A motherboard is one of the most important elements of any PC build. They distribute energy, house graphics cards, hold the RAM, and provide ports that you need to connect everything together.
Needless to say, you can’t have a working computer without a motherboard which means it should be the first thing to look for when shopping for a computer. Once you have the motherboard, that will make buying the remainder of the equipment much easier.
Shall we begin?
What to Look For
There are a few things to look at when searching for a motherboard:
- Size of the Motherboard
- Rear Ports
- Expansion Slots
Each factor has a different importance and a few of the elements you won’t need to worry about or focus on depending on how you want to use your computer. For this post, we’re going to talk about the mainstream requirements that most people need.
There are three sizes for the majority of motherboards: ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX. The sizes are designed for different uses which we aren’t going to cover here.
The most common type of motherboard size is the largest, the ATX. The micro and mini versions are more suited for much smaller computers that are designed to take up less space rather than a full sized tower.
This one may sound very vague since computers are constructed of chips and cards. When speaking of a chipset, this refers to the CPU or the core processing unit.
Generally, people are going to go with either intel or AMD: even their older units work very well. Both provide a large selection of chipsets that are mainstream and easily accessible.
For someone who has several gadgets that need to be plugged into the unit, rear ports are going to be very important to your build. Most motherboards are going to come with some sort of the following:
- USB – C
- Analogue Ports
- Display port
- USB 3.0
- USB 3.1
- Keyboard/Mouse Input
The most important ports to pay attention to are going to be USB ports, analogue ports, and display ports. At minimum, those are the items that you need to look for. However, most motherboards are going to have keyboard and mouse, USB 3.0 or 3.1, ethernet, HDMI and potentially USB-C ports.
The proper term for Expansion Slots is PCle slots. These slots allow you to add a graphics card (or two) as well as expansion cards. Unless you are overclocking your computer or running heavy graphics, you won’t need to worry about two graphics cards.
Generally, a motherboard is going to come with at least one larger PCle x16 slot and one smaller PClex x4. As long as you have at least one of each, you are good to go!
No matter what kind of computer you are building, and no matter what kind of PC user you are, everyone needs memory. Memory is available in 16 GB or 32 GB sticks when it comes to PC units.
A motherboard is going to have a set number of RAM slots: most are limited to two RAM slots! If you are going to need more memory, then you will have to upgrade your motherboard to one that has more DIMM slots.
When a motherboard has more DIMM slots, it can support more RAM. DIMM slots are essentially where you plug in the RAM to the motherboard. If you are looking for more memory then a motherboard with four DIMM slots or more will be your best choice.
Where to Buy Motherboards
Motherboards can be found in multiple places. Yes there is the ease of the internet with Amazon and NewEgg, however you don’t want to miss out on good deals in your own hometown.
If you are working on your build, contact computer stores around your city to see if there are any sales on the motherboard you are looking for. This will help cut costs and may also provide the opportunity for an upgrade.
There are several stores and sites to shop at, just make sure to read reviews and do the necessary research. Half of buying a motherboard is going to be the research. This Dossier Labs review on the Gigabyte Z390 UD is a great example of the research you want to look at.
As one of the most central parts of a computer, the motherboard is invaluable! It connects everything together, takes care of your memory and even handles graphics and the millions of inputs from every PC accessory in your repertoire. Hopefully this guide has given you the confidence needed to go and buy a suitable motherboard for your needs!