Both for those who enjoy building a custom computer and for those who want to get maximum power at an affordable price, the process of selecting a motherboard is essential, since to a large extent it will determine all the elements that must be combined. to achieve good performance.
It must be taken into account that, first of all, the motherboard not only defines the type of socket, that is, the type of processors that we will have available, but also, if we intend to make updates in the future, it will be the component that sets the limits to our capacity for expansion.
How to choose a motherboard suitable for our needs
When we analyze prefabricated computers we can see how the investment made in the motherboard is usually very small compared to that of other components. This is not because motherboards are cheaper, but because, generally, there is not much appreciation for motherboards with higher performance or that offer a better value.
But, above all, for those who want to get the most out of their equipment, for example by performing ” overclocking ” actions, having a high-performance motherboard can be vital to achieve good results without damaging the components.
That is why it is interesting to look at the most relevant aspects that the plates usually offer us.
1. The socket defines the entire architecture of the platform
When assembling a computer, many prefer to start with the processor. Once the processor has been chosen, they choose a suitable board and continue with the rest of the components. Most of the configurators in different computer stores are like this. This makes sense since the processor defines the socket and from there we shape everything. Furthermore, it is the processor that defines the board, since most board manufacturers adapt them to offer maximum results concerning the processor they mount.
To give an example, this happens with RAM slots. Certain processors cannot use multiple channels above 2 (or Bichannel), as is the case with the LGA1151 range processors, which are the most common among gamers.
This is why motherboards that mount the H4 socket only have 4 memory slots. On the other hand, if we go to LGA2066 things change significantly, given that the processors they use, not so oriented to gaming, but to heavier work, can support 4 channels without problems (or Quadchannel).
Therefore, if we want a lot of memory and high performance for the kind of work we are going to do (such as 3D design), the best idea is to start with the board to find out which ones support Quadchannel and which only Bichannel.
But if your goal is to build a gaming computer, this is not an issue that should worry you too much.
2. PCI-x lines options to expand with cards without limits
Like the previous section, it is the processors that limit this, but it is the boards that enable it in the background. It doesn’t matter if we have a processor that supports 44 lines if the motherboard only offers 4 slots.
If we have in mind to buy several graphics cards to do SLI or Crossfire, along with one or more M.2 disks, and we do not want to do without other types of cards, such as the internal Wifi network card or a video capturer like Elgato HD60 to record the games or stream them, it is very important not to ignore this section.
As we add cards we will realize that a poorly chosen motherboard can fall short. The same happens with other ports such as USB, SATA, etc… Generally, there are plenty of them, but it is always recommended that when purchasing the equipment and its components we leave a few ports of each type free, just in case.
3. Plate size
Finally, another issue that many must keep in mind is the size of the plate according to the box where we want to insert it. There are three form factors:
Mini-ITX: the smallest, generally designed for racks or media centers with restricted dimensions. The issue is that they have many compatibility problems with the different components that are usually available on the market.
Micro-ATX: many users are bothered by having a huge case, and this is where these types of boards come in, not too large so as not to take up a whole space, but adequate to be compatible with almost all components on the market.
ATX: this is the most classic and the one that every gamer should consider if they do not want to invest too much money since it is the one that offers maximum compatibility.