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The Printed Circuit Board! OH! Motherboard!

Updated on September 18, 2017
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Computer technician with 15 years in the industry. I hold an A+ Certification, as well as a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology.

The MotherBoard

Major Components Please!

The motherboard inside of PC holds all major components in your computer. It is the primary (PCB) Printed Circuit Board. If you've ever opened a computer case up, such as a desktop computer case, you'll notice that this board has a lot of slots, input outlets, fan and chips. It's primary duty is to hold major components such as:

  • Bios
  • RAM slots
  • Processor fan
  • HDD/DVD connectors
  • CPU/Microprocessor
  • Video Card
  • Hard Drive connectors
  • Power Connectors

The motherboard supplies the electrical connections that allows the components of the computer to communicate.

What Components

Let's Explore!

Before moving forward with 'Form Factors,' lets explore a few of these features or components that's on the the motherboard.

  1. Sockets: One or more microprocessors might be installed. Ball grid array package (surface mount package or the chip carrier), the Central Processing Unit is soldiered directly onto the motherboard.
  2. Slots: Holds the systems main memory (normally in the form of DRAM and DIMM).
  3. Chipset: Provides the interface between the main memory, peripheral buses, and front side bus.
  4. Clock-generator: produces the systems clock-signal for synchronization to various components.
  5. Slots expansion cards: ( interfaces to the system by way of buses that's supported by chipset).
  6. Power connectors:, receives the electric power from the power supply and distributes it to the chipset, main memory, CPU and also expansion cards.
  7. Connectors: necessary for hard drives, normally SATA only.

Also, just about all motherboards supply logic and the connectors to support typically used input devices, like a USB for mouse and/or keyboards.

What Does Form Factor Have To Do With Motherboards

Well! Motherboards are designed in a few different shapes and sizes and may be specific to a certain manufacturer. But, the motherboards utilized in IBM compatibles will usually fit different case sizes. Many motherboards for desktops utilized the ATX form factor which is the standard. The form factor( size & shape) and the PSU (power supply unit) must be a match. However, some smaller motherboards will fit larger cases if they're in the same family. For instance: the ATX case will typically accommodate a micro ATX board.

Laptops normally use small customized and highly integrated motherboards. That's why laptops are some times harder to upgrade and could be more expensive to repair. Many times, the failure of one component could require a motherboard replacement. This is sometimes more expensive than replacement motherboard for a desktop, due to the number of integrated components, shape customization and size.

The Form Factor

Different Types of Motherboards

The most commonly utilized motherboard form factors today are:

  • ATX is the oldest and most standard and has been in use since 1995
  • MicroATX is a smaller version of the ATX and is backward compatible to the ATX form factor.
  • ITX consumes less power than the ATX form factor. Is a small form factor design for miniITX, nanoITX and picoITX.

Why Is It Called Motherboard?

The motherboard is the major component in any assembled computer, tablet, laptop and even cell phone. It is the key platform for communication for all components of the system.

There is an array of motherboards that are available. The choices are phenomenal, however, motherboards can have a different form factor but did you know that each motherboard has a unique socket to handle a specific type of CPU. Then naturally the mother board form factor will also define:

  • Case Dimension
  • Location for mounting holes
  • Number of ports on back panel
  • Type of Power supply (PS)

Standard form factors ensure that the parts are interchangeable

Then again, naturally when you go into discussing the motherboard it is a broad topic. There are many parts of a mother board and each with its own set of parameters and instructions. However, it all effortlessly flows together to provide us with a functional pc.

The CPU, Ram Slots, Busses and Buss Speed, as well as Chipset can all be discussed here. Then we can go on to the Power Supply, HDD and connectors and BIOS. We can very well write an entire book on just the mother board alone. Motherboards can greatly vary however, dependent on the components that it is supporting. For instance: each motherboard can support a single kind of CPU and a short list of different kinds of memory some peripherals, video cards and hard drives might not be compatible.

However, everything that's inside of the case is in some way connected to the motherboard so all the hardware can communicate with one another.

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    • Jack dom profile image

      Jack Dom 

      12 months ago from Dubai, UAE

      very nice article :)

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