What Is A Motherboard? – Complete Guide

If you are a tech enthusiast person, a question that will definitely arise once in your lifetime is: What is a motherboard? So that is what we are going to talk about in today’s blog. Now, the motherboard is the main component of a computer. It is often referred to as the mainboard, main circuit board, Mobo, system board, or a logic board on a Macintosh computer. 

What is A Motherboard?

Typical motherboard is basically a large circuit board that fits into the computer case, and it is where all the other computer important hardware components connect to. So, for example, there is a CPU socket type, the Processor socket is where the CPU or central processing unit is placed. There is memory slot or RAM slots and this is where the primary memory DIMM modules known as RAM memory are inserted, and there are also bus slots or expansion cards and these are used to install various components to add more features to a computer, such as a video card or graphics card, sound card, network card, capture card and so on.

Some Important Components Of Motherboard

The average motherboard contains a lot of small parts with their own specific functionalities, we are discussing few of them here:

Storage Device

There are the SATA connectors, and this is where you would attach your storage devices, like solid-state drives or hard drives or the optical drives. The motherboard will have several of those connectors so that you can attach multiple storage drives. On some modern motherboards, you might find one or more than one NVMe M.2 slot. This is the newer slot for attaching the M.2 solid-state-drive. Also on modern motherboards, you will also find the PCH or platform controller hub, and this hub is the latest motherboard chipset architecture by Intel Corporation which has been replaced by the older architecture. 

PCH

Now in older motherboards, there would be a couple of chips on the motherboard called the chipset. There would be the Northbridge chip and the Southbridge chip, which have different functions. Now the Northbridge, which was located at the northern or upper portion of the motherboard, acts as a middleman between the CPU, PCI express bus, and memory. On the other hand, Southbridge is located at the southern or lower portion of the motherboard, and it was responsible for things like standard PCI slots, SATA connectors, USB ports, and so on.

So, in order for the CPU to communicate with these lower interfaces, it had to go through the Southbridge. But now this architecture has been replaced by the platform controller hub chip or the PCH. In the PCH architecture, the functions of the Northbridge have been largely integrated into the CPU. So, the Northbridge chip has been completely eliminated. The functions of the Southbridge are now done entirely by the platform controller hub chip. 

Now, motherboards come with several input/output interfaces and these interfaces are largely located on the rear input/output panel of the motherboard. For example, the most common interface on a motherboard is a USB port.

USB stands for universal serial bus and motherboards will typically have several USB ports because there are so many different peripherals that utilize the USB interface such as keyboards, microphones, cameras, external drives, external devices, USB devices and printers, audio devices. In addition to connectivity, the USB port also supplies electrical power to that specific device. Now the majority of USB ports are mounted in the rear input/output panel, and some are located on the surface of the motherboard. 

Video Output

Some motherboards will also have a built-in video adapter. This is known as integrated video because the video adapter and the motherboard are essentially one unit. Older motherboards will have either a DVI or VGA port, while modern motherboards will have an HDMI port or a DisplayPort. Now integrated video adapters are not very powerful.

They are good for everyday usage or the normal daily usage with lite applications. But when used for extensive graphics applications such as gaming, they can fall short. This is why a lot of people will bypass the integrated video and add an expansion video card or graphics card that has enough power to suit their needs.

Of the few things that would appear on a rear input/output panel, one of them is the network interface card, and this port is designed for an RJ-45 connector with an Ethernet cable to connect the computer to a network and there is also a sound card and just like the integrated video. If a motherboard has a built-in sound card, it is known as integrated sound. A sound card is what processes audio through the computer speakers. 

Common Form-factor

Now, motherboards come in different shapes and sizes. This is known as a form factor and the most common motherboard and the premium motherboards form factor that is used in PCs today in ATX. ATX stands for advanced technology extended. It was created in the year 1995 and is the standard form factor for today’s PCs. A ATX full-size motherboard is 12 x 9.6 inches. Prior to the ATX was the AT form factor. AT stands for advanced technology. This was used in the year 1980 and was developed by IBM. The AT motherboard is 12 x 13.8 inches in size and is no longer in development, since the succession of ATX. This is an expensive board also.

Another version of the ATX motherboard is the micro ATX. Micro ATX motherboards are smaller than ATX boards as its name suggests, it is a compact form factor. Micro ATX board’s physical size is 9.6 x 9.6 inches. So, it is square designed compared to the standard rectangular design of the ATX. These boards are cheaper than ATX boards and were designed to fit in smaller computer cases. These budget boards have more features and consume less power than an ATX board. 

Do motherboards affect performance or FPS?

Now, let’s talk about the most frequently asked question; Does Motherboard Affect FPS?

Does Motherboard Affect Gaming Performance? Lets answer this!

If you are a gamer, then this question will definitely arise in your mind when you are trying to build a new gaming PC: Does the motherboard affect gaming performance or the fps?

Suppose your PC configuration is Intel Core i3-6600K CPU along with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1050 Graphics card and want to play an AAA title game on that PC in better resolution with decent frame rates. You cannot get the best results. If you want better results, then you should definitely buy a High-End processor with a better graphics card along with a higher frequency DIMM module and you can get better results. 

If the motherboard supports overclocking ability then you can get better performance even from the old-age processor and Graphics card. If you can overclock the entire system: the CPU, the GPU, and the Memory, then you can get better output from that low-end hardware. 

Can A Motherboard Affect FPS?

For a higher frame rate, a Graphics card is the most effective piece of hardware. On the motherboard, the PCI-Express x16 physical slot has been allotted to the graphics card. Previously, the 2.0 PCIe x16 port supported up to 5GHz. Then, the 3.0 PCIe x16 port came and supported up to 8GHz, and now, you will find the latest 4.0 PCIe x16 port which is for the coming future, and the bandwidth is as double as the 3.0 PCIe x16 expansion slot. 

Should I Overclock My CPU

When we are talking about overclocking then the question will strike in your mind that; Should I overclock my CPU? Basically, you don’t need to overclock your CPU. But in some cases, if you want to play very high-end games which are CPU-intensive games or need very high clock speed, then you should overclock the CPU. Always remember, everything has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, don’t push them too much because it will decrease the longevity of the electronic components because overclocking produces a lot of heat and the excessive heat can damage the life span and downgrade the long-term stability.

The fact is that the overclocking output depends on the skill level, experience level, and hardware you use. Once you know how to play with the system settings, you can feel that overclocking really helps the CPU-intensive computation life, and yeah, it is worth it.

What Happens When CPU Overheats?

After overclocking the CPU or the entire system starts to overheat. So, the common question is:  What Happens When Your CPU Overheats? We will be talking about some of the important symptoms of CPU overheating now. First, we have to know how we can check the CPU temperature. The easiest way to check is to install a third-party application that will detect it. The name of the software is Core Temp. You can easily download it from here also. 

Follow these steps after successfully installing the software. Open the application and locate the temperatures of the processors at the bottom of the widget. Then, go to the bottom of the taskbar and select “show hidden icons” to quickly access the temperature readings. It is a user-friendly way to check.

Now let’s talk about the CPU overheating symptoms hereby.

I) Blue Screen Issues: If the CPU overheats then the system might pause and you may face a blue screen suddenly in your ongoing task. Many times there will be an error code also in the blue screen. Don’t ignore it, try to restart your PC or turn it off for some time. 

II) Random Restart: Random restart is one of the most common symptoms of CPU overheating. If the processor’s temperature goes above 80 degrees Celsius or more than that the CPU turns off all the processes automatically to keep the system safe.

How to clean a motherboard?

If you are facing thermal throttling on your desktop computers, it may be due to dust. You need to clean the Desktop PCs and the components to pass the air properly and keep the system cool.

Generally, we take care of our PC after assembling it for a few days, then we just forget about it. The dust sticks into the air vent of the cabinet box, even in the PCH, PCIe expansion slots, RAM slots, CPU cooling fan and all of the remaining heatsinks. This is why the CPU cannot get fresh cool air inside the cabinet box and overheating issues start. 

I) Clean using compressed air:

Now to clean the whole system at first you have to dismantle all of the internal motherboard components like CPU, RAM, Graphics card, and the other wiring cables. After removing the CPU you should cover the CPU Socket otherwise the dust particle can damage the PINs over there.

  • You have to clean the dust particles with the compressed air spray in every corner of the heatsinks.
  • After that you need to clean the Memory module of the motherboard. There is no more curve that is why it is not difficult to clean. Just use the compressed air spray and clean the socket properly.
  • After that you need to come to all of the PCIe slots. You have already removed the graphics card and the sound cards or the network card that was installed there, so now you just have to use the compressed air spray to clean the dust and the grimes. 

II). Clean using isopropyl alcohol:

After cleaning with the compressed air spray, you still find some hard dust that cannot be removed using the compressed air spray, now the isopropyl alcohol comes in to help you. It is user-friendly because it is not the water, it is alcohol and evaporates in just seconds. 

  • Now, go to the curved area where you cannot clean using the compressed air spray. Take a cotton swab and apply the isopropyl alcohol and rub the area properly until the dust is cleaned. 
  • There is thermal paste applied over the CPU so, when you are cleaning all the parts you should clean the old thermal paste using this isopropyl alcohol.

How To Test Motherboard Outside Of A Case

If you test your motherboard outside of your case, then you can make sure that all the parts are working absolutely fine without any struggle. But in case any of the components or parts are not working or they are a defective product or faulty component, then you can simply exchange that even you can replace the board from the motherboard manufacturers.

1. Install the main hardware components: First of all, you have to unbox the motherboard and place it on a piece of cardboard.

  • Now unbox the CPU and place the CPU in the exact CPU socket.  Now you have to apply the thermal paste on the surface of the CPU and then install the stock heatsink and CPU air cooler fan.
  • The next thing you have to do is install the memory sticks on the memory socket and if you have a dedicated graphics card then install it in the PCIe x16 slot.

2. Connect the PSU to the motherboard: Now unbox the power supply unit and connect the 24 pins power connector to the motherboard dedicated power connector port and another part to the PSU itself. Now, the motherboard is ready to receive the power from the PSU but you need to supply the power to the CPU also and for that, you will also find the 8 pin CPU power connector or in some of the high-end motherboard 8+4 pin CPU power connector, connect that to the PSU also. Now, the last thing you have to do is connect the PSU with the main electrical power source or the power connection.

3. Connect the output device: Our main goal is to enter into the BIOS menu. So, first of all, you have to connect the monitor, the keyboard, and the mouse to the motherboard.

4. Jumpstart your motherboard: All modern motherboards come with dedicated power buttons to turn on. But many of the old ones still don’t have the dedicated power on-off switch, in that scenario you have to jump-start your motherboard. 

5. Enter into the BIOS menu: After powering on the motherboard, you will notice that the LEDs are glowing and the screen lights up. Now there will be some instructions on the screen to enter into the BIOS menu, you have to follow that and press that function key.

How Much Should I Spend On A Motherboard

If you are a tech enthusiast, then you have definitely thought of how much should I spend on a motherboard. Because everybody has a limited amount of budget for building the PC. If you spend a lot on other components like processor, graphic card, DIMM module, etc then you don’t have enough money left for a good motherboard.

Now, let’s talk about some of the basic feature that you should consider while buying a motherboard for future proof usage.

  • Now, already the newer generation PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slots are available in the market and many motherboards come with those newer features also. So, you should definitely consider the newer generation 4.0 x16 expansion slots over 3.0 x16, if you have a budget. It will make you future proof.
  • The next item is that now, everybody uses M.2 SSDs so it will be better to have more than one M.2 SSDs slots in your motherboard.
  • If you have a very tight budget then only you should buy two RAM slots motherboard and, in this case, you cannot upgrade the RAM in the future. But the standard option will be to buy a motherboard that has 4 RAM slots.
  • If you are a gamer then you would definitely like to have an RGB LED in your motherboard. In a budget motherboard, there is no option such as. 

Conclusion

Till now, we have known a lot of details about motherboards, like what is a motherboard, and also the form factor details also. Then we also know whether a motherboard affects the performance or not, should you overclock your CPU, what happens when the CPU overheats, how to clean a motherboard, and how much you should spend on a motherboard.

This entire article will help you to make a wise decision while you buy a new motherboard and even how to take care of your motherboard. Also, don’t forget to give your valuable feedback. 

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