Choosing the correct motherboard for your PC is more crucial than you let it on. It is the backbone of your computer that allows the components to interact. In other words, it decides the functionality of your device.
If you have to buy a new motherboard, some factors would need your undivided attention. However, as technical as it may sound, selecting a motherboard can be made simple if you make an informed decision.
To make it uncomplicated for you, we have made a list of the factors that could determine a good motherboard.
Functionality of a Motherboard
Before we get to the buying guide, it is necessary to look at a motherboard’s functionality and crucial components.
A motherboard is also known as the main circuit board, system board, planar board, logic board, mainboard, mobo, etc. It is the most crucial element of your PC, second only to the CPU.
It is the main printed circuit board (PCB) in general computers. Like we mentioned before, it helps the other components in facilitating communication.
It contains significant sub-systems like the central processor, interface connectors, chipset’s input/output, memory controllers, etc.
Different types of motherboards are available in terms of budgets, speeds, needs, etc. They could also vary according to the designs, power supply, compatibility, design, etc.
Why is it important to choose the right kind of motherboard?
It is because a motherboard from one manufacturer will only support a single type of CPU. Other components like hard drives, video cards, etc., might not be compatible.
Hence, your choice of motherboard will be necessary while buying other options like the RAM, processor, etc.
Factors that Determine the Best Motherboard
Coming to the main agenda of the article, the following factors will help you buy the right fit in terms of the motherboard.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
The choice of your motherboard will be reflected in the amount and type of RAM. So, this is a crucial component.
If you buy the one with low RAM capacity, your computer will slow down when it does not have enough storage to perform the tasks.
Ideally, we recommend going with the motherboard that can support at least 16 GB of RAM. Moreover, if you go with a motherboard with four or more memory slots, you can install 2 RAM modules.
RAM plush into the motherboard with the help of a rectangular slot, also known as a dual-in-line memory module (DIMM). Generally, there are two to eight slots as the number of slots determines the RAM that can be added.
Even though you can add one RAM module at a time, you must add them in matched pairs to get the best performance.
In short, 16 to 32GB of RAM is sufficient. You can choose according to your computer needs.
In computer terminology, foam factor is a specification of a motherboard that amounts to the size of a computer. It also determines how much you can plug into it.
If you want a real-time example, you would need a bigger table for keeping larger objects. Similarly, you would need a larger motherboard for better performance. It will support more components.
Mainly, there are four types of foam factors. For a better understanding, we have segregated its components in the following charts:
|Type||ATX||Micro ATX||Mini ITX||eATX|
|Size||12 x 9.6 inches||9.6 x 9.6 inches||9.0 x 7.5 inches||12 x 13 inches|
|RAM slots||Up to 8||Up to 4||2||Up to 8|
|GPUs||Up to 4||Up to 3||Up to 1||Up to 4|
|SATA Ports||Up to 12||Up to 8||Up to 6||Up to 8|
Processor or CPU sockets allow easy swapping of components. They are also useful in prototyping new circuits.
Different types of processor sockets are available, like the PGA, LGA, and BGA.
They are segregated between Intel and AMD. Intel uses LGA, while PGA and BGA sockets are used by AMD.
LGA (Land grid array) has sockets with pins on which the processor is placed. On the other hand, PGA (Pin grid array) places the pins on the processor. Furthermore, this is inserted into a socket according to the holes.
BGA (Ball grid array) permanently attaches the processor to the motherboard during production. BGA costs less as well.
In other words, BGA is not a socket, but it is a permanent motherboard feature, serving the same function.
A chipset is a silicone backbone that is integrated into the motherboard. It works only with specific CPU generations. It helps in relaying communications between the connected storage and expansion devices and the CPU.
The chipset helps in controlling the PCIe lanes, external ports, storage devices, etc.
Other than the standard models, other higher-end chipsets come with more PCIe slots and USB ports.
With the advent of technology, newer chipsets come with features like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Onboard audio integrated.
Intel has three types of chipset series:
It overlooks the support for CPUs with “K” designation. It has up to six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. Moreover, it has a maximum of 24 PCIe lanes.
It has no overclocking support with a maximum of 20 PCIe lanes. It has up to four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports.
This, too, has no overclocking support. It has a maximum of 20 PCIe lanes and 3.0 USB ports only.
PCI slots are built-in slots that facilitate the attachment of various hardware components. It connects elements like modems, sound cards, disk controllers, network cards, etc.
Every PCI link has specified data lanes, known as x1, x4, x8, and x16. They have two pairs of wires out of which one transfers the data and the other receives.
The PCIe x1 transfers one bit per cycle, while x16 transfers 16 bits per cycle. The x16 one is the longest slot on the motherboard, more often used for graphics cards.
If you are a gamer, you will need one full-speed PCI Express x16 slot.
If you are adding an x4 card, it will work with an x8 slot too. But make sure to verify it before making a purchase. It can even go in x16 slots. But the remaining lanes will remain unused.
PCI is still relevant, but you have the option of custom-built. You can make it according to the components of your computer.
SATA (Serial AT Attachment) is a computer bus interface that connects the mass storage devices to the host bus adapters. For example, it helps in connected hard disk drives and optical drives to the host bus adapters. In other words, it helps in getting connected to SSD or HDD.
The number of SATA ports is a crucial factor while buying a motherboard.
For reference purposes, check whether your motherboard offers the SATA 6 gigabytes standard, also known as SATA 3.0.
Lastly, do not confuse SATA with eSATA. The latter is an external port that connects the device with portable hard drives.
Manufacturers also add other features to the motherboard that could help you in making a final decision.
- LED diagnostic readouts: It helps in building a PC or upgrading one. Moreover, it can come in handy while understanding any malfunction.
- On-board on/off switches: These can be helpful for the initial build process.
- Wi-Fi Card: Look out for this if you do not have Ethernet.
- Dual Ethernet Ports: Helps in maintaining the computer and using it as a server.
- Cooling: Cooling solutions can help in maintaining safe operating temperatures.
- Overclocking: Useful for automated testing and tuning to overclock the PC.
- Audio: For improving the output of the onboard audio system, avoiding signal interference.
Choosing a motherboard might sound extremely technical, but we hope that the article, as mentioned above, has made it easier for you.
Look out for all the factors and make an informed decision. Always remember, a step in the right direction can change and enhance the functionality of your PC.