If you’re looking to build your own PC or to buy a pre-built PC that you might want to expand or upgrade later, then there’s one component that will serve as its foundation. That component is the motherboard, and it’s an incredibly important piece of the PC puzzle. It determines many of the other components that you’ll be able to choose, and at the same time some other choices — such as the processor that you’ll use in your new PC—determine which motherboard you can use. In this article, we will guide you through the process of how do you choose a motherboard.
After picking a CPU, a complementary motherboard will typically be the next component you select for your build. Let’s break down your motherboard selection into a few (relatively) easy steps.
What is a motherboard?
A motherboard is a printed circuit board (PCB) that creates a kind of backbone allowing a variety of components to communicate, and that provides different connectors for components such as the central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), memory, and storage. Most computers made today, including smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and desktop computers, use motherboards to pull everything together, but the only kind you’ll typically purchase yourself are those made for desktop PCs.
Looking at a motherboard from the top down, you’ll see a collection of circuits, transistors, capacitors, slots, connectors, heat sinks, and more than all combine to route signals and power throughout the PC and allow you to plug in all of the required components. It’s a complicated product, and many of the technical details are beyond the scope of this how-to. Some of these details are important for your buying decision, though, and we’ll outline them for you below.
As you’re deciding on the right motherboard, you’ll want to make sure that it meets your needs both today and tomorrow. If you know that you’ll never want to upgrade your PC beyond its original configuration, then you can choose a motherboard that provides exactly what you need to get up and running. But if you think you might want to expand your PC later, then you’ll want to make sure your motherboard will support your needs as they grow.
Platform: How Do You Choose A Motherboard
Perhaps the first decision to make is which CPU you want to serve as the brains of your PC, which means choosing between two companies: Intel and AMD. Both offer CPUs ranging from entry-level options good enough for web browsing, productivity, and low-end gaming all the way up to ultra-powerful beasts that can rip through video editing projects and run today’s most demanding games at high frames per second (FPS).
Both companies are constantly upgrading their products, and so this information can become stale very quickly. As of when this how-to was written, though, Intel is on its ninth-generation of CPUs and AMD has recently introduced its Zen 2 architecture, with Zen 3 expected soon, and third-generation Ryzen CPUs. Which one is right for you will depend on your needs, such as whether you’re most worried about apps that can use multiple processor cores (which might favor AMD’s Ryzen processors) or you’re most worried about games that benefit from the fastest single-core performance (which might favor Intel’s Core processors).
Once you’ve decided which CPU is best for you, then you’ll need to pick a motherboard that uses the right socket and the right chipset. Basically, a processor socket is a mechanism through which a CPU is firmly attached to a motherboard. A chipset is the motherboard software and hardware that combines to allow all the various components to communicate.
Form factor How Do You Choose A Motherboard
Motherboards come in different sizes, meaning that you have some flexibility in building your PC to fit into your environment. If you have plenty of space then you might want to use a full-size tower case, while if you’re building a home theater PC (HTPC) that’s meant to sit beneath your family room TV then you’ll likely want a much smaller case.
That’s why motherboards come in various sizes, or form factors, and these standards define not only the size of the motherboard but also how many of the various components they tend to support. There are variations in the latter, but generally speaking, the larger the motherboard’s physical size the more components it will support. Not all cases support all form factors, and so you’ll want to make sure your motherboard and case match up.
These were the main things that the buyer should focus on before buying a CPU. Hopefully, you have liked the article.