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What is a Motherboard

A motherboard, also known as a mainboard, is one of the most important circuit boards inside any computer. It is the main circuit board which basically connects every other component together. For the most part, the specifications of the motherboard dictate which other components you can use in your computer as well as the available upgrade potential. Motherboards come in various different sizes, but they can also be divided into two types - AMD motherboards and Intel motherboards.

With there being only two manufacturers of processors for PCs (AMD and Intel), motherboards are designed for either one of them, but never for both due to differences in interface designs. You cannot, for example, put an Intel processor into an AMD motherboard. There are various other restrictions as well, such as processor socket types and memory specifications.

Because of the complexity of the component and the fact that every other component needs to be compatible with it, replacing or upgrading a motherboard is by far the most complicated upgrade. Unfortunately, there are many cases in which it is necessary to upgrade the motherboard such as when you want to use a next generation processor which your old motherboard is not compatible with.

When you open up your computer, you'll find that everything else is connected to the motherboard. Motherboards provide a processor slot, memory slots, connectors for hard drives, optical drives and much more. You'll also see a number of slots towards the bottom of the motherboard. These expansion slots come in various different forms and they allow you to install various additional components. You'll typically have one PCI-Express x16 slot which is for installing a dedicated graphics card. High-end motherboards provide two slots, allowing you to run two graphics cards together. Below the PCI-Express x16 slot, you'll normally have several other slots. These days, PCI-Express x1 and standard PCI slots are available on most motherboards, allowing you to install various add-in cards such as television devices, sound cards, more USB ports and various other components.

Choosing a motherboard can be complicated, especially for those who have little experience with upgrading or building computers. First you need to decide whether you want to have an AMD-based system or an Intel-based one. You'll then need to check the processor compatibility chart provided by the motherboard manufacturer to see which processors you can use with that card. It's not as simple as just matching an AMD or Intel processor with an AMD or Intel motherboard. You'll also need to get compatible memory (usually DDR-III these days) and ensure that you have enough expansion slots for your other components.


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