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Lesson 8- Motherboard component - parts diagram of a computer motherboard

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In lesson 8 we'll cover motherboard part for both Intel and AMD , their advantages and disadvantages, a diagram of computer motherboard, what features and specs to look for when shopping, and how much you can expect to pay.

The motherboard is where all of the computer components connect.

Internal Connections

Your SATA III hard drive or SSD connects through the number 1 SATA III controller here or if you have an older SATA II hard drive or SSD it can connect to one of the SATA II controllers here.

Your CD, DVD or Blu-ray drives connect through one of the open SATA II controllers.

If you have an old IDE type drive it can connect to the IDE controller.

There’s a place for the memory sticks.

The video card connects to this slot, called a PCI Express 3.0 16x slot

This motherboard also has a second PCI Express 3.0 16x slot which we’ll talk about in a moment.

An add-on sound card, modem and Ethernet adapter can fit in the PCI or PCI Express 1x slots

In the future all expansion cards will be made for PCI Express but regular PCI slots will be available on most new motherboards through 2014.

And finally there is the processor socket for connecting your Intel or AMD processor.

Intel and AMD motherboards
Remember in the processor lesson we said that you need to buy a motherboard specifically for either an AMD or Intel processor. The socket is why. Intel and AMD processors fit into different socks. While all of the other connections for components are the same, the processor socket is specific to either a Intel or AMD processor and both CPU makers have more than one type of socket.

Intel currently has 3 different CPU socket types. Socket 1155, also called socket H2, Socket 1150, also called socket H3 and Socket 2011 also called socket R.

Socket 1155 is the oldest of the three. Socket 1155 supports DDR3 memory in Dual Channel mode. The processors for socket 1155 range from the low-end to the middle high end of performance. Intel will soon stop making new CPU models for socket 1155. If upgrading the CPU in the future is a must for you, you need to consider one of the other socket types.

Socket 1150 is a low to middle-high end platform and supports DDR3 in Dual Channel mode. Intel will probably make new models of CPUs for Socket 1150 for a few more years.

Socket 2011 is Intel’s latest high end platform and supports DDR3 in Quad Channel mode. Intel should make new CPU models for Socket 2011 for a few more years.

AMD has 3 different CPU socket types. Socket FM1, FM2 and Socket AM3+.

All 3 support DDR3 memory in Dual channel mode.

Socket FM1 and FM2 are AMD’s low to mid range performance platform. Socket FM1 is the newer of the two.

Socket AM3+ is AMD’s low to high end performance platform. AMD should make new CPU models for Socket AM3+ for at least a few years.

All 3 support DDR3 memory in Dual channel mode.

Its important not only to match the motherboard, memory and processor type, but to also make sure the speeds of the processor and memory can be handled by the motherboard. The CPU speed and the memory speed must match the motherboards capabilities.
So when you buy the motherboard, processor and memory, be sure they are compatible with each other.
External Connections 
On the side of the motherboard, which faces the outside of the computer case, we have our external inputs and outputs.
There is a PS/2 connection for an older keyboard or mice.
USB ports for connecting newer mice and keyboards, digital cameras, printers and scanners.
USB 3.0 ports are becoming standard on new motherboards.  USB 3.0 can be up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0.  To get the speed of USB 3.0 both the controller on the motherboard and the device you plug into it must support USB 3.0.  A new USB 3.0 cable is required as well.  USB 3.0 controllers are backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices and cables.  With a USB 2.0 device plugged into a USB 3.0 controller you will get USB 2.0 speeds.
An external SATA port for connecting an external hard drive or CD/DVD drive. This motherboard has two.
On-board sound card to connect your speakers with digital outputs.
An Ethernet port for connecting to a home network or high speed cable or DSL modem. This motherboard has two.

Motherboards can also have a video adapter built in.

Though if you are planning on playing games it is best to have an add-on card. There will always be better features and faster performance with add-on video cards.

Video Card Slots
Lets go back to the second PCI Express 3.0 16x slot.

In the video card lesson we mentioned SLI and Crossfire which combine the power 2, 3 or 4 video cards, with the option of up to 3 video cards in SLI mode or up to 4 video cards in Crossfire mode to give you better graphics performance.
If you want to try SLI or Crossfire, you’ll need a motherboard with this second, third or fourth PCI Express 3.0 16x slot.
An SLI or Crossfire capable motherboard will also come with a SLI or Crossfire bridge that will connect the 2, 3 or 4 cards together cards together.  Most motherboards support either SLI or Crossfire, not both.  Though there are newer motherboards that support either SLI or Crossfire.

We’ll show you how setup SLI and Crossfire in the Computer Setup Lessons.

If you're planning to overclock your computers RAM or CPU you might also need to overclock the motherboard. The motherboards overclocking options are all important to your success in overclocking. Not all motherboards give the option to overclock so look for a motherboard that will let you change the speed and timing settings. 
For more information on overclocking see the overclocking video lessons available on the website.


Motherboards run between 75 and 300 dollars depending on the speed of components they can accept and what extras are built onto the motherboard. Such as overclocking options, an Ethernet adapter and sound.

When you go to Buy

  • Make sure it’s compatible with the other components you buy.
  • Take into account the extras built into the motherboard when deciding how much to spend.
  • If you're planning to overclock your PC check the motherboards overclocking options.

In the installation lessons we’ll show you how to install all of the components into the computer case and connect them all together to have a fully functional computer.

Motherboard Warranties

Motherboards are generally very reliable and will last for many years. That said, it's best to buy a motherboard with at least a 3 year warranty. This level of warranty is standard for most manufacturers, but not all. So be sure to check the warranty coverage before buying a motherboard.

Manufacturer Links
Abit Foxconn
Asus Intel
Biostar MSI

Motherboard Reviews

To find more reviews do a search in your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo) for the model number of the motherboard parts you're interested in.

Buying a Motherboard

Whether you buy an Intel or AMD motherboard there is no shortage of choices. Below are several sites that will help you find the lowest price from a reputable merchant.


Home PC Builder 2014

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$1800 Computer

Tech Specs
Intel Core i7 4930K 3.4GHz Six Core 
16GB DDR3 Memory
1TB Hard Drive
128GB OCZ Vertex 4
Radeon R9 280x 3GB Video card
24X DVD Burner
Creative X-Fi Sound card
23" Widescreen Monitor
Logitech Z-5500 Speakers
Logitech G9x Mouse
Logitech G510 Keyboard

Go to Parts List

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