What is a Motherboard?

Mehak Sohail | Last Updated On December 19th, 2021

Whether you’re about to build your PC or extend it, there is a component that serves as the foundation of a gaming build. It is known as the motherboard. It is remarkably a crucial part of your PC that helps in connecting components together through ports, slots, and connectors. Every motherboard comes with a different feature set and price. It comes compatible with a specific generation of processors, so if you are a non-techy guy, it will be pretty hard to pick the right motherboard for your build.

However, you don’t have to worry about it because I am here to provide you with all the information to help you pick the best motherboard for your build. A motherboard is the main printed circuit board in a computer. It is a central communication’s backbone connectivity point through which all the components connect. It connects CPU, memory, hard drives, optical drives, video cards, sound cards, and the power button and makes them work together.

Thus, before you buy the best motherboard for your PC, you need to know its compatibility with different processors and some manufacturers that offer the best value motherboards for the price. So, let’s dig in.

What is a Motherboard?

The motherboard is considered the backbone of the computer that interconnects all the internal parts of the PC and enables them to function. It allows the CPU to access and control these components. Other than associating the internal components, the motherboard also allows linking the external devices to the computer.

A northbridge connects the processor, graphics cards, and memory modules, while the southbridge is responsible for controlling the rear IO panel ports, storage devices slots, BIOS, etc.

If you want to know how to test a motherboard, check this out.

Overview of Motherboard

A motherboard is placed inside the computer case and is mounted with screws (see also what are motherboard standoffs) in pre-drilled holes. Power connectors are coming from your power supply that power up the different sections on the motherboard. Most gaming motherboards come with a single socket for the CPU, but some workstations come with dual CPU support. Also, that’s the same for the memory as most mainstream motherboards come with four memory slots; some ITX boards offer two of them, while in workstations, it can go up to eight slots.

Additionally, the motherboard’s bottom side has PCI slots that allow you to install graphics cards, and there could be several configurations available like it could be compatible with Nvidia SLI or AMD Crossfire technology. There will be an IO panel on the rear side, which has several connectivity ports and a few ports for audio and video out. The number of ports and their type will depend on the premium features that the motherboard is offering. The latest motherboard comes with USB3 Gen2 ports, and some of them even have Type-C 10Gbps ports which some budget motherboards lack.

Buying Guide for a Motherboard

There are several components on the motherboard responsible for controlling every section, and we will know more about them. By knowing them, you will know what motherboard will be best for your gaming build.

CPU Socket

The CPU Socket is responsible for installing the CPU on the motherboard. Some users get confused between the CPU socket and chipset, but they are two different things. The CPU socket ensures the physical compatibility of the processor, while the chipset ensures logical compatibility. Also, every Ryzen series processor is compatible with AM4 socket motherboards, but when it comes to the chipset, they may cause some compatibility issues.

Choose a motherboard with a premium chipset or the latest one so that you can upgrade the processor in the future.

While when it comes to Intel processors, their socket gets changed after every one or two gaps in a generation. Like Coffee Lake, Intel processors were compatible with LGA 1151 socket motherboards, while Comet Lake CPUs are compatible with LGA 1200 socket boards.

If you are looking for the best motherboard for Ryzen 9 3950x, you can check this article.

Motherboard Size

The next thing you need to look at while buying a motherboard is its size so that you can install it in your casing without facing any compatibility issues. Usually, gaming motherboards come in three different sizes: ATX, the largest one, m-ATX, a little smaller, and ITX for the small or compact build. Along with the size difference between these motherboards, there will also be fewer ports/slots in them.

Usually, ATX motherboards come with four memory slots and two or three PCI slots and support multiple graphics card configurations. At the same time, m-ATX motherboards only support two or four memory slots and one or two PCIe x16 slots for graphics cards. ITX motherboards only support two memory slots and one PCIe slot so before buying, make sure how many components you need to install before buying the motherboard.

You can install an ITX motherboard on an ATX casing as their screw configurations are the same, but you can’t install an ATX case in place of an ITX board.

Learn more about what can be plugged into PCIe Slots, here.

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