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Buying a Motherboard

The motherboard is the foundation of your computer. It ties the video card, the memory, the storage, and the processors together. One way to avoid running into a problem, while building or upgrading your PC, is to choose the right motherboard. Not all boards are created equal and motherboards can vary from the high-end to midrange motherboards. Before you upgrade your motherboard, bear in mind, that a motherboard upgrade alone doesn't significantly improve machine performance.

Older generations of motherboards don't usually support modern CPUs. This is due to compatibility problems such as voltage difference, chip features, and BIOS support. For multiple graphic cards, you must buy a board with chipsets that support them. In fact, you have to choose a board that will work with the chipset you need. To do this, check the motherboard features lists. The chipset determines board speed and memory speed as well as expansion capabilities.


To achieve the very best of performance look for motherboards that support DDR3 memory. Depending on the motherboard, you'll typically see two to four memory slots. Pick a motherboard that has enough slots to accommodate everything you need. You also need to make sure that the speed of your memory matches up with the speed up your motherboard. For example, if your motherboard requires DDR3 PC3 8500, makes sure you buy RAM that is DDR3 PC3 8500. Lastly, each memory slot will have a maximum size. Make sure that you don't go over this maximum size for the memory slot.


The form factor is the standard for dimensions and layout. Form factor ensures proper positioning of expansion holes, ports, and mounting holes. To put shortly, buy the form factor that supports your case. Most motherboards are in the ATX form factor. For a smaller case, use a smaller MicroATX board.


This is the most important consideration you have to make. You must make sure the motherboard you buy supports the family of processor you want. For instance, AM2 socket uses 940 pins and it rides well with DDR2 SDRAM. Almost all recently manufactured boards for Intel CPUs use LGA775 sockets. For AMD, use AM2+. This provides you with added advantage for upgrade as well.


Look for ATX boards that provide slots for expansion. Check to see that your expansion card is compatible with the slots types. PCI slots are usually for Ethernet cards and sound cards. For higher bandwidth cards such as PCIe graphic cards, you need PCIe x16 slots. A PCIe x1 slot is for an Ethernet card.


SATA drives are the storage standard right now. Before you buy, make sure your board supports SATA drives. Most modern motherboards give SATA and IDE connections.

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