The motherboard is the most critical component of a computer since it controls what upgrades are feasible in the future. Choosing the best motherboard is, in many ways, the essential part of your PC design, even if the best graphics card and CPU are typically given more thought. Every PC component can connect to your motherboard of choice. Before making a purchase, take into account the following criteria. I demonstrate how to choose a motherboard and how they work in this post.
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It makes it logical to start with the CPU and GPU, as they impact the PC’s performance the most. Additionally, a motherboard could significantly impact things like connection, performance, and communications. Before making a motherboard purchase, let’s examine some of the crucial elements.
What is a Motherboard?
A motherboard is a printed circuit board that has several connections for parts, including the central processing unit, graphics processing unit, memory, and storage. It also serves as a kind of communication hub for many factors. The only components you often purchase for yourself are the motherboards that hold everything together in most modern devices, including phones, laptops, and desktop PCs.
When selecting a motherboard, be sure it will meet your needs today and in the future. If you are sure you won’t ever want to customize your PC beyond its basic setup, you could choose a motherboard containing everything you need to get started. Check to verify whether your motherboard can support your increasing demands, however, if you want to extend your PC in the future. But below, I’ll discuss a few of these specifics essential to your purchase choice.
How to Choose a Motherboard? Are Expansion Slots Needed?
Any motherboard has expansion slots. However, the number and kind vary:
When considering a motherboard purchase, you should consider how many SATA ports you’ll need. Each SATA port supports the connection of storage devices, including SSDs, HDDs, and optical discs. Determining if your motherboard supports SATA 3.0, often known as the SATA 6 GB standard, and whether it has all of the SATA ports necessary for each drive is essential. Peripheral connections, such as USB 3.0, may also be required.
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A PCI slot is a physical port on the motherboard. They have historically evolved into the typical sort of expansion slot and enable the connection of expansion cards. Depending on how you want to use your computer, you should consider if your motherboard contains the spaces you’ll need. You will need many speedy PCI Express x16 slots if you want to connect many cards. Motherboards also feature more miniature PCI-express connectors for extra cards, such as sound cards, Wi-Fi adapters, and other connectivity extensions.
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Find out how many expansion slots are needed before purchasing a motherboard. Currently, there are only two varieties that are widely used: the shorter PCIe x1 slot, which is usually used for USB and SATA extensions, and the larger PCIe x16 slot, which is designed for graphics cards, RAID cards, and very rapid PCIe storage like Intel’s Optane 905 SSD.
If you want to add a single graphics card, a few SATA/M.2 storage, and perhaps a video capture or sound card, most ATX or Micro-ATX boards should function well. However, remember that the most recent versions of the X570 and B550 motherboards also enable PCIe 4.0, as opposed to the 3.0 that served as the industry standard for the last several years.
PCIe 4.0 theoretically doubles the helpful bandwidth of every PCIe channel. Beyond PCIe 4.0 SSDs, most devices haven’t yet accepted PCIe 4.0 entirely. Therefore, think of it as a type of board future-proofing. Each of your components must share a certain amount of HSIO lanes and PCIe lanes, regardless of how many physical slots you have.
How to Choose a Motherboard Additional Factors
After choosing the sort of motherboard required to create your PC or serve as the foundation for the pre-built PC you’ll be buying, you should consider the motherboard manufacturer. While some companies focus on more standard systems, others specialize in producing motherboards for gamers with space for GPU expansion and LED lighting systems.
Well-known motherboard manufacturers include ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock. I advise you to place more emphasis on performance than the brand name.
The first decision could be between Intel and AMD for the CPU that will serve as the computer’s brain. Both firms offer CPUs from entry-level models for online browsing, efficiency, and low-end gaming to powerful computers that can edit video and play the most demanding games at high frame rates (FPS). The goods of both companies are constantly being updated. Therefore this information could soon become antiquated.
The Zen 4 architecture is expected to be released in the autumn of 2022; when this guide was produced, AMD was using Zen 3, and Intel was utilizing CPUs from its eleventh generation. In contrast to the 12th generation Alder Lake, AMD CPUs were more popular in the past for applications that benefitted from several processing cores. In terms of performance, Intel has resumed first place. However, Zen 4 aims to surpass Intel’s current edge since it employs a more compact construction technique than AMD’s prior architecture.
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The physical dimensions, mounting hole positions, and other motherboard characteristics are defined by its form factor, affecting how well it fits into a given chassis. The ATX form factor, also known as full ATX, or the microATX form factor, also known as ATX, is used in the great majority of computers created after 1995.
An ATX motherboard only fits an ATX case; a microATX motherboard fits either an ATX or a microATX case. Upgrading the motherboard is as easy as removing the old one and replacing it with the new one if your existing case is compatible with ATX or microATX motherboards and has a suitable power supply.
Unfortunately, specific systems, exceptionally low-cost, mass-market models, employ proprietary, non-standard motherboards and power supplies. If the motherboard in such a system malfunctions, the system is essentially worthless and should be thrown out. The motherboard and casing are unusable, but you may be able to rescue the CPU, RAM, disks, and other peripherals.
Connectors on the motherboard and within the case connect specific case ports and other internal and external components. Before installing any more features, you should consider the ports your case can support and ensure your motherboard has the required internal connections.
These connections include various onboard headers for enabling fan functionality, external USB ports, and different specialized components produced by specific manufacturers. You should pay special attention to this when you pick the parts for your new computer since you need to know how your motherboard is connected.
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Your device may include several USB ports, which necessitates the use of multiple internal USB headers. Some water cooling systems also need particular titles to connect to the software that controls the lighting and temperature sensors. You must make sure that the motherboard has all of the necessary headers to accommodate all of these additional components. As your new PC becomes more sophisticated, you’ll need to study your motherboard possibilities further.
This kind of memory is known as random access memory (RAM), which comes in various sizes. To a large extent, the kind and quantity of random access memory (RAM) you may have is determined by the motherboard you choose. Because of this, even if you have the option to utilize this memory at a later time, experts still recommend that you purchase a motherboard that is capable of supporting at least 16 GB of memory even though you have the opportunity to use it later.
In addition, you should look for a motherboard with at least four memory slots. Because of this, you may begin by adding two RAM modules, and there will still be space for more memory upgrades in the future.
Choose the Right Chipset
The motherboard’s integrated chipset, which supports particular CPU versions, is made of silicon. It transmits data between the CPU and the many linked expansion and storage devices.
The motherboard’s various buses are managed by the chipset, including extra PCIe lanes, storage devices, external ports like USB slots, and many peripherals. The CPU connects directly to RAM (through its built-in memory controller) and a small number of PCIe* lanes (extension slots).
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In addition to having more USB ports and PCIe slots than conventional chipsets, higher-end chipsets may also include newer hardware configurations and alternative PCIe slot distributions (with more links directly to the CPU).
Many other businesses, like VIA and SiS, provide AMD and Intel CPUs chipsets. However, I have discovered that the performance and compatibility of these substitute chipsets fall short. The price difference between motherboards using Intel and NVIDIA chipsets and those using other chipsets is marginal, yet it is worth it.
Choose the Correct Manufacturer
In terms of motherboard quality, manufacturers create a wide range of products. Some producers, such as Intel and ASUS, solely make top-notch motherboards. Experts highly advise using Intel or ASUS motherboards for Intel processors and ASUS motherboards for AMD processors (for this reason). Some motherboards other manufacturers make are high quality, while others aren’t as good. Still, some producers merely create garbage.
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What is the Premium Price Limit for a Motherboard?
Price ranges for quality motherboards that handle HEDT (High-End Desktop) CPUs like Core X and Threadripper vary from under $100 (£772) for entry-level models to over $1000 (£772). Here is an overview of what each pricing level offers:
Up to $100/£80: Even the expensive, last-generation X370 chipset is available in overclockable boards for AMD processors in this price range. Although this may change with Intel’s future B560 and H570 boards, you are limited to stock speeds with Intel. Although Wi-Fi-equipped motherboards often start over $80/£60, you may acquire various features, including onboard Wi-Fi, depending on sale pricing.
Sub $150/£140: Overclocking requires Intel’s Z490 and chipset boards, which start at the bottom end of this spectrum. You will also see an increase in AMD motherboards equipped with high-end chipsets (X570) and premium features like Wi-Fi and RGB lighting.
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$200/£180+: Before Z490 and X570, this was the genuine pricing range for mainstream platforms. It is where you’d find the most significant board components, big heatsinks that were frequently quite stylish, and I/O covers meant to offer a smooth and premium-looking appearance. Extreme overclocking options, often unnecessary for mainstream builders, are commonly included in basic feature sets.
The genuinely premium motherboards start at approximately $250 and above, and they support more modern chipsets like as Z490 and Z590.
In this price range, you may also buy HEDT motherboards, designed to accommodate CPUs with a very high core count (Intel Core X and AMD Threadripper). Specifically, Threadripper motherboards are priced at roughly $300 (£250).
In conclusion, the motherboard is an essential part of your computer. Ensure enough time to search for anything that satisfies your needs and budget. It will provide a strong motherboard that will keep your system running well for many years. Whether you’re planning your next PC or replacing your existing one, this article will help you that how to choose a motherboard by letting you know which components of your motherboard are crucial.
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If you take the time to compare the critical advantages of many compatible motherboards before selecting one, you should be able to find what you’re searching for. After deciding on the motherboard that will be used to construct your own computer or the pre-built one you’ll buy, you should consider the manufacturer. Some companies specialize in producing motherboards with space for LED illumination and GPU expansion.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose a motherboard for gaming?
When picking a motherboard for your gaming computer, you also need to make sure that the RAM modules you choose will work with it. Check the following to see if your motherboard and RAM work together: The type of RAM (DDR4 or DDR5) must be supported by the motherboard. By “RAM type,” I mean the general type of RAM.
What determines how good a motherboard is?
What makes a motherboard good or bad is a mix of features and specs, and that depends on your needs and budget. But in general, a motherboard’s quality is determined by its chipset, number of PCIe lanes and their version, VRM design, USB ports and their version, and various other bells and whistles.
How do I choose a motherboard to upgrade?
Platform. Maybe the first thing you should decide is which CPU you want to be the brains of your PC. There are two companies, Intel and AMD, that make CPUs.
Options for Adding to the Motherboard
Putting your GPUs together
Which brand of motherboard is the best?
Here are some of the best brands of gaming motherboards.
Does an expensive motherboard make a difference?
For this reason, more expensive motherboards will have more phases of power delivery and better cooling for the VRMs on the board that control the voltage to the CPU. As a result, motherboards that cost more are better for people who want the best performance from their parts.
Will a better motherboard increase FPS?
No, Motherboards don’t have a big effect on your FPS in any way. But your graphics card and processor will be affected by how well your motherboard works. Most people will say that you need a good motherboard to play games well, but that is not true.
How much should I spend on a motherboard?
The price of a motherboard can range from $50 to $1500. Now, spending $1500 is more than just too much unless you have very specific needs. Most of the time, a motherboard would cost between $100 and $200. This usually costs about 10% of your total budget for building a PC.
What are the 5 different types of motherboards?
Different kinds of mother boards
Pico BTX motherboard