The motherboard is the backbone of any computer. Thanks to her, the individual parts function together.
It is easy to guess that the quality of the entire system largely depends on the motherboard. At the same time, it cannot be said that if the motherboard is good, then the system will work with maximum efficiency. The motherboard should always be selected in accordance with the goals.
Before choosing a motherboard, you need to at least superficially consider its structure. Although it is worth noting here that the location of the sockets and other parts of the motherboard do not play a special role.
The first thing you should pay attention to is the processor socket. This is a small square recess with a mount.
For those who are familiar with such a term as “overlocking” (overclocking a computer), you should pay attention to the presence of a double radiator. Often, motherboards do not have a dual heatsink. Therefore, for those who intend to overclock their computer in the future, it is advisable to ensure that this element is present on the board.
Oblong PCI-Express slots are designed for video cards, TV tuners, audio and network cards. Video cards need more bandwidth and use PCI-Express X16 connectors. Other adapters use PCI-Express X1 connectors.
Expert advice! PCI slots with different bandwidths look almost the same. You should especially carefully consider the connectors and read the inscriptions under them in order to avoid sudden disappointments at home when installing video cards.
The smaller connectors are designed for RAM sticks. They are usually painted black or blue.
The board’s chipset is usually hidden under a heatsink. This element is responsible for the joint work of the processor and other parts of the system unit.
Small square connectors on the edge of the board are used to connect a hard drive. On the other side are connectors for input and output devices (USB, mouse, keyboard, etc.).
Motherboards are manufactured by many companies. It is almost impossible to single out the best or worst of them. The payment of any company can be called high-quality. Often even unknown manufacturers offer a good product.
The secret is that all boards are equipped with chipsets from two companies: AMD and Intel. Moreover, the differences between the chipsets are insignificant and play a role only when solving deeply specialized tasks.
In the case of motherboards, size matters. The standard ATX form factor is found in most home computers. The large size and, therefore, the presence of a wide range of slots can improve the main characteristics of the computer.
A smaller version of mATX is less common. The possibilities for improvement are limited.
There is also mITX. This form factor is found in budget office computers. Improving performance is either impossible or does not make sense.
Often, processors and boards are sold as a set. However, if the processor was purchased earlier, it is important to ensure that it is compatible with the board. By looking at the socket, the compatibility of the processor and motherboard can be determined instantly.
The connecting link of all components of the system is the chipset. Chipsets are made by two companies: Intel and AMD. There is no particular difference between them. At least for the average user.
Standard chipsets consist of northbridge and southbridge. The newest Intel models consist only of northern. This was not done to save money. This factor does not reduce the performance of the chipset in any way.
The most modern Intel chipsets consist of a single bridge, since most of the controllers are now in the processor, including the DD3 RAM controller, PCI-Express 3.0 and some others.
Analogues from AMD are built on the traditional two-bridge scheme. For example, the 900 series is equipped with the SB950 southbridge and the 990FX northbridge (990X, 970).
When choosing a chipset, you should start from the capabilities of the north bridge. Northbridge 990FX can support 4 video cards in CrossFire mode at the same time. In most cases, this power is redundant. But for fans of heavy games or those who work with demanding graphics editors, this chipset will be the most suitable.
A slightly stripped-down version of the 990X can still support two video cards at the same time, but the 970 model works exclusively with one video card.
Memory slots, PCI-Express and external connectors
The optimal amount of RAM is a rather variable value. With the release of new system software, the amount of RAM has to be increased. Therefore, it is important that RAM slots play an important role in choosing a motherboard.
To make memory expansion as convenient as possible in the near future, you should choose a board with DDR3 memory type. Having bought DDR3, you run the risk, in general, of being left without the opportunity to increase the RAM.
However, it is worth remembering that DD3 trims have their own limitations, which you cannot go beyond. This is where the form factor comes into play, which was already mentioned above. It is necessary to decide in advance whether the computer will need an improvement in the future, since the budget compact version will not be significantly improved.
The same applies to video cards, audio cards and other things.
Therefore, it is not advisable to choose a small motherboard. And you can save money on the PCI-Express bus version. Version 2.0 is much cheaper than version 3.0. The difference is unlikely to be noticeable.
The presence of certain external connectors is rather a matter of convenience. The presence of a huge range of adapters can solve any problem with connectors.
Nevertheless, it is worth paying attention to the audio connectors. The standard sound card has three connectors. For connoisseurs of music, a better audio system with 6 connectors will be needed.
Some motherboards have a number of additional features: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless modules, an interface for connecting eSATA removable drives, and others.
In conclusion, it is worth saying that when choosing a motherboard, you need to clearly define your priorities. Improved features will result in a round sum. Excessive savings, on the contrary, can deprive important functions.