The motherboard is one of the essential parts of a computer. It’s the main circuit board that connects all the other components of the computer.
How do motherboards work?
The motherboard is the central nervous system of the computer. It acts as a single point of contact between all the different parts of the machine. Every piece of data that goes in or out of the computer passes through the motherboard. In this way, it can be thought of as the computer’s brain.
The motherboard comprises several parts, including the central processing unit (CPU) and memory slots, input/output (I/O) ports, and expansion slots.
Most Important Parts of a Motherboard and Their Functions
Central Processing Unit (CPU) Slot
This is the slot that holds the CPU, which handles all of the calculations of the PC. There are two leading manufacturers of CPUs, Intel, and AMD, which use different sockets. Therefore, it is important to check that the CPU you are buying is compatible with your chosen motherboard.
RAM (Random Access Memory) slots
The slots on the motherboard hold memory modules (also called RAM). The CPU uses memory to store data and instructions while the computer is running. The more RAM you have, the more data the CPU can keep simultaneously, and the faster it may work.
I/O (Input/Output) ports
The I/O ports on the motherboard allow you to connect different devices to the computer, such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, or scanner. The most common and versatile type of I/O port is USB, especially USB Type-C.
A chipset is a group of chips that work together to control data flow between the different parts of the motherboard. The chipset is made up of two chips: the northbridge and the southbridge.
The northbridge chip controls communication between the CPU and high-speed devices, such as RAM and graphics cards. The southbridge chip handles communication with slower devices, such as hard drives and optical drives.
BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)
The BIOS is a chip on the motherboard that stores information about the computer’s hardware, such as the CPU type, memory size, and hard drive type. The BIOS also includes instructions for how the computer should start up. When you turn on your computer, the BIOS is also responsible for loading the operating system.
The expansion slots on the motherboard allow you to add more features to the computer by installing expansion cards. The most common type of expansion card is the graphics card (GPU), which allows you to connect a monitor and improve the quality of the image. PCI-E is the most common type of expansion slot.
Data connectors such as SATA and M.2 are used to connect storage devices, such as hard drives and optical drives.
The connector on the motherboard that is used to connect the power supply. The power supply provides power to all of the components in the computer.
Types of Motherboards: Form factor Explained
A motherboard’s form factor determines the board’s size and shape. The most common form factors are ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX.
Full-size ATX motherboards are the largest and most feature-rich boards available. They offer the most significant expansion potential with multiple PCI-E slots and room for numerous hard drives and other components.
MicroATX motherboards are smaller than ATX boards and are designed for use in small form factor cases. They offer fewer expansion options than ATX boards but are a good compromise between size and functionality.
Mini-ITX motherboards are the smallest form factor available. They are designed for tiny cases and offer limited expansion potential. However, they are still fully capable of running a powerful computer.