It would be a wonderful world if all the components of a computer were compatible with each other. Unfortunately, everything is much more complicated, and when choosing individual components, you should pay attention to compatibility. The same situation is in the case of motherboards, which differ not only in size, in the presence of connectors, but also in the processor socket and chipset.We will discuss how to choose a motherboard what are types of motherboards and its characteristics.
- Types of motherboards
- Motherboard formats
- Motherboard Based on processor
- Motherboard Chipsets
- How to Choose a motherboard and what to look for
- Internal motherboard ports
- I / O panel
- Built-in sound card
- Additional motherboard modules
- Manufacturing technologies
- Motherboard and CPU overclocking
- Best motherboards to choose
Types of motherboards
There are different types of motherboards on basis of different criteria let discuss each.
There are several types of motherboards, and choosing the right one matters because not every motherboard will fit your case.
The main motherboard formats used in PCs are:
- Extended ATX (E-ATX) are the largest motherboards with dimensions of 305×330 mm.
- ATX is the standard size – 305 x 244 mm.
- MicroATX (mATX, uATX, µATX) – slightly reduced ATX, dimensions 244×244 mm.
- Mini ITX (mITX) is the smallest format of 170x170mm motherboards.
It should be borne in mind that these are maximum dimensions, not a fixed value.
Motherboard Based on processor
When choosing a motherboard, you must remember that not every processor will match it. This is because of the socket for the processor (aka socket). Socket is the place on the MOBO (motherboard) where the processor is installed.
Below are the most popular slots and the processors that are installed in them:
- LGA 1151 – Intel 6, 7, 8 and 9th generation Celeron, Pentium and Core i3, i5, i7, i9 processors
- LGA 2066 – 7th Gen Intel Core X-Series Processors
- AM4 – AMD Ryzen 1 & 2 processors and 7th Gen AMD Athlon
- TR4 – AMD Ryzen Threadripper Processors
This, of course, is not all sockets – we have presented only the most popular at the moment.
Aside from the processor slot, choosing the right motherboard chipset is very important – although it currently matters mostly in the case of Intel processors. In the case of designs with Intel chipsets, we will find those in which overclocking is possible, and those on which overclocking is impossible.
Intel Motherboard Chipset
In the case of motherboards for Intel processors, several types of chipsets are distinguished:
- X is the most modern systems designed for professionals and technical enthusiasts. Designed for Intel Core X-series processors such as Intel Core i9-7900X. Of course, they allow overclocking.The latest X chipsets are:
- Intel X299 – for Skylake X processors. Supports RAM in quad channel mode, thus providing faster memory performance.
- Intel X99 is the predecessor to X299 and works with Haswell E and Broadwell E processors. It also supports four-channel RAM.
- Z are the advanced chipsets that are the most popular among gamers and enthusiasts. Works with all popular processors, i.e. Intel Core, Pentium and Celeron. They gained their popularity due to the ability to overclock processors with an unlocked multiplier, which means with the letter K in the name, for example, Intel Core i5-8600K.Most popular Z chipsets:
- Intel Z390 is the latest system to come with 9th Gen Intel Core processors.
- The Intel Z370 is essentially the Z390 chipset that provides support for Intel 8th Gen processors.
- Intel Z270 is a chipset for Skylake and Kaby Lake processors, as well as 6th and 7th generation Intel processors.
- H is a versatile chipset. Suitable for both players and offices or multimedia computers. Works with all processors. Cheap chipset, but does not allow overclocking with an unlocked multiplier.Most popular chipsets:
- Intel H370 – Designed for 8th Gen Intel processors.
- Intel H310 – Works with Coffee Lake processor family. It differs from the H370 in that it is cheaper, supports fewer PCI-E lanes, USB and SATA ports, and no RAID support.
- Intel H270 is a chipset for Intel 6th and 7th generation processors.
- Intel H170 – Like H270, works with Skylake and Kaby Lake processors, although the latter requires a BIOS update.
- Intel H110 – differs from H170 by support for fewer USB, SATA, PCI-E lines and lack of support for RAID arrays.
- B are for business offerings, although often found in less demanding gamers’ computers or home media. Does not support overclocking processors, generally support fewer ports than the H or Z chipset.
- Intel B360 – Designed for 8th Gen Intel processors.
- Intel B250 is a chipset for Intel 6th and 7th generation processors.
- Q is also a business proposition, although technically slightly more advanced than the B chipset. Supports generally more ports and connectors.
- Intel Q370 – for 8th Gen Intel processors
- Intel Q270 – for 6th and 7th generation Intel processors
C chipsets are also available, however, these are for workstations, servers and Intel Xeon processors, so we will omit them.
AMD Motherboard Chipset
In turn, if we are talking about motherboards for AMD processors, then there are chipsets like:
- X is AMD’s most advanced chipset series. There are two types of them – for socket AM4 and TR4.
- AMD X399 is a system for the 1st and 2nd generation AMD Threadripper processors. Supports fine tuning, as well as RAM in Dual Channel and Multi-GPU mode.
- AMD X470 is the latest chipset for socket AM4 processors. Supports overclocking and AMD StoreMi technology.
- AMD X370 is a slightly outdated model for socket AM4. Also allows CPU overclocking, however does not support AMD StoreMi.
- B is a chipset for users who expect high performance but do not plan on extreme overclocking or multiple graphics cards.
- AMD B450 is a new chipset with AMD StoreMi support and CPU overclocking.
- AMD B350 is slightly older and does not work with AMD StoreMi technology.
- A – these are basic chipsets for less advanced users who do not plan to overclock their computer.
- AMD A320 is the base, mainstream chipset. Does not support AMD StoreMi technologies and does not allow processor overclocking.
It’s worth noting that all socket AM4 compatible processors are fully supported by all chipsets that work with that socket. For older chipsets, a BIOS update may be required.
How to Choose a motherboard and what to look for
You already know that the absolutely critical element to consider when choosing a motherboard is its socket and chipset. What else should you pay attention to?
Internal motherboard ports
The first thing to look out for is the internal ports. All motherboards have PCIe connectors, RAM slots, and SATA ports. It is necessary, however, to pay attention to how many and what type they are. Let’s consider the most popular and most important ones.
Let’s start with the RAM slots . As a rule, they are found in an amount of two, four or eight pieces. It is important to pay attention to the type of memory supported – currently the newest and most popular type is DDR4 . Depending on the motherboard chipset, the maximum clock rate may vary (the higher the chipset, the higher the clock rate)
PCIe ports are used to connect video cards, sound or any other expansion cards. There are several types of this connector: x16, x8, x4, x1. They differ in data throughput. PCIe x16 is the most efficient and achieves a bandwidth of about 32 GB / sec. Most motherboards are currently equipped with the latest 3.0 connector.
For SATA connector can connect the HDD, SSHD and the SSD . Currently, the fastest SATA-III standard, which achieves a throughput of about 6 Gbps
The M.2 connector is a new standard for connecting SSD hard drives . Pay attention to which bus this port works with. It can be either SATA III or PCIe – the latter guarantees higher performance. Additional acceleration will be provided by support for the NVMe protocol . Various sizes of such drives are also available, however, most motherboards are ready for this.
Another thing to look out for are the ports on the front . In addition, of course, connectors for turning on and restarting the computer, you can find USB and audio ports on the panel. It is worth making sure that the motherboard has at least a sufficient number of USB 3.0 connectors.
The fan headers on the motherboard come in handy especially when you don’t have a fan speed controller. One of them is always for CPU cooling (usually labeled CPU_FAN). You may also come across a water pump connector – useful when using water cooling .
Other connectors that you can find on MOBO, such as LED strip connector or U.2 port .
I / O panel
That is, the I / O panel that is on the back of the case. Typically, it connects to peripheral devices such as a mouse, keyboard, monitor, or printer . What ports will be useful there?
Let’s start with PS / 2, which is slowly becoming a thing of the past. This is the port to which the mouse and keyboard are connected, however, such accessories currently use the USB connector. However, if your accessories have round plugs, be aware that the board has such a connector.
There is never too much USB ! In addition to the aforementioned keyboard and mouse, it is often used to connect a printer, external drive, flash drive or, for example, a gamepad. In case you want to use this port for transferring files, it is good to have it in the highest standard – USB 3.2, 3.1 or 3.0. Motherboards with USB Type C inputs are also available today.
Each motherboard also has a video output . This is especially important if you are using a processor-integrated graphics system. Therefore, pay attention to which input your monitor is using – it could be one of the older VGA or DVI connectors, or a later version – HDMI or DisplayPort.
Next is the RJ-45 connector, the ethernet port, which serves to connect the cable from the Internet. This connector is located on every motherboard.
Also, the motherboard should have audio connectors . They are used to connect headphones, speakers and microphones . Depending on the sound system, a different number of outputs (3 or 6) may be available.
Built-in sound card
Nowadays, every motherboard has its own sound chip. If you are not an audiophile, but sound quality is important to you, pay attention to which chip the motherboard manufacturer has implemented. If sound is of utmost importance to you, buy an external sound card.
Currently, Realtek chips are by far the most popular. Several models are available, and below we have ranked them from the best:
- ALC 1220
- ALC 1150
- ALC 892
- ALC 887
Before choosing, you should check if the sound chip is protected from interference. This solution increases the cost of production, therefore it is found in more expensive models of motherboards, however, it allows to reduce the level of distortion and signal noise. Manufacturers often emphasize this by highlighting the audio system with LED backlighting.
Additional motherboard modules
Additional modules such as Wi-Fi or bluetooth can be installed in motherboards . If you plan to use the services of such a solution, instead of purchasing additional accessories, look for models equipped with the appropriate modules.
Often motherboards, in addition to the basic components and functions, offer something extra. Manufacturers use different names, usually for the same functions.
- Reinforced construction – You will often find motherboards that are made of more durable materials, PCIe connectors have additional reinforcements, and the rest of the connectors are abrasion resistant.
- Overclocking support – some motherboards have ready-made settings for overclocking. Just select the appropriate option in UEFI, and MOBO will automatically set the processor frequency and voltage.
- Improving sound quality is one of the most commonly used add-ons.
- Network connectivity support is a technique that improves communication quality and reduces interference and latency.
These are, of course, just a few of them. The list of technologies used by motherboard manufacturers is very long.
Motherboard and CPU overclocking
If you are planning to overclock your processor, apart from choosing the right chipset, pay attention to several other aspects as well, such as the power area or DualBIOS.
Processor power area
When overclocking a processor, its power supply is very important. The better and stronger this zone, the more stable the processor will work. In this case, you need to pay attention to the quantity and quality of chokes and capacitors on the motherboard, as well as the MOSFET. But the easiest way is to simply search the Internet for reviews and opinions about this board.
If you are planning extreme overclocking, you can also opt for a board with additional cooling for the power area. And we are not talking about a heatsink, which you will find on the vast majority of motherboards, but about a fan. This solution is used, for example, in the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Gaming 7-OP.
BIOS and DualBIOS
Let’s start with what BIOS is. This is the Basic Input / Output system, or Basic Input / Output System. It controls the transfer of data between components. Immediately after starting the computer, it also conducts a series of component tests, and informs the user about possible errors using beeps, on the computer screen or on the display of POST codes. It is with the help of the BIOS that the procedure for overclocking the processor or RAM is implemented.
What is DualBIOS? These are nothing but two such systems. This is useful when the main BIOS crashes. Then you can easily restore it using another system.
Best motherboards to choose
View interesting and popular motherboards that are in demand from real users.
- ASUS TUF Z390-PRO GAMING
- Gigabyte Z390 GAMING X
- MSI MPG Z390 GAMING PLUS
- ASUS PRIME Z370-P II
- Gigabyte B450 AORUS PRO
- ASRock Pro4 AB350
- MSI B450M BAZOOKA
- ASRock B450M-HDV
- MSI Z370 GAMING PLUS
- ASUS PRIME B450-PLUS
ASUS TUF Z390-PRO GAMING
ATX motherboard for 8th and 9th Gen Intel Core processors. The latest Intel Z390 chipset provides maximum performance and overclocking capabilities with unlocked multipliers.
Plus, MOBO has a fast M.2 slot that you can easily install a high-performance SSD into. Not without support for NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX.
Gigabyte Z390 GAMING X
This is an ATX motherboard based on Intel Z390 chipset and LGA1151 socket for Intel Coffee Lake processors.
Has many connectors for internal and external devices, such as 6 SATA III ports or 2 M.2 connectors, so you can expand your computer.
MSI MPG Z390 GAMING PLUS
This motherboard takes full advantage of the 8th and 9th Gen Intel Core processors.
The Intel Z390 chipset will allow you to overclock the chip with an unlocked multiplier, as well as use DDR4 RAM at up to 4400 MHz. Moreover, the board supports AMD CrossFireX technology and has an M.2 slot, which can accommodate incredibly fast SSD-drives.
ASUS PRIME Z370-P II
This Z370 motherboard provides an excellent base for 8th Gen Intel Core processors.
This model is marked with 5X Protection III, which guarantees a high structural strength. In addition, the board supports high-speed DDR4 RAM up to 4000MHz.
Gigabyte B450 AORUS PRO
Socket AM4 motherboard with AMD B450 chipset is a design designed for AMD Ryzen processors.
This ATX model supports DDR4 memory up to 3200MHz. In addition, it is equipped with 2 M.2 slots for ultra-fast SSD, and also has an onboard audio chip – Realtek ALC1220.
ASRock Pro4 AB350
A gaming motherboard based on the AMD B350 chipset for Ryzen processors.
On its board there are 4 slots for DDR4 RAM with a frequency of up to 3200 MHz and a Realtek ALC892 audio chip with 7.1 audio support.
MSI B450M BAZOOKA
This motherboard for Ryzen processors, equipped with the AMD B450 chipset, is an offer for gamers.
Allows you to use DDR4 memory modules at frequencies up to 3466 MHz. This model is made in mATX format, which means it will fit in a small case.
This model is based on the AMD B450 chipset and supports DDR4 RAM up to 3200MHz.
The format of this motherboard is mATX, so you can build a powerful computer in a compact package. Plus, thanks to AMD StoreMI technology, you can combine a high-speed solid state drive with a conventional hard disk drive (HDD) to create one fast volume.
MSI Z370 GAMING PLUS
Equipped with the Intel Z370 chipset, this motherboard is a great choice for Intel Coffee Lake processors.
Supports fast DDR4 RAM modules up to 4000 MHz. It has an integrated Realtek ALC892 audio chip, which additionally supports Audio Boost technology.
ASUS PRIME B450-PLUS
A solid foundation for building a powerful AMD Ryzen processor.
This motherboard supports up to 3200MHz DDR4 RAM and has an M.2 slot for high-speed NVMe SSD. What’s more, it has a total of 7 external USB ports, so you always find a free port for your devices.