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Computer Motherboards

The motherboard connects all the major peripherals together into one operational unit. It is a thin sheet of plastic that links the central processing unit (CPU), input ports, output ports, memory chips, and storage devices. These circuit boards are made for specific purposes from use in desktop computers to portable devices.

What is on the board that makes it important?

Without one, a computer would just be a list of parts not talking to each other. Circuits are printed onto the main board. Circuits, sockets, and slots on the motherboard serve to connect the different components. The essential components are either directly attached to the main board or connected via cables.

The central processing unit is soldered onto the printed board. There are heat sinks and fans to cool the components. One or more chipsets are present to control input and output operations and interface with the CPU. These chipsets are made by AMD and Intel. The memory chips are inserted into slots on the board. The power connector attached to the board distributes power to all of the peripherals. The BIOS, which controls the startup sequence, is on a read-only memory chip. One or more hard drives or optical drives are connected to the board via cables. Some have slots for video cards, network cards, and other types of peripherals.

Who makes motherboards?

Some manufacturers of motherboards are ASUS, Gigabyte Technology, MSI, and ASRock.

What kinds of boards are there?

The earliest boards were of the advanced technology (AT) type, and they were used in the 1980s in the first personal computers. These were followed by the ATX design. This type was designed to allow for full-sized expansion boards to be inserted into all the sockets. The ATX design connects all the components through board sockets and slots. It keeps the components cool by use of a fan that blows air across the processor from inside the case instead of pulling air through the casing.

Do motherboards have the same components?

They are built for different purposes, from basic computing to high-end gaming, to animation rendering. For consumer-level computers, the minimum components included are one CPU, one or more memory chips, one Intel or AMD chipset, a video card, a hard drive, and some ports for input and output. As the usage becomes more specialized or demanding, the number of individual components increases. For example, a gaming computer may have more than one cooling fan. A video-rendering machine may need more than one graphics card. Some have more heat sinks to control cooling internally. As standards change, the board may need to allow for multiple versions of a particular component. For example, a board can have both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, because users could need both.

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