A motherboard is like the nervous system of a device. It’s the entity that connects everything with everything else and allows communication between different parts.
This is why choosing the best motherboard you can get is a very important task, and we’ll make it easier by giving you key points to take into your consideration when you’re shopping for a motherboard.
Choosing A Motherboard Guide:
The Size of The Motherboard:
Motherboards come in three sizes: full-size ATX, micro ATX, and mini ATX.
Full-size ATX ones need the biggest cases, but since they’re the biggest they have the most space for many onboard ports and slots.
The number usually being 5 PCI-Express and/or PCI slots. It also has the most memory slots with a total of 4 and 6 or more SATA ports. Full-size ATX ones usually have better storage as well, and can be maintained with water-cooling.
A micro ATX will generally occupy less space but offer only 3 PCI slots. Its memory slots are usually 2 or 4, and the SATA ports are 4 to 6.
A mini ATX can be fit into a small case, but it compromises the number of slots by having only 1 PCI-Express x16 graphics card slot.
It usually has 2 memory slots, and 2 to 4 SATA ports.
When it comes to motherboards, better chipsets (either AMD or Intel) always mean more features.
Chipsets can be the determining factor when it comes to picking the processor you’ll be using with your motherboard. They’re the key factor that determines the type and speed of the memory that can be installed as well.
The Number of Memory Sockets:
How many memory sockets and how fast the memory can go are two important aspects when it comes to buying a motherboard. Getting a fast DDR4 that can’t run at full-speed on your motherboard renders the DDR4 useless.
Another thing to keep in mind the compatibility of your motherboard with the SSDs and hard disks you’re going to install.
The PCI-Express Sockets:
The PCI-Express sockets are important, and you should be aware that some motherboards have full-length x16 slots that run at 4x speed only, which would pose a problem if you want to run dual-graphics.
You might also want to check if you have enough PCI-Express x1 connectors for expansion cards.
Overclocking means running your device beyond its specifications to get more performance out of it. So you should make sure that your motherboard can handle overclocking if you intend to do it (this especially applies if you’re intending to use your PC for gaming or activities that take place over a long interval of time).
For example, the chipset should be able to support adjustment of the CPU multipliers and voltages. Overclocking can also induce a lot of heat, which bring us to…
Some motherboards are equipped with 3 thermal sensors and some are equipped with 9.
Of course the more sensors, the merrier as they sustain the performance and prevent overheating.
Cooling can also be supported by the M.2 heatsink that takes away heat from the MOSFET and the chipset.
Some motherboards like Asus motherboards are equipped with Fan Xpert 4 that has user-configurable sensors to deliver cooling according to your workload.
USB 2.0, USB 3.0, eSATA, Thunderbolt, HDMI, DisplayPort, M.2, and PCI-Express are all connectivity options that are often integrated with your motherboard.
If your motherboard lacks any of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to add a connector that makes it available, but add-ons usually perform worse than integrated connectors.