Component Advice: Motherboard checklist

With the help of our friends at Asus, we have put together the first in a series of a component checklist.  This will be aimed at giving a bit of advice on what features to check for when you’re on the look out for upgrade components to your PC.

First up, we’re looking at Motherboards and we have condensed the major requirements down to a magnificent seven (unrelated to the name of the Beckham baby girl).

Socket Type

The crucial point with socket types is that it must be compatible with your CPU choice.  The main benefit of buying the latest socket is that it allows for an extended potential for future upgrades, thus a careful investment now should ensure that you go longer before you need to consider reinvesting.  The current set of sockets of choice include Intel 1155, 1366 or AMD AM3 or AM3+.

Peripheral Connectivity

Think carefully about what you want to use your PC for and what peripherals you’ll need to fulfill those requirements.  What do you want to connect it to?  If you have a USB3.0 external hard drive then you’ll want to have USB3.0 on-board.  External HDDs, Monitors, printers and cameras can all have specific connections, a few quick checks beforehand can make things a lot smoother in the long run.

RAM Type

Perhaps the most important considerations for RAM choice is the type and capacity.  The main types of RAM include, SDRAM, DDR and Rambus DRAM.  Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) is one of the older formats and as such would be slow by today’s standards.  DDR3 would be a good choice for most.  Capacity doubles in size from 8GB to 16GB to 32GB and so on.  Also important to be aware of is the number of dual in-line memory modules or DIMM slots that are available, more slots mean better upgrade flexibility.

Storage Connectivity

Storage connectivity can vary from HDD to SSD to Firewire and more.  Do you need SATA 6GB or SATA 3GB?  It comes down to future upgradability and overall performance you want to achieve.

Graphics Solution

Essentially there are two options; On-board or Dedicated.  With on-board graphics you’ll be equipped for basic computing with outputs along the line of DSUB, DVI, HDMI or DP.  If your rig is going to be built with gaming in mind you’ll need multiple PCI-Ex16 slots for up to three add on graphics cards.

Size

The size of your case will dictate what size motherboard you can use.  The typical range of sizes are Mini ITX, mATX, ATX or E-ATX.

Expansion Slots

The final point on the motherboard magnificent seven is expansion slots. The two main varieties are PCi and the newer PCI-e, which has improvements which include a more detailed error detection and reporting mechanism.

Now that you’re more familiar with our chosen ‘motherboard magnificent seven’, let me know what you think of them all.  Is there any others that you think should be included?  Are there any that you’d like more information on?

Let me know and I’d be happy to produce a more detailed profile.

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