Buying A Motherboard: The Beginner’s PC-Building Guide!

When you get a new desktop computer or laptop, it’s tempting to just assume that everything will work together and then move on to other things. But it’s important to understand that the motherboard is one of the most important parts of your PC. It contains all the circuitry your computer uses, including any chipsets (the “brains” of your system) and video cards. Different motherboards can affect performance so much because they have different types of components within them—especially memory slots, which dictate how much RAM you can install in a given machine. It also has a processor socket and other features.

Because most computers come with integrated graphics instead of dedicated ones these days, it’s less likely that you’ll ever see an Intel vs. AMD comparison for motherboards (though this has become more popular recently due to GPU manufacturers making their own chipsets). 

Still, though, unless you’re building a gaming PC using Intel chipsets exclusively or working in some other highly specialized industry where having specific hardware at hand matters more than anything else, there aren’t really any clear winners when it comes down to Intel vs. AMD motherboards either way. 

Motherboards come in different shapes and sizes: some are square, others rectangular, or even can come as tiny as your palms together; one may have a few ports on its side while another has none at all. They can also differ in features as well, so make sure you look over your choice carefully before buying it to ensure that it will fit into your case comfortably.

Why Do You Need A Motherboard?

A motherboard is the main circuit board in a computer that connects all the other parts of the computer together. The CPU and memory are connected to the motherboard, so it’s responsible for running all the programs on your computer. It also allows you to use external devices such as keyboards, mice, and monitors.

The motherboard is an integral part of any computer because it’s what makes everything work together. Without one, you wouldn’t have access to any files or programs on your system; in fact, there’d be no point in owning a PC at all.

Choosing, and I mean carefully choosing, your motherboard would be critical if you are somewhat of a computer enthusiast or just generally a person who wants to make the most out of your devices. Your whole computer setup will solely rely on the motherboard, making it the most important component of a PC. So, that is why you need a motherboard.

How To Buy A Motherboard

You don’t just consider buying any motherboard. Or just pick “anything”, well, there is for sure a standard motherboard for standard uses like surfing the internet, typing, or even simply streaming videos or movies. Well, to buy a motherboard, there are a lot of things to consider. And this list will tell you just that. 

Form Factor

The first thing to consider when buying a motherboard is the form factor you need. In other words, how big or small do you want your PC to be? There are three main (most-bought) motherboard form factors: ATX, Micro ATX, and the Mini ITX. ATX is the most common type of motherboard; it’s what you’ll find in most pre-built desktops. It measures 12 by 9 inches and has mounting holes spaced at 0.8-inch intervals. microATX motherboards are smaller than ATX boards (9.6 x 9.6 inches), as well as more compact, thanks to their reduced size. Mini ITX motherboards are by far the smallest of the three types mentioned above; they measure 6.75 by 6.75 inches with mounting holes spaced at 0.7-inch intervals apart from each other. These three motherboards are just some of the top motherboard form factors out there, and there are more motherboard form factors that you can review on our website too! You may check it out! 


One of the most important things you need to consider is how much RAM you need. The amount of RAM supported by your motherboard will depend on the type and number of slots available. The most common types are DDR3 and DDR4, which are backward compatible but operate at different speeds. If you’re buying a new motherboard, it’s best to look for one that supports the more modern DDR4 standard (in addition to running faster than its predecessor). RAM comes in many forms: DIMM, SO-DIMM, UDIMM, and others are just some of the terms used to describe it—so it can get confusing when shopping for new components. You’ll want to make sure that whatever type of RAM you’re buying is compatible with your board, if possible. Otherwise, you may end up needing expensive adapters or replacement parts down the line—and that’s not something anyone wants when they should be enjoying their new gaming PC.

Expansion Slots

It’s essential to check the motherboard for expansion slots and make sure it can accommodate your needs. If you want to install a video card, for example, the motherboard should have one or more PCI-E x16 slots. You’ll also need a couple of PCI-E x1 slots if you want to add other expansion cards like Wi-Fi adapters or sound cards. But if you aren’t considering the need for expansion slots, meaning your motherboard has fewer slots than what you need, you can either buy additional expansion cards or use a PCI-to-PCI bridge. A bridge allows two PCIe devices to be connected to one slot. You can also use an adapter card (which plugs into a PCI slot), but these tend to be expensive and aren’t as stable as bridges.


Of course, one of the biggest features you really need is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you’re looking for a motherboard with Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth, you can check for the wireless technology in its name. For example, Intel’s Wireless-AC 3168 is a dual-band 802.11 ac wireless card that supports up to 1.73 Gbps transfer speeds. Many motherboards are equipped with integrated Wi-Fi adapters that let you connect your PC wirelessly or have built-in Bluetooth capabilities so that you can use wireless peripherals like mice and keyboards without additional adapters or cables.


The chipset, or motherboard chipset, is a set of integrated circuits that allows your computer to communicate with its components. A chipset may include other components like memory controllers and interfaces for external devices, but the term “chipset” usually refers specifically to the CPU’s Northbridge and Southbridge. Now, before you can buy a motherboard, you need to make sure that the processor, RAM, graphics card, and storage device you want to use are compatible with it. To do this, check the chipset of your processor and make sure your motherboard supports it. You can also search online for lists of compatible processors and motherboards or contact the manufacturer for help. But it is better to check everything before buying so you won’t have any troubles.

Processor Socket

If you have a specific processor in mind, it is also essential that the motherboard you choose is compatible with that processor. The same goes for any other components you may have, such as RAM or a graphics card—make sure all of your parts are compatible before buying. This is an important step because some motherboards use different sockets for certain kinds of processors. For example, Intel’s latest Skylake processors require an 1151-pin socket; older Broadwell chips are compatible with 1150-pin sockets. Intel has also introduced a new series of low power (TDP) versions of the 6th generation core processors, which are compatible with BGA packages instead of LGA ones. Suppose you have one of these CPUs and want to use it in conjunction with a traditional motherboard. In that case, your best bet is probably going to be buying a Z170 version instead—the differences between these two types aren’t really worth discussing here because they’re not all that significant anyway. This is just an example.


If you’re planning on overclocking your CPU, you’ll need a motherboard supporting it. This is because the extra heat that comes from overclocking will heat up your CPU and cause damage if it’s not dissipated correctly. This tip applies to the majority of computer hardware. Overclocking is when you make your CPU run faster than its original speed, which can improve performance but also increases the risk of overheating and damage to the CPU. If you’re not sure what overclocking is, or why it’s important, then this isn’t a feature you need to worry about right now—we recommend that you research it further before making any decisions on whether or not to purchase a motherboard with this ability. And if you do decide that overclocking is something worth exploring, make sure there are no issues with heat dissipation before doing so. Some motherboards have better cooling solutions than others, so check out our reviews and find one that will work best for your needs if this interests you at all. 

Questions Asked By Motherboard Buyers

Wrap Up

The above guide is designed to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a motherboard. It is important that you take your time and do some research to ensure that the board you buy will meet all of your needs. It may be a long read but taking your time to understand this guide if you really want a computer compatible with your wants and needs will definitely help. 

And even with this said, of course, the number one thing you need to think of is your budget. Do not get intimidated by high-end motherboards and their components. The cost of a motherboard can vary greatly depending on the features and brand you choose. If you’re looking for something with lots of bells and whistles at a low cost, we recommend doing proper research, and this will help you get your desired setup and parts at affordable pricing!

Our Other Motherboard Buying Guides

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Anna Bonilla
Anna Bonilla

Anna isn't just any ordinary Computer Hardware Expert, she's highly skilled and multi-talented. She's a graphic designer, a writer, and a social media expert. At ErrorBook, she helps her readers in understanding the purpose of different hardware components and also helps pick the best PC Parts for their money. She also loves babysitting her nephews, baking, and crafting coffee.

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