Yes, we know it is frustrating to choose the right one for any purpose, especially when you have no knowledge of it. The same goes for choosing the right motherboard.
In this article, we will discuss how to choose the right motherboard. The facts we will discuss are the absolute ones that should be considered accordingly. With that being said, let’s take you to the facts without any further ado.
Facts to Consider While Choosing the Right Motherboard
There are many purposes for choosing the right motherboard. For instance, you might be asking yourself – How to choose a motherboard for gaming? How to choose a motherboard for video editing?
Hopefully, you will find answers to these questions by reading this article. In our opinion, there are usually 7 important facts that should be considered with precision while choosing the right motherboard.
Now let’s start with the most important and number one fact –
Chipset and CPU Socket:
The chipset and CPU socket are the crucial parts for choosing the right motherboard. There are specific sockets for AMD and Intel processors. It’s not like you can palace an Intel process on an AM4 socket. Processors are made to run on specific sockets.
The question is – how will find out whether a processor is compatible with the right socket? Well, it’s not really a matter you should worry about. Because the processor box will clearly indicate the socket for which it is compatible.
Therefore, before you buy a motherboard, please check the CPU’s documentation or box carefully. Or you may end up buying the wrong motherboard. If necessary, visit the official website of the desired processor that you want to buy. There you find each and every detail.
The pin-array of a CPU changes based on the product model and generation. You should note that the pin array determines the name of the socket. For example, the LGA 1151 socket is compatible with the CPUs that have 1151 pins.
You might be using the powerful and latest Ryzen 7 processor. Then here are the best motherboards for your Ryzen 7 processor.
On the other hand, a chipset is the part of the motherboard where the processor is being placed. This silicon dorsum is integrated into a motherboard and it is different for different generations of CPUs. For various combinations of components (RAM, GPU, and etc), various chipsets perform differently.
Here is an info chart that shows the most important sockets and their compatible chipsets –
Okay, another important fact while buying the right motherboard is the form factor. Determining your PC case and available space, you have to select a form factor initially. The form factor determines the size and shape of the motherboard.
Motherboards are available in various form factors like ATX (Advanced Technology Extended), EATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, and so on. The ATX is the very basic and common form factor. Following the ATX form factor, micro-ATX and EATX motherboards were introduced. EATX motherboards are a bit larger than the standard ATX ones, while micro-ATX are the smaller variants of the ATX form factors.
When you are not sure which type of motherboard will perfectly fit inside your PC case, you can check the form factor of the motherboard. Perhaps, this image will show the most common types of motherboards and their sizes accordingly –
Depending on the form factor of your motherboard, you will need to buy a proper PC case. On the contrary, depending on your PC case, you will need to buy a motherboard that has the most appropriate form factor.
While we don’t have to worry about laptop motherboards as the form factors are predefined and preinstalled, we need to worry about desktop motherboards. Although the dimensions of most desktop motherboards are standardized, they can also depend on the manufacturer. To know more about form factor, we highly suggest reading our article on types of motherboards.
Depending on the form factor, the components of a motherboard like Expansion slots, DIMM slots also change. Also, you will need the right form factor according to the application of usage. This table shows a brief comparison among various types of motherboards –
Dimensions (width x depth)
Extended ATX (EATX)
12” x 13”
Supermicro / Asus
12” x 9.6”
9.6” x 9.6”
6.7” x 6.7”
Automobiles/ Set-top boxes/ Network devices
4.7” x 4.7”
3.9” x 2.8”
We have already said that depending on the motherboard form factor, the number of expansion slots changes. Talking about expansion slots, we have to mention PCIe, which stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. This expansion bus can operate very quickly while integrating into either the CPU, the chipset, or both.
Motherboards from the current generation often contain PCIe slots. These slots are responsible for connecting graphics cards, hard disks, solid-state drives, network adapters, and more. There are specific numbers of data lanes in each PCIe and they are listed as x1, x4, x8, or x16. Two pairs of wires are contained in each lane, one for transmitting data and another for receiving data.
If you are using a powerful CPU with higher numbers of peripherals like more SSDs or HDDs, you should buy a motherboard with a higher number of expansion slots. Also for NVIDIA SLI or AMD Crossfire, a motherboard with more expansion slots is needed.
For instance, you will need a motherboard with enough expansion slots, especially when you are using the Ryzen 5 processor. So, checking out our 12 best picks for this processor will be worthy of your time. The best motherboards for gaming often come with more PCIe or expansion slots.
RAM (DIMM) Slots:
Like expansion slots, if you are looking for the best gaming motherboards, you should select the ones that have a higher number of RAM or DIMM slots. You should know that – unlike the old motherboards, recent motherboards are built with a dual-channel memory architecture, that is why the RAM slots are called DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Modules) slots.
RAM or DIMM slots hold the RAM modules or sticks for storing temporary data and for fast retrieval of data. The more the number of RAM slots, the more it helps the PCIe for handling multiple tasks simultaneously without slowing down. Therefore, the best gaming motherboards tend to have more RAM slots.
Full-size motherboards like ATX motherboards usually contain four RAM slots, where the compressed ones like the micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboards typically have two slots. Heads up to those motherboards that are used in workstations as they can sometimes come with 8 RAM slots. Such motherboards are compatible with high-end processors like Intel® Core™ X-series processor or Intel® Xeon®9 platform.
Depending on the number of connections that you are going to use, the motherboard should be capable of handling that. That also brings the connections from the casing and power supply. Your motherboard should have a sufficient number of headers and power connectors.
Although this is not a major factor to be concerned about, building high-end PCs require more connections than usual. Some top-grade motherboards have headers for connecting AIO coolers, additional fans, and RGB strip lights. However, every motherboard includes the basic internal connections to build a PC. This picture will give a hint about the internal ports of a motherboard –
Other than just a mouse and keyboard, decide what additional peripherals you often use. And depending on the decision, choose the right motherboard. External ports are needed for connecting accessories like audio speakers, ethernet cables, webcams, headphones, and more.
Generally, a motherboard acts as a hub for connecting external devices. Each motherboard has its own I/O controller for connecting these devices. However, the number of input-output connecting ports may vary depending on the motherboard model, brand, and form factor.
The premium ones include an “I/O shield” that covers the group of external ports. This shield is also removable. However, some recent motherboards have pre-installed I/O shields. Top-level motherboards come with data transfer ports like USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, which allow greater speed. The motherboards that are best for gaming and intensive work usually contain such ports.
Based on the purpose of use, the external ports can be divided into 3 categories, these are – ports for data transfer and accessories, ports for display, ports for audio. This table will help you to understand how these 3 categories work –
Purpose of use
Data Transfer and Accessories
The most common ports for connecting accessories with a transfer rate of 20 GBit/s
Thunderbolt™ 310 port/ USB-C Port
A high-speed port with a data transfer speed of up to 40 GB/s. Also supports DisplayPort 1.2
A legacy port dedicated to connecting keyboards and mouses
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)
A ubiquitous port supporting resolution up to 8K at 30Hz
A common port that is supported by the Thunderbolt™ 3 port
DVI (Digital Video Interface)
An old 29-pin connector supporting resolution up to 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz
VGA (Video Graphics Array)
An analog 15-pin connector supporting resolution up to 2048 x 1536 at 85Hz
2 front 3.5mm audio ports
Used for headphones and microphones
6 rear 3.5mm analog color-coded audio ports
Used for multichannel speaker systems
Finally, your budget for buying a motherboard matters a lot. The price range of motherboards can vary from $96 to $900+. But we can assure you motherboards available at decent prices are very suitable for any type of setups whether it is a gaming PC, a casual PC, or a workstation.
Purchasing a standard ATX motherboard pricing from 100 to 200 dollars will do the job. However, if you are low on budget, you can go for the micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboards. Furthermore, the prices of motherboards also depend on their brands. Brands like ASUS, MSI offer excellent motherboards at prices that are comparatively higher than other brands.
Two things pop into our minds when it comes to budget. One is the manufacturer brand and the other one is warranty. Actually, the warranty depends on the manufacturer.
It is important to identify what kind of motherboard you need for your specific build. Some manufacturers build motherboards focusing more on gaming, while some build motherboards for mainstreaming. Manufacturers like ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, ASRock are ruling the market for a long time.
Now, this brings us to the warranty. Motherboards that are from popular brands usually come with a 3-year warranty. But, it can depend on the brand as well as the model. You don’t have to worry about the warranty because a motherboard will likely fail right out of the box or after a few days. Therefore, rather than the manufacturer’s warranty policy, you should be concerned more about the vendor’s return policy.
1. How do I decide what motherboard to buy?
Ans: While buying the right motherboards for yourself, you should sincerely follow the factors that we have already discussed above, those are –
- Chipset and CPU Socket
- Form Factors
- Expansion Slots
- RAM (DIMM) Slots
- Internal Connections
- External Ports
2. How do I know what size motherboard I have?
Ans: In order to find out the size or dimension of your motherboard, you should know its form factor. The EATX is the largest motherboard and there are other form factors like micro-ATX, mini-ITX that are relatively smaller. The best is to go for a standard ATX motherboard, which usually has a dimension of 12 x 9 inches. Read our article on the types of motherboards to know more about the size of your motherboard.
3. Will any motherboard fit in my case?
Ans: No, not all motherboards will fit your case. There are PC cases that are built especially for micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboards. If you happen to have such a PC case, then you need to find either a micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboard.
On top of that, PC cases that are built for ATX motherboards are compatible with small motherboard form factors. So, you can easily fit a micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboard in such cases. EATX motherboards may also adjust inside cases that are built for standard ATX form factors.
4.How to choose a motherboard for gaming?
Ans: The truth is, almost any motherboard can be used for gaming. It depends more on your budget and the additional peripherals that can be usually seen on a gaming setup. Top-grade motherboards are suggested for gaming PCs because a lot of additional connections are required. The number of RAM slots, PCIe, external ports, internal connections, compatibility with AIO coolers can be considered while choosing the best motherboard for gaming. Before selecting a motherboard for gaming, you need to know how to build a gaming PC.
5. What is a BTX motherboard?
Ans: BTX motherboards were introduced back in late 2004 and early 2005 with the intention to be a substitute for the traditional ATX motherboard. The term BTX stands for “Balanced Technology eXtended”. Gateway Inc was the very first company that implemented such motherboards. Followed by that, Dell and MPC soon invented BTX motherboards.
At the end of this discussion, we highly suggest you follow the above facts for choosing the right motherboard for yourself. Although we have mentioned the most important facts, some also consider the BIOS, PCP (Printed Circuit Board), and features for making their decisions more accurate. Since we have emphasized considering the most important facts, there is no problem if you don’t keep these minors in mind. We wish you all the best in choosing the right motherboard.