Things To Consider When Picking a Motherboard

The motherboard is the largest printed circuit board in the entire computer system and is what connects all of the individual systems and allows them to interact.


This means that it is crucial to pick a good motherboard or it will decrease the efficiency of the entire computer system since it connects everything.


The five most important things to consider when picking a motherboard are:

  1. The size
  2. RAM slots
  3. PCI slots
  4. The processor socket
  5. USB ports


Each of these components will have a significant effect on how the motherboard functions and which upgrades you will be able to do in the future.

1. Size

The very first thing that you’ll need to consider when purchasing your motherboard is how big it can be. Motherboards come in many different dimensions, although the standard and micro sizes are the most common.


The most important thing with the size is thinking about how much space you have to fit your motherboard into. If you are building a standalone computer and investing in all-new equipment this won’t be as big of a problem because you’ll be able to build around the motherboard.


However, if you are working with previously acquired equipment or you’re just looking to replace your motherboard and keep everything else, you’ll need to know what size your setup can handle.


To do this you can either check the dimensions of your previous motherboard or measure the space that you have for it and make sure that it will fit in that space. If you purchase a motherboard that is too big you’ll either have to return the motherboard or buy a new cover and setup that is big enough for the motherboard.

2. RAM Slots

Once you know what dimensions your setup can handle, it’s time to move on to the technical aspects of the motherboard. The first of which are the RAM slots.


Although the motherboard itself does not provide RAM, or random access memory, it is where you will place the memory modules that manage the RAM. RAM is what the computer uses to store the information necessary to complete processes. This is different from long-term storage which will be stored in a drive.


A motherboard will have several slots that are meant for memory modules and each of these slots will have a certain capacity. It is recommended that you purchase a motherboard with enough slots to have at least 16 GB of RAM.


Even though you may initially not buy enough memory modules to fill up these slots, if you buy a large enough motherboard you will always have the option to purchase and add more RAM. This is a way cheaper, more convenient option than having to go out and purchase a new motherboard once you realize it can no longer house more RAM.

3. PCI Slots

The second type of slot that you’ll need to be aware of is the PCI slot. These slots are what allow your motherboard to connect with the other components of your PC. They are also what allow for expansion with add-ons.


There are four main PCI slot sizes that you should know. These are PCIe x1, PCIe x4, PCIe x8, and PCIe x16. The number with each size tells you the number of direct connections that each slot provides. So a PCIe x4 will provide you with 4 direct connections per slot while a PCIe x16 will provide you with 16 direct connections per slot.


If you are planning on using your computer for gaming or other uses that require high-speed processing, you’re best off purchasing a motherboard that has PCIe x16 connections.


You’ll also want to make sure to purchase a motherboard that has more PCI slots than you plan on initially using in case you want to upgrade in the future.


PCI slots can be used to upgrade your graphics, sounds, video capture, and storage cards which will increase the overall performance of your PC.

4. Processor Socket

Your CPU processor is the part of your computer system that is responsible for telling all the other parts what to do. It is sometimes referred to as the brain of the computer.


The processor socket is the part that connects the motherboard to the CPU processor and it’s important to have the matching socket for the processor.


Three types of processor sockets are used today, LGA, PGA, and BGA. These are not interchangeable so it’s important to purchase a motherboard that has the proper socket for the CPU processor that you want to use.

5. USB Ports

One port that you should look out for when making your selection is the USB port. The majority of motherboards feature USB ports however, it’s important that they feature enough so you don’t have to use add-ons in the future. How many USB ports you need will depend on the work that you plan on using your PC for.


It is also recommended that you pick a motherboard that features both standard USB ports and USB-C ports. As of right now, regular USB is still more common.


However, industry standards are quickly shifting to favor USB-C ports which are smaller and rounded as opposed to the standard rectangular shape. Picking a motherboard that has both will keep you from having to replace it in the future.


You should also make sure that your USB ports are generation 3.0. This generation is significantly faster than the previous and allows for much faster data transfer.

Key Takeaways

Your system’s motherboard is the biggest board in the computer system and connects to all the other systems in the computer. This means that it is very important that you pick the right motherboard for your system as it will influence how the entire system runs.


Before picking a motherboard there are several aspects that you should look at and decide which you need. The aspects that you should consider are the size of the motherboard, the number of RAM and PCI slots, the processor socket, and the USB ports it features.

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