Additional Information for Motherboards
The motherboard is the overall controlling board of your computer and manages all components and connected peripherals in conjunction with the CPU. Your computers motherboard is probably the largest physical component, after the case in your computer system. The processor (also known as CPU) is mounted on your PCs motherboard and a fan is then installed on top of this, quite often via holes through the mainboard.
Motherboard Expansion Cards
Videocards, sound cards and other expansion devices are installed using slots on the mainboard. The number of expansion slots, and types on offer vary based on the physical size of the motherboard and its intended use. For example a low end desktop board may be physically smaller and lack a PCI-Ex16 slot and as a result will not be able to run a higher end, non-onboard videocard. The best gaming motherboards intended for running multiple video cards using SLI or Crossfire generally have two or more PCI Express card slots, allowing gamers to utilise multiple graphic cards simultaneously.
Memory is installed in banks, ranging from two, four, six, eight or more slots. Memory slots are often numbered and when installing memory on your new motherboard care must be taken to use the correct slots otherwise the newly built system may not boot. Refer to the motherboard manual or driver DVD for documentation when installing memory. Your motherboard may have dual channel or triple channel memory and this should also be taken into account when installing your system memory.
Selecting a motherboard with more memory slots than memory initially installed allows you to upgrade late simply by installing additional memory. When shopping for a motherboard upgrade such as memory it is important to confirm the specifications prior to purchasing. Your mainboard will have DDR memory but you will need to clarify if it is DDR2 or DDR3 before buying extra. Memory speed may also play a factor in your selection, either due to motherboard specifications, existing memory speed or overclocking considerations.
Intel and AMD Motherboards and Chipsets *see below
Intel and AMD are really the only brands of processors consumers select from in 2012. Intel and AMD produce motherboard northbridge and southbridge chipsets for their own processors. Intel also product motherboards for retail channel sales. Beside this Intel and AMD allow many other brands to manufacture motherboards for their processors using their motherboard chipsets. Along with Intel, ASUS and Gigabyte the two main competing motherboard manufactures. There are a number of other brands, but they do not have the popularity of the two giants. Higher end ASUS gaming motherboards are well regarded in performance and over clocking circles for their speed and tweakability. Lower end Gigabyte main boards provide excellent price to performance.
Motherboard Form Factors
There are a number of motherboard form factors, the main two are standard ATX, or simply ATX and microATX, or MATX. A third size, ITX/mini ITX is a popular size in some niches. ITX boards can have built in processors and are very compact, low power and offer a small footprint.
Your choice is primarily between ATX and MATX, and generally this comes down to size. If you have a larger case you can opt for a straight up ATX motherboard, or if price is a consideration, MATX as these boards are generally cheaper. If you have a smaller case, possibly for an HTPC, then you choices will be limited to micro ATX motherboards.
Onboard Motherboard Options
Most motherboards have built in ports – USB, eSATA, audio and network are typically provided on all modern motherboards, please check before purchasing. Other available onboard features include video, firewire and extra proprietary ports. The number of USB ports can vary from 4 to a lot (8-12) and from early 2012 USB 3.0 is starting to become standard.
In the past onboard audio and video has been frowned upon as badly performing and low quality. In recent years this is becoming less true, especially for simple non-gaming desktop use. Onboard display adapters can provide VGA, DVI, HDMI and displayport output, covering most spectrums of use.
Recent Progression of AMD Motherboard Chipsets
AMD 870(2010), AMD880G(Late 2010), AMD 890GX (Mid 2010), AMD 890GX (Mid 2010), AMD 970, AMD 990X, AMD 990FX supporting Phenom II, Athlon 64 and Sempron processors.
Recent Progression of Intel Motherboard Chipsets
Intel H55 (Jan 2010, Socket LGA 1366), Intel H57 (Jan 2010, Socket LGA 1156), Intel Q57 (Jan 2010, Socket LGA 1156), Intel H61 (Feb 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel P67 (Jan 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel H67 (Jan 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel Z68 (May 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel Q68 (Feb 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel Q65 (Mid 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel B65 (Feb 2011, Socket LGA 1155), Intel X79 (Feb 2011, Socket LGA 2011), Intel Z77 (April 2012, Socket LGA 1155), Intel Z75 (April 2012, Socket LGA 1155), Intel H77 (April 2012, Socket LGA 1155), Intel Q77 (May 2012, Socket LGA 1155), Intel Q75 (May 2012, Socket LGA 1155), Intel B75 (May 2012, Socket LGA 1155). Varied support for Pentium Dual Core, Celeron, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 processors.