The motherboard, in general, is the heart of a computer system as it is responsible for controlling and managing pretty much everything related to hardware and software within it. It comes in different shapes and sizes. A motherboard has the potential for making a specific type of computer build as well as future upgrades. Here are the factors that you need to consider before purchasing a motherboard.
- Form Factor: Motherboards are available in four sizes. Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, and E-ATX. You can select one according to the system that you are trying to build or already have. Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX are appropriate for building a compact system, while the E-ATX is ideal for bigger builds. ATX boards are popular because they have more expansion slots, which can be convenient.
- Socket: Once you are done selecting a form factor, the next step is to select a processor socket to house your processor on the motherboard. Three types of available sockets include LGA, PGA, and BGA. While Intel uses LGA, AMD uses PGA. The BGA socket is quite rare as the processor is bonded inside of it and cannot be upgraded in the future. The socket determines what type of processor you can use along with it. So it is suggested to select a processor before buying a motherboard.
- RAM Slots: The motherboard you are going to purchase determines the type and number of RAM you can install on your system. So you need to emphasize that before instantly making a decision. It’s highly recommended that your motherboard supports 16 GB of RAM even though you might not plan on purchasing as much RAM right away. Dual-channel RAM comparably performs better than a single stick and you should get a motherboard with 4 slots for future expansion. Though the slot count is likely to vary depending on the form factor of the motherboard. M-ATX often has 2 slots, while ATX and E-ATX have 4 or more.
- PCIe Slots: Among all the slots available on a motherboard, the PCIe slot plays a significant role in connecting expansion cards. If you are a gamer, you must get a motherboard that has x16 PCIe express slots for plugging in graphics cards. Aside from that, a motherboard can also have a slot for installing a sound card or WiFi for your added convenience.
- SATA: The SATA ports and connectors dictate how much storage device you can connect to your PC. Each of these ports allows you to connect optical or storage devices, including SSD and HDD, to stay well-stocked on the storage. Make sure to get a motherboard with at least SATA 6 standard as they perform pretty fast and ensure reliable boot time.
- Connectivity: Additionally, many motherboards offer externally accessible connectors on their rear input/output panels for plugging in peripherals such as stereo speakers, a mouse, and a keyboard. While USB-C is amazing for faster data transmission, you should be mindful of the accessories you possess and whether they are compatible with the motherboard. So going for a motherboard having several USB types will keep you in a safer spot.
- Additional Features: A motherboard can also include several additional features such as RGB headers for controlling the RGB effects, onboard Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity, and onboard audio that are often good for mid-range speakers.
- Motherboard Brands: Lastly, it all comes down to selecting a brand that suits your cause the best. While some companies manufacture motherboards specifically for gamers, there are plenty of brands aiming towards building motherboards for the mainstream systems. Among them, some well-renowned brands are Gigabyte, Asus, ASRock, and MSI. Each of them even has several motherboard series for specific PC builds.
And that concludes the factors that you should look out for while buying a new motherboard. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the type of system that you are planning to build and selecting a motherboard that is ideal for that system.