Undoubtedly, the world of computing has evolved greatly over the years. Faster and more powerful machines are being released year after year in a diverse range of designs, shapes, and sizes. What’s more, different computers share a bunch of similarities and differences.
However, the motherboard is a universal factor amongst all. It’s the printed circuit board that allows other components, circuit boards, and devices to be installed for complete or advanced function. Literally, all components and peripherals of a computer depend on the motherboard to operate and deliver the desired function.
It is also the central point that determines how each computer component works and communicates with each other. This is why the motherboard type is a crucial aspect to consider when buying a computer, especially a desktop machine that you intend to upgrade later. Here are some tips you may find helpful when choosing a motherboard.
1. Consider Your Usage Needs
We all have different reasons for buying a computer. Perhaps you have some document-processing tasks occasionally. Maybe you need to surf the internet occasionally or stream some content online from the machine.
For online traders and gamers, a decent computer is a must-have. Well, whichever your reasons are, it is ideal to bear in mind that your usage needs may change over time.
This makes it important to ensure your motherboard can support your evolving needs even as you focus on the CPU, graphics cards, storage, and memory. If you’re a gamer, choosing among the most powerful motherboards can help you avoid future regrets.
It helps to ensure you have as many connectivity options as possible. This way, you don’t have to buy a new PC just because it lacks slots for your essential components.
2. CPU Platform
The CPU is the brain of any computing device. It determines the reliability of the entire system in terms of what you can do with it and how fast. Again, based on your needs, do some research to decide which platform is best for you between AMD and Intel.
Don’t forget that both companies have numerous options to pick from. For instance, your Intel options range from 3rd gen to the 11th gen CPU launched recently in 2021. As for AMD, you can opt for earlier versions or go for Zen 5, also released in the first quarter of 2021.
Whichever motherboard you choose, just make sure it will be compatible with your CPU.
3. Your Budget
Whether you are building a PC from scratch or upgrading your current machine, there is a diverse range of motherboards to choose from in the market. The price tag varies widely depending on factors like the manufacturer, size, chipsets, design, connectors, and ports, among other things.
When approaching the market for a motherboard, be sure to get one at $50 or less if you’re looking for a low-end option. However, be prepared to spend up to $1000 or more if you are after a premium board with HEDT support for chips such as AMD Threadripper or core X. At the end of the day, your budget will be a crucial factor when choosing the ideal computer motherboard for you.
4. Important Features
Last but not least, you will need to have a keen eye on the features of a motherboard before purchasing it. Some of the most crucial to look for include the following:
As earlier mentioned, computers are evolving at a fast pace. Unlike in the past, where many motherboards came with just two slots for random access memory (RAM), many modern mainstream boards come equipped with four slots.
Some HEDT boards will even allow eight RAM slots. More RAM can help make your computer faster and more efficient depending on your usage needs.
PCI and Expansion Slots:
These are slots situated on the motherboard for different computer components. In most cases, the motherboard will have several PCI slots for video cards, sound cards, network cards, and so forth. Many will have empty expansion slots just in case you need to connect additional hardware.
Although not always, the number of expansion slots will also vary with the type and size of motherboards. This is why it is crucial to consider the form factor of a motherboard before purchasing it.
You will also need to consider the ideal processor socket before getting a new motherboard. As mentioned earlier, the motherboard needs to have a socket that supports the processor or CPU you intend to use. Some common types of processor sockets include:
- LGA – Used by Intel CPUs
- PGA – Used by AMD CPUs
- BGA – In-built and can’t be upgraded/serviced
The processor socket on your motherboard can limit the kind of processor you can use.
The next important thing to consider is how many SATA ports your motherboard should have to fit your needs. These ports allow you to connect storage drives like HDDs and SSDs, as well as optical drives when upgrading your computer.
While at it, ensure the motherboard provides the standard SATA 3.0 (SATA 6 gigabytes), perhaps alongside external ports like USB 3.0.
Finally, a decent motherboard will also include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi features, often at a slightly higher cost. Whichever you pick, always ensure the motherboard meets your future needs more than your current needs. The above few tips should serve as a guide.