the heart of a PC. Some manufacturers use the terms
, and Intel calls
. No matter what
you call it, the motherboard defines the PC. It provides the common
link to all other components inside the PC, including the CPU,
memory, disk drives, video and sound adapters, keyboard, mouse, and
other peripheral components. If you are building a PC, choosing the
motherboard is the most important decision you make and can be one of
the most difficult. If you are upgrading a PC, replacing the
motherboard is often the best and most cost-efficient means of doing
so. If you are buying a PC, the motherboard it uses determines its
functionality and future upgradability. This chapter describes the
characteristics of motherboards, provides purchasing guidelines, and
explains how to install and configure a motherboard.
Several characteristics differentiate motherboards, including physical characteristics, which in combination are called the form factor; the chipset used, which defines the capabilities of the motherboard; the processors the motherboard supports; the BIOS it uses; and the internal and expansion buses that it supports. The following sections examine each of these factors.
Motherboards differ in size, shape, position of mounting holes, power supply connector type, and port types and locations. Together, these differences ...