The type, or form factor, of the motherboard is a crucial consideration when looking at a motherboard. There are various form factors and not all computer cases can accommodate each form factor. Today, the most commonly found and used motherboard is the ATX motherboard. When looking at the motherboard, make sure your case supports your motherboard form factor.
When looking at who to purchase a motherboard through, consider all different brands of motherboards and vendors who sell those motherboards, as all motherboards will have positive and negative reviews. A listing of motherboard links and manufacturers can be found on the motherboard section of our network.
CPU socket / slot There are a wide variety of different CPU Sockets and Slots. When looking at purchasing a motherboard, ensure it is compatible with the CPU you have or that it will be compatible with the CPU you plan on purchasing.
Drive connectors Drive connectors can be an important consideration when purchasing a computer. Determine the interface of the drives you plan on using, and ensure that the motherboard supports that interface or has the connector for that interface. An example of such an interface is IDE, EIDE or SCSI.
Additional information about CD-ROM buying tips can be found on our CD-ROM buying tips page.
Memory slots / type Today, there is a wide variety of different types and speeds of memory. When looking at purchasing a motherboard, ensure that it is compatible with the memory you currently have or plan on purchasing. Additional information about Memory buying tips can be found on our Memory buying tips page.
1. PCI Express - The latest and greatest slot / bus type.
2. AGP - AGP, or Advanced Graphics Port, is used for video cards as a replacement for PCI.
3. AMR - AMR, or Audio Modem Riser, is a slot that is used for Audio / Modem cards and is found on some motherboards. This is not a critical slot and has been replaced by the CNR.
4. CNR - CNR, or Communication and Network Riser, is a slot that supports audio, modem, USB and Local Area Network cards. This slot is highly recommended for any user building a large amount of computers as the cards are generally cheaper than the standard PCI or ISA cards.
5. ISA - Today, ISA is becoming obsolete and is not found on all motherboards. Unless you have old ISA cards that need to be used, it is recommended you purchase a new motherboard with no ISA slots and additional PCI slots.
6. PCI - The most widely and commonly used slot.
* Additional information about each of the above computer bus types.
* Computer video card buying tips page.
* Computer sound card buying tips page.
* Computer modem buying tips page
Jumpers Jumpers are generally overlooked when considering a motherboard; however, they can be an important consideration, especially for users who plan on overclocking their computer.
1. Does the motherboard have a clear CMOS / BIOS jumper?
2. Does the motherboard have CPU settings jumpers? Or is it configured through CMOS? Is it auto detect?
3. Does the motherboard have onboard video / sound? If yes, can they be disabled with jumper or is it done through CMOS? Note: either way is fine as long as it can be disabled.
USB Ports While all motherboards today have USB ports, ensure that the motherboard you plan on purchasing has USB ports.