How to Choose a Motherboard

The motherboard is the backbone of the PC system and that means it is responsible for almost all the hardware coordination and communication. So, if your motherboard is old, slow, and incompatible, your PC will run slow no matter how fast your other components are. On the other hand, a capable and powerful motherboard will ensure that your PC delivers optimum performance under all circumstances. Plus the form factor of the PC determines the size of your PC and the CPU socket of your motherboard defines what kind of processor you can use in your PC system. 

That is why you must often see people ask famous gamers and streamers about their motherboards. It is necessary to make a smart consumer choice and buy a motherboard that suits your PC Built and preferences so that you can have a seamless experience while using the PC. An incompatible motherboard may result in slow processing and in some cases, it can also adversely affect the other components. So make sure that you research extensively and reflect carefully on the pros and cons of your chosen motherboard before you buy it.

However, some people aren’t familiar with the motherboards and they lack time to spend hours on research, etc. If you are one of them then you have come to the right place. Because I am going to discuss all the pivotal features of a motherboard that help you in buying a suitable as well as a powerful motherboard for your PC built.

What is a Motherboard?

A motherboard is the main Printer Circuit Board (PCB) in a computer. It is the biggest board in a Computer and it is the foundation of the whole PC system. It supplies power to the PC hardware and acts like the main connectivity point to connect PC components with each other.

Through the motherboard, the hardware and peripheral devices all are able to transfer data to each other to carry out the commands and deliver output results. Hence since Motherboard plays such an indispensable role in the functioning of the PC, it is necessary to make sure that you buy a good quality motherboard.

Chipset of Motherboards

There are various platforms that make and sell motherboards in the market. However, among them, the AMD and Intel take the throne with the high-quality specs, military-grade durability, and amazing performance of their motherboards.

The motherboards released by both of these brands have distinctive features that set them apart from others and each other in the market.

AMD Motherboards

The AMD releases budget and high-end motherboards with the AM4 socket. This means that only the processors compatible with the AM4 socket will be able to connect with AMD AM4 motherboards. So keep this in mind while you are buying a motherboard so that you don’t end up buying an incompatible processor for an AM4 motherboard.

AMD’s most famous AM4 motherboard chipsets are X570 and B550. Both of these are used by average gamers as well as professionals.

AMD X570 Motherboard

The X570 Motherboard is the premium chipset of AMD. It comes with a sturdy body, advanced features, AM4 socket, beefy VRM, and most importantly extensive PCIe 4.0 support. All these specs make it an ideal choice for high-end gaming and overclocking. 

AMD B550 Motherboard

The B550 Motherboard was released after the X570 motherboard to make PCIe 4.0 more affordable for consumers. It features decent overclocking potential, good quality built, AM4 socket, and limited PCIe 4.0 support. It is a great choice for those that want to enjoy high-end gaming on a budget.

Intel Motherboards

Intel is known for producing high-end performance geared motherboards. The price tag of their motherboard is also slightly higher than the AMD motherboards but the impeccable performance and excellent overclocking potential of Intel motherboards have convinced many to invest in them.

Intel LGA 1700

The LGA 1700 socket motherboard replaced the LGA 1200 socket. This socket can support Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake and 13th generation Raptor Lake processors to deliver maximum performance consistently. So this socket can support the latest processors and provide the most advanced features like Gen 5 PCIe support, top-of-the-line connectivity, and power-beast VRMs. MSI MPG Z690 Carbon Wi-Fi has an LGA 1700 socket and it s equipped with the above-mentioned features.

Intel LGA 1200

The LGA 1200 socket motherboard is the predecessor of the LGA 1700. This socket is compatible with 10th generation Comet Lake and 11th generation Tiger Lake processors. The LGA 1200 motherboards like Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Elite Ultra can pair with Intel’s 10th or 11th-generation processors to handle graphics-heavy gaming and overwhelm any challenge.

Motherboard Form Factors

Now as said earlier the form factor determines the size of your computer and how many devices you can plug into your PC. Sounds Complex. right? but it isn’t actually, you’ll get the hang of it in a second There are three major form factors that are called ATX, Micro-ATCX, and Mini-ITX the ATX is the biggest and Mini-ITX is the smallest, the bigger the form factor the more spacious your PC and more expansion slots you have.

ATX Motherboards

ATX is the biggest form factor. You can create a full-size PC system with this motherboard and it can offer up to 7 expansion slots and enough space for radiators, coolers, big CPUs, etc.

Micro-ATX Motherboards

They are smaller in size as compared to ATX form factors but they still offer enough space to accommodate all PC hardware. The Micro-ATX is only smaller because its design has been adjusted to make them compact without compromising much on space and slots. 

Mini-ITX Motherboards

The smallest and most compact form factor is Mini-ITX. People go for this form factor because they have limited space for a PC. Mini-ITX motherboards often have a single expansion slot and one or two DIMM slots. They also have less space for PC hardware and tend to get heat up easily. But dexterous adjustment and maximum use of the space can create a powerful Mini-ITX PC that can support gaming and streaming easily. 

PCI Express Slots

It is necessary to buy a motherboard that will support the graphics card of your choice. Professional gamers should consider this point because they will be playing heavy-duty games very often. So they should have a motherboard that can support high-end graphics card and provide it the power as well as protection required to deliver ultimate graphics performance.

The potential of your GPU will go down the drain if the motherboard cannot keep up with it. Keep this in mind while buying the motherboard.

Memory Slots

By memory, I mean RAM which is “Random Access Memory”. It is responsible for holding on to data so that you can open the program quickly without having to wait. The more the number of slots on your motherboard, the more memory your motherboard can support. Most motherboards come with 4 RAM slots and that is enough but Mini-ITX usually has two RAM slots.

Four RAM slots are more than enough to install a 16 GB memory kit which is ample for gaming and even professional content and video creators. Also, make sure that your motherboard supports the latest DDR4 memory for improved output results.

Storage Drives

Your PC needs storage to save data, programs, operating systems, and applications. Your motherboard should have the required connections to support your chosen storage. If you are using SSD (Solid-State Drives) storage then your motherboard should have PCIe M.2 slots and SATA ports. The HDD (Hard Disk Drive) storage will require SATA II or SATA III ports. If you are using a combination of both the SSD and HDD then your motherboard must have slots to support both types of storage.  

Connectivity Options

You need to consider what kind of USB connections and expansion slots you need and then look for them in the motherboards. You can check the I/O area on a motherboard to ensure that it has the external connection you need. In addition, you must check for USB headers as they allow you to add and connect more hardware through the front-panel connection on the PC case.

Commonly people look for USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, USB 3.2 Gen 2, PCIex1, PCIe x16, and audio ports in the motherboard. But again the kind of ports you need depends on the hardware you are selecting for your PC. For Example, certain water-cooling components require specific headers. So make sure your motherboard has all the headers required to support your selected peripherals and add-ons.

Final Verdict

Now you are familiar with all the features of a motherboard that should be considered before investing in it. Always remember that there is no one perfect motherboard, every motherboard has certain pros and cons. So you need to consider your needs and preferences and then choose the motherboard that suits them. 

Budget is another important factor you should take into account but you will be able to find pretty good budget options in the market. I hope you make a smart consumer choice and buy an appropriate motherboard for your PC system. Good luck.

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Mehak Sohail
Mehak Sohail

Mehak Sohail has tested a lot of CPU Coolers and Memory kits for us, and she's good at writing on them. Her articles are worth reading when you have to buy a liquid or air cooler for your build.

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