A Helpful Guide To Your Motherboard

Hello again, and back to assist you in the next phase of building your custom PC computer. What is the next step in computer construction, you ask? Well it’s the motherboard. In this helpful guide to your motherboard, we will cover everything about motherboards.

Raise your hand if you have any idea of what motherboard means. Because at first I had no clue either when looking for parts or a specific motherboard that is compatible for said computer.

You are in luck because guess what, we’ll be covering more in this helpful guide to your motherboard today. That’s right a mothership…Motherboard I meant motherboard! *awkward cough inserted here* This helpful guide to your motherboard will cover what a motherboard is, what it does, how to look for one, and what pieces work with the motherboard.

MSIB60 MotherBoard

There are many different options and as with the processors in the previous article, it can be a little jarring to see all of those numbers and not really understand what they mean. The absolute agony that is accompanied with finding the right motherboard is not only deciding on the price, but to find a compatible processor, power supply, RAM, Graphics Card and computer case. 

Searching for a motherboard but not exactly sure where to begin is always the first step of a new computer. Trailing behind that would be the processor, but I will leave that for another article! For starters, take a look at possible brands you might be interested in.

Motherboard Brands

  • Acer
  • ACube Systems
  • AMAX Information Technologies
  • AOpen
  • Chassis Plans
  • ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems)
  • First International Computer
  • Foxconn
  • Fujitsu
  • Gumstix
  • Intel
  • Lanner Inc (industrial motherboards)
  • Leadtek
  • LiteOn
  • NZXT
  • PNY Technologies
  • Powercolor
  • Sapphire Technology
  • Shuttle Inc.
  • Simmtronics
  • Supermicro
  • Tyan
  • VIA Technologies
  • Vigor Gaming
  • XFX

But hold up, before getting your heart set on a certain brand name, here is where being sensible comes in handy. Look at the specs first and that will allow for a more thorough idea of what to get for your custom computer.

MSIB60 MotherBoard

CPU BrandIntel
CPU SeriesCeleron,Core i3,Core i5,Core i7,Pentium Gold
Graphic Port TypeDisplayPort; Digital Visual Interface (DVI)
Maximum Memory Supported68719476736 GB
Motherboard Form FactorStandard ATX
Motherboard Memory Speed2.13 MHz
Number Of Memory Slots4
Number Of PCI Express Slots6
Number Of USB Ports6

Covering Each Specification for the MSI B360 Motherboard

This is a small snippet of an MSI B360 gaming motherboard. As you can see, there is quite a bit of things here to look at. Most of this information can be used to determine what specifically to obtain for a motherboard that fits into your next computer. 

Notice that the brand comes from intel even though it is an MSI motherboard. This important fact means if purchasing a processor from intel, there is a high chance it can be compatible with your motherboard.

However, this isn’t 100% true as it could not work or function properly, hence the need to find exactly where it displays the compatibility

This part is key to make sure and to double check the purchase of a processor that fits with the motherboard. I talk more about this in one of my previous articles, A Helpful guide To Your Processor? 

Now please scroll back up to the graph and look to where it says “CPU Series” there are multiple displays that names different sets for CPUs.

Celeron Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Pentium Gold are all processors that work with this motherboard. But how do we know? Well, if we search for mainly intel processors, the socket should be compatible! How do we know?

The easiest way to know if a processor and motherboard fit together, is Intel motherboard to Intel Processor. Even AMD motherboards to AMD processors. This is the safest approach when making sure your motherboard and processor fit together.

This is great because now we know what to choose from. This gives you a variety of processors (Einstein’s) to choose from. Which is fantastic as it can benefit your budget and your wallet or if you want to go rogue and get the absolute best processor out there, then go for it.

As an added benefit on future purchases it will help on what processors to keep an eye out for if that is the motherboard of choice. This helpful guide to your motherboard should illuminate the possibilities in part compatibility to save you time and hopefully money!

Types of Motherboards

Next step is to look for the Form Factor. This essentially means what type of motherboard to choose. It will give a hint into where sockets are placed and how it will sit in the future selected computer case, more on that later.

This is great information as this will allow a more accurate idea as to where cords will be going and how it will sit in the prospect of a new computer case.

Side note, it gets VERY cramped inside your computer case. To prevent that from happening make sure to create the best possible air flow for your system so it doesn’t heat up and lower the computers life span.

Class! Blink three times if Standard ATX does not ring a bell! I’m joking! Sort of, okay no but really.

ATX stands for Advanced Technology Extended motherboard. The ATX layout rotated the CPU and memory 90 degrees, allowing full-length expansions to be plugged into all sockets. The power supply blows air over the CPU rather than pulling air through the chassis.

So knowing this along with the picture of the actual motherboard, there is a method to the madness of how to layout the hardware within the computer case.

Alright, so now the basics and the know how of what processors do and to potentially purchase while somewhat having a semblance of a sane idea of how the motherboard will sit in when choosing a custom PC case. What’s next? 

Motherboards Input/Output System

It’s always important to check the I/O(input and output ports) area on a motherboard to make sure it has the external connection options you’re after, but also check for USB headers on the motherboard. These will allow more added ports from the front-panel connection onto your PC case, or via inexpensive expansion slot brackets at the back.

Here’s a list of the ports for our example motherboard:

  1. Intel Turbo USB 3.1 Gen2 – More up to date USB ports to get faster response times
  2. Intel GAMING LAN – Uses 2 USB ports and an Ethernet port
  3. Gaming Device Port 
  4. High-res DisplayPort – For your monitor 
  5. Golden audio jacks
  6. Gaming heatsinks – For the best cooling and  performance
  7. B360 Chipset – Supports Intel 8th Gen Procoessors
  8. DDR4 Boost – Helps optimize and boost your RAM with these sockets used
  9. Turbo M.2
  10. PCI-E Steel Armor – Protecting Graphics cards against bending
  11. Audio Boost 

With all these different types of USB outputs there will be another article addressing this as there is a bit to talk about on this subject.

I just want to be blunt and plainspoken as possible as to what motherboards have and what to expect when purchasing your first motherboard!

 Here is where to wake up! If needed please smack your cheek a few times to wake yourself from the induced coma of information overload! I’ll wait…

The main USB port I wanted to address was the HDMI / DisplayPort or video out. When taking into consideration on building your custom PC, some motherboards actually come with integrated graphics already so there might not be a necessary need for a graphics card saving you a couple 100$! 

But this is if you don’t plan on running your computer ragged with consistent gameplay. It is recommended if planning on using more of your computer for things such as storage space or just a simple hub for information.

Speaking of storage space, the next thing to think about is memory space now.

How RAM effects the Motherboard

Memory or better known as RAM(Random Access Memory) is equally as important when looking at computer specs.

For example, better RAM means faster processing speed. With faster RAM, this increases the speed at which memory transfers information to the other components in the computer.

Meaning, that processor now has an equally fast way of talking to the other components, making your computer much more efficient.

For more information about RAM check out my article what is RAM or How much Ram does your Computer need? In those articles I explain more in detail what RAM is, how it effects your computer and why its important!

Knowing that RAM supports the process of your computer speaking between parts is great but another important thing to look at is the number of memory slots available to us in the above diagram.

Here we see 4 which indicates the number of RAM sticks that we can insert into the motherboard. For example, when considering to get a 16GB worth of RAM for your computer, it would come in the form of 4GB per RAM stick.

Generally, the more RAM means faster computer right? Wrong. It allows the computer to just multi task better further supporting a processor and giving the computer much more flexibility.

In essence, it does slightly increase its performance but only in the aspect of doing multiple things on your computer.

It could be something as simple as accessing a random web page, using youtube, on facebook and looking through your files for that cute family picture you took all at the same time while not hindering the computers load speeds.

So that’s it right? Now that our brain child is forming and having taken all the steps needed when deciding on a motherboard and what to look for. You are right, now that the harder processes have been thoroughly doused into your brain cells, now comes the easy part. 

There’s still more in this helpful guide to your motherboard. I know, I know hold back the groan of despair and bear with me. It’s worth it I promise.

Properly Powering the Motherboard

There’s another part to find, a PSU (Power Supply Unit) that not only fits our computer case, but effectively powers up the system properly.

It is crucial part that if not equipped properly our beautiful brain baby could just zap itself into oblivion. Not really but you get the point, it will just spark the computer due to a small power surge.

Mainly forcing more power onto the computer that it can handle and makes the hardware unusable. So let’s avoid doing that.

There are a few questions that arise when first making the decision of purchasing power supplies and what motherboards generally can handle.

Here and now is the never ending learning process about PCU’s and motherboards along with a few most asked about questions on purchasing products:

  • How much wattage does your PC need to run?
  • Size of power supply(PSU) that will fit your computer case
  • Is is compatible with your motherboard?

thing to know about the general amount of wattage a typical gaming computer runs off of. On average, a gaming computer can handle is between 450W – 600W.

So when thinking about the power supply, more than likely wanting to be in that range, probably leaning more toward the higher end just to power a computer that’s going to be a gaming system from the get-go. This would mean sitting in the range of 500-550W.  

 Stay plugged in and bear with me, we are almost done!

Things could get messy if the power supply doesn’t fit in your computer case. Lucky for us the majority of PSUs will fit most cases. The ones that could be issues are power supplies that reach over 1000W.

Those may be longer than a standard PSU. Another issue would be in a micro tower, or slim case. If you stick to a normal computer tower case, anything you pick will be fine.

My recommendation is to first research possible power supplies and then come up with a plan for your computer case. Generally, power supplies will fit your custom PC case, but its always good to be sure before making the final decision. 

Finally, making sure the pins match your motherboard to power it. Most power supplies are compatible with a majority of motherboards. But again, better safe than sorry.

To check this, just make sure the cables that come from the power supply also fit the number of pins in your motherboard.

The Motherboards Graphics

The last part to the puzzle is the graphics card. Part of the motherboards super power is producing simple graphic images on your monitor. However, the super power doesn’t come directly from the motherboard, but rather the support it gives to the graphics card. The graphics card produces high quality graphic images on your monitor. This is like the spray paint and the finishing gloss on a new Lamborghini. *Drool face emoji insert here*

As a fellow gamer, the majority of PC gamers LOVE to talk about and gaze on the glory of the top graphics cards to date. It could even be considered as the motherboards super power to give your gaming experience the great visual performance it encompasses.

Not only are they a great piece of hardware, but the results are more than worth it when spending over 1k$ for a piece of your computer is just mind blowing. It is an astronomical difference comparing it to a cheaper graphics card. These are by far the easiest to choose as they are pretty explanatory when searching for one.

The only thing to look for when deciding what graphics card you want is, does it work with the motherboard? As the specs will reveal more about the motherboard, so the same concept applies when looking for a graphics card. As with this helpful guide to your motherboard, I also cover more on graphics card in another article, a helpful guide to your graphics card.

The main feature to keep an eye on is the graphics card and make 100% sure it can fit in your computer case.

A majority of graphics cards will fit into your computer case however the are a few exceptions depending on the size of the computer case that was chosen.

Final Thoughts

These guides such as this one “A helpful guide to your motherboard” are. here to give you the best information possible on these parts to help you make an informed decision. It is difficult to go out and choose parts randomly, but if you know how they work and what they do. It might give you a better outlook on each of them when you go to make that $2000 purchase!

With technology ever evolving, your options become larger by the day making your experience with building your first PC much more enjoyable. 

There are cases I have seen where someone purchases all the computer components, they receive them and as they are putting it together the graphics card is too large! Same as with the PSU or power supply, definitely stay on the lookout for that.

Alright, well those are the essentials for things that you need to know when considering what motherboard to purchase. Again, thank you everyone for sticking it out and giving a helpful guide to your motherboard a look through.

I hope I helped you get a more clear vision about what is a motherboard and how to choose one for yourself.