Technology

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Motherboards and Their Components

Motherboards have come a long way in the past few decades, from simple black modules that plug into your computer to sleek and modern boards with USB and e-SATA ports and Blu-ray players built in. They’ve even come a long way since your parents installed their first computer. Here’s an up-to-date overview of the main motherboard components so you know what’s what when it comes to buying a new system.

Motherboard: The heart of your computer

First things first: the motherboard. When you buy a computer, you’re actually buying not just the computer itself but the motherboard, which is the brains of the operation and the connection between the rest of the components on the circuit board. The motherboard holds a great deal of information — that’s why it’s called a motherboard. It’s where all the computer information goes, and you can access it using the motherboard’s functions and “find” the devices connected to that computer using the appropriate tabs on the right-hand page of the motherboard’s administrative tool.

The motherboard also contains the chipset, which is the brains of the graphics card. If the motherboard gets a bad rap, it’s mainly because of the connections you need to make to access the chipset: heat spreaders, power and reset buttons, and all the connections that go with it, including the PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect) card slot and the SATA (SATA Advanced Technology) port that links the hard drive to the motherboard.

Mainboard: The motherboard that everyone knows

One of the most significant advancements that happened to the motherboard in recent years was the introduction of the PCIe card slot in the mainboard. Its adoption was slow, but it was well worth the wait. You might have been thinking, “Why would I want to plug a PCIe card into an old-fashioned board with a SATA port instead of FS Tech PCB?”

But the answer is that, while you may not be using the card’s PCIe card reader, the card itself stores data in the form of north and south bridge (PCI Express) responses. PCI Express is the latest evolution of the PCI bus, which was first standardized in the 1980s. It’s faster than PCI, and it has the extra bonus of allowing for twice the amount of graphics processing power. By adding a PCIe card to an old PC with an ancient BIOS, you can get the full potential of the graphics card and still use the computer’s internal modem.

System Memory: How your computer stores and organizes information

There are three main types of system memory: RAM, ROM, and SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM). All three are non-volatile types of memory that don’t require a battery to maintain their programming. RAM is by far the most common type of system memory, and it’s what virtually all computers use.

Your computer’s RAM can range from 1GB to 16GB (2, 4, 8, 16, and 32GB models are available). If your system has 2GB of RAM, you can easily swap out several programs at once without any major impact on system performance. If you have 8GB of RAM, you can probably live without a second hard drive.

CPU: What happens in the “CPU-Z” window

The CPU is the heart of your computer. It regulates the flow of information between your hard drive (the “storage” portion of your computer) and other components of your system. If the CPU malfunctions, your computer won’t boot, and you can’t fix the problem with a simple reboot, this part will likely be faulty. To save yourself some time and money, it’s a good idea to buy a new computer.

The good news is that the majority of modern CPU’s are built with Temperature Management and other micro-management features. This allows the manufacturer to optimize the CPU for reduced temperature and increased clock frequency, with the end goal of increased performance.

LAN (Local Area Network): Your computer’s internal network interface

If your computer is connected to the Internet, you’re probably using a local area network (LAN). Like all computer networks, a LAN uses technologically advanced technologies to keep everything connected, stable, and working properly. LANs use TCP/IP, which is the system used by every computer network on earth.

Like all computer protocols, LANs have changed over time, with each new version adding new functions and improving the overall efficiency of the network. The original version of TCP/IP was developed by David Pissard in the 1960s, and it was published in RFC1483 in 1971.

At the time, computers were connected through local area networks through telephone lines, and Pissard’s protocol was the only way to connect them. Over time, the efficiency of each new version of TCP/IP outweighed the shortcomings of its predecessors, and it has become the de facto standard for modern computer networks. Most modern operating systems support TCP/IP, and you can view all the computers on your network using the utility “ hopping ” on the network.

Networking: Your computer’s external network interface

Your computer’s internal network interface is what allows the computer to communicate with other computers on the network and with devices such as game consoles and smart TVs. There are many different types of interfaces: Serial, Parallel, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, etc. The most common type by far is the Serial line. This type of connection is usually used for connecting computers to each other, such as when two computers on the same floor want to collaborate on data analysis or share files. Most computers have at least one Serial port, and many have two or three. A computer with more than one Serial port can be used to connect different types of equipment. One common use for multiple Serial ports is to connect two computers to access data files shared between the two.

Final Words

Motherboards have come a long way in the past few decades, from simple black modules that plugged into your computer to sleek and modern boards with USB and e-SATA ports and Blu-ray players built in. They’ve even come a long way since your parents installed their first computer. Here’s an up-to-date overview of the main motherboard components so you know what’s what when it comes to buying a new system. Learn more>>>

Anderson Obrain

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