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Micro ATX, AMD B450, No, DDR4
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Extended ATX, AMD X399, No, DDR4
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AMD X570, ATX, No, DDR4
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Intel Z270, Micro ATX, No, DDR4
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Page 1 / 18

Motherboards Buying Guide

Many computer owners are unclear about the role or purpose of the motherboard. That is not at all surprising because few people take the time to know precisely how the different gadgets and gizmos they own actually work. However, having a motherboard problem on a computer is a serious dilemma, and is a time to make a point of understanding the motherboard a bit more.


So, what is it? If the CPU of any computer operates as the brain, the motherboard is to be seen as the nervous system. It connects to everything and sends all of the signals from that CPU out into the system, and returns all of the signals received. It is the "spine" into which the CPU, the memory cards, and all of the controllers and cards are held. It is what connects all of those external ports that allow for "plug and play" peripherals, and it is what ensures that the configuration of the entire unit is operable.


Of course, not all motherboards are alike, and the essential difference between them is the type of processor that the device is capable of supporting. Additionally, any motherboard has to be able to support the various "slots" you know you need as well. These can include things like graphics cards, various drives, and all kinds of peripherals. And that is why so many computer savvy people actually choose their motherboard as the last piece when building a computer "from the ground up".


Making Your Choice

To understand the right motherboard for your particular computer means understanding just how much you want from the system. As an example, you might be someone who is really into gaming. This means you need a computer that is fast, has a lot of RAM or memory, and which can handle the complexities of video, graphics, and audio demands from games and websites.


This would mean you have to consider such issues as the amount RAM the motherboard can reasonably except and use; the type of memory it can manage (such as DDR2, or even dual channel RAM such as DDR2 and GDDR3); whether or not it can use the latest video cards; whether there are slots for the necessary peripheral devices; and whether it has onboard video and audio (which can be problematic for advanced gaming).


This is a tremendous amount of stuff to consider, and that often means taking the time to actually write down what you need from the motherboard in order to avoid some secondary issue. For example, if you use a separate graphics card for the gaming, it will often come with additional RAM. This helps to prevent the system from suffering any slow-down and to run cooler. If, however, the motherboard is one with "onboard" or built-in video, you won't need a separate graphics or video card, but you also won't get the same performance. So, don't short change yourself in terms of quality by going for a less costly motherboard with onboard features that won't meet your needs.


Also, keep in mind that you cannot choose any motherboard because it has the list of features you desire. Instead, it all has to begin with finding the motherboard that works with your processor. Always keep in mind that the essential difference between all motherboards is the processors they can support. So, if you are running an AMD Athlon system, be sure that the motherboard is meant to work with this or you will find that the connections just don't integrate.


The same can be said of CPU sockets, which will only plug into specific motherboards. Keeping this in mind as you being the process will save you from wasting time, or even money, on the wrong piece of gear.


Pricing

Clearly, the price is not something that should really dictate your choice, until you have already gone over all that you need. After you have a very clear idea of the types of features and functions, you will be able to identify the pricing categories that are most likely to meet your requirements. Never, choose from those listed in the range you want to pay, unless you understand that the models in that specific group really do have the features you require.


Some of the finest names in computer component manufacturing make motherboards, and you can reasonably anticipate paying a price corresponding to the features available and the performance of the motherboard. The best brands to consider include Asus, Intel, Gigabyte, ASRock, MSI, and Tyan, though there are also many more.


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