Motherboard Buying Guide

Often overlooked, the motherboard (also known as MOBO) is one of the most important components of a computer. The motherboard literally shapes the foundations of our computers.

Most focus only on the performance of their machine (processor, graphics card, etc.) but are not aware of the role that the motherboard plays, particularly about the stability and scalability of the machine. And understandably so, but in reality, the role of the motherboard is crucial. In fact, the stability and update capacity of our PC depends to a great extent on it.

Not only do hardware enthusiasts pay close attention to this component, but they also often spend a significant portion of their budget on it. And it makes perfect sense if we keep in mind that a good quality, the state-of-the-art motherboard may allow us to upgrade most of our computer’s components, including the processor, in the future without the need to change it. And, furthermore, as we will see later in this text, it can have a profound impact on our experience.

The motherboard is the main component of the central unit. It is an electronic card that interconnects all of the computer’s printed circuits. Its role is to centralize and ensure the processing of the data transmitted in a computer thanks to the processor, which is generally fixed on it.

What Types of Motherboards Are There?

The choice of a motherboard must be well thought out. It is very important to have in mind how to fill the PC and what type of system you are going to configure. To give you a quick example, if you have to assemble a PC for office use, you could think of saving a few dollars and choose a Micro-ATX motherboard format. If instead, you are looking for a powerful machine, especially for gaming then you must select ATX.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for the maximum performance high-end latest technology configured motherboard and you do not want to compromise on performance an Extended ATX (EATX) is for you.

ATX Motherboard

ATX motherboards have just about all the functionality one would need in a high-end gaming PC. However, they can also be costly, especially when it comes to the most advanced chipsets.

Micro-ATX Motherboard

Not all gaming PCs need to be huge monsters. If you want to save a little space (and potentially a little money), a micro ATX build might be the way to go with a form factor slightly smaller than the mother ATX full size, but larger than Mini-ITX. Micro ATX motherboards are generally relatively affordable and offer a right balance between size, price, and functionality. This makes them ideal for low-cost gaming computers.

Mini ITX Motherboard

The Mini ITX format is ideal for building compact computers. Despite this, these motherboards have fewer connectors, ports, and slots and tend to be relatively expensive.

E-ATX ( Extended ATX)

This is essentially an advanced version of ATX. It’s bigger in size, and dimensions are approximately 30.5 cm x 33 cm. They are mainly designed for “extreme gaming” and for those looking for very high performance. This model can accommodate various peripherals, even bulky ones.

The BTX motherboard

There is also another format to consider, the BTX format, created by Intel for improving processor cooling compared to ATX. The BTX motherboard provides a more direct path for air to pass through the front of the case through the processor, and through the back of the case. This card exists in three forms: the BTX-standard, the micro-BTX, and the pico-BTX.

The Lingo Used on Motherboards

BIOS/UEFI

BIOS refers to the basic input/output system, and the UEFI refers to the unified extensible firmware interface. They connect the hardware and software hosted on the card (the firmware) to the operating system (operating system, like Windows or Linux).

SATA Port

It is an interface for connecting peripherals and storage drives to a motherboard (hard drives, solid-state drives, optical drives, etc.). The number of physical ports on the card and NVMe storage ports will determine the total number of storage drives that can be connected to the PC.

USB Header

USB header is the exact location on the motherboard where you plug a cable into the case to add additional USB ports. The USB ports are usually found on the front panel of the case (although some also offer slots for the top or rear panel).

DIMM Slots

DIMM or Dual In-Line Memory Slots are the slots on the motherboard where the RAMs reside. The total number of slots contributes to the maximum amount of RAM that the system can handle.

Motherboard Brands

In order to choose the best brand, it is necessary to know the reliable brands offering the best solutions in the field. 
Here are the seven leading manufacturers of motherboards.

ASUS

One of the brands that make the best motherboards on the market is the Asus company. Founded in 1989, Asus is a company of Taiwanese origin that manufactures motherboards, graphics cards, personal assistants, optical drives, desktops, laptops, cell phones, network devices, cases, and cooling devices for computers. The manufacturer, therefore, offers a wide range of electronic devices, which makes it essential in this sector. Asus is the 5th ranked manufacturer of notebook computers worldwide after Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Acer. With sales result achieved by the company, it is ranked 8th in the ranking of best computer designers.

GIGABYTE

Founded in 1986 and based in Taiwan, Gigabyte Technology is a company specializing in the manufacture of computer equipment. It is one of the largest manufacturers of computer equipment in the world. The company employs over 7,000 people and has been based in France since 2003 under the name Gigabyte Technology France. The second reason for its ranking among the leading brands of motherboards is that because Gigabyte is the 2nd ranked manufacturer of motherboards, after Asus, in the world.

MSI

Micro-Star International, better known as MSI on the market, is a Taiwanese company specializing in the design of electronic equipment and electronics. This manufacturer is one of the top three designers of computer hardware in the world. The specialty of MSI is dedicated to gaming computers. Today, MSI employs over 6,800 people. The company has production sites based in Taiwan and China. It mainly sells motherboards, graphics cards, servers, Wi-Fi, optical and computer peripherals, webcams, desktops, power supplies, coolers, and laptops.

ASRock

Founded in 2002 by Ted Hsu and Sterling Wu, Asrock is a company specializing in the manufacture of computer hardware and electronics. It is a manufacturer of motherboards, industrial devices, home theatre, and personal computers. The company is based in Taiwan and is currently part of the Pegatron Corporation. It also produces mini PCs. In 2012, it also featured in the list of Taiwan Brand Award. 

How Does A Motherboard Work?

It is very important to understand how the motherboard works. The motherboard is designed in the form of a printed circuit. Several elements play an important role in the functioning of the motherboard. These include parts, such as the CMOS battery, the chipset, the clock, the processor socket, the BIOS, and the cooler. 

The latter is the element responsible for dissipating heat during the operation of the motherboard. It, therefore, plays the role of a radiator and fan to prevent the melting of the circuits of the motherboard due to the production of heat during its operation. As for the BIOS, it represents the interface between the motherboard and the operating system of your computer.

The BIOS is a small program. It is located on the motherboard of the computer in a ROM type chip. The BIOS is the first program loaded into memory as soon as you turn on your computer. It performs several functions:

  • Check that the motherboard works well (random access memory (RAM) modules, serial, parallel, IDE port controllers, etc.)
  • Check that the simple peripherals (“Basic“) connected to the motherboard work well (keyboard, graphics card, hard disks, floppy drive, CD-ROM drive)
  • Configure the motherboard (from the information stored in the CMOS.
  • Look for a disc on which there is an operating system ready to boot.

The BIOS can also provide services to the operating system by ensuring communication between software and peripherals, but only for simple peripherals (keyboard, screen, etc.). For example, the BIOS will not handle communication between the operating system and a scanner.

FAQs

What Is The Best Motherboard Brands?

ASUS
GIGABYTE
MSI
ASRock

How Much Should I Spend On A Motherboard?

It isn’t easy to answer, as there is really not a simple answer to this question. It depends mainly on what build you want. First, decide what you want, and then only a suggestion can be given. However, if you are looking for a cheap budget mobo then not go beyond $150, but some people are crazy about speed and overclocking, and our recommendations for them would be to go for a higher-end-mobo.

What Are The 3 Main Parts Of A Motherboard?

1. Battery
2. PCI Slots
3. RAM Slots
Apart from these, there are other vital parts also, and that include – Front IO panel, Fan headers, SSDs, PCIe connectors, etc.