It is mistakenly believed that motherboards are not important when assembling a PC. Many are convinced that motherboards are not capable of affecting the comfort of using the system and the performance in games. In fact, this is not the case. And if you want to know a little more about what exactly motherboards are responsible for and how to choose them, you are at the right place.
Many do not worry too much when choosing motherboards. A huge number of people believe that a motherboard is needed only to connect the central and graphic processor to it and RAM. And while this is so, it is still an incredibly superficial definition of exactly what a motherboard is for.
In fact, it is thanks to the motherboard that your PC is able to function. Otherwise, all your components, scattered in their logic of work and purpose, would not make sense and simply would not work. Therefore, it is the motherboard that would be fairest to be called the heart of the computer. And yes, as is the case with a real heart, in no case can you save on a motherboard. But why is it so? Now let’s figure it out in detail.
What is a motherboard?
The motherboard is the main circuit board of a computer. It connects all components, such as CPU, GPU, and memory. The motherboard contains many ports for connecting various devices like USB or sound input-output (I/O), which are essential if your system functions properly.
Modern motherboards also have SATA ports for mass storage devices so that you can connect them without any issues. Operating systems use these SATA connections to install themselves on an HDD device; otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible since they don’t communicate with graphics cards! Motherboard manufacturers give their products different model names, but most people refer to them by name brands instead; MSI Gaming series boards are one example of this common practice in the industry.
How to Choose a Motherboard for Gaming?
When it comes to the specifications of motherboards, there are three important considerations that you should take into account: form factor, socket type, and chipset. So, how to choose a motherboard? Let’s go over each one in more detail.
First of all, you should decide on which processor you are going to buy and from which manufacturer. But what does the processor have to do with it? The fact is that chips of different models from different manufacturers have, roughly speaking, different structures. In this regard, you should take a motherboard, relying primarily on this, since if your processor and motherboard have different sockets, then you simply cannot install the chip.
The most common and popular sockets at the moment are:
- AM4 in the case of AMD processors
- LGA 1151, LGA 1151v2 and LGA 2066 in terms of Intel chips
You can also find AMD processors and motherboards with other sockets, namely TRX40 and TR4. For the sake of fairness, it should be said that this socket is found either in high-performance chips or in strictly specialized ones.
The processor in a PC is one of the hottest components that need cooling. But how do you choose the right CPU cooler …
It is worth talking about the type of connection between the motherboard and the processor, how exactly they are connected. Currently, two types of connections are relevant: PGA and LGA.
If we talk about PGA, this connection is inherent in motherboards for processors from AMD, although there are rare representatives from Intel. This mount is characteristic in that the processor itself has contact “legs” inserted into the motherboard. The difference is clear.
Meanwhile, LGA connectivity is typical of Intel processors, although there are exceptions in servers and specialized chips from AMD. This connection is opposite to the PGA because the chip itself does not have the contact mentioned above “pins.” Instead, they are located on the motherboard itself. This information is especially important when choosing a motherboard and a processor from Intel because the company often indicates the type of attachment right in the name.
A lot of people say the word “chipset” means a socket. This is a serious mistake. And in order not to make such mistakes, let’s figure out with you what it is. To put it briefly and clearly, a chipset is a technical means that connects the motherboard itself with all devices connected to it and allows all of them to interact with each other intelligently.
But you shouldn’t think of a chipset as just some kind of central hub between all the components. In fact, what additional functions you will have depends on the chipset, what will be the limit during overclocking and whether it will be possible at all, how much RAM can be supplied in terms of the volume and number of dies, and so on.
Also, be careful about whether your processor supports the chipset that is present on the motherboard of your choice. Sometimes, processors with one socket with the motherboard are incompatible precisely because of the chipset. Watch for this too.
The most relevant motherboard chipsets for processors from Intel are Z390 and Z370. There are differences between these chipsets, but they are insignificant. It is worth saying only about the fact that the Z390 has a built-in Wi-Fi module, Bluetooth and can also have USB 3.1 connectors of the second generation, while the Z370 does not.
Chipsets for motherboards, especially for AMD processors, cannot be ignored… The best are all X series chipsets, namely: X570, X470, X370, and others. They contain all the technologies that you only need, ranging from the notorious Wi-Fi to SLI, overclocking, CrossFire technology, and so on. You can also consider motherboards based on B450 chipsets together with B350 for purchase if SLI with CrossFire is not important to you.
Random-access memory is an essential element of any computer. It affects the operation of the entire system no less than the central and graphic processor. That is why choosing a motherboard for compatibility with RAM should be approached no less responsibly than all other points.
To begin with, it is worth mentioning the simplest and most obvious – there are a lot of RAM standards. But if you are assembling a modern system, then this point does not concern you for the most part.
Remember that for gaming systems, take a motherboard that supports DDR4 RAM in a very different direction. DDR2 and three have long been past generations that are unable to meet modern demands and requirements for speed and performance. And besides, if your motherboard supports DDR4, you simply cannot install a die of another generation, for example, DDR3, and vice versa.
Another point that directly concerns RAM is the operation with which RAM frequency the board supports. That is, look at what frequency the selected RAM will have and what frequency of this same RAM the motherboard supports. For example, if the board supports RAM at 2.133 MHz, but you put the die at 2.400 MHz, then the memory will operate at the frequency supported by the board. As a result, it turns out that you will overpay for RAM.
The same goes for volume. A motherboard that only supports 16GB will not be able to utilize the entire 32GB die fully. Most computers and laptops have an integrated (built-in) graphics card. But for the operation of the video adapter, only a part is used.
This point is quite simple and proceeds from the fact that the motherboard will be installed, in which case. For more information about the standard sizes of the mainboards, cases and how to choose them correctly, you can familiarize yourself with one of the previous materials. But in general, for PCs that will be used for games and demanding work, it is worth taking ATX or E-ATX motherboards. The number of available interfaces directly depends on this.
Your PC can be functional and serve as an extremely stylish decor element. It would seem, what could be easier than choosing a case? But ATX size is standard and is used by most of us. It has more than enough connectors and ports for the average gamer.
In the meantime, E-ATX should only be installed in significant cases since the size of this motherboard is extremely large. However, E-ATX is the best option for most top-end systems because it can accommodate much more components.
Connectors and interfaces
This point is very clear. You should decide in advance what exactly and in what quantity you will connect to your PC, and based on this, you should take a motherboard. And do not take a motherboard with end-to-end connectors. Take stock so that you always have, for example, at least a couple of additional USB ports. Also, if you are going to connect something via PCI Express or install an M.2 drive and so on, first find out if there are corresponding slots on the motherboard of your choice.
For reference: as a rule, the more modern high-speed ports on a motherboard, the better the chipset on it. Deciding which SSD to buy is a tricky one. Moreover, when you want to take something with a good ratio.
In general terms, the power supply phases determine the current supplied to the motherboard and the level of its heating. The more power phases on the motherboard, the more uniform and less load placed on each phase. Thanks to the increase in their number, the motherboard manufacturer can make it less susceptible to strong heating. The more phases, the better.
However, it is worth noting that the influence of the feeding phases on the uniformity of the distribution of this very power supply and the level of heat generated does not end there. Phases are also very important when overclocking. If there are few of them, then you can forget about overclocking.
Choosing a motherboard is not an easy task. How much money do you want to spend on it? Which features should your motherboard have? How long should the warranty be for it to be worth spending extra money on it? These are all important questions that need to be answered before buying a motherboard. Now you know how to choose a motherboard for gaming.