How To Choose The Best Motherboard For A Gaming computer in 2023
A motherboard or a mainboard, the board on which everything is installed (I can’t explain it any better), is the primary printed circuit board (PCB) that allows communication between various components. It provides a central hub for all these essential components like the CPU, RAM, storage devices, graphics cards, and other peripherals.
The motherboard provides the necessary electrical connections and pathways to allow data to flow between these components, enabling them to work together to execute commands and run programs. It also includes various expansion slots, ports, and connectors that allow users to add or upgrade components as necessary.
It’s like the traffic cop of your computer, telling all the components where to go and what to do. Without it, your gaming computer would be like a group of clueless tourists trying to navigate a foreign city without a map. So next time you turn on your computer, take a moment to appreciate the unsung hero that is the motherboard. After all, it’s the reason you can procrastinate on social media for hours on end!”
Key points to look into when choosing a good motherboard for a gaming computer
- Size of the motherboard: Motherboards come in different sizes such as ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX, and E-ATX, each having its unique features and benefits. It is essential to ensure the compatibility of the motherboard size with other components.
- Processor Socket: The type of processor socket, whether LGA, PGA, BGA, or AM, determines the type of CPU that can be used with the motherboard. It is important to ensure compatibility between the motherboard and CPU socket.
- Expansion slots and ports: Expansion slots and ports provide options for future upgrades and additional components. It is important to consider the number and types of expansion slots and ports available on the motherboard.
- Chipset: The chipset determines the features and capabilities of the motherboard, such as the number of USB ports, RAM compatibility, and storage options. It is essential to choose a chipset that meets the requirements of the user.
- Brand and quality: The brand and quality of the motherboard determine its reliability and durability. Choosing a reputable brand with good customer support can help avoid issues and ensure a longer lifespan for the motherboard.
Sizes Of The Motherboard
Motherboards come in all shapes and sizes, kinda like people at a buffet.
- You’ve got your ATX, which is like the big guy who takes up a lot of space but can handle all the food he piles on his plate. This is the most common motherboard size and measures 12 x 9.6 inches. It typically has several expansion slots, making it ideal for gaming PC or high-performance gaming computers.
- Then there’s the Micro ATX, like the petite person who has to carefully choose what they want because they have limited space. This motherboard measures 9.6 x 9.6 inches. It has fewer expansion slots but can still accommodate most components.
- The Mini ITX is like the person who takes a tiny plate of food because they’re on a diet and don’t want to overload their system. This is the smallest motherboard size, measuring just 6.7 x 6.7 inches. It is designed for small form factor (SFF) computers and is often used in home theater PCs or small gaming computer systems.
- And the E-ATX is like the competitive eater who thinks they can handle all the food but ends up feeling sick later. This is a larger version of the ATX motherboard, measuring 12 x 13 inches. It has more expansion slots and is designed for high-end, multi-GPU systems.
So, whether you’re a big, hungry gamer or a tiny, health-conscious techie, there’s a motherboard size that’s just right for you!! It’s important to ensure that the motherboard you choose is compatible with your case and other components to ensure proper functionality.
Sure, here’s a breakdown of the various CPU sockets and their uses:
- LGA (Land Grid Array): LGA sockets have a grid of pins that fit into a matching grid of holes on the bottom of the CPU, creating a secure and reliable connection between the CPU and the motherboard. LGA sockets are typically used for high-performance desktop CPUs, They offer good thermal performance and easy installation.
- PGA (Pin Grid Array): PGA sockets have hundreds of little pins sticking up from the socket that the CPU drops onto, creating a secure and reliable connection between the CPU and the motherboard. PGA sockets are typically used for lower-performance desktop and laptop CPUs, as they offer good electrical performance but can be more tedious to install.
- BGA (Ball Grid Array): BGA sockets have hundreds of little balls underneath the CPU that connect it to the motherboard, creating a compact and low-profile connection i.e. well-suited for use in laptops and other small form-factor devices. BGA sockets are typically used for low-power and low-heat CPUs, as they offer limited thermal performance and are difficult to upgrade or repair.
- AM (Accelerated Mobile): AM sockets are a proprietary socket type used by AMD for some of their mobile CPUs, providing a compact and low-profile connection i.e. well-suited for use in laptops and other small form-factor devices. AM sockets are typically used for low-power and low-heat CPUs, as they offer limited thermal performance and are difficult to upgrade or repair.
Overall, each CPU socket type has its unique advantages and is suited for different models of CPUs.
A quick rundown of various sockets
- LGA 775: This socket supports Intel CPUs from the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad series, released between 2006 and 2009.
- LGA 1151: This socket supports Intel CPUs from the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th generations, released between 2015 and 2019. It also supports some 10th-generation CPUs, specifically those with the “F” or “KF” designation.
- LGA 2066: This socket supports Intel CPUs from the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X series, released in 2017.
- LGA 1200: This socket supports Intel CPUs from the 10th and 11th generations, released in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Overall, each LGA socket is designed to work with specific generations of Intel CPUs, like how a pair of shoes is designed to fit a specific size of foot. If you’re looking to upgrade your CPU, make sure to check which LGA socket is compatible with the generation of CPU you want to use!
- AM5: This socket is AMD’s entry into LGA architecture. This socket supports AMD CPUs from the Ryzen 7000 Series. This includes the Ryzen 5 7600X, Ryzen 7 7700X, and Ryzen 9 7900X and 7950X. Besides this, the AM5 Socket supports DDR5 RAM capabilities alongside PCIe 5.0 channels as well.
- AM4: This socket supports AMD CPUs from the Ryzen, Ryzen Threadripper, Athlon, and A-Series series, released from 2016 onwards. It also supports some APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) which have integrated graphics. (This was the PGA Socket where the pins used to get bent and you used to watch as your money went down the drain because what else)
- TR4: This socket supports AMD Threadripper CPUs, is designed for high-performance desktop workstations, and was first released in 2017.
- sTRX4: This socket supports AMD Threadripper 3000 and 4000 series CPUs, released in 2019 and 2020, respectively. They are designed for high-performance desktop workstations.
- SP3: This socket supports AMD EPYC CPUs, designed for use in servers and data centers. The EPYC series was first released in 2017.
RAM slots are the physical connectors on a motherboard that allow you to install RAM modules. The number and type of RAM slots on a motherboard can vary depending on the model and manufacturer.
Here are some Key points for RAM slot configurations you might see on a motherboard:
- Single-channel: This type of motherboard has only one RAM slot, which limits its maximum memory bandwidth and overall performance.
- Dual-channel: This type of motherboard has two RAM slots, which allows for improved memory bandwidth and performance compared to a single-channel configuration.
- Quad-channel: This type of motherboard has four RAM slots, which provide even higher memory bandwidth and performance than dual-channel configurations.
- Maximum memory capacity: The maximum amount of RAM a motherboard can support depends on its design and the type of RAM it uses. For example, some motherboards may only support up to 16GB of RAM, while others can support 64GB or more.
- RAM speed: Motherboards also have a maximum RAM speed that they can support. For example, some motherboards may only support DDR4 RAM at speeds up to 2400MHz, while others can support speeds up to 5000MHz or higher.
- RAM DDR: Most motherboards these days support DDR4 RAM only, DDR4 RAM is perfect for gaming check here for a detailed guide on CHOOSING THE BEST RAM for your gaming computer
It’s important to note that not all RAM modules are compatible with all motherboards. When selecting RAM for your system, check the motherboard’s specifications to ensure that your choice is compatible with your system.
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) slots are a type of expansion slot found on computer motherboards. They allow users to add components to their gaming computer system, such as sound cards, network cards, and graphics cards.
There are various types of PCI slots, including PCI, PCI-X, and PCI Express. PCI and PCI-X are older standards that have largely been replaced by PCI Express, which offers faster data transfer rates and greater bandwidth.
PCI slots are typically located near the center of the motherboard and are identified by their white color and the number of pins they have (usually 32 or 64). PCI Express slots are longer and have a different physical layout, with the number of pins varying depending on the specific version of the standard.
These are the slots we use to install our graphics cards etc.
When installing an expansion card into a PCI slot, it’s important to ensure that the card is compatible with the slot and that it is securely fastened in place. Some motherboards may have additional features, such as locking mechanisms or clips, to help hold the card in place.
Storage Capabilities Of Modern Motherboards
The storage capabilities available on a motherboard can vary depending on the size and form factor of the motherboard. Generally speaking, larger motherboards tend to offer more storage options than smaller ones, as they have more physical space for additional components.
Here are some common motherboard sizes and the storage capabilities they typically offer:
- Mini-ITX: Mini-ITX motherboards typically have only 1 or 2 storage connectors, such as SATA ports or M.2 slots, limiting the number of storage drives that can be connected to the system.
- Micro-ATX: Micro-ATX motherboards typically have 2 to 4 storage connectors, providing more options for connecting storage drives such as SATA ports, M.2 slots, or even U.2 ports.
- ATX: ATX motherboards typically have 4 to 6 storage connectors, providing more options for connecting storage drives such as SATA ports, M.2 slots, or even U.2 ports.
- E-ATX: E-ATX motherboards typically have 6 or more storage connectors, providing a wide range of options for connecting storage drives such as SATA ports, M.2 slots, or U.2 ports.
It’s important to note that the storage capabilities of a motherboard can also depend on the specific model and brand of the motherboard. Some motherboards may have more or fewer storage connectors depending on the features they offer, so it’s always a good idea to check the specifications of the motherboard before making a purchase. Check here for a guide on how to choose the best SSD for your gaming computer.
Power Supply Requirements Of A Motherboard:
Modern motherboards have varying power supply requirements depending on their form factor, chipset, and features. Generally, the power supply unit (PSU) needs to provide enough power to meet the demands of the motherboard and any other components connected to it, including the CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage drives.
Here are some guidelines for the power supply requirements of modern motherboards:
- Mini-ITX motherboards: Typically have lower power requirements due to their small size and limited expansion options. A 300W to 400W power supply should be sufficient for most Mini-ITX builds.
- Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards: These larger motherboards typically require more power due to their expansion options and support for higher-end components. A 500W to 750W power supply should be sufficient for most Micro-ATX and ATX builds.
- E-ATX motherboards: These motherboards are generally used in high-end, enthusiast-level builds and may require a more powerful PSU. A 750W to 1000W power supply may be necessary to meet the demands of an E-ATX build.
It’s important to note that these are general guidelines and the specific power requirements of a motherboard may vary depending on the components being used, as well as any overclocking or other customization that is being done. It’s always a good idea to consult the specifications of the motherboard and any other components being used to determine the appropriate power supply requirements. Additionally, it’s important to choose a high-quality, reliable power supply from a reputable brand to ensure the stable and safe operation of the system.
Other Features –
Modern motherboards typically offer a range of HDMI audio options to provide audio output through the HDMI port. These options may vary depending on the motherboard model and brand, as well as the specific CPU and GPU being used.
Here are some common HDMI audio options available on modern motherboards:
- Onboard audio: Most modern motherboards come with onboard audio capabilities that can provide audio output through the HDMI port. The onboard audio chipset may vary depending on the motherboard model and brand and may support features such as high-definition audio and multi-channel audio output.
- Graphics card audio: Some graphics cards may also provide audio output through the HDMI port. This is typically the case for newer graphics cards that support HDMI 2.0 or later, and may require the installation of additional drivers or software to enable audio output through the HDMI port.
- HDMI audio pass-through: Some motherboards may offer an HDMI audio pass-through option, which allows audio to be sent directly from a compatible device, such as a Blu-ray player or gaming console, through the motherboard’s HDMI port and onto a connected display or audio receiver.
It’s important to note that the specific HDMI audio options available on a motherboard may depend on a variety of factors, including the motherboard model, CPU and GPU being used, and any additional hardware or software being used in the system. It’s always a good idea to consult the motherboard’s documentation or support resources to determine the available HDMI audio options and how to configure them.
These are the most important points to look for while buying or upgrading your motherboard. If you need any more assistance you can look through this article by Intel as well
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