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Dated: Dec. 05, 2010
In the event of taking an existing computer in for repairs only to be told that a new motherboard is needed, it may sound like it is very expensive to buy. The good news is that motherboards come by very cheap compared to purchasing a new PC. Many online retailers specializing in computer parts sell motherboards for under $100 for a board that meets the requirements of building a high-end computer for a lot more, although there are boards that cost more for what a builder needs for the ultimate custom PC.
A motherboard is not just for restoring old computers, but it can be used for building new systems from the ground up without spending a lot of money for a custom computer by request, and you can get what you want without relying on tech support when something goes wrong. It is also a good way to learn more about computers, opening up plenty of ideas for future system upgrades.
The Role of the Motherboard
A motherboard is the body of a computer system. It holds everything that runs the computer: the CPU for the heart, the RAM for the brain, the video card for the eyes, the audio card for the ears, and the data ports for the mouth. There is more to it than the idea of the computer as a living breathing species: treating a motherboard is like treating a human body, but the responsibility of taking care of a computer is greater.
There are a lot of form factors of a motherboard that fit specific computer cases, but four of them are currently being used in modern systems. For example: an ATX form factor motherboard fits all standard size desktop cases, and a MicroATX motherboard fits into smaller cases that are half the size of a desktop case. Mini-ITX and Mini-ATX are other motherboard form factors for other types of PC cases, but ATX is a more common choice when building or upgrading PCs.
Getting a case that matches the motherboard form factor is very important: a ATX form motherboard does not fit in a MicroATX case as the peripheral placements on the board will not match. A matching form factor board and case will always match the peripheral bays behind the computer.
CPU Types and Sockets
A motherboard includes sockets for specific processors depending on the manufacturer of the CPU: AMD processors fit AMD-based motherboards, and Intel processors fit Intel-based motherboards. The socket on the board are fitted for the pins on the CPU chip itself. In the early days of computer processors, there were fewer pins that would easily fit into any board. With the advancement of CPU technology, the socket number increases, and so does the demand of processors in the socket family.
Varying on the manufacturer of the CPU, the higher the number, the newer the technology. For example: the Socket 470 series are based on the previous Intel Pentium processors and Socket A are older AMD processors. With this in mind, when buying a motherboard for PC building purposes, parts must be obtain immediately to keep up with the current technological advancements as they can be hard to find in the future.
The key to having a perfect system is installing the recommended amount of RAM on the board. Most motherboards have two slots, although four slots are becoming a mainstay for modern motherboards: the more slots, the more memory supported. Like the pins on the CPU socket, RAM slots are also counted on to the number of pins on a RAM chip. On newer boards, the minimum number of pins found are 240. Finding RAM with these number of pins is not too difficult, but may varying depending on the motherboard CPU manufacturer.
Installing RAM also counts on the motherboard CPU fitted. A newer Dual Data Rate (DDR3) RAM chip transfers data faster than previous DDR RAM: an older memory chip on a newer board would not work very well. A fast CPU requires the most memory which is usually the maximum supported, normally 4 gigabytes. A benefit of adding the maximum amount of RAM is unleashing the full power of a PC for uninterrupted performance, especially with video card applications.
Many motherboards come with on-board devices such as video and audio cards. These are commonly found on retail computers, but they are known to be less powerful than external cards. There are a few boards that have stable on-board devices, but seasoned PC builders prefer external devices instead. Purchasing a board with internal devices are idea for first time PC builders, but the option of building a system in addition of adding brand new devices is what makes building a custom PC so special.
Conclusion and Warnings
There is a lot more to cover in handling motherboards, but having a motherboard in your hands is just the beginning of an amazing journey into learning about computer hardware. Before buying a motherboard, do a research for reviews and user experiences for the best board in the market. Beware of buying a motherboard that does not have little or no instructions that would create problems later.
Before building a PC for the first time, there are few warnings before handling any computer parts:
- When building computers alone, following the instruction manual of the motherboard should be very understandable and should not be "broken" from another language.
- When handling internal computer components, your body should be grounded and not conduct static electricity.
- Before opening a PC, it should be completely unplugged from the power source has it can cause damage to the PC or to the builder.
Now that you've gotten free know-how on this topic, try to grow your skills even faster with online video training. Then finally, put these skills to the test and make a name for yourself by offering these skills to others by becoming a freelancer. There are literally 2000+ new projects that are posted every single freakin' day, no lie!