How To Pick a Motherboard

If you are assembling your own PC or just want to upgrade the previous one, in both cases, a good-quality motherboard will serve as a foundation. Undoubtedly, it’s the most crucial piece in the system since it directly determines the overall computer’s performance. In addition, it supervises the selection of the other connected elements like processor and graphics card, which are most important for gaming and content creation. So, you must focus your entire attention on the mobo selection to enjoy the system’s peak efficiencies. 

We have noticed an interesting trend in the tech market. Many customers have already picked the best-suiting CPU for their needs but are quite confused when they move toward the motherboards. They mostly don’t know which board complements the CPU and often choose a bad one. So, these tech enthusiasts can take help from this in-detailed post about choosing one. If the question of how to pick a motherboard is hitting your skull, or you just want to know more about the topic, then keep reading this post until the end.

How does a motherboard work?

Before diving straight into the topic, it’s important to know how a motherboard works to better understand the related aspects. Well, a motherboard is a printed circuit board (PCB) that’s why we also call it a mother circuit and holds the majority of the rig’s elements. In addition, it powers them to function and lets them communicate to perform their particular operations. In short, it’s the manager of the computer supervising the power supply, storage devices, memory modules, graphics cards, and more.

To understand its working principle, we need to better understand its structure. If we look at the top of the board, there are some electrical circuits, transistors, capacitors, several slots, connectors, heat sinks, and more. Such structure stipulates that there must be some signals flowing through the circuitry and some other elements will connect via the provided connections or slot. If you’re thinking the same then you’re totally right. Those circuits and ports are there to plug the components that we already mentioned above.

Platform: AMD or Intel?

A CPU or central processing unit is the brain of any computer and performs all the calculations and decides the ins and outs of the system. The compatibility between the motherboard and CPU plays a key role to perform better and fully utilize the computer’s capabilities. We’re discussing the processor in the motherboard-related post, why? Well, there are two possibilities: you either already had a chip and want to buy a motherboard for it, or you want to buy both components. If you fall in the second category, then keep reading else skip this and go to the next section.

There are two main brands to buy a processor, Intel, and AMD, and both are known for their particular specialties. Moreover, both have all types of products to fulfill all the purposes, including web browsing, productivity, gaming, development, and more. So, which brand is better? Well, it depends upon your usage. If you mostly run those apps that required multiple processor cores, the AMD Ryzen processor can be the perfect option. In contrast, you can go to Intel’s side if you play games that required the fastest single-core performance.

How to pick a motherboard?

Have you chosen a CPU? If yes then it’s time to uncover a compatible motherboard to accommodate the processor. To do so, we have to understand some factors that decide the compatibility and suitability between the motherboard and processor.

Socket

A processor’s socket is a circuit or mechanism via which a board accommodates a particular type of CPU and lets it properly perform its functions. This is the exact spot on the mother circuit that provides a platform for the processor to communicate with the other connected devices. As I mentioned earlier, those devices include RAM sticks, storage, GPUs, and others. But remember, in systems Intel NUC and most the laptops, there is a not socket but the CPU is directly soldered into the board.

Both the manufacturers, AMD and Intel, have their particular types of sockets. AMD had used many socket types but currently, it’s sticking to the AM4 and manufacturing AM4-compatible processors; however, some of its older processors have AM3 compatibility as well. On the other hand, Intel uses a unique type of socket “LGA” with a certain pin-count configuration like “1150” or “1200”. Remember, the LGA remains the same but the pin count keeps varying with each generation.

Your duty is to check the CPU’s socket compatibility and find a motherboard that has the same socket to take in the chip. If not, you either have to re-purchase a compatible mother circuit or exchange the processor with another. In short, the CPU socket is the first compatibility check box that you need to tick otherwise there is no benefit to buying one.

Chipset

You must know that a CPU acts as a brain in a system. Interestingly, a motherboard’s chipset acts in the same way as a processor and allows the various elements to communicate that are connected on the motherboard. It’s a combination of software and silicon-made hardware, embedded into the board’s PCB sheet. In addition, it’s compatible with only a certain CPUs and allows one of them to communicate with the storage, volatile memory, expansion devices, and more.

There are thousands of motherboards with different chipsets. So, which chipset board should a user choose? The selection is quite easy if you know some facts and figures. AMD’s CPUs come compatible with X570, B550, A520, X470, and B450 motherboards while the Intel platform allows the Z590, Z490, H470, B460, Q470, and H410 to work properly. Moreover, each chipset has its own generation or series like the 400 or 500 series and allows the particular processors to work with.

Each chipset has its own benefits like data transfer speeds, several types of connections, overclocking capabilities, and more. Some can overclock the CPU so purchase those if the CPU has an unlocked multiplier. If I simplify the subject, know your budget and go for the latest ones. Moreover, we have added some other factors. So, read the whole post until the end to better get the idea. 

Compatibility inside the PC case

Motherboards come in a variety of sizes and each one has its advantages and specific features. Normally, a bigger board offers more functionalities in terms of connections, power phases, specific ports, and more. At the same time, you need to have a bigger case to accommodate a bigger motherboard. But the key to remember is that a motherboard must have an appropriate size according to the PC case to avoid any type of size-related incompatibility and issues.

There are commonly four motherboard sizes, Extended ATX (eATX), ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX–these have sizes in descending order. Mostly, an ATX mobo will have more SATA ports, M.2 connection, and power phases than the mini-ITX motherboards. So, your requirement matters in this case. If you want o build a compact system, micro-ATX and mini-ITX must be your priority. But if you want to utilize it for high-end purposes, a stronger ATX board must be your priority.

How much RAM it can accommodate?

Whenever someone builds a system, the most asked question is, how much volatile memory is enough. Well, it all depends upon your usage. A system with 4GB RAM is perfect to use for normal tasks like internet surfing, data storing, and other normal uses. In addition, 8GB is a perfect mid-tier memory size to utilize for lighter gaming and content creation. However, 16GB is more than enough to do some high-end content creation or play games at top settings.

I’m sure, you would know these facts but there are some interesting discoveries that you may don’t. There are some specific sockets, DIMMs, to accommodate memory sticks. A motherboard must have at least two slots to accommodate at least 4GB of memory. But if you want to expand the memory, make sure that the motherboard can handle that memory figure. Moreover, you can accommodate 4GB in one slot using one stick but it’s less effective than a pair of 2GB memory modules.

BIOS: What you must know?

BIOS or Basic Input Output System is a small piece of code or software that runs when the computer started and analyzes the PC’s hardware, tests, and then makes the system ready to use. You must ensure that the motherboard has the UEFI BIOS version, not the old ones since it comes with user-friendly improvements, speedier boot-up, a modern user interface, and more. Interestingly, many of the manufacturers add some modern UEFI utilities to help the system overclock better and perform well.

Networking and wireless communication

There is a LAN Ethernet port is given with the motherboard to connect the Ethernet cable and utilize the system for networking. Many boards have dual LAN ports to utilize stronger web connections and establish secure links. The thing to remember is that the board has a modern networking connection like a 10-Gigabit Ethernet porta. In addition, if a board has WiFi and Bluetooth, it becomes great to use these for wireless communications–prefer a board with all these features.

Overclocking

All the important computer elements like CPU, GPU, and volatile memory have base clocks that can go up to a particular boost clock speeds. You must check whether it can handle the overclocking capabilities of those elements and can utilize those to provide peak performance. Make sure that the board has fine CPU speed control, adequate VRM or Voltage Regulator Module, and enough thermal sensors. If a board has all these factors, you’re good to go for it.

Cooling

Motherboard components generate significant heat, especially when running at full pace. To keep them at safe operating temperatures and prevent performance throttling, motherboard manufacturers install a variety of cooling solutions. Those include ranging from passive elements like heat sinks to active ones like small fans or integrated water-cooling systems for the processor. So, before purchasing a mobo, ensure that it has enough to manage the heat and temperature.

Software

Motherboard software lets you manage your computer’s hardware in a way that is easier than ever. They can scan for outdated drivers, automatically monitor temperatures and adjust fan speeds to best suit the user’s needs–all without having an expert on hand. Since good-quality software with an eye-catching user interface is necessary, you must keep this factor in your mind when purchasing a mother circuit.

Audio

Today, motherboard manufacturers are focusing a lot to provide their users best quality sound. It not only suits listening to the music but also plays a key role in effective gameplay. Advanced audio codecs, built-in amplifiers, and enhanced capacitors allow you to get the most out of your onboard sound system. A different channel may also be separated into individual layers on a PCB so that it doesn’t interfere with any other signals being processed by the amp or tuner.

Conclusion

A good-quality motherboard will serve as the foundation whether you are assembling your own PC or just want to upgrade the previous one. Undoubtedly it’s a crucial piece in the system since directly determines overall computer performance and supervises the selection of other elements. Since, its selection is quite tricky plus the market is so crowded, we have decided to write this article. You can get the answer to how to pick a motherboard to make the best decision.

There are some factors that can help you to uncover a perfect mother circuit for you and your PC. You must start with the compatibility between the board and CPU by checking the socket and chipset potential. Then take some time and check whether the board can let you accommodate enough volatile memory according to your usage. Moreover, you must ensure that the mobo is perfect for overclocking, cooling, and audio output, and has an attractive look to match the rig’s construction.

Aleem Iqbal
Aleem Iqbal is a hardcore gamer since childhood. He developed his passion for writing due to gaming. He is a graduate of Virtual University. He started writing about 4 years ago.