How to Choose a Motherboard

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To choose a motherboard for a computer, spend more money on a quality product, make sure it has a new PCI graphics card slot, make sure there are are enough slots for upgrades, and determine whether it will be able to run at the right speed. Make sure a new computer motherboard has the right CPU socket with advice from a network engineer and IT specialist in this free video on computer motherboards.

Part of the Video Series: Computer Hardware Tips
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Video Transcript

So we're going to pick out a motherboard and kind of look at the specifications that determine how good the motherboard is. A motherboard is basically where you plug in every component that you buy separately into. So what you have to remember with a motherboard there are very, very cheap motherboards that may seem like a good deal made by Japanese or Taiwanese startups and then there are really good well known ones like ABIT and ASUS that are kind of brand name that you want to kind of steer towards if you're building your own motherboard. The question is for building a PC itself so this is taking out of the equation Dell and HP and all those things. You can use the components that are inside those computers but basically you're essentially you're building a brand new computer with a new motherboard. So could I bring up this motherboard here to kind of give you some ideas of what these things look like on a motherboard. These are PCI slots, these are standard kind of slots for expansion. It's been around for many, many years. At least 10 that I know of. The graphics card slot, you want to make sure that it has the new one PCI Express and if you have an older graphics card that you want to continue using, you want to make sure that it has an AGP slot too that will allow you to use a new one and an old one. Not at the same time, but if you plan on upgrading you want to make sure you have the right slots. Then these are the DIMMs, DIMM and these are the memory card slots. However many you have dictates how many memory modules you can put in. Also the type of motherboard kind of dictates what type of memory that you can use, what speed it operates at. So if you get a low-end motherboard, it will only allow say 667 megahertz or 533 megahertz speed memory is not the new stuff, the 1,066 or 1,333 megahertz. So you want to make sure that is has A, enough slots for you and B, that it runs at the right speed. And then underneath this big heat sink here, there is a slot for your actual CPU. This is the brain of the computer. You want to make sure it's the right socket. So if it's an Intel, make sure it's the right socket number 775 or 478, 478 is the old one, 775 is the new one. AMD you want to make sure it has the right AMD socket, socket A is what they call it. Also you want to make sure it has the right on board connectors for you as well. So if you want on board audio instead of buying an audio card, make sure it has that there. Make sure if you want on board video and you don't really care about 3D graphics because on board video is not really game worthy stuff, you want to make sure it has it on here. You want to make sure it has as many USB ports as you want on here. So if you want four USB ports or 8 USB ports depending on how many expansion, how much expansion you tend on doing in the future, you want to make sure it has it's capable of supporting that. If it has an on board NIC, network interface card, you want to make sure it has the right slot for that if you want to network your PC or you want to plug in a cable modem or DSL modem directly into your computer.

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