Learning About Motherboards
Motherboards are responsible for connecting the various electronic components of computer systems. Also called a mainboard or logic board, it's the connective framework of a PC. It enables the interoperation of the central processing unit (CPU), memory (RAM), storage device, and peripherals.
What Is a Motherboard?
This printed circuit serves as the communication backbone of a computer system. All computing devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, have motherboards. However, the ones found in desktop PCs are the easiest to repair and replace. System builders refer to these when talking about the components required in building custom PCs.
Types of Motherboards
There are three motherboard form factors for desktop PCs. The largest is the ATX motherboard. In addition to being physically bigger than the others, it also offers more expansion slots. A micro-ATX (mATX) is 2.4 inches shorter, while a mini-ITX unit is significantly smaller. Choose a mini-ITX to build a small desktop PC. Besides sockets for a processor, computer memory RAM, and storage, this form factor usually only has one expansion slot.
The Best AM4 Motherboard for You
The sockets and chipset on a motherboard are the two key features when considering compatible processors and RAM units. For system memory, look for a motherboard with the right DIMM slots. For fast memory, choose a DDR4 gigabyte motherboard over one with slots for DDR3 RAM units.
Each logic board has a socket that fits a specific family of CPU processors and slots for one or more DDRAM modules. The chipset is the board's interface between the processor, RAM, and connected peripherals. If you opt for an Intel Core, Celeron, or Pentium processor, you'll need one with an LGA 1151 socket. This slot is for 6th, 7th, and 8th-generation processors. However, not every LGA 1151 motherboard will work with chips in these generations. For example, only those with 300-series chipsets are compatible with 8th-gen Intel processors. The most popular socket for AMD processors is the AM4 socket.
Motherboards for High-End PCs
Most high-end PCs use the full-sized ATX or smaller mATX model. The ATX form factor has room for more components. For example, some ATX boards have eight RAM slots, while mATX units usually top out at four. If you're shopping for gaming and VR motherboards, find ones that support overclocking and have large heat sinks.
For those building high-end gaming PCs, it's best to look for a motherboard that supports the most powerful CPUs. If you have an Intel Core X processor, you'll need a gaming motherboard with an LGA 2066 socket. A mainboard with a TR4 socket fits an AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU.
Consider size and chipset as well as available slots and sockets when looking to buy motherboards. Check out the large inventory of motherboards and other desktop PC components at B&H Photo and Video to find everything you need to build a fast and powerful custom PC.