Monday, June 15, 2009

How to choose a Motherboard

Motherboards (alternatively, Mainboards, mobo, or planar boards) are the backbone of any computer system. Without a working or properly installed motherboard, the computer is just an inert junk of plastic. The latest motherboard technology right now is called PCIe or PCI Express. In PCIe, the shared bus is replaced with a shared switch. Each device in the system will have exclusive access to the switch, and the switch will be able to create point-to-point exclusive communications between devices.

When choosing a motherboard, it is important to carefully consider the following concepts.
Non-Integrated System Board – each major component are installed in computer as an expansion card, like video card, sound card, LAN card, etc.
Integrated System Board – most of the component that would otherwise be installed as expansion card are integrated into the motherboard circuitry and were designed for simplicity.

Selection of motherboards
Consider the following when selecting a new or replacing a motherboard:
  1. The footprint, or size requirements, form factor of the computer case. Such as ATX (Advanced Technology Extended), Micro ATX, NLX (New Low Profile Extended), and BTX (Balanced Technology Extended).
  2. Compatibility with other devices such as CPU/processor, power supply, memory modules, and storage devices.
  3. Compatibility or type of BIOS (Binary Input Output System).
  4. Memory needs of the system. The type of memory, is it DDR2 or DDR3? How much memory can the motherboard handle? How many modules can the motherboard physically hold?
  5. Number of expansion slots. How many regular PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)? How many PCIe? Availability of an AGP (Accelerated graphics Port) if there is?
  6. Number and types of ports. How many USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports at the back of the motherboard? Are there USB slots integrate on the motherboard? Availability of a Firewire, serial port, parallel port, and keyboard and mouse port?
  7. What integrated peripherals are included on the motherboard? Such as Network card (LAN card), video card, or sound card.
  8. Disk controllers. IDE (Integrated Device Electronics), RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Discs), or SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment).
  9. Are there drivers available for all the on-board components that match the operating system you want to use?
  10. Is the motherboard going to be used in a media center PC? If so, are the television/cable connections available?