Computers 101: An Overall Guide to Understanding and Building Computers: The Motherboard
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Computers 101: An Overall Guide to Understanding and Building Computers: The Motherboard

Learning to install the motherboard.
    This is part two of a series of computer articles designed to supply the average user with enough information to understand their own computer. Before you read any of these articles, it would be a good idea to read the introduction:

      This article consists of three parts. Part one being about components of the motherboard, part two being about installing a standard ATX desktop motherboard, and part three having facts about motherboards. ( It is impractical to try to memorize everything in this article at once. It would be a better idea to bookmark it and come back when necessary. )

      If you are planning on building your own computer, than the first thing you will select is the motherboard; also called the mobo, system board, mainboard, and logic board. The motherboard you plan on purchasing, or already have, will play a role in every other component you can install. Here are some important factors in a motherboard.


  • Chipset - The chipset is one of the most important factors of the motherboard. The northbridge in the chipset decides the kind of RAM you must use, and also decides what kind of CPU you can use. Processors come in families, and only certain families, and sometimes enen only specific cores in those families, can be used by the  northbridge in the chipset. The speed of the FSB ( Front Side Bus ), which the northbridge uses to connect to the CPU, matters too. The southbridge may or may not come with support for Ethernet, FireWire, IDE, RAID, USB, and audio codec, and the mouse and keyboard ( Although the latter two usually connect via either USB or Super I/O ) The southbridge also decides what kind of interface there is for host bus adapters and mass storage devices. A motherboard may or may not have support for Parallel ATA drives, Serial ATA drives and ESATA drives. Many southbridges have a few of both. There is a chance that a motherboard will feature SCSI support, albeit low for a desktop.
  • Main memory slots - A motherboard for a desktop will take either DDR1, DDR2, or DDR3 RAM. All of these are a form of SDRAM, ( Synchronous DRAM ). The motherboard for a desktop will have a limit as to how much main memory it can have, so you should always consider that before you purchase it. You should also consider what kind of DDR the motherboard takes. The larger the number in the name of the RAM is, the faster it is.
  • CPU ( processor ) socket - Also known as the CPU slot. Older motherboards may use a CPU slocket. ( Also known as a slotket. ) This decides what kind of CPU you can get. Here's a link to Wikipedia which lists the different CPU slots and what CPU families they are compatible with:
  • Number of AGP and PCI buses - A motherboard with a PCI-E slot is usually better than one with an AGP slot, because AGP is becoming older and less common. A good motherboard will have plenty of PCI/PCI-E/PCI-X buses. The latter two are faster than the first. Older motherboards may have ISA buses.
  • BIOS - A certain motherboard will have a certain BIOS, and it is is good for a computer enthusiast to get one which has a wealth of options.
  • CMOS - it is good to know where this is on the motherboard, in case there is a requirement for resetting the BIOS, or replacing the CMOS battery.
  • Integrated peripherals - If you want to use a graphics card or sound card, it is good to avoid the corresponding integrated peripheral to save money. If you will not use a video or sound card much, it can be a good idea to free up some PCI buses by getting a motherboard with them integrated.
  • Temperature sensors - It is very important for a newer motherboard to have integrated temperature sensors, as they run very hot. These allow the OS or BIOS to control the fan speeds in the computer accordingly with the temperature of the component it cools. Most modern motherboards have this feature, but some older ones may not.
  • Crossfire - This would only interest users whom need extreme graphic capabilities. Since it is not common for most users, none of these articles will discuss crossfire technology. If you are interested in it, here's a link:         
  • Form factor - Modern motherboards ( for desktops ) come as either ATX, or microATX. This plays a role in what computer case you should purchase. For older motherboards, there is AT, and Baby AT.

      Installation of a motherboard is particularly simple, but you need a compatible case. You will probably need a screwdriver. A flathead is preferable, to reduce the likelihood of damage to the motherboard. Wearing rubber gloves is preferable. It is not exactly necessary, but grease from hands can stick to components and damage them after a long period of time. Here's how to install a motherboard.

  1. Remove the power source of the computer, and touch a metal object or the PSU in order to ground yourself ( discharge static electricity ).
  2. Remove the cover of the computer. This process can vary depending on the type of computer case.
  3. Remove the motherboard tray, if there is one.
  4. Remove any unnecessary objects from within the case.
  5. You may need to install, "standoffs," in the proper locations before aligning the motherboard.
  6. Align the motherboard so that it matches up with an opening in the case there should be for the connectors ( video, PS/2, audio, etc ) . There should be one there. If there is an area with some openings that look like they're designed for the connectors to go through, but they won't align with your motherboard, the piece of metal that they're mad out of should be removable. The motherboard being installed should come with a similar piece of metal designed for it. Remove the old one and install the new one.
  7. Ensure that there are mounting points where the motherboard will be attached to the case.
  8. Insert the motherboard, and fasten it into position
  9. Attach any ATX wires. The manual for the motherboard should inform you were to install them.
  10. Attach the ATX power connector last. You may need to attach more than one. For a standard desktop ATX motherboard, it will require a 20-pin ATX power connector. If it requires a second power connector, it will probably be 4-pin.
  11. Replace the motherboard tray, if there is one.
  12. Close the computer case.


                                                                                    ---###FACTS ABOUT MOTHERBOARDS###--

  • The most common manufacturers are Asus, Intel, Foxconn, XFX, and Gigabyte.
  • Virtually all motherboards have some jumpers used to configure it. Newer motherboards have many jumpers, and incorrect settings on these jumpers can cause components to fail, be destroyed, unstable, or not even boot. Here is a picture of some motherboard jumpers and DIP switches, in that order:
  • Motherboards today are usually IBM-compatible.
  • You should always keep your motherboard manual. It will contain beep codes, how to install it, and much more vital information.

                                                                                                         ---###SOURCES###--- ATX form factor. - SDRAM.

And the same sources from

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Comments (5)

I intend to make a second article about troubleshooting, clocking, underclocking, overclocking, some repairs, and in-depth testing. The motherboard was too complex to squeeze into one article!


NIce work KEEP IT.....................

valuable information on a complex topic

There are many technical factors to consider in bulding a computer system. Of course, you really need to know the basic parts of the computer. However, knowing the parts of the computer is not enough. In fact, you have to take a 2 year course of computer hardware to learn to build a computer sytsem. Thank you so much, keep it up!