How to Choose a Motherboard – Things to Check Before Buying
Choosing the right motherboard for your build is not that easy as one thinks. It’s a very complicated procedure, and you should know what to check on a motherboard.
There is a lot to it when it comes to choosing. The right motherboard can make your build perform well as well as let you upgrade components in the future effectively. There are tons of motherboards available in the market. It will be challenging if you check these all one by one. The factors that we’ll discuss in this article will narrow down the motherboards list to a few options, making it easier for you to choose.
So rest assured, we’ll be guiding you on how to choose a motherboard. And you’ll be pretty much able to choose the right motherboard for your build.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Choosing a Motherboard – How to Choose a Motherboard
In this guide, I’ll share with you the formula I myself apply when choosing a motherboard. If followed in the below order, It will make the process much easier.
Form Factor and Casing
The first thing I choose before heading to the market for a motherboard is a Form Factor. Now form factor can be defined as the size of the motherboard. There are many form factors in which motherboards are manufactured, such as ATX, Mini-ATX, Micro-ATX, etc.
In your pre-planning for PC Build, choose one form factor. And the form factor of a motherboard and the casing should always be the same. However, you can install a small form factor motherboard on a bigger form factor casing.
But, the smaller the motherboard, the lesser options it gives. Therefore, if you plan on getting a bigger casing, it would be best that you choose a bigger motherboard as it will give more PCIe slots, M.2 connectors, and RAM slots.
Now that you’ve chosen a form factor, now let’s move on to the next condition.
CPU Support – Chipset and Socket
You might have chosen a processor by now. If not, then choose a processor that you’ll be building your PC around. There are many Chipsets and Sockets in which mobos are manufactured.
- It is categorized in LGA 1150, LGA 1151 e.t.c for Intel Processors and AM3, AM4 for AMD Processors. One socket can support a variety of processors. Therefore, check that which socket works best for your desired processor.
- For Chipset, you don’t have to worry about that too much. Choosing the right socket will automatically get you the best chipset for your CPU. However, it would be best if you check that, just to be sure. The chipset controls the communications between your CPU, RAM, and Storage devices, and it can increase the efficiency of your workflow as well.
- The next thing that you can check in a motherboard in this category is its VRM. Now VRM is the capacitors near the CPU that are responsible for providing the CPU with power. The better the VRM, the efficient your PC works. It can also help greatly in overclocking the processor.
Now let’s say you are planning on getting Intel Core i9 9900k, then you’ll have to decide your motherboard and PC build around that processor.
Please note that a motherboard supporting AMD processors can not run Intel processors, and a motherboard supporting Intel Processor cannot run AMD processors.
PCIe Slots and RAM Sockets
The PCI-E slots are for adding the add-on card in the computer for enhancing its work potential. One good example of add-on cards is GPU or Graphics Card. The best PCIe for the recent graphics card is PCI-E 4.0 x16 slot running at x16 or PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot running at x16 mode. Check beforehand that how many PCIe slots does a motherboard offers. Installing Multi-GPU on a motherboard also depends upon the PCIe slots.
Most motherboards have PCIe slots in this manner, 3 PCIe x16 running at x16/8/4 mode, respectively. If you plan to install only one graphics card, then install it on the x16 mode slot. However, installing multi-GPU also depends on whether a motherboard allows that or not.
Then comes in the RAM sockets. The best optimal option would be 4 slots for DDR4 RAM with 128 GB of maximum memory. However, it may also depend upon your budget. 128 GB of maximum ram is just optional. You will not require 128 GB of ram for your daily gaming or workflow in normal cases.
The next thing you can check in a motherboard is how much ram overclocking does it supports. The ram overclocking can be done through BIOS if a motherboard has Extreme Memory Profile or XMP feature.
In the Ports category, the most prioritized factor for me is USB: the more USB ports, the better. However, I don’t mean having any USB ports. A motherboard should have USB Type-C and Type-A ports, but in most cases, Type-C may depend upon your requirements. Furthermore, it should have a mixture of USB 3.2 Gen 2/Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 2/Gen 1, and USB 2.0 ports.
Identify the Audio ports and LAN ports in a motherboard and cross-check whether they fulfill your requirements and budget or not.
The next thing in ports can be your display options. But in most cases, it doesn’t matter as most people install GPU for the display.
Nowadays, a motherboard must have at least 2 M.2 connectors for your M.2 hard drives. The M.2 works extremely fast as compared to the regular SATA hard drives. Therefore, you should always include an M.2 in your build, and your motherboard should be able to run it effectively. It should also have regular SATA connectors for SATA hard drives. SATA hard drives are cheaper as compared to M.2. Therefore, you can add SATA drives with high storage capacity for storing your less important data.
Intel Optane Memory Ready feature is also a must in a motherboard nowadays.
Overclockability and BIOS
The overclockability we are talking about is CPU overclocking. And the CPU overclocking depends upon many factors, and BIOS is one of them. UEFI BIOS is the most ideal BIOS. However, the BIOS of a motherboard should also be easy to use and overclock friendly.
Now for overclocking, It depends on VRM, Chipset, BIOS, and cooling system. Be sure to check these factors beforehand if you’re planning on overclocking your processor.
Build and Looks
A motherboard must be durable and strong in terms of its build quality. Otherwise, there is no point in getting one. Your motherboard should be able to withstand a long time without any damage.
And last but not least, the way it looks. A motherboard should have a good and aesthetics look depending upon your PC theme and requirements.
If you choose your motherboard according to the factors explained above, you’ll be able to choose the best motherboard for yourself or someone else. All the factors mentioned above also depend on your budget. If you are tight on budget, then you cannot expect so much from a motherboard. I hope this article would help many people out there.