boxed Intel Desktop Board Media Series Micro-ATX form factor for 2nd Gen Intel Core Family Processors BOXDH67GDB3
Amazon Price: $102.99 $98.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 27, 2013)
Micro-ATX is best for miniature computers, they look more sleek and new-age compared to standard size ATX motherboards.

At the time of this writing, the smallest available motherboard is a "Nano ITX" its 4.7 inches or (120x120mm) which means a computer in the palm of your hand.

Integrated graphics V.S. Video card:

If you're not worried about having a graphic intense computer, stick with integrated graphics and save some cash. However if you're playing any game from the year 2000+ you're probably going to need an actual video/graphic card.

Identify every component!

See if you can identify any of these in your motherboard!

The commonly accepted name is "Motherboard" but it's a name that's evolved over the years as the technology evolves as well. Earlier names of the motherboard are mainboard, systemboard, planar board & logic board. IBM created the first motherboard in 1981 it was a disgusting mess of overlapping wires the barely resembles the motherboard we now know & love. Their overlapping wire technique was quickly replaced with integrated circuit boards (internal wires basically). In the early to mid 90's they realized it would be cost-effective to add mouse & keyboard attachments to the motherboard. In the late 90's they caught on and added audio, video & networking to the motherboard.

Didnt learn enough?
Putting together great gaming motherboards
Choosing a good computer motherboard
Best motherboards for gaming
Understanding a computer motherboard

1981, boca raton florida

IBM creates their first PC