Purpose of a Motherboard

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DDR PCI Express If you are replacing a failed motherboard and plan to use your current processor, choose a motherboard that has the correct socket type and uses one of the recommended chipsets. If you are buying a new Intel processor, choose a Socket motherboard that uses an Intel or series chipset that supports the type of video card you plan to install. Chipsets for AMD and Intel processors are made by several other companies, such as VIA and SiS, but we have found that the performance and compatibility of these alternative chipsets leaves something to be desired.
what does a motherboard do in a computer

3.1. Introduction to Computers

DDR PCI Express If you are replacing a failed motherboard and plan to use your current processor, choose a motherboard that has the correct socket type and uses one of the recommended chipsets. If you are buying a new Intel processor, choose a Socket motherboard that uses an Intel or series chipset that supports the type of video card you plan to install.

Chipsets for AMD and Intel processors are made by several other companies, such as VIA and SiS, but we have found that the performance and compatibility of these alternative chipsets leaves something to be desired. Motherboards based on Intel and NVIDIA chipsets are a bit more expensive than those based on alternative chipsets, but the small additional cost is well worth it.

Bad Cooks Ruin Good Ingredients Although it is impossible to build a good motherboard with a poor chipset, it is quite possible to build a poor motherboard with a good chipset. Make sure the motherboard supports the exact processor you plan to use. Just because a motherboard claims to support a particular processor doesn’t mean it supports all members of that processor family. For example, some motherboards support the Pentium 4 processor, but only slower models.

Other motherboards support fast Pentium 4s, but not slower Pentium 4s or Celerons. Advice from Ron Morse There’s an even better reason to demand the latest motherboard revision level: These are usually subtle things. You notice them when you repeatedly beat up customer support over a recurring problem, they suddenly agree to RMA the unit, and you find the new one works flawlessly in what is otherwise the same system. I’m convinced this happens a lot. To do so, visit the motherboard manufacturer’s web site and look for the “supported processors” page for the exact motherboard you plan to use.

Note that motherboard makers often “slipstream” revised models with the same model number, and the list of supported processors almost always assumes you are using the current motherboard revision. Quite often, an earlier revision does not support all of the processor models or speeds supported by a later revision. When you buy a motherboard, make sure to get the latest available revision. Choose a board with flexible host bus speeds. Choose a motherboard that supports at least the settings you need now and that you expect to need for the life of the board.

Boards that offer a full range of host bus speeds, ideally in small increments, give you the most flexibility if you later decide to upgrade the processor. Make sure the board supports the type and amount of memory you need. Do not make assumptions about how much memory a motherboard supports. A motherboard has a certain number of memory slots and the literature may state that it accepts memory modules up to a specific size, but that doesn’t mean you can necessarily install the largest supported module in all of the memory slots.

Memory speed may also come into play. For example, a particular motherboard may support three or four PC modules, but only two PC modules. For a system that will be used for memory-intensive tasks, such as professional graphics, database management, or complex scientific calculations, make sure the motherboard supports at least 2 GB of RAM.

Unused Versus Unusable Don’t assume that you can use all available memory slots. For example, many early Socket Athlon 64 motherboards provided three or even four DIMM slots, but could actually support only two memory modules reliably, regardless of the size or speed of those modules. Nor do all motherboards necessarily support the full amount of memory that the chipset itself supports, even if there are sufficient memory sockets to do so.

Always determine exactly what combinations of memory sizes, types, and speeds are supported by a particular motherboard. Memory is cheap, and it makes little sense to base a new motherboard purchase decision on the ability to salvage a relatively small amount of old, slow, cheap memory.

Make sure the motherboard supports the type of video you need. Motherboards differ in the provisions they make for video. Some motherboards provide an embedded video adapter and make no provision for installing a separate video adapter card.

Other motherboards provide embedded video, but also provide a special expansion slot that accepts a standalone AGP or PCI Express video adapter card. Still other motherboards do not provide embedded video, but only an AGP or PCI Express slot that accepts a separate video adapter card. We recommend avoiding the first type of motherboard, even if you think embedded video is sufficient for your needs.

Check documentation, support, and updates. Before you choose a motherboard, check the documentation and support that’s available for it, as well as the BIOS and driver updates available. Some people think that a motherboard that has many patches and updates available must be a bad motherboard. Not true. Frequent patch and update releases indicate that the manufacturer takes support seriously. We recommend to friends and clients that they give great weight to—and perhaps even base their buying decisions on—the quality of the web site that supports the motherboard.

For examples of good motherboard support sites, visit Intel http: Choose the right manufacturer. Manufacturers differ greatly in the quality of the motherboards they produce. Other manufacturers produce motherboards of varying quality; some good and some not so good. Still other manufacturers produce only junk. The preceding issues are always important in choosing a motherboard.

But there are many other motherboard characteristics to keep in mind. Some of them may be critical for some users and of little concern to others. These characteristics include: Number and type of expansion slots Any motherboard provides expansion slots, but motherboards differ in how many slots they provide, and of what types: PCI slots accept expansion cards—such as LAN adapters, sound cards, and so on—that add various features to a system.

PCI slots are available in bit and bit versions, although bit PCI slots are commonly found only on server motherboards. Video slot A motherboard may have zero, one, or two dedicated video card slots. The type of video slot determines the type of video card you can install. AGP video adapters are still popular and widely available, but PCI Express is fast becoming the dominant video adapter slot standard.

Otherwise, buy a motherboard, with or without embedded video, that provides a PCI Express x16 video slot. Do not buy any motherboard that provides embedded video but no separate video slot. For the immediate future, PCI Express x1 slots are relatively useless, because there are few expansion cards that fit them. Years ago, many PCs had all or nearly all of their slots occupied. Nowadays, with so many functions integrated on motherboards, it’s common to see PCs with at most one or two slots occupied, so the number of slots available is much less important than it used to be.

It’s still important to get the types of slots you want, though. OEM versus retail-boxed packaging The same motherboard is often available as an OEM product and a retail-boxed product. In fact, both forms of packaging are sold in retail channels. The motherboard is identical or closely similar in either case, but there are differences.

For example, the OEM version might have only a one-year warranty, while the retail-boxed version of the same motherboard has a three-year warranty. Also, the retail-boxed version often includes cables, adapters, a case label, a setup CD, and similar small parts that are not included with the OEM product. Otherwise, buy the OEM version. For example, Intel often manufactures three to six variants of a motherboard, which may differ in minor ways such as board color and in more significant ways, such as the speed of the embedded network adapter, whether FireWire support is included, and so on.

Some of these variants are available in both OEM and retail-boxed forms, and others in only one form or the other. Some variants aren’t available to individual buyers. They’re sold only in what Intel calls “bulk packaging,” which means that the minimum order is a pallet load. Only large system makers buy bulk Intel motherboards. Warranty It may seem strange to minimize the importance of warranty, but the truth is that warranty should not usually be a major consideration.

Motherboards generally work or they don’t. If a motherboard is going to fail, it will likely do so right out of the box or within a few days of use. In practical terms, the vendor’s return policy is likely to be more important than the manufacturer’s warranty policy. Look for a vendor who replaces DOA motherboards quickly, preferably by cross-shipping the replacement. Ports and connectors At a minimum, the motherboard should provide four or more USB 2.

Ideally the motherboard should also provide at least two Serial ATA connectors, and four is better. In the past, such motherboards were often designed for low-end systems, and used inexpensive and relatively incapable audio and video components.

But nowadays many motherboards include very capable audio, video, and LAN adapters, and cost little or no more than similar motherboards without the embedded peripherals.

If you buy such a motherboard, make sure that the embedded devices can be disabled if you later want to replace the embedded adapters with better components. The speed of current processors means this is seldom an issue. However, if processor performance is critical, you might wish to use a motherboard that has few or no embedded functions.

Embedded Gigabit Ethernet is a particular concern. That’s a problem because Gigabit Ethernet is fast enough to saturate the PCI bus and noticeably degrade system performance. With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

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The large board that all the other boards are connected to is the motherboard. Replacing a motherboard in a desktop computer is not difficult, though there are many pitfalls to avoid. Having a general knowledge of how a motherboard functions in a computer will help you if you wish to attempt to repair your own business’s computers, or it may help you strike a better deal with a repair shop. Definition The motherboard is the largest card in the computer and it is the one to which all other cards and the CPU are attached. Both laptops and desktops contain motherboards, but those in laptops are much more difficult to repair since the components are all packed in so tightly. The motherboard’s primary purpose is to manage all the computer’s subsystems. A chipset manages communications among systems.

VIDEO: 4. Motherboards – Repairing and Upgrading Your PC [Book]

The motherboard is the very foundation of your computer – originally runs on top of the PC’s firmware and it can do a lot more than the BIOS. The motherboard is the largest card in the computer and it is the one to which all off because it contains the instructions that reminds the computer what to do. These computers did in fact need a way to regulate activity for consumers, and IBM developed the first motherboard to do it, a computer chip.

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