How to Select the Best Motherboard For Your Computer

While it’s relatively easy with today’s technology to build your own computer; selecting the best motherboard is critical to building the computer that best fits your own unique needs. 

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Building your own computer can mean saving money and also building a custom specified system – it means getting exactly what you want.  All computer components are important (the computer can’t run without them) but the motherboard is a very important part of your computer system and you need to have a clear understanding of what you want, why you want it, and how what you’ve selected affects the operation of the computer once built. You need to know how to select the best motherboard for your computer.  All components in your computer system connect to the motherboard; it is the key component and therefore you need to understand it.  For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you are building your own computer rather than replacing the motherboard in an existing computer system.  But in either case, learning what to look for and how the motherboard affects the performance of your computer is important innotechreviews.

First, consider which CPU you will be using.  For example, Intel and AMD CPUs both use different motherboards because each uses a different socket type.  Then, you also need to understand the processor speed; your motherboard needs to support the selected CPU. With the rapid technology changes in today’s environment, there are a wide variety of socket types in use.  Processors used to have the same number of pins, with technology driving fast changes, the motherboards sockets need more pins to provide more power and support new features. New processors are starting to put the pins on the socket instead of the CPU, allowing for easier set-up. You must match the right CPU (and socket type) to the right motherboard.  The CPU needs the socket to communicate with motherboard components through the chipset.

The CPU drives the decision on which chipset to buy and use.  A fast chipset allows efficient data transfers and power management; the chipset controls all the communication between CPU, the memory, and the local bus. There are two major parts of the chipset: the northbridge and the southbridge. The CPU communicates through the northbridge with the system RAM (the AGP graphics card) or the PCI-E (graphics card).  The CPU also uses the northbridge to communicate with the southbridge.  The northbridge is closer to the CPU and faster; the southbridge is further from the CPU and slower. The communications to USB ports, PCI slots, SATA connections, and other components is handled by the southbridge.

The bus is a circuit through which data is transmitted; it connects parts of the motherboard. Bus size is important because size, or width, determines how much data can be transmitted. Bus speed, measured in MHz, is relevant when selecting a motherboard.  Speed determines the components communication speed and data transfer; therefore a fast bus speed allows fast data transfer and faster running applications.

The circuit connecting the CPU to the northbridge is the Front Side Bus (FSB).  The top end of FSB speed is 1666 MHz – the higher, the faster and, typically, the more expensive. Speed is evolving and being upgraded with new technology, not just because faster is better but to synchronize with demand for speed from upgraded and new applications. As with most equipment and technology, the slowest component will be a speed bottleneck for the whole operating system – with a slow FSB speed, your computer will also operate at slow speed.

When selecting your motherboard you need to consider memory and how much memory you want for your computer system.  Unless you are a gamer, or do a lot of graphics or video work, 2 GB of RAM should be enough. Most motherboards today come with at least two memory slots, and many come with four.  To ensure you have enough expandable memory capacity for the future (even if you start with 2 GB of RAM), buy a motherboard with 4 slots.

Other considerations when selecting the motherboard for your computer build are the peripherals, such as keyboard, mouse, printer, flash drive, external drive and digital camera. If you plan on adding additional cards (such as graphics card, wireless network card, sound card), you will need enough PCI slots to handle the peripherals. Most motherboards have four USB slots and two more that connect to the USB ports on the case. You also need to consider the battery (you’ll likely need to change the battery in your motherboard every four to 5 years – if you keep your computer that long) and the preloaded BIOS (which boots up your computer).

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