Moth­er­boards The Life­line of Your Desk­top

If you are a gamer, or like to cus­tomise your PC and build it from scratch, the moth­er­board is what you re­quire to link all the im­por­tant and key com­po­nents to­gether. Let’s find out how to se­lect the best desk­top moth­er­boards.

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The cen­tral pro­cess­ing unit (CPU) can be con­sid­ered to be the brain of a sys­tem or a PC in lay­man’s lan­guage, but it still needs a ‘ner­vous sys­tem’ to be con­nected with all the other com­po­nents in your PC. A moth­er­board plays this role, as all the com­po­nents are at­tached to it and to each other with the help of this board. It can be de­fined as a PCB (printed cir­cuit board) that has the ca­pa­bil­ity of ex­pand­ing. As the name sug­gests, a moth­er­board is be­lieved to be the ‘mother’ of all the com­po­nents at­tached in it, in­clud­ing net­work cards, sound cards, hard drives, TV tuner cards, slots, etc. It holds the most sig­nif­i­cant sub-sys­tems— the pro­ces­sor along with other im­por­tant com­po­nents. A moth­er­board is found in all elec­tron­ics de­vices like TVs, wash­ing ma­chines and other em­bed­ded sys­tems. Since it pro­vides the elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions through which other com­po­nents are con­nected and linked with each other, it needs the most at­ten­tion. It hosts other de­vices and sub­sys­tems and also con­tains the cen­tral pro­cess­ing unit, un­like the back­plane.

There are quite a lot of com­pa­nies that deal with moth­er­boards and Simmtron­ics is one among the lead­ing play­ers. Ac­cord­ing to Dr In­der­jeet Sab­brawal, chair­man, Simmtron­ics, “Simmtron­ics has been one of the ex­clu­sive man­u­fac­tur­ers of moth­er­boards in the hard­ware in­dus­try over the last 20 years. We strongly be­lieve in cre­ativ­ity, in­no­va­tion and R&D. Cur­rently, we are ful­fill­ing our com­mit­ment to pro­vide the lat­est main­stream moth­er­boards. At Simmtron­ics, the qual­ity of the moth­er­boards is strictly con­trolled. At present, the mar­ket is not grow­ing.… In­dia still has a var­ied mar­ket for older gen­er­a­tion mod­els as well as the lat­est mod­els of moth­er­boards.”

Fac­tors to con­sider while buy­ing a moth­er­board

In a desk­top, sev­eral es­sen­tial units and com­po­nents are at­tached di­rectly to the moth­er­board, such as the mi­cro­pro­ces­sor, main mem­ory, etc. Other com­po­nents, such as the ex­ter­nal stor­age con­trollers for sound and video dis­play and var­i­ous pe­riph­eral de­vices, are at­tached to it through slots, plug-in cards or ca­bles. There are a num­ber of fac­tors to keep in mind while buy­ing a moth­er­board, and th­ese de­pend on the spe­cific re­quire­ments. Linux is slowly tak­ing over the PC world and, hence, peo­ple now look for Linux-sup­ported moth­er­boards. As a re­sult, almost ev­ery moth­er­board now sup­ports Linux. The many fac­tors to keep in mind when buy­ing a Linux-sup­ported moth­er­board are dis­cussed be­low.

CPU socket

The cen­tral pro­cess­ing unit is the key com­po­nent of a moth­er­board and its per­for­mance is pri­mar­ily de­ter­mined by the kind of pro­ces­sor it is de­signed to hold. The CPU socket can be de­fined as an elec­tri­cal com­po­nent that con­nects or at­taches to the moth­er­board and is de­signed to house a mi­cro­pro­ces­sor. So, when you’re buy­ing a moth­er­board, you should look for a CPU socket that is com­pat­i­ble with the CPU you have planned to use. Most of the time, moth­er­boards use one of the fol­low­ing five sock­ets -- LGA1155, LGA2011, AM3, AM3+ and FM1. Some of the sock­ets are back­ward com­pat­i­ble and some of the chips are in­ter­change­able. Once you opt for a moth­er­board, you will be limited to us­ing the pro­ces­sors that of­fer sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Form fac­tor

A moth­er­board’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties are broadly de­ter­mined by its shape, size and how much it can be ex­panded – th­ese as­pects are known as form fac­tors. Although there is no fixed de­sign or form for moth­er­boards, and they are avail­able in many vari­a­tions, two form fac­tors have al­ways been the favourites -- ATX and mi­croATX. The ATX moth­er­board mea­sures around 305cm x 23cm (12 inch x 9 inch) and of­fers the high­est num­ber of ex­pan­sion slots, RAM bays and data con­nec­tors. Mi­croATX moth­er­boards mea­sure 24.38cm x 24.38cm (9.6 x 9.6 inch) and have fewer ex­pan­sion slots, RAM bays and other com­po­nents. The form fac­tor of a moth­er­board can be de­cided ac­cord­ing to what pur­pose the moth­er­board is ex­pected to serve.

RAM bays

Ran­dom ac­cess mem­ory (RAM) is con­sid­ered the most im­por­tant workspace in a moth­er­board, where data is pro­cessed even after be­ing re­moved from the hard disk drive or solid state drive. The ef­fi­ciency of your PC di­rectly de­pends on the speed and size of your RAM. The more space you have on your RAM, the more ef­fi­cient your com­put­ing will be. But it’s no use hav­ing a RAM with greater ef­fi­ciency than your moth­er­board can support, as that will be just a waste of the ex­tra po­ten­tial. Nei­ther can you have RAM with lesser ef­fi­ciency than the moth­er­board, as then the PC will not work well due to the bot­tle­necks caused by mis­matched ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Choos­ing the moth­er­board which sup­ports just the right RAM is vi­tal.

Apart from th­ese fac­tors, there are many oth­ers to con­sider be­fore se­lect­ing a moth­er­board. Th­ese in­clude the audio sys­tem, dis­play, LAN support, ex­pan­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties and pe­riph­eral in­ter­faces.

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