the heart of the computer



The motherboard a.k.a. mainboard ties the parts in your computer together.


If the processor is the brain of your computer, the main board's function is the nerves, transferring the electronic impulses between the installed parts making them work the way they're supposed to.


But you do not need to know what makes the board work to successfully build your own computer. It's all just plug and play really:)


The first glance at a mother board (if you haven't seen one before) might scare you. Thousands of transistors and other electronic thingies. Don't try to understand those, because you really don't have to.



What you need to know about a motherboard:


  • The computer processor brand, speed, FSB speed and socket type number it supports. Match this information with the same information you found out about your chosen CPU. A general rule: Find a motherboard that supports higher standards of CPU and other equipment than those you plan on buying, you might want to upgrade your computer later (trust me, you will;)).

  • The number of PCI card slots. When building a computer, depending on your needs, you would need some PCI cards (sound cards, network cards, fire wire/USB cards, scsi cards, to name a few). Building a computer with a decent size, optimized for performance and upgrading possibilities the mainboard should have 5-6 PCI slots.

  • RAM memory slots. The motherboard should support DDR-RAM memory chips. This is fast and stable memory technology. It should support at least 2 gigabytes of RAM and have 3-4 memory slots. Make a note of the speed of RAM and the number of pins on the ram chip that the board supports, it is usually displayed as PCXXXX or XXXmHz where X is a number. The number of pins is usually 184 but may vary. Keep track of this until you buy the RAM - chips.

  • The mainboard should be clean of  "integrated extras", like integrated sound and graphics processors. You should get separate PCI card interfaces for this. The more "integrated stuff" there is on the motherboard, the bigger risk of interrupting the natural "flow" in the circuits of the board when you put your computer to the max. Especially if you build a recording studio and need full effect from your sound interface, this is a big no-no. My recommendation: When building a powerful computer, stay away from these "all-in-one" motherboards.

  • Form factor. The motherboard should be of an ATX form, that's the large size of motherboards available. When in need for 5-6 PCI slots, the full ATX size is the most common (make sure the computer case is ATX compliant too).

  • USB and PS/2 connectors for connecting keyboard/mouse and other external equipment. This is generally not much to think about since most, if not all, motherboards have these.

  • The motherboard is the one part where you shouldn't look too much at the price. You usually get what you're paying for. Stick with the well-known brands: Asus, Abit, MSI etc.

  • Browse Motherboards . Compare. Be sure before you buy. This is an extremely important part in your computer.


Need more information about motherboards?

Check out this motherboard buyers guide at Computer




All content and images, except where noted are

        Copyright 2004-2009

Content and images from affiliates are copyright

 to their respective owners.


This site is in affiliation with

and is powered by

    Site Build It!


                                                                         HOME | BACK TO BUILD COMPUTERS