Buying Guide - Motherboards

The Background on Motherboards

A motherboard is an important element of your computer system as it connects all the computer parts together. Getting the right motherboard is imperative for your system to function optimally. If you feel that you don’t have sufficient technical knowledge to be able to choose the right motherboard from the many different types available, Kelkoo can help.

In a computer system, the different elements can be categorized as computer hardware and software. Basically, this means that the computer parts that you can see and touch are hardware and the elements that are programmed to run the hardware are the software. Motherboards fall under the hardware category.

The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is considered to be the brain of the computer and is the main component amongst all the computer parts, but it needs the motherboard to communicate with different parts of the system. The motherboard must be compatible with the CPU for the computer to function properly so ensure that both components will function properly in tandem.

A CPU will only work with a socket that has been designed for it. As the majority of motherboards are designed for either Intel or AMD processors, you will need to check on the processor socket to see which one you have.

Standards of Motherboard

There are several standards of motherboards, but AT and ATX motherboards are the most popular models. AT motherboards were released by IBM and were in major use before Intel released ATX motherboards. AT stands for  ‘advanced technology’ and ATX is the acronym for ‘advanced technology extended.’ ATX is definitely an improved version of AT and is preferred by most computer enthusiasts.

ATX motherboards have a smaller form factor and come with the ‘sleep’ mode option that allows some parts of the system to be powered down when the computer is not in use; which obviously helps to save power. They use a 20-pin plug for the power supply and can integrate several connectors for network cardsvideo cardssound cards and modems.

AT motherboards, on the other hand, are bigger in size and use two 12-pin plugs for the power supply and have one connector attached outside for a connecting keyboard.

Features of a Motherboard

Motherboards can have additional features but every model has certain basic elements. For connecting computer hardware devices, the motherboard needs to have several slots, sockets and connectors. PCI slots enable the attachment of sound cards, modems, and Ethernet cards to the motherboard in order to upgrade your system, in addition to the basic external devices such as a mousekeyboardscannerswebcams, and printers. When choosing your motherboard, check the number of PCI slots available to make sure that they match your requirements.

As already mentioned, the processor socket is meant for CPU connection. There are several types of sockets, but only two of them are actually used by AMD and Intel. They are PGA (Pin Grid Array) and LGA (Land Grid Array.) You’ll also find memory slots for the RAM (Random Access Memory), which decides the maximum memory capacity of the computer.

Since a motherboard is essential for your computer parts to function in the best possible way, it’s advisable to buy the best quality that you can afford. Other than the basic features, make sure that you choose reputable brands that can deliver excellent performance. IntelMSIAsus and EVGA are some of the best brands of computer motherboards.

Making a Choice

Before you choose your motherboard, here are some aspects for you to consider.

Chips and Memory: This is an essential part of all motherboards. It controls the communication between different parts of the computer so it’s better to have a chipset with a super-fast memory so it is efficient. Make sure that the memory module is in sync with the motherboard, too.

Size: The motherboard that you choose should properly fit within your computer case. If you go for ATX motherboards, you can expect to have definite dimensions, fixed slots, and components.

Processor: Choose a motherboard according to the type of CPU, such as an AMD or Intel processor.

Expansion slots and USB ports: USB ports help attach various hardware devices to the motherboard, while expansion slots are meant for  other cards like a sound  or video card.

SATA hard drives and optical drives: SATA technology is used for transferring data between the motherboard and its various components. It is important to get a motherboard that supports this for compatibility with all the elements.

What Are Your Requirements?

Another important aspect to consider are your own specific requirements. For example, are you a gaming enthusiast? If you plan to use your computer mainly for gaming purposes, then you need to look for high-quality motherboards with a larger capacity – such as a model with DDR3 RAM and at least 2 to 4 GB for a good gaming performance. You will also need to make sure that the motherboard you choose supports this memory and hard drive format, in addition to PCI-Express slots in your motherboard for installing video cards, which is a pre-requisite for gaming. Look for built-in sound, video, and networking features in the motherboard for great picture quality and sound. It will actually save you money, as you won’t need to buy separate cards for all these functions.

Are you a budding or professional graphic designer?  If so, you need to use the right motherboard in your computer to deliver a superior performance. Look for a motherboard with AGP (Advanced Graphic Port) slots, which will keep up with the rigorous demands of photo and video editing software. AGP slots enable faster communication between the processor and video card so they will also help to increase the frame rate of video games and graphic software.

We hope our motherboard buying guide has been useful, and has given you a fair idea about the product. You can read our expert reviews and check out prices for motherboards across dozens of retailers on our website to make an economical purchase.