Best Motherboard Buying Guide: Where to start

Which motherboard to choose, sometimes, can be a real pain, since the motherboard is the intermediary of all components of the computer, and is the one that guarantees its functionality.

The type of socket the PCI express ports, HDMI outputs, VGA, USB 3.0 ports, the motherboard is a fundamental and key component of every computer, sometimes, trying to save some money on this aspect can cause incompatibility problems in the present and future, so we advise you to be very careful so that you won’t have any regrets when choosing a motherboard for your PC.

What should you consider when choosing a motherboard? We’ll explain:

1. The processor and our motherboard

As we already mentioned in this article, you can’t use a socket 1155 processor with a motherboard compatible with 1150 processors. So, the socket of the motherboard should match the processor’s.

But… what is the socket? easy, it is the slot where the processor is “attached”. With Intel, 1155 or 1150 are the number of pins the processor has.

We highly recommend that when you choose a processor and a motherboard you check all the compatible processors on the manufacturer’s website and their power consumption. We’ve seen problems with AM3 socket motherboards more than once, why? Because there are more powerful processors that, some motherboards don’t support, it happens a lot with cheap motherboards and FX 8320 or superior processors or with FM2 and FM2+ motherboards.

If the manufacturer says its compatible with our processor, perfect, let’s move on to the next point.

2. RAM and our motherboard

As we see in the article about RAM, there are several types, DDR and DDR2 (old) and DDR3 (current). They go from 1 GB up to 16 (individual). Therefore, make sure before you buy the motherboard that it supports at least 8 GB of ram, and if it’s compatible with dual channel.

But actually, the type of memory and the capacity is not relevant when buying a motherboard since they are usually all compatible. Remember that for games you need 8 GB, while for working or editing you will need at least 16 GB.

The important aspects are the frequency and the latency of the RAM and here is where most people get confused, in the article about RAM we explain each one and their differences. When buying a motherboard make sure that its compatible, for example with 2133 MHz RAM. If your motherboard isn’t compatible with this RAM and it’s the one you have, the computer will usually bring them down to 1600 MHz, but in some cases it won’t even boot, so be very careful.

3. The graphics card and our motherboard

The trickiest issue, since many manufacturers do not give information about it and there are many possible incompatibilities between the motherboard and the graphics card.

Normally all graphics cards are compatible, whether they have PCI E 3.0 or not. But if the graphics card needs extra power (not just from the PCI) and the processor is also powerful, it often happens that the motherboard can not handle it all and, even if the supply has enough power, the motherboard can cause the computer to shut down (this happened to us with a cheap ASROCK model for the AM3+ socket and with a Gigabyte).

If you have any doubts about your motherboard and can’t find any info on the manufacturer’s website, you can consult us by leaving a comment.

4. The size and our motherboard

Each motherboard is different, and the different sizes are proof of it. There are several sizes, each one focused on a different audience:

It is not the same to build a pc in the living room to play movies that a powerful computer to play the latests video games. The first must be compact and quiet, while the second will have other priorities such as the number of graphics cards or power phases.

These are the sizes that we can find for our motherboard:

ATX Motherboards: These are standard motherboards, with a size of 30.5 × 24.4 cm. They usually allow you to incorporate 4 ram memory modules, as well as several PCI and PCI express ports.

Micro ATX Motherboards: These are hybrids between standard and compact motherboards. There models have the same features as ATX motherboards. 24 × 24 cm.

Mini-ITX Motherboards: These are the most compact motherboards in existence, usually they have only one PCI slot and 2 ram modules, but it’s size is 17x17cm, compact and manageable.

Other types: Such as extend-atx, among others, these are dedicated to server or industrial purposes.

5. The chipset and our motherboard

Gigabyte Z170X-GAMING 3 On our motherboard, one factor you need to keep in mind is the chipset. Technically speaking the chipset is a set of circuits designed around the processor architecture. This means that depending on the chipset of our motherboard, we will have different results with the performance of our PC. If you want to build a basic computer, the motherboard chipset will not influence much, since if you are not going to overclock or use multiple graphics cards, it is foolish to invest a lot of money on a better chipset.

What advantages does a motherboard with a superior chipset have? Very simple, first and foremost more RAM memory, even if you have a memory of 2400Mhz, if your motherboard is not able to move 1600, a bottleneck is generated. As we have said before, it also influences when overclocking (getting more frequency) or when using multi GPU technology.

In conclusion, the chipset is something we have to consider in our motherboard if we want to build a gaming PC, because you will usually want to use RAM more frequently and overclock the processor for higher performance.

6. Your needs define the motherboard

There are motherboards with features that, depending on the user may be essential, provided you are aware of the use your computer will receive.

Here is a list of features that you should keep in mind when purchasing the motherboard.

  • 2 PCI Express Slots: In order to incorporate two graphics cards using Sli or Crossfire, this aspect is important depending on the future use that you plan to give to your motherboard.
  • 4 inputs for RAM: Fundamental in any ATX-sized motherboard, to take full advantage of the dual-channel, both now and in the future, and have ample possibilities for expansion.
  • USB 3.0 connection: If the front of your case has 3.0 ports, make the most of them, also mind how many integrated ports the motherboard has.
  • Video Outputs: If you are going to use an APU you may need HDMI or DVI output, check carefully the motherboard.
  • Sound outputs: There are motherboard with very powerful sound cards integrated.
  • Wi-Fi Receiver: If you do not want to depend on an external USB, there are motherboards with this built-in function.

Conclusion

In conclusion, make sure that the motherboard is compatible with your processor, since it is the one with the highest risk of breaking, because the pins are delicate.

Also make sure that the motherboard is compatible with the frequency of your RAM (the standard is 1600 MHz) and with your graphics card, investigate.

Finally, anticipate your, basic needs (to call them somehow), USB ports, video outputs and more to avoid last-minute emergencies, like an APU with a motherboard without VGA, DVI or HDMI output… no comments. By following these guidelines you will be closer to getting the most out of your computer.

Read More:
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