This series of articles has two purposes at the same time: educational and commercial. They will try to explain as clearly as they are what the various PC components are and at the same time they will guide you in choosing the best components for your purposes.


Generic motherboard

The motherboard is the connective tissue of a computer. It is the basic structure on which all functional components must be inserted. Inside we find all the systems that allow the components to communicate with each other, but also to provide them with the right amount of energy.

chipset: The motherboard chipset identifies the electronic circuit that connects the various components. You can see it divided into two sections: the Northbdirge and the Southbridge. The first manages the processor's surroundings and its direct connections, hence the RAM and PCI express lines. The second deals with managing the communication between the northbridge and all the remaining peripheral units. Over the years the northbridge has disappeared, ending up being incorporated into the processors themselves. The choice of the chipset determines the scenario of use of the motherboard. Models with abbreviations with aggressive letters, such as Z or X, denote platforms that point to gaming and overclocking. More peaceful letters, such as H, B, A, denote chipsets with less extreme features, which focus on basic functionality or business functionality.

socket: The socket identifies the socket between the processor and the motherboard. Different chipsets can exist for each socket. In order for you to assemble your computer, you must pay attention to the compatibility between the motherboard and the CPU. Both Intel and AMD are not particularly consistent with their support and nomenclatures, so pay attention.

Format: The deciding factor for how much stuff can be on the motherboard, other than the processing capacity of the chipset, is the physical size. Cheaper cards tend to be smaller and therefore have less space such as 2 total RAM slots instead of 4 or even 8. Common formats are ATX, mATX and mini-ITX. In terms of pure performance, nothing changes and there are cards of minimum size but with first-class features.

VRM: Let's spend some words on VRMs, or motherboard voltage regulators. These electronic components take care of regulating the input power to your CPU. The controller takes care of keeping the voltage under control, while the phases carry all the electrical power. These components get very hot during use and, if they reach very high temperatures, they can cut the input energy to the CPU to avoid damage. Normally they do not represent a problem but, if you want to do overclock pushed, you need to buy motherboards with adequate VRM that allow to have numerous feeding phases, so as to divide the load and have dissipators mounted on them to dispose of the heat.

BIOS: The BIOS is the operating system of the motherboard. This regulates all the low-level functions, it is the link between the hardware and the operating system. It is often updated by manufacturers, improving system stability and fixing bugs. Also, when new CPUs are released that are compatible with old graphics cards, you will need a BIOS update to use them. If you are buying a platform, new, just out and unripe, check "regularly" the manufacturer's website for updates.

The market

Motherboard diagram

Motherboard manufacturers are varied and usually deal with building other PC components as well. In the top of the market we find Asus, Gigabyte, AsRock, EVGA. MSI it has a very high reputation, given its look particularly dedicated to gaming, but the quality of its components is inferior to the models of the same band of the previous brands.
Many PCs pre-assembled from the office and of course the laptops, make use of custom motherboards that are not sold directly to consumers.

How to choose

Choosing the motherboard is actually easier than you might think. Once the compatibility between processor and motherboard has been established, we must ask ourselves if we need the features. If you have chosen an intel processor not k for example, it is useless to go and buy a chipset that supports overclocking, since it should be wasted. Is having all those usb ports really necessary? How much expansion do I plan to do in the future? If all I need is 16GB of ram, do you really need all those RAM slots? Obviously these considerations also apply from the opposite point of view. If I need a lot of RAM to work I will look, for example, only at cards that can offer 64GB of RAM.
By cutting off the superfluous, it is possible to frame better on which model to orientate.

Shopping tips

It will seem strange to you, but I consider advising motherboards in their own right a useless practice. They must be bought by looking at the totality of the configuration, in particular the processor. I therefore refer you to the purchasing guide for the CPU, since each processor has a motherboard calibrated for the product.