The motherboard is the most essential component of the computer. So, if you are building your PC then you must check a few things before buying a motherboard.
You can buy a motherboard price range between $50 – $500. There are many things you should check before choosing a motherboard. In this guide, I will be talking about those points. If you are a gamer and love to overclocking then you should pick motherboard which able to deliver good power. You can check out the best motherboard for gaming to find out the perfect board for you.
Main parts of a Motherboard
The most important elements of a motherboard you must check before buy.
The very first thing you have to check the supported CPU socket. It is the main part of the motherboard where you will install your CPU. This is an essential point since the chosen processor must be compatible with the motherboard socket and vice versa.
Your processor will be either Intel or AMD, and your motherboard will have to support it. At Intel, the most common is LGA 1150, 1151 and 1156 sockets and the high-end is the socket 2011-v3. At AMD, this is the FM2 + socket (entry-level configurations) and AM3+ and latest AM4 (more powerful configurations).
The second essential component is the chipset. Although its function is less critical than before due to the evolution of even basic chipsets to very high standards it matters when it comes to overclocking.
A set of components related to the motherboard that allows you to adjust between your various parts of the computer such as switching from onboard LAN to an external network card. There are many grades of chipsets according to use and price – for example at Intel: Z370 and Z390 (meant for gamers/overclockers), H170 (for multimedia and professionals), B150 (office).
- RAM Slots: These are the locations for the modules of random access memory (RAM). For office or simple multimedia, 2 to 4 GB RAM will suffice. For specific uses like music or editing, 16 GB is a standard. As for gamers, 8 GB is usually enough.
- BIOS: It is a type of software integrated into the motherboard that will start the computer. Formerly called BIOS (Basic Input Output System), we speak today of UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). You will be able to adjust many parameters, like the boot sequence, the frequencies.
- SATA connectors: These connectors will be used to connect hard drives, SSDs, and optical drives, among others. Each of them will have to have a SATA connector.
- Extension ports: A key aspect for your choice because this is where your expansion cards will connect. A graphics card requires a 16x PCI-Express port, while sound cards, WiFi cards, USB cards, and Firewire need PCI and PCI-Express ports.
What is to be checked in rear panel?
On the back panel of a board, you will find different ports, to connect your devices (keyboard, mouse, printer, external hard drive). This is called the rear connector panel. Each motherboard has its own number of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, video outputs, Ethernet output.
Noteworthy, the video outputs of the motherboard can only be used if the computer does not have a graphics card. Otherwise, it is the video outputs of the graphics card that prevail and to which you must connect your monitor.
- Audio Port: Audio port allows you to connect your speakers, headphones, and microphone. Almost all motherboards have a sound chip loaded with audio decoding. Only audiophiles will need an additional sound card.
- USB ports: Very common, they are used to connect various peripherals to the PC (external hard drives, USB keys). USB 3.0 allows transfer rates up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 and is desirable.
- eSATA: It allows you to connect an external hard disk for example directly and is often paired with a USB port to save space.
- RJ45: Better known as Ethernet port, this is where you connect your computer to the internet or local area network.
- The video outputs: Usable if your motherboard/processor pair has an integrated graphics chipset (for example Intel’s Intel HD Graphics). This is usually the case, and you can then connect your screen to HDMI, DVI or VGA ports depending on the model of the monitor.
- Connectivity: To assemble a computer capable of evolving and sticking to future technological progress, the scalability of the connection of your motherboard is paramount. It is to the motherboard that you will have to connect the new USB devices and monitors. So it has to be compatible with future USB and HDMI evolutions.
To choose a motherboard, you have to pay attention to two main points –
- Compatibility with other elements of the PC – To be fully compatible, the different components of the PC must be part of the same generation, and sometimes even from the same manufacturer. The choice of RAM may cause compatibility problems. During an update, a new generation processor may not work on a motherboard that is too old, even with an update of the BIOS. You should keep in mind these points.
For example, a motherboard with LGA 775 socket running Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 processor and DDR2 800 Mhz RAM from 2010 cannot be upgraded to run Intel i3 processor since the latter has an LGA 1156 socket and most 1156 socket boards run on DDR3 and DDR4 RAM modules.
Processor, motherboard, DDR type has to change as a unit with each new generation usually.
The motherboard must be as latest as possible for your budget and must allow as fast RAM as possible. These are the simple rules that will help you buy the best motherboard in the market.