The motherboard is arguably the most essential PC component. A motherboard is the unit over which information travels to and from component to component. Your computer's processor, memory, expansion cards, connectors, ports and hard drive all sit on your motherboard. It is also referred to as a mainboard, logic board or system board. Though people generally don't brag about their motherboards like they do processors and video cards, they're not a device to be purchased on a whim. Believe it or not, the potential abilities of a computer are determined foremost by the motherboard.
When shopping for a motherboard, compatability is king. You should also consider how much you plan on upgrading your system
!over time. Once you're out of slots, there's no going up and if you need another, you'll have to fork over the bucks to buy another motherboard, which could have serious consequences for the rest of your system.
What Motherboard Is Right For Your Processor?
Since various computer processors have different types of connectors, not all motherboards are compatible with all processors. This should be your first concern. The type of motherboard you buy may be largely determined by the processor you want. There are few different motherboard types. The type of a motherboard is determined by its socket. The socket is the part of the motherboard that meets with the processor's connector. The socket types are ...
* 939: These sockets work with high-end Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2 and AMD Opteron processors.
* 754:These sockets work with AMD Sempron processors and slower AMD Athlon 64s.
* A:These sockets work with older Duron and AMD Athlon XP processors.
* LGA755: These sockets work with most modern Intel processors (Pentium D 8xx and 9xx, Pentium 4 5xx, 6xx and 8xx, and Celeron 3xx).
* 478: These sockets work with older Intel Pentium and Celeron processors.
Other Motherboard Compatability Questions
Finding the right processor/motherboard duo is only the first step in the shopping process. Certain motherboards only support particular expansion cards and memory types. Here are some questions to keep in mind.
* How many memory slots do you want? What's the RAM limitation?
* How many/what kind of expansion slots do you need?
** PCI: PCI slots are the most common expansion slot types found in nearly every PC built in the past 15 years.
** PCIe: PCI express slots depend on a network of serial connectors rather than a traditional bus. They have far greater capabilities than other expansion slots and are rapidly becoming the slot of choice in new computers. Most new video cards and Ethernet chips are PCIe compatable. IMacs and PowerMacs are now equipped exlusively with PCIe slots. Most new computer with both PCI and PCIe slots.
** AGP: AGP slots are intended to be used with video cards to accelerate 3D graphics. They were invented by Intel to provide a slot dedicated to graphics acceleration. While a noble and useful notion, PCIe slots, which offer faster, bi-directional data transfer should completely replace AGP slots in practical use within a few years.
** ISA: The first expansion slots. This slots are largely irrelevent except in industrial use. Sometimes referred to as a "legacy bus."
* Do you want built-in sound and video capabilities?
* How many USB ports are there?
* Do you want a motherboard that can handle dual graphics?
* Do you need a RAID-compatible device capable of hot swaps?
Because your essential components must cater to the type of motherboard you have, finding the right board for your computer can be time consuming and confusing. On top of that, choosing the wrong motherboard can result in increased expenses down the road when upgrading your system. Love those vintage ISA slots? Good luck finding a video card to put in them. In short, when you're buying a motherboard, do '''a lot''' of research.