How to choose a motherboard?

The motherboard is the most crucial part of a computer, and it determines what future upgrades are possible. Though the greatest graphics card and CPU are frequently given more consideration, picking the finest motherboard is, in many aspects, the most crucial component of your PC design. Your motherboard of choice accepts plugs from every component of your PC. Here are some factors to consider before making a purchase. Starting with the CPU and GPU makes sense because they have the biggest effect on the PC’s performance.

A motherboard can also make a significant difference in terms of performance, communications, connectivity, and more. Let’s look at some of the important factors to take into account when buying a motherboard. We won’t go into great detail on something as fundamental as socket type here—you obviously need to have a motherboard with a socket type that fits your CPU of choice. The boards are intricate. Let’s dissect them piece by piece and illustrate how to choose a motherboard and how they operate.

What is a motherboard? 

Let’s first build a basic understanding of what a motherboard is before exploring some of the terminologies that you’ll come across when evaluating motherboards. A motherboard is a printed circuit board that provides different connectors for components, such as the central processing unit, graphics processing unit, memory, and storage, and functions as a kind of communication hub for multiple components. The motherboards that hold everything together in the majority of modern computers, including phones, laptops, and desktop PCs, are the only ones you’ll normally buy for yourself.

what is motherboard
what is motherboard

Make sure the motherboard you choose will fulfill your demands both now and in the future when you choose it. You might select a motherboard that has everything you need to get started if you are certain that you won’t ever desire to modify your PC above its initial configuration. However, if you anticipate expanding your PC in the future, check to see if your motherboard can accommodate your expanding needs. However, we’ll go over a few of these details that are crucial for your purchasing decision below.

Which chipset do you need to acquire? 

The motherboard’s integrated chipset, which supports specific CPU versions, is made of silicon. Between the CPU and the numerous linked expansion and storage devices, it relays communications. The motherboard’s various buses are managed by the chipset, including extra PCIe lanes, storage devices, external ports like USB slots, and so many peripherals. The CPU connects directly to RAM and a small number of PCIe lanes. In addition to having more USB ports and PCIe slots than conventional chipsets, higher-end chipsets may also include newer hardware configurations and alternative PCIe slot distributions.

Understanding every aspect of a chipset’s creation isn’t crucial, but it is essential to know which chipset you need to acquire. If you choose the most expensive consumer-grade Intel or AMD CPUs (Core X or Thread ripper), you’ll only have one option for a suitable chipset (X299 for Intel or X399 for AMD). However, if you’re a typical user looking to equip a single graphics card and a few discs, you can frequently acquire the functionality you want by choosing a chipset below Intel’s Z590 or AMD’s X570.

As we evaluate additional standard Intel boards, keep an eye on our motherboard ratings for more information. Also on the AMD side, older B450, B350, and B300 chipsets, as well as the B550/X570 chipset, still enable overclocking. Even if the X570 chipset eliminates certain rapid USB and SATA ports and PCIe lanes, there are still plenty of these connectivity options to accommodate the majority of commonplace computing operations. Upgrading to an X570 board is worthwhile if you require extra ports and drives.

How many expansion slots are required? 

SATA ports

The quantity of SATA ports you’ll require should be taken into account when thinking about purchasing a motherboard. You can connect an optical disc and storage drives, such as an SSD or HDD, to each SATA port. It is therefore crucial to determine whether your motherboard contains all of the SATA ports required for each of your drives and must support SATA 3.0, sometimes known as the SATA 6 gigabyte standard. You might also need to think about peripheral connections, like USB 3.0.

PCIe

A connection found on the motherboard is known as a PCI slot. They allow expansion cards to be connected and have historically become the standard type of expansion slot. You should think about whether your motherboard has the slots necessary for your needs based on how you want to use your computer. If you wish to connect numerous cards, you’ll need multiple extremely fast PCI Express x16 slots. For additional cards, such as sound cards, Wi-Fi adaptors, and other connectivity expansions, motherboards also have smaller PCI-express ports.

When choosing a motherboard, you also need to find out how many expansion slots are required. These days, there are only two common types: the short PCIe x1 slot, which is frequently used for USB and SATA extensions, and the longer PCIe x16 slot, which is intended for graphics cards, RAID cards, and highly quick PCIe storage like Intel’s Optane 905 SSD. Most ATX or Micro-ATX boards should work great if you just intend to install a single graphics card, a few SATA/M.2 drives, and possibly a video capture or sound card.

But take notice that current X570 and B550 motherboards also support PCIe 4.0 as opposed to the 3.0 that has been the industry standard for the past few years. Technically, every PCIe lane’s usable bandwidth is doubled by PCIe 4.0. However, most devices haven’t fully embraced PCIe 4.0, beyond the PCIe 4.0 SSDs. So consider it some form of board future-proofing. No matter how many physical slots you have, there are a certain number of HSIO lanes and PCIe lanes that each of your parts must share.

What CPU do you have connected to your motherboard? 

First of all, you must consider the CPU socket before purchasing the processor. It’s a specific circuit via a processor connected to the motherboard. Three socket types are the only ones that are utilized today and have been in use in the past (LGA, PGA, and BGA). Because the latter is permanently attached to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded, BGA sockets are less common than the latter. Your motherboard’s socket type will determine the kind of processor you can purchase. 

Your selections will be limited by the CPU you have connected to your motherboard, as each motherboard’s CPU socket is only compatible with the specific chip line that the motherboard was made for. For instance, a board with an LGA 1200 socket is required if you plan to purchase an Intel 10th or 11th Generation Core processor. AMD simplifies the process by using the same AM4 socket for each of its mainline current-generation chips, ranging from Athlons to 16-core Ryzen 9 components, making the process less confusing.

However, you might experience issues when trying to install newer CPUs on motherboards from earlier motherboard generations. Contrarily, Intel has a history of switching sockets (or having at least socket suitability) from one generation to the next, but this generation’s Socket 1200 has remained in use for two generations, therefore this is not the case. Both Intel and AMD have alternative sockets for their Core X and Thread-ripper processors, which are more powerful and larger in size.

Some additional factors to consider

Motherboard brand

You should think about the motherboard’s manufacturer after deciding what type of motherboard you’ll need to build your particular PC or that should act as the basis of the pre-built PC you’ll be purchasing. Some businesses specialize in making motherboards for gamers that have enough room for GPU expansion and LED lighting systems, while others concentrate on more commonplace systems. Manufacturers of motherboards that are well-known include ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock. I suggest you focus on performance rather than a brand name. 

Platform 

Making a choice between Intel and AMD for the CPU that will act as the computer’s brain may be the first choice to be made. Both companies provide CPUs that range in power from entry-level models suitable for web surfing, efficiency, and low-end gaming to incredibly potent machines that can crush video editing tasks and play the most demanding games of the day at high frame rates (FPS). Since both businesses are continually updating their products, this knowledge could quickly become outdated.

However, as of the time this guide was published, AMD was using Zen 3 and Intel was using CPUs from its twelfth generation, with the Zen 4 architecture scheduled to arrive in the fall of 2022. Applications that benefited from numerous processing cores in the past preferred AMD CPUs, in contrast to the 12th generation Alder Lake. Intel has reclaimed the top spot in performance. Zen 4, however, seeks to overtake Intel’s present advantage since it uses a smaller fabrication method than AMD’s previous design.

Connectivity 

Some ports on the front, top, sides, or back of a case, as well as connections to other internal and external components, are connected by connectors that are located on the motherboard and internal to the case. You should think about the ports your case can accommodate and confirm that your motherboard has the necessary internal connections before adding any further components. These connections include various onboard headers for supporting things like fans, external USB ports, and various unique components made by particular manufacturers.

As you choose the components for your new PC, you need to understand your motherboard connections, and you should pay close attention to this. Your case might feature several USB ports that call for several internal USB headers. To connect to the software that controls the lighting and temperature sensors, certain water cooling systems also require specific headers. To support all of these tack components, you must ensure that the motherboard has all of the essential headers. You will need to research your motherboard options more as your new PC becomes more advanced.

Form factor 

You must first decide form factor from ATX, micro ATX, micro IX, and a few others. Micro ATX motherboards are very popular, despite their smaller size and fewer expansion slots than ATX motherboards. You may sometimes examine your previous motherboard and match it to other sizes if you’re buying a new one and are unsure of what size would fit. Because it offers additional adapters, which can be handy, the ATX board is well-liked. You should check that your motherboard and casing are compatible because not all cases can accommodate all form factors.

RAM

The next type of memory is RAM, or random access memory. Fundamentally, the type and amount of RAM you can have depends on the motherboard you choose. Because of this, even though you have the option to use this memory later, we advise purchasing a motherboard that can support at least 16 GB of memory. Additionally, check for a board with 4 or many memory slots. As a result, you can start by installing 2 RAM modules and still have room for future memory upgrades.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the motherboard is a crucial component of your computer. Make sure to give your search for anything that suits your demands and budget adequate time. By doing this, you’ll have a sturdy motherboard that will keep your system operating without a hitch for many years. This article will assist you in determining how to choose a motherboard by knowing the parts of your motherboard that are essential, whether you’re updating your current PC or planning your next one. 

You should be able to locate what you’re looking for if you take the time to assess the primary benefits of numerous compatible motherboards before making a choice. After choosing the type of motherboard that will be used to make your own PC or that will serve as the structure of the pre-built PC you’ll be purchasing, you should think about the company that made it. Some businesses specialize in making motherboards that have enough room for GPU expansion and LED lighting systems.

Arslan Ashraf
Arslan Ashraf is Computer Expert. He developed his passion for reviewing the latest tech products. He likes to review every single piece of Hardware. If you have any questions related to Tech Products. He'll be happy to answer you.