If you’re like most people, you don’t know the first thing about motherboards and also how to choose a motherboard. Do I want an AGP or PCI-e? What’s the difference between a microATX and an ATX motherboard? And what the heck is a socket type anyway?
Relax, we’re here to help. Picking the right motherboard is a vital part of building a new computer. After all, the motherboard is the backbone of your system, connecting all your other components together. It’s important to choose a board that will fit both your needs and your budget.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about motherboards so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to buy.
What is a Motherboard?
A motherboard is the main circuit board of a computer. It’s also known as a mainboard or logic board. The motherboard connects all the hardware components of a computer together. This includes the CPU, memory, hard drives, optical drives, video card, sound cards, and more.
The motherboard is what makes a computer a computer. Without it, you would just have a bunch of individual components that wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other.
Types of Motherboards
There are three main types of motherboards: ATX, microATX, and Mini-ITX.
ATX is the most common type of motherboard. It’s used in most desktop computers. ATX boards are available in a variety of sizes, but the most common is the full-size ATX. These boards are typically 12 inches wide and 9.6 inches deep.
microATX is a smaller version of the ATX motherboard. These boards are typically 9.6 inches wide and 9.6 inches deep. microATX boards can be used in both desktop and tower cases.
Mini-ITX is the smallest type of motherboard. These boards are typically 6.7 inches wide and 6.7 inches deep. Mini-ITX boards are designed for small form factor cases and are typically used in HTPCs (home theater PCs) and other small computers.
Now that you know the different types of motherboards, let’s take a look at the different parts of a motherboard.
Parts of a Motherboard
Every motherboard has four main sections: the CPU area, memory slots, expansion slots, and storage connectors.
The CPU area is where the central processing unit (CPU) is located. The CPU is the brain of your computer, and it’s what handles all the computations. Most CPUs have a built-in heatsink and fan to keep them cool.
The memory slots are where you install RAM modules. RAM is a type of memory that is used to store data temporarily. It’s important to choose the right type and amount of RAM for your system.
The expansion slots are used to install expansion cards. Expansion cards are used to add extra features to your computer, such as a faster video card or a TV tuner card.
The storage connectors are used to connect your hard drives and optical drives. Hard drives store all your data, while optical drives are used to read and write CDs and DVDs.
Now that you know the different parts of a motherboard, let’s take a look at how to choose the right motherboard for your needs.
How to Choose a Motherboard?
When choosing a motherboard, you need to consider three things: form factor, socket type, and chipset.
The form factor of a motherboard dictates the size and shape of the board. As we mentioned earlier, there are three main types of motherboards: ATX, microATX, and Mini-ITX.
You need to choose a form factor that is compatible with your case. For example, you can’t install a microATX motherboard in a full-size ATX case.
The socket type of a motherboard dictates what type of CPU you can use. There are two main types of sockets: Intel and AMD.
If you want to use an Intel CPU, you need to choose a motherboard with an Intel socket. For example, the most common Intel socket is the LGA 1151. If you want to use an AMD CPU, you need to choose a motherboard with an AMD socket. For example, the most common AMD sockets are AM4 and sTRX4.
The chipset of a motherboard dictates what type of features the board has. For example, some chipsets support overclocking, while others don’t. The most common chipsets are Intel’s Z390 and AMD’s X470.
Now that you know how to choose a motherboard, let’s take a look at some of the best motherboards on the market.
CPU Cooler Support
Most modern motherboards will come with some form of CPU cooler support, be it in the form of integrated water cooling or simply a few extra fan headers.
It’s important to check what type of CPU cooler your motherboard supports before making a purchase, as not all coolers are compatible with all boards. If you’re planning on using a water-cooled setup, then you’ll need to make sure your motherboard has the necessary support for it. The same goes for any other type of special cooling setup you might be planning on using.
Additionally, you’ll want to check how many fan headers your potential motherboard has. Most boards will have at least a few, but if you’re planning on using a lot of fans or even water cooling, then you’ll need to make sure your motherboard can support it.
Some higher-end boards will even come with special features like fan control software or the ability to daisy chain multiple fans together.
Ports and Connectors
Another important consideration when choosing a motherboard is the ports and connectors that are available. Most motherboards will come with the standard selection of ports and connectors, such as USB, Ethernet, and audio. However, some boards might have special features or ports that you’re looking for.
For example, if you’re looking to connect to a high-end audio setup, then you’ll want to make sure your motherboard has the proper audio ports. The same goes for any other type of special connector you might need.
It’s also important to check the number and type of ports that are available. For example, if you’re looking to connect multiple monitors, then you’ll need to make sure your motherboard has the necessary video ports. Similarly, if you’re looking to connect multiple USB devices, then you’ll need to make sure your motherboard has enough USB ports.
Of course, price is always going to be a factor when choosing any type of product. When it comes to motherboards, there are boards available at all different price points. It’s important to find a board that fits both your budget and your needs.
There are a few different things that can affect the price of a motherboard. The first is the chipset. Chipsets are the heart of any motherboard and dictate what type of CPU and memory it can use. More powerful chipsets will generally be more expensive than less powerful ones.
Another factor that can affect the price of a motherboard is the feature set. More feature-rich boards will generally cost more than less feature-rich ones. This is because features like onboard audio or USB 3.0 add to the overall cost of the board.
Finally, the brand name can also affect the price of a motherboard. Some brands are simply more expensive than others. This is usually because they offer higher quality products or better customer support.
WiFi Vs LAN
The big debate these days is whether to get a motherboard with WiFi or not. There are several things you need to consider before making your decision.
First, let’s look at the benefits of each:
- You don’t have to worry about running cables through your house
- You don’t have to worry about where your computer is in relation to the router
- You can connect to the internet anywhere there is a WiFi signal
- Generally faster speeds
- More secure connection
- Won’t be interrupted by things like whether or power outages
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of each, let’s look at some things you need to consider before making your decision.
What is your budget?
If you’re on a tight budget, then you might not be able to afford a motherboard with WiFi. They tend to be more expensive than their LAN counterparts.
What is your internet speed?
This is an important factor to consider because if you have a slow internet connection, then you’re not going to get the full benefits of a WiFi connection.
What type of games do you play?
If you’re a competitive gamer, then you’re going to want to go with a LAN connection. That way you can be sure that you’re getting the best possible connection and you won’t have to worry about any lag.
Do you need portability?
If you’re always on the go, then you’re going to want to go with a WiFi connection. That way you can take your computer with you anywhere and still be able to connect to the internet.
These are just a few things you need to consider before making your decision. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which is best for you.
How to choose the right Motherboard for a Specific CPU?
If you do not know that you can not simply install any CPU on any motherboard then keep in mind that you can not do that. In order to find the right motherboard for a specific CPU, you need to know what kind of CPU socket is used on your motherboard. The most popular sockets are:
- Socket LGA 1150 – Haswell CPUs
- Socket LGA 1155 – Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs
- Socket LGA 1156 – Lynnfield and Clarkdale CPUs
- Socket LGA 1366 – Bloomfield, Gulftown, and Westmere CPUs
- Socket AM3+ – Vishera CPUs
- Socket FM2+ – Richland and Trinity APUs
- Socket FM2 – Kaveri APUs
The next thing you have to look for is what kind of chipset is used on your motherboard. The most popular chipsets are:
- Z97 – Haswell CPUs
- Z87 – Haswell CPUs
- H97 – Haswell CPUs
- B85 – Haswell CPUs
- Q87 – Haswell CPUs
- X99 – Haswell-E CPUs
- 990FX – Vishera CPUs
- 970 – Vishera CPUs
- A88X – Kaveri APUs
- A78 – Kaveri APUs
The last thing you have to take into account is what kind of form factor is used on your motherboard. The most popular form factors are:
- ATX – 12”x9.6”
- mATX – 9.6”x9.6”
- ITX – 6.7”x6.7”
Now, you know everything in order to find the right motherboard for your CPU. Keep in mind that you have to take into account 3 main things: CPU socket, chipset, and form factor.
Picking the right motherboard is a crucial part of building a PC. It’s the foundation that everything else is built upon, so it’s important to choose wisely.
There are several things to consider when picking a motherboard. The most important are the CPU socket, the chipset, and the form factor.
The CPU socket is the physical interface between the motherboard and the CPU. The most popular sockets are Socket LGA 1150, 1155, and 1156.
A chipset is a group of chips that work together to provide the various functions of the motherboard. The most popular chipsets are Z97, H97, and B85.
The form factor is the physical size and shape of the motherboard. The most popular form factors are ATX, mATX, and ITX.
When choosing a motherboard, it’s important to consider what you need and what you don’t need. Do you need support for multiple graphics cards? Do you need built-in WiFi? Do you need a lot of USB ports?
Answering these questions will help you narrow down the field and choose the right motherboard for your needs.
Choosing a Motherboard for Gaming
If you are a person who is only looking for a gaming motherboard then you have a few different options that you can go with. Among the three different types of motherboards, ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX; the one you will want to look for is the ATX. This is because gaming computers need to have powerful hardware in order to run the latest and greatest games on the market.
For gaming, you must need a mobo that has the ability to overclock without any harm to your computer. In other words, the motherboard you are looking for needs to be durable and reliable for gaming purposes. A lot of people tend to lean towards MSI or ASUS brands when it comes to finding a good quality gaming motherboard that will offer overclocking capabilities.
When it comes to price, you don’t want to cheap out on your motherboard because it is a very important piece of hardware for your gaming computer. A good quality ATX motherboard can cost anywhere from $100-$300.
Choosing a Motherboard for Workstation
If you are looking for a motherboard to use for workstation purposes, then you have a few different options that you can go with. Among the three different types of motherboards, ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX; the one you will want to look for is the ATX. This is because workstations need to have powerful hardware in order to run demanding applications such as video editing or 3D rendering.
For a workstation, you need a motherboard that has the ability to support multiple graphics cards. This is because workstation applications tend to be very demanding on hardware and require a lot of processing power. A lot of people tend to lean towards MSI or ASUS brands when it comes to finding a good quality workstation motherboard that will offer multiple graphics card support.
When it comes to price, you don’t want to cheap out on your motherboard because it is a very important piece of hardware for your workstation. A good quality ATX motherboard can cost anywhere from $100-$300.
Choosing a Motherboard for Home Use
There are many different types of motherboards available on the market today, and picking the right one for your needs can be a daunting task. This guide will help you understand the different features available on different motherboards, and how to pick the right one for your home computing needs.
First, you need to decide what type of computer you want to build. Are you looking for a powerful gaming rig or a simple home office machine? This will determine what kind of motherboard you need.
For most home users, a simple desktop computer will suffice. If you’re looking to game or do other resource-intensive tasks, you’ll need a more powerful setup. Motherboards come in different sizes, known as form factors. The most common form factor for home computers is ATX, though you may also see microATX and Mini-ITX boards.
ATX boards are the largest and can support multiple graphics cards, multiple hard drives, and other expansion devices. MicroATX boards are smaller and are more suited for budget builds or small form factor cases. MiniITX boards are the smallest and most compact and are ideal for building an HTPC (home theater PC) or a small office machine.
Once you’ve decided on a form factor, you need to pick a chipset. The two most common chipsets for home users are Intel’s H97 and Z97, and AMD’s A88X.
The chipset determines what processors are compatible with the motherboard, as well as what kind of expandability it offers. If you’re looking to game or do other processor-intensive tasks, you’ll want a Z97 board.
How to overclock a motherboard?
Picking a motherboard can be an overwhelming task, especially when you consider all of the different manufacturers, specifications, and features available. This roundup will help you understand some of the key factors to look for when choosing a motherboard so that you can make an informed decision.
When it comes to overclocking, there are really only two things that you need to consider: the CPU and the motherboard. The majority of CPUs on the market can be overclocked, but not all motherboards are created equal in this regard.
Some manufacturers include additional features and technologies that make overclocking easier and more stable, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase.
Here is the step by step guide to overclocking your motherboard:
- Find the right motherboard: The first step to overclocking your motherboard is to find the right one. The best way to find the right motherboard is to read reviews.
- Update your BIOS: The second step is to update your BIOS. The best way to do this is to use a program like CPU-Z.
- Set your CPU multiplier: The third step is to set your CPU multiplier. This can be done in the BIOS.
- Set your voltage: The fourth step is to set your voltage. This can also be done in the BIOS.
- Set your memory speed: The fifth step is to set your memory speed. This can be done in the BIOS or in the OS.
- Set your fan speed: The sixth step is to set your fan speed. This can be done in the BIOS or in the OS.
- Test the overclock: The seventh and final step is to test your overclock. The best way to do this is to use a program like CPU-Z.
How to know if a Motherboard will fit in Case or Not?
This is a good question. As you know there are three different sizes of motherboards then it can be a problem for you when choosing the right motherboard for the right size PC case. The most common factor which we have to consider is the form factor of a motherboard.
Form factor defines the width, height, and length of a motherboard. Almost all of the manufacturers use one of these form factors: ATX, microATX, or mini-ITX.
The first step which you have to do is to measure the internal dimensions of your desktop computer case. After that, you need to find out which form factor will fit in your computer case by using a tape measure. The most common and popular form factor is ATX so it should be no problem to find the right motherboard.
If you want to use a smaller motherboard then you have to buy a microATX or a mini-ITX form factor motherboard.
The second thing which you need to do is to check if all of the expansion slots on the motherboard are compatible with your desktop computer case.
As you know, there are different types of cases and each case has different numbers and sizes of expansion slots.
You need to make sure that all of the expansion slots on the motherboard are the same size as the expansion slots on the case. For example, if you have a case with two PCI slots and one AGP slot then you need to find a motherboard that has at least two PCI slots and one AGP slot.
The last thing which you need to do is to check if all of the connectors on the motherboard are compatible with your desktop computer case. As you know, there are different types of cases and each case has different numbers and sizes of connectors.
You need to make sure that all of the connectors on the motherboard are the same size as the connectors on the case. For example, if you have a case with two USB ports and one Firewire port then you need to find a motherboard that has at least two USB ports and one Firewire port.
Choosing the right motherboard can be a difficult task, but it’s important to make sure you get the right board for your needs. Be sure to consider factors like CPU cooler support, ports and connectors, and price when making your decision. With so many different motherboards on the market, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mobo Size?
There are three popular motherboard sizes: ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX. The size of the motherboard will determine how many expansion slots are available for additional hardware, as well as how large the case needs to be.
What is the Form Factor?
The form factor is the shape and size of the motherboard. The most common form factors are ATX and microATX, but there are many others. The form factor will determine how the motherboard fits into the case, as well as what size and shape the case needs to be.
What is the CPU Socket Type?
The CPU socket type is the type of socket that is used to connect the CPU to the motherboard. The most common socket types are Socket 775, Socket 1155, and Socket 1150.
What is the Chipset?
The chipset is the heart of the motherboard and determines many of the features and capabilities of the motherboard. The most common chipsets are Intel Z170, AMD 990FX, and Nvidia nForce 780i.
What is the Memory Type?
The memory type is the type of memory that is used to store data on the motherboard. The most common memory types are DDR3 and DDR4.