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How To Select The Best Motherboard

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When You Build Your Own Computer, You Need to Use the Best Motherboard

What is a motherboard? Where do you get the best motherboard? Use motherboard reviews and recommendations to build your own computer but make sure that you invest in quality (the 'mobo' is a key component of your system).

In order to get the best performance motherboard you can, it's important to consider what you need in a computer.

If the CPU is the brains of the computer, then you can consider the motherboard to be the nervous system.

It is the main connection point for all other components in the system; and therefore needs to be consistently performing.

There are a few things that you should take into consideration when selecting the right 'mobo' for your computer; these are highlighted below.

And then, for better understanding of its importance to your system, we'll take a look at just what is a motherboard.


The Motherboard Connects to the ...

    socket 775 motherboard, best motherboard

  • CPU - The Processor
  • Motherboard's Socket
  • Chipset
  • Bus Speed
  • System Memory
  • Peripherals


Check out a Motherboard diagram...


Best Motherboards and Selecting Your CPU

cpu, cpu architectureThe first thing to consider when selecting the motherboard for your computer is which CPU you will be using. Intel and AMD CPUs both require different motherboards. This is because of the socket type that each CPU uses.

You also need to keep in mind the processor speed. You will have to make sure that your motherboard supports the CPU you have selected. When you purchase a motherboard make sure you take note which processors the motherboard supports (this is even more important if you replace motherboard in an existing computer build; i.e. you don't replace other parts - just the motherboard).

Learn More About CPUs...


Best Motherboards and Sockets

motherboard socketThere are quite a few different socket types that are in use today and it can get somewhat confusing. I have outlined which sockets go with which CPU. It is important that you match up your motherboard with the correct CPU (often they are sold as CPU Motherboard combos or bundles).

It used to be that all processors had the same number of pins and would fit nicely into the motherboard's socket. As CPUs advance however, they need more and more pins, both for new features, and to provide more power to the CPU. The latest processors are getting away from pins on the CPU, and are putting them on the socket itself. This allows for easier installation; simply place the CPU on the pins in the right orientation, lock it down, and you're good to go.

Learn More About Sockets...

The socket allows the CPU to communicate with other components of the motherboard through the…


Best Motherboards and Chipsets

intel chipset

The chipset is what controls all the communication between the CPU, the computer's memory, and the local bus (not the big yellow kind). A fast chipset is what allows efficient data transfers, and advanced power management features. It's not something you want to skimp on, but here again, a lot is driven by the CPU you select.

The chipset consists of 2 major parts. The northbridge and the southbridge.

The northbridge connects to the processor through what is called the Front Side Bus (FSB). This allows the CPU to communicate with the system RAM, AGP slot (for older graphics cards) and the PCI-E slot for newer graphics cards. The northbridge also allows the CPU to communicate with the southbridge.

The southbridge, being that it is further from the CPU than the northbridge, is slower. It handles communications to components such the USB ports, the SATA connections, and the PCI slots.

Learn More About Chipsets...


Bus Speed

circuit boardThe bus is simply a circuit that connects one part of the motherboard to another. Bus speed is measured in MHz, and it determines the speed at which the components communicate, and how much data can move across the bus.

The one we are concerned with here is the Front Side Bus. It is the circuit that connects the CPU to the northbridge.

FSB speeds currently range from 166 to 1666 MHz. The higher the better, but also the more expensive your motherboard will be. This is an important part of selecting the right motherboard for your computer, as the FSB will affect the computer's performance. The faster the bus speed, the faster your computer will operate, to a point. Keep in mind that generally, the computer will operate at the speed of the slowest component.



Computer MemoryI have a whole section devoted to memory, but wanted to touch on it briefly, as it will affect your motherboard decision. You should decide how much memory you want in your system.

Keep in mind that the 32 bit versions of Windows XP, Vista and 2007 can only handle up to 4GB (for some systems it seems to be less: 3.5 GB) of memory. The 64 bit versions however, can technically handle up to 16 Exabytes of RAM (that's 1,000,000,000 GB), but motherboards usually will restrict you to 32GB.

For most of today's computers, 4GB of RAM will be more than enough unless you are a gamer, or work a lot with video and graphics editing. When selecting the motherboard for your computer, keep in mind that all motherboards today will come with at least 2 memory slots, most with 4. If you are going to use more than 2GB of RAM, then you want to make sure you have 4 slots on the board you select.

Learn More About Memory...

Best Motherboard: Peripherals

Computer KeyboardThe number and type of peripherals that you need to connect to your PC should also be taken into account. Most peripherals today connect through USB ports, and they can add up quickly. Once you hook in your Keyboard, Mouse, and Printer, you have already used up 3 of the USB slots.

Most motherboards will come with at least 4 USB slots on the back panel and will usually have at least 2 more that will connect to the USB ports on the computer case. If you are adding different cards to your computer, such as a sound card, graphics card, or wireless network card, make sure you have enough PCI slots onboard. When selecting the right/best motherboard for your computer, keep in mind other items that will connect to your computer such as:

  • digital camera
  • flash drive
  • external drive

Detailed Information on Back Panel Motherboard Connections


Make sure that you select the best motherboard cpu bundle that you can afford.

It will last longer, with fewer issues, and perform better for you over the long term!

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Return To Build Your Own Computer Home Page from Best Motherboards.

Best Motherboard Reviews


Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2HThe Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard with the ATI 780G Chipset: this board supports the AM2+ and AM2 socket CPU's, including Phenom, Sempron and Athlon 64 X2 processors in the Micro-ATX form factor. It is being promoted as an all-in-one board, using an integrated graphics processor (IGP). This makes it ideal for a HTPC (Home Theater PC). Let's take a look at what makes this board such a great choice for an HTPC.

Read the Review



MSI P35 Neo2-FR

MSI P35 Neo2-FRIf you are in the market for a lower cost board that pefforms extremely well, even when overclocking, look no further than the MSI P35 Neo2-FR. Boards using the P35 chipset are really starting to drop in price as competition heats up between Asus, Gigabyte and MSI.

Read the Review



Gigabyte GA-EX38T-DQ6

Gigabyte GA-EX38T-DQ6If you are looking to get a high performance board that is great for overclocking, the Gigabyte GA-EX38T-DQ6 should be on your short list of boards to look at. This is one of the most stable boards for use in overclocking, and with the huge array of features, options, and connections, it will be an excellent base for your system.

Read the Review



Abit AB9

Abit AB9If you are in the market for a new office or home office computer, the Abit AB9 will give you a nice base to build that system on. It has a host of connections that will allow multiple external devices, and multiple hard drives, both internal and external.

Read the Review


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Motherboard: Help

From Cade, USA

I need help troubleshooting my motherboard. If the motherboard won't boot, will resetting the BIOS help? Or what could be the problem?

I've already checked the power supply - it seems to be okay - fan's working. Could it be a CPU issue?

Is there a checklist to troubleshoot motherboard issues?

From Kris at Build Your Own Computer:

Unfortunately, the issue could be one or a combination of troubles. The best approach is to start at the beginning and go through the process in a step-by-step, computer troubleshooting approach.

One of the best checklists for motherboard trouble shooting that I've seen is at Tech Arena Dead Motherboard Forum.

Here's What Visitors Have to Say

Awesome site and very useful information that is to the point... Thank you for the hard work that you put into this site. This site is the best site on the net far as I am concerned and I will be refering this site on to my students. Once again, great site!!!

Kristian, IT instructor from the U.K.

Thank you for helping me to fix my pc motherboard led indicator.

Dietram, Tanzania

Hi, I found your site and all the wonderful tutorials. This is just the thing I'm looking for.

Davey, Canada

The hardest part of the build, I thought, was the wiring. And here your guide really shines. Most of the other computer build guides ignore it, or just say 'connect all the wires properly'. So thanks for the details!

Donald, Netherlands


computer troubleshooting

Computer Troubleshooting

Need help diagnosing computer problems or challenges? Check out our troubleshooting page for common computer building issues.


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