A Guide to Choosing the Best Motherboard
Here follows a guide to choosing the best motherboard for upgrading or building a new PC. To ensure that you choose the best motherboard for your needs you first need to understand a little of what your motherboard consists of before making a well informed choice.
Computer motherboards contain slots and sockets for the processor, memory and graphics card plus a number of spare slots for optional add on cards.
The standard board layout today is the ATX motherboard format. This is available in mini, midi, micro and flex versions. You will need to decide which processor manufacturer you will be using, Intel or AMD, before deciding upon your choice of best motherboard for your needs.
You’ll be considering Socket 939 and Socket 754 for AMD Athlon 64 and Sempron processors, Socket 940 for the AMD M2 and Socket 775 for the Intel Pentium 4 / Core 2 Duo / Core 2 Quad and Celeron.
Next look at the computer motherboards FSB (Front Side Bus) speed and ensure that it can be selected to run at the same speed as your desired processor.
Now turn your attention to your memory requirements. You will be looking at DDR and DDR2 memory with DDR2 now the most common memory for both AMD and Intel processors. Look at what the motherboard offers for memory bus speed and the available no of memory slots / capacity. See the Memory section for more advice on this.
Your graphics card will also have a big impact on your computer motherboards choice. You will be looking at the PCI Express interface, which has now pretty much taken over from the previous AGP format. A lot of the best motherboards now offer two PCI Express slots so that you can run two graphics cards simultaneously in Sli / Crossfire mode. Again, this will appeal to the gaming fraternity.
You should also consider how many spare slots (PCI) you may require for other add ins such as an Audio card, Network card, TV tuner card etc.
The best motherboards are also available with on-board graphics, audio and network adaptors and you will need to consider if these are worth having. Typically, on board audio and network capability is worth having unless you have special requirements (maybe you are an audiophile or musician). On board graphics tend not to be useful unless you are sure you will only be doing simple graphics tasks like surfing the Internet, word processing or emailing etc.
For high performance video, as required by gamers and for video editing etc, then you will want to install a PCI Express graphics card of your choice.
What other requirements might you have? Well, you will need to decide upon the interface you will be using for your hard drive. Recently, Serial ATA has been taking over from the old parallel IDE interface hard drives and the latest version, SATA II, gives exceptional levels of performance with regard to data transfer rates.
Consider whether you want to run a pair or more of hard drives in RAID configuration. Many computer motherboards now offer this function as standard and this will allow you to configure drives for data striping for extra speed or data mirroring for extra reliability in case of one of your hard drives failing.
On board LAN (Local Area Network) networking is now common and in 10/100/1000 MBits transfer rate options, and with some of the latest boards beginning to offer on board Wireless LAN.
Other than the above you will want to determine how many USB / Firewire and other interfaces you may require. If you intend on doing lots of video editing then you will require Firewire.
Finally we would suggest you only consider good quality manufacturers such as Asus, Abit, ASRock, Gigabit, MSI and Foxconn for example.
Final word? Don’t scrimp on a cheap motherboard go for the best motherboard that you can afford!
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