Everyone is looking for something different and more potent for their desktops to get better utility when it comes to motherboards. Some people like multiple USB port options to improve connectivity, while others prefer multiple graphics cards for extensive gaming and content creation. But there’s an essential aspect of motherboard design that people often overlook: the voltage regulator module or VRM design. It is responsible for powering the CPU and GPU with a stable input power–more on this feature is given below.
The capabilities of the VRMs affect the CPU and GPU’s ability to deliver optimal results under heavy workloads. Moreover, a poorly designed VRM can cause your PC to shut down under heavy loads. Especially when running your system at its peak or overclocking at its full potential. In this article, we’ll go over everything that you must know about VRMs and tell you why they’re so important. We will see that the VRM function, while simple, is an essential one. In other words, it’s worth learning more about VRM and how it works via this post.
What is the VRM of Motherboard?
VRM stands for Voltage Regulator Module. In simple words, the voltage regulator module is an electronic circuit designed to regulate and change the voltage to meet the needs of the CPU, memory, and GPU. It may help to think of VRMs as a mini power supply, just like your actual PSU or power supply unit inside your PC, since both operate in quite a similar manner while optimizing the input power.
A motherboard VRM does the same in a sense, but at a different time. It takes the power supply’s 12 volts (DC) output and converts it to typically 1V for the GPU or 1.4 V for the CPU. Another vital function of the VRM is to provide this voltage continuously without any surges and drops, as this can affect the stability of the entire computer.
How does the motherboard’s VRM work?
Let’s look deeper into the working phenomenon of VRM. It’s responsible for minimizing the average output voltage of the circuit by converting the input voltage on and off. For example, suppose the mother circuit receives a 12V DC input voltage. In that case, the VRM will turn it on and off, so the average voltage will become 6V DC. In this way, all the elements connected with the motherboard will get a smoother power input.
But to get a relatively stable average voltage, this must happen several hundred times a second. In almost all cases, switching is achieved by a relatively simple metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) circuit. In addition, the MOSFET doesn’t work alone but works together with other components like chokes, capacitors, and PWM-based controllers to provide the most stable power to the CPU.
A metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) driver is a small integrated circuit that is the power device or muscle of your VRM. A VRM circuit uses one of these power-switching elements per channel. A MOSFET is one of the most common transistor types in driver electronics. MOSFETs are highly structured, making them supreme for high-power loads.
The next part of VRMs we’ll look at is called Chokes. These cubic-shaped (though not always) inductors are usually made of metal. These are used to stabilize the voltage output from the MOSFET to convert alternating current (AC) signals to low-frequency or direct current (DC) signals. What is the meaning of this? A choke takes the high-frequency power (12V) coming from the PWM and converts it to a stable frequency (1.2-1.4V), so it is usable by the CPU and other components.
In this way, it not only stores and filters electricity but also controls the overall quality of electricity. Since the choke plays an essential role in the quality of power supplied to the motherboard, they are important in deciding overclocking capability. The better the choke, the better the motherboard’s ability to withstand overclocking. Additionally, each square on the mother circuit showcases a power phase. So if a board has more power phase, the more stable the voltage will be (more on that later).
The last fundamental analog component of the VRM that we will explore is the capacitive elements of capacitors. These are widespread electrical elements that are used in almost all electrical devices to store energy to provide better stabilization for later use. The capacitors discharge that energy whenever the corresponding parts require it. It works like a battery in a sense but has more storage capacity for the ability to output all of its power quickly.
The VRM and its associated power stages serve the same purpose. Capacitors have two main functions in VRM operation. Firstly, these are on the board to gather required electrical energy and charges, and secondly, to prevent voltage surges and ripples inside the circuit. In short, the main motto of the capacitors is to store the current that is coming from the choke and transfer the necessary power to the CPU; the rest is discharged or released through the ground.
Why does VRM is so important?
As we mentioned earlier, the CPU does not need all the power from the power supply unit. The CPU would fry instantly if we were to supply it with full voltage. Here, the VRM plays the role of a voltage regulator and provides precisely the voltage required by the CPU. The VRM also controls power for other hardware, such as RAM. We can find the specification as “4 + 1” or “8 +2”, meaning 4 or 8 stages of VRM are for CPU and 1 or 2 for RAM or HyperTransport.
Motherboards are pretty complex and consist of many parts, including the VRMs. So, what is VRM of motherboard? The abbreviation of VRM is “Voltage Regulator Module”, and the main purpose of these buck converters is to supply clean, stable power without surges and drops for your CPU and other components. A good VRM will prevent power fluctuations, thus helping the processor and other hardware to function smoothly.
Also, since VRM is essential, it’s best to check the VRM specifications when buying a motherboard. You can easily count the steps by counting the number of chokes. Additionally, the VRM must be adequately cooled. During heavy loads, it is typical for the MOSFET and VRM to heat up overall. The manufacturer usually provides a heatsink and thermal paste for passive cooling of the VRM by using heatsinks and thermal paste.