What is a Motherboard? Motherboards are an integral component of a device. It consists of two main components, the RAM and the CPU, which perform the most important tasks. A base plate provides logistics for all elements so they can work in coordination.
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What is a Motherboard?
Modern motherboards have fast cooling capabilities, reduced heat output, multiple system configurations, and plenty of card slots. In addition, the tools are available in different sizes depending on the space available.
So based on these factors, this article brings you different types of motherboards. Below are more about the main types of motherboard form factors. Also, read How can I Know What RAM is Compatible with my Motherboard?
Types of the Motherboard
The motherboard, also known as a logic board or motherboard, is a crucial component of electronic units. It constitutes a non-conductive plastic body coupled to a circuit and a lamp holder. The main task of the motherboard is to provide logistics for all the components of a device to work in coordination with each other.
In addition, the plastic sheet is also integrated with aluminium strips to connect multiple components in a circuit. The motherboard size varies between devices such as laptops, smartphones, and computers due to the lack of space in smaller items like smartphones compared to large computer monitors.
Similarly, component replacements also vary across different products. For example, laptop sockets and other hardware fits on the motherboard. Therefore, it is not easy to replace them. There are many types of motherboards available in the market. The most notable ones include the AT motherboard, ATX motherboard, Mini ITX motherboard, BTX motherboard, and LPX motherboard.
A Typical Motherboard Contains the Following Interfaces and Components.
1. CPU socket
2. Memory slots
3. SATA Connector (Storage)
4. Power connector
6. Floppy connector
7. I/O chip
8. Rear fan connector
9. Chassis fan connector
10. I/O connectors
11. USB ports
12. Audio connector
13. IDE connector
14. CMOS battery head
15. PCI Peripheral Component Interconnect Slots
16. Non-volatile memory (ROM) to hold the boot program
17. Clock generator to synchronize with components
18. Expansion card slot
Basics Functions of Motherboard
Here, we will discuss various motherboard Functions, usage, and motherboard working.
The first function of the motherboard has to provide the best logic design because all the important processing components of the computer (central processing unit (CPU), system memory (RAM), and graphics card) are integrated into the motherboard, and the motherboard creates an interface between all the components. It is known as the Component Hub.
The motherboard has a circuit board, and on the circuit board, different paths are designed, known as buses. Those pathways help transfer data to all the components of the computer. The motherboard manages to circulate power to parts of the computer as per its requirements.
The motherboard is a communication hub for all the computer components, directly or indirectly. The motherboard helps send all the data traffic for all the computer parts per your need. ROM (Read Only Memory) is attached to the motherboard.
The ROM has to save the pre-program, known as BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), and the BIOS assists in the boot process while turning on your computer. The motherboard allows you to connect various computer components directly or indirectly.
Some peripherals include printers, keyboards, audio jacks, hard drives, and mice. These connect directly to the motherboard through various ports, sockets, and connectors. There are numerous importances of the motherboard as well as its advantages.
The Main Function of the Motherboard
1. The motherboard has several varieties that users can select according to their needs.
2. The motherboard supports a single CPU and a few components.
3. The motherboard allows expansion cards, and with those cards, users can use additional functionality of the motherboard.
4. Video cards, graphics cards, and sound cards are integrated into the latest motherboard.
5. Some motherboards support multiple hard drives.
6. Nowadays, all modern motherboards upgrade themselves. You must increase the motherboard’s capacity if the user wants to use video game software. So there is no need for a new motherboard.
7. The motherboard layout is designed very simply because the user can change any component of the motherboard without hiring an expert.
The Types of Motherboards
1. AT Motherboard
AT motherboards have a few hundred millimetres, so they are not recommended for mini desktops as they will not fit. Its large dimensions also make it difficult to install new drivers. This type of motherboard uses six-pin plugs and sockets that function as power connectors.
Power connectors are considered difficult to distinguish and, therefore, very difficult for people to connect and use correctly. Produced in the 1980s, these motherboards have lasted quite a while.
2. ATX Motherboard
Also known as Extended Advanced Technology, these motherboards were produced in the 1990s by Intel and are considered a vast improvement over the AT motherboard.
They allow for interchangeability when it comes to the connected parts and is smaller in size compared to AT motherboards. The connector system has also been greatly improved.
3. LPX Motherboard
These motherboards differ from previous motherboards in that they contain output and input ports on the back. The riser card was also introduced to ensure it started and made it easier to fit more slots.
AT motherboards later adopted several features of LPX motherboards. However, low-quality LPX motherboards lack AGP slots and instead plug directly into PCI. The many flavourless aspects of the LPX motherboard led to the creation of the NLX.
4. BTX Motherboard
Balanced Technology extended motherboards were created to cope with changing technologies that demand a lot of power and generate a lot of heat. However, Intel cancelled the further development of BTX motherboards in late 2006 to focus on lower-powered CPUs.
BTX motherboards were used by Gateway Inc, MPC, and Dell. Apple’s Mac Pro uses some elements of these motherboard design systems but is considered non-BTX compliant.
5. Pico BTX Motherboard
The term “Pico” is used due to the small size of these motherboards. They support a maximum of two expansion slots, though they share a common top half similar to the BTX line.
Specifically designed for half-height or riser card applications, Pico BTX motherboards are considered a digital line.
6. TX mini Motherboard
It is a low-power form factor motherboard with dimensions of 17*17cm. Mini TX motherboards were designed in the year 2001 by VIA Technologies. They are generally used in SFF computer systems because they have low power consumption and cool down quickly.
Therefore, they are widely preferred for home theatre systems where fan noise could reduce system quality.
How to Buy a Motherboard?
Choosing the best motherboard is the most integral part of building your PC, though choosing the best graphics card and CPU often gets more attention. Every part of your PC connects to the motherboard of your choice.
Its form factor dictates the size of your computer and how much you can plug into it, and the chipset/CPU socket defines what type of processor you can install. Also, read How to Choose Best CPU The Right Guide?
Buying Guide of Motherboard
Motherboards, particularly higher-end models, are often made up of confusing features and can range in price from under $60 (£50) budget motherboards to $1,000 or more. We’re here to help you untangle the complexities and ensure you pick the right model for your needs without spending too much of your build budget elsewhere.
Speaking of building budgets. If you’re looking to save some money while shopping, you should check out our feature on the eight features you probably don’t need in a motherboard. And if you’re looking for a new board from Intel’s new Z590 or AMD X570 lineup. Remember that motherboard prices for both platforms have increased over previous generations, at least partly due to PCIe support. 4.0.
Just note that while AMD’s B550 boards support PCIe 4.0 now with a Zen 2/3-based processor, Intel Z490 boards that include PCIe 4.0 support (and all newer Z590 boards) will only enable that support when combined with a next-gen Rocket. CPU Lake-S. Those processors aren’t here yet, but they should arrive in the next few months.
1. Get the right socket for your CPU: You can find great CPUs from Intel or AMD, but whichever CPU you buy, ensure your board has the right socket to support it. The latest mainstream AMD chips use AM4 sockets, while current 10th and 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs run on LGA 1200 sockets.
2. Smaller boards with fewer slots and features: Motherboards come in three main sizes, from largest to smallest: ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX (Yes, Mini is smaller than Micro). You can use a smaller chassis with the micro or mini boards, but you’ll have to make do with fewer PCIe slots, RAM slots, and other connectors.
3. You can spend less than $150: You can often find a decent motherboard for less than $150. But if you want to overclock an Intel chip, want PCIe 4.0, or need a lot of ports, you’ll have to spend more, often more than $200. High-end desktop chips like AMD Threadripper require expensive $200+ motherboards.
4. Pay for built-in Wi-Fi and high-end ports only if you need them: Don’t spend more on the wireless if you’re using a wired connection. You can future-proof your PC with support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3, as well as PCIe 4.0.
What CPU are you Using with your Motherboard?
The CPU you plan to pair with your board will narrow down your options since the CPU socket on a given motherboard will only work with the line of chips it was designed for. For example, if you’re buying a 10th or 11th-generation Intel Core processor, you’ll need a board with an LGA 1200 socket. Older 9th generation processors need boards with an LGA 1151 socket.
AMD makes this process easy. A little less confusing because (at least for now) the company uses the same AM4 socket for all its current-gen main chips, from Athlons to parts of the 16-core Ryzen 9, though you can run into complications when installing newer CPUs on boards based on previous generations.
In recent years, Intel has tended to change sockets (or at least socket compatibility) from one generation to the next. However, that’s not the case this generation, with Socket 1200 sticking around for two generations.
For the true high-end, both Intel (LGA 2066) and AMD (TR4) have different sockets to accommodate the larger size and power draw of their Core X and Threadripper processors.
What Ports do you Need?
It’s always important to check the I/O area on a motherboard to ensure it has the external connection options you’re looking for, but also check the USB headers on the motherboard. These will allow you to add more ports via the front panel connection on your PC case or via inexpensive expansion slot brackets on the back.
Here’s a list of Common Ports Listed Below.
*USB 3/USB 3.1 Gen1: You can never have too many of these because they work with most peripherals.
*USB 2: Slower than USB 3/3.1, but more than adequate for keyboards, mice, and many other devices.
*USB 3.1/3.2 Gen2: Not many peripherals take advantage of this standard yet, but it offers 10 Gbps of bandwidth, double what you get with USB 3.1 Gen 1/USB 3.0. USB 3.2 Gen2 2×2 doubles that bandwidth again, with two 10Gbps lanes. Often you’ll only find one of these ports on mid-and high-end boards.
*USB Type-C: These ports can be compatible with USB 3.1 Gen1 or USB 3.1 Gen2 and are designed for newer devices like phones. Some are also USB 2.0 only and are often labelled
*USB-C audio ports: Intended for connecting USB-C headphones.
*HDMI/DisplayPort video output: You only need these if you plan to use integrated graphics. Discrete cards have their ports.
*Audio ports: Important if you plan to connect analogue speakers or headphones.
*PS/2 Ports: Give you compatibility with really old keyboards and mice.
*Thunderbolt: It’s very rare to find this built into motherboards, but some boards support it
*via dedicated add-on cards: It provides the fastest connections possible, up to 40 Gbps.
While you may not need many USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Type-C ports today, they’re great ways to future-proof your PC.
How many RAM Slots do you Need?
Most mainstream boards these days have four RAM slots, though compact Mini-ITX models often have just two, and higher-end HEDT boards (like the one pictured below) typically offer eight. The number of slots, of course, limits the amount of RAM you can install. But for conventional tasks and games, 16 GB is enough, and 32 GB is enough.
And even with just two slots, you can install up to 64GB of RAM. Remember, though, that you’ll often pay a premium for a denser 64 and 32GB kit that uses two bars rather than a kit that spreads over four bars.
Which Chipset Should You Get?
Your choice of CPU will determine your supported chipset options, and if you go for the higher-end consumer Intel or AMD chips (Core X or Threadripper), you’ll only have one choice (X299 for Intel or X399 for AMD). But mainstream users who want to install a single graphics card and a few drives can often get the features they’re looking for by opting for a chipset below Intel’s Z590 or X570 for AMD.
Previously, if you chose, say, an H470, B460, or H410 board on the Intel side, you’d lose the option to overclock, though only a handful of major Intel chips are unlocked for overclocking anyway (those with product names ending in the letter “K”). But that seems to be changing with the upcoming Intel 500 series motherboards.
Stay tuned to our motherboard reviews for more information as we test a new round of mainstream Intel motherboards. On the AMD side, the B550/X570 chipsets (as well as the older B450, B350, and B300) still support overclocking.
Although you will lose some fast USB and SATA ports and PCIe lanes with the X570 chipset, there are enough connectivity options left to support most mainstream computing tasks.
If you need more ports and drives, it’s worth upgrading to an X570 board, especially considering that many higher-priced B550 boars are as expensive (if not more) than many X570 offerings.
What Additional Features do you Need?
Given the plethora of features motherboard manufacturers sometimes put on motherboards, particularly high-end models, it’s impossible to discuss them all. But here are some to keep an eye on:
1. Integrated On/Off Switches: These can be useful in the initial build process or if your system is housed in an open box for component benchmarking/testing. But for the average user, the onboard buttons (which sometimes include buttons for clearing CMOS or basic overclocking) aren’t necessary.
2. LED diagnostic readouts: The little speaker plugs into motherboard headers to provide diagnostic beeps when something goes wrong is going the way of the dodo. Instead, many mid-to-high-end boards now include a two- or three-digit display for the same purpose, giving you an alphanumeric code when something goes wrong.
This can be of great help when building a PC or upgrading, and you forget to plug something in, something is not seated correctly, or one of your components is faulty.
3. Wi-Fi Card: If you don’t have Ethernet near your computer, you want this. And if you plan to keep your PC for years, look for a Wi-Fi 6.
4. Dual Ethernet Ports: A single Gigabit Ethernet port has plenty of bandwidth for Internet traffic. This is mostly useful if you use the computer as a server and the board can aggregate the two connections into one. Look for a 2.5Gb or 10Gb Ethernet board for heavy-duty wired networking needs.
People also Asked
What is the Difference Between ATX and BTX Motherboard?
The BTX motherboard is the successor to the traditional ATX motherboard. The ATX system includes a sleep mode that improves device performance and reduces power loss.
In contrast, the BTX model is associated with lower heat generation and cooling capacity. In addition, the latter also offers multiple system configurations and is versatile.
What are the two Main Components of a Motherboard?
The two main components of the motherboard include random access memory, commonly known as RAM and a central processing unit for a fast CPU. RAM is an integral component of a computer system as it allows you to instantly access data stored on the device.
Similarly, the CPU is the computer’s brain that executes most tasks. Therefore, you should never be careless in any aspect.
What is the Motherboard Form Factor?
The form factor is the specification of a motherboard. It is associated with mounting hole locations, dimensions, number of ports on the back panel, type of power supply, and other associated instructions.
The form factor generally dictates the overall size of the motherboard and is a very important aspect to consider when purchasing a motherboard. The difference in the sizes of the different motherboards is due to the differences in the form factor.
Motherboards are virtual objects that provide a suitable platform for connecting various sockets and power systems. Another outstanding attribute of the motherboard is the provision of logistics for the efficient coordination of all the components present in the system.
The size and capabilities of the model are highly dependent on the limited space available on the host device. Based on these factors, there are five different motherboard types: ATX, LPS, BTX, mini ITX, and AT motherboards.
Which ATX model is the most efficient due to its size, versatility, and fast cooling capacity? Therefore, they are highly recommended for standard or large equipment.