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What is a Motherboard

What is a Motherboard Article Author : Becky
Date : 22nd Nov 2005
Comments : 19

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Chipsets are a crucial part of a motherboard - they control the system and it's capabilities. Furthermore, a chipset supports the facilities offered by the processor. I mentioned previously that the motherboard relays information between vital computer components: it is the chipset specifically which performs this operation. A chipset is part of the motherboard, and cannot be upgraded without upgrading the whole board. It is therefore important to make sure you choose the right one for you in the first place. There are a few main producers of chipsets, which are AMD, Intel, NVidia and Via: The latter two make chipsets for both AMD and Intel processors; AMD and Intel only make chipsets compatible with their own processors.

The next thing to think about it how much RAM you want. RAM, or Random Access Memory, is the main memory in a computer, and is used mainly to store information that is being actively used or that changes often. It is always wise to choose a motherboard that can support more RAM than you currently need. For example, if you want 512MB of RAM in your computer, it would be wise to buy a motherboard that supports at least 1GB of RAM (many now support 4GB). This is simply to help make your computer ‘future proof': if you need to upgrade your memory, you will not need to upgrade your motherboard too.

I mentioned previously that there are many components that plug in to the motherboard. You are likely to want various expansion cards (such as graphics cards, sound cards and so on). These components tend to have physically different connectors, and so this is the next factor you need to take into consideration. The PCI-E slot is the most common graphics card interface nowadays, but the AGP slot is still in use. Just be sure you have enough PCI slots for any other expansion cards you require. Again, this choice is down to personal preference: this is another decision you must make before choosing your motherboard.

Aside from the main differences I have covered, there a few more details to consider. All motherboards have USB sockets for peripheral devices, but some have Firewire sockets too. If you wish to use peripherals that require a Firewire socket, then this is a must, although generally speaking USB is dominant in the market for peripherals. You also need to ensure that your motherboard has the right socket for your drives (hard drive, CD ROM drive, etc), which are generally SATA and IDE.


One of the best things you can do when looking for a motherboard is to read lots of reviews. They will give you good information about how the board performs and what it is compatible with. Never make a judgement on one review alone, and wherever possible ask for recommendations from other people.

Unless you have limitless resources, price is always a consideration when buying computer component. A motherboard usually takes up a fairly large part of any PC budget, so it requires careful consideration. It is worth bearing in mind that cheaper boards sometimes support only more expensive components: If this is the case, work out the total cost of buying the board and components, as sometimes it may be worth spending a little more on a more expensive board. A cheap motherboard may be more unreliable and more trouble than it is worth. A motherboard is one of those components where it pays to spend a little extra.

Finally, try to buy from a reputable retailer: It is always worth doing so just in case you have any problems.

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