What Is A Motherboard? Components, Types, Pricing, Explained!

Motherboards are everywhere! From our phones to laptops, and PCs, they are even part of some smart appliances. Most of you might already know what a motherboard is.

what is a motherboard
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Maybe you want to dig deeper into motherboards and learn about the parts or components that combined together are the backbone of every modern computer. Or it could be that you just came across the term form factor and wondered what it has to do with motherboards.

If you are here on the hunt for motherboard-related content, you are good to keep on scrolling through the following.

What Is A Motherboard?

A Motherboard is technically the backbone of a computer. It is a printed circuit board that wires all the components within the system. And it connects the computer’s hardware components such as the processor, memory, hard drive, sound card, and video card.

Various motherboards are designed to fit multiple computer types and sizes, depending on what you need a computer for.

The compatibility of a motherboard is determined by the components’ needs of your computer. The power needed for the device to work relies on the motherboard. It communicates with all the components to make it run. Just like in humans, our nervous system is our motherboard.

We need our nervous system to function properly and accordingly. There are tons of complicated things when it comes to talking about motherboards. Let’s break some of them down and erase the confusion.

How Do Motherboards Work?

A motherboard works as the main component of a computer. Everything is connected to the motherboard, and everything relies on the motherboard. Hence, the word mother and the board comes from the printed circuit board. It’s the primary piece of hardware (and the most important) for a computer to start running. It works in unison since computers tend to be complicated devices.

It contains all the critical components which are upgradeable. Many computer users mod their components to match the work they do with the device. Things like gaming, video editing, rendering, and multitasking need more powerful computers. And when it comes to light browsing, video streaming, and office work, it only needs average-powered computers. There are a lot of various motherboard choices tailored for specific needs.

History Of Motherboards

In 1981, the first motherboard was used in a computer. It was named the “Planar Breadboard” that IBM made. It just consisted of a CPU, RAM, and some chips. The motherboard wasn’t invented suddenly. It grew in development to what a motherboard is today. Like all the common gadgets, the motherboard has slowly become a part of our digital lives. Here’s a short timeline of all the important events involved in the history of motherboards.

1981IBMThe Planar Breadboard was first used and made.
1984IBMIntroduced the Full AT motherboard form factor.
1985IBMIntroduced the Baby AT motherboard form factor.
1995IntelLaunched the ATX motherboard.
1997Intel, IBM, and DECPartnered together and developed the NLX form factor.
1997Intel and FICBoth released the first AGP-supported motherboard in the same year.
1997IntelIntroduced the microATX motherboard.
2001TQ-ComponentsIntroduced the UTX motherboard.
2001VIA TechnologiesIntroduced the Mini-ITX form factor.
2003PCI-SIGLaunched the PCI Express-standard motherboards.
2003VIA TechnologiesIntroduced the Nano-ITX form factor.
2004NvidiaIntroduced their SLI technology—capable of putting two video cards on a motherboard.
2004IntelLaunched the BTX, microBTX, and PicoBTX form factors.
2004VIA TechnologiesLaunched the Mobile-ITX form factor.
2006The microATX was able to have two video cards for video games.
2006SupermicroLaunched SWTX motherboard form factor.
2007VIA TechnologiesIntroduced their Pico-ITX form factor.
2007AMDLaunched the DTX and Mini-DTX form factor.
2010EVGALaunched the HPTX motherboard form factor.

Types Of Motherboards

They all vary in capabilities and performance, limitations, features, size (form factor), use case, brands, etc. We will give you a short idea of the different types within those mentioned above.

By Size Or Form Factor

Almost every device we use has a motherboard. They all vary in size or form factor depending on what product is suitable for it like the smaller ones are for smaller devices and the larger ones are for the ones that have many functions like computers.

E-ATXIs the largest ATX model for full-tower cases while still providing enough room for functionality.
ATXIs the most common ATX model with greater standardization and interchangeability of parts.
microATXIs the least expensive ATX model that is fit for computers with a single GPU. 
XL-ATXIs a rare ATX model larger than the common ATX.
Mini-ITXIs more compact to support low-priced computers and also for small spaces.
Nano-ITXIs used for smaller digital devices and has lower consumption use.
Pico-ITXIs used for home and personal devices, especially for entertainment, security, etc. 
LPXis an old motherboard model that used to be the most common type back in the day.

By Use-Case

Tons of computers vary with usage. The list below is some of the most polysemy acts when using a computer. This series of networks need high-end motherboards to keep the system intact.

GamingIs specialized for computer games, needing a greater graphics card and higher-core processors.
MiningIs used for blockchains that have a series of business networks for transactions, and tracking that need powerful computers.
ServerProvides service for other computers to be made for sharing data. 

Motherboard Components And Parts

Wondering what’s in a motherboard? There are tons of components and parts just to run a computer. Even a motherboard has its own components, its own details, and its own system inside it. This is why cheaper and pricey motherboards exist. As complicated as it sounds, everything inside it has its own functionality.


Please note that some of the components below are obsolete and aren’t being used by any of the motherboard manufacturers anymore. These components include AGP Slot, ISA Slot, and Parallel Ports.

RAM Slots

RAM slots are a part of a motherboard where we put the RAM modules. These slots are where the RAM holds in place for your computer. Typically, there are four RAM slots; you can add more RAM chips for upgradeability as you add more memory for your computer. More memory means better optimal performance.


A motherboard’s chipset consists of the northbridge and the southbridge. To connect all the essential components of the motherboard, the northbridge chip is used. It serves as a link between the CPU and peripherals such as memory, cache, and the PCI express bus. Many input and output devices communicate with the southbridge chip via this channel. The southbridge chip also uses the bus for its communication channel.


BIOS, also known as ‘basic input/output system,’ is a microprocessor program used to start up a computer. Its primary function is to manage the data flow between the devices connected to the computer—keyboard, mouse, hard disk, etc. The device’s operating system relies on the BIOS for the computer or laptop to work and do its tasks.

I/O Port

I/O port, or the input/output port enables the communication between the computer and external devices such as other computers or peripherals. It serves as a connection between the output device and the computer itself. Usually, it has an HDMI, USB, DisplayPort, etc. Standard-hardware interfaces receive a signal that passes through the CPU and then displays it on whatever output device you connect.

USB Ports

USB ports (universal serial bus ports) are made explicitly for flash drives and other electronic devices. It transfers digital data to your computer over a short distance and vice versa. You can store files in your flash drive using your computer’s USB ports. You can also connect your phones with a cable that ends with a male USB.

CPU Slot

A CPU slot is composed for the microprocessor and the printed circuit board to have their own mechanical and electrical connections. A central processing unit or CPU is not permanently connected to the motherboard for upgradeability. You can change and replace your central processing unit as a slot is made for it, just like a RAM slot.

PCI Slot

A PCI slot (peripheral component interconnect slot) is made for connecting numerous accessories such as modems, graphics cards, and sound cards to the motherboard. It is different from the I/O port since the mentioned accessories are not made to be connected and disconnected whenever you like because a case protects all the critical computer components.

AGP Slot

The AGP slot or the accelerated graphics port slot is a slot for the video card. It is designed to attach the video card to the motherboard that assists the system’s computer graphics. It is also an interchangeable device that you can use for upgradeability. Typically, great computer graphics are an essential part of gaming computers to provide you with quality visuals.

ISA Slot

The industry-standard architecture slot, or the ISA slot, is used for additional expansion cards like video cards, network cards, or an auxiliary serial port. ISAs are long gone in consumer desktops, but some industrial desktops still use them today. PCI and PCI Express were never deployed since some types of specialist extension cards are still in use.

Parallel Port

The word itself uses a parallel interface socket to connect an external device like a monitor or a printer. It uses an 8-bit data transferring protocol to project an output simultaneously. Parallel ports were used in the early technology era but are now superseded by USB ports. However, it is still used today but not as much because of the growing technology.


The FDC (floppy-disk controller) is an integrated circuit board with a technical connection that controls the reading and writing of the computer system. It reads data from the host computer and writes it on the on-disk within the drive using binary codes. It was a separate component back then, but it is usually built-in with the motherboard today.

IDE Controller

The IDE controller, known as the integrated drive electronics controller, serves as the host plug-in card for the IDE itself. The IDE connects the computer disk’s storage and the motherboard using a bus. The controller lets them communicate with each other. It was once built as a separate device, but manufacturers now made it built-in within the motherboard.

CMOS Battery

This battery is an essential component of your computer’s BIOS. It runs the BIOS’s firmware made for booting and proper data flow. The CMOS battery helps your computer run the way you want it, but once the battery is dead, you’ll have to get it replaced. Though, it usually takes long before it does.

Power Supply Connector

We usually connect power right on the socket. It gives us an alternating current. But for computers to work, it uses direct current. This is where the power supply comes in. Power supplies are made for computers to run a direct current. Due to their high voltages, the motherboard and other critical components cannot run in alternating current. Power supply connectors help the computer run electricity throughout to operate your computer.

Mouse And Keyboard Ports

Some mice and keyboards use a PS/2 or a personal system/2 port to be used for your computer. It is a 6-pin mini-DIN connector that connects to your computer for you to be able to type, drag, click, and perform such functions and actions while running your computer. It is one of the early ports that were invented for the two devices. Most manufacturers are now implementing a male USB for their mice and keyboards.

DIP Switch

The DIP switch means a dual in-line package switch, which is a series of buttons that perform several functions in a single unit. This switch can be as small as a baby’s thumb that is placed on your motherboard. Users are able to alter the flow of electricity around the system, the expansion card, or other electronics/computer peripherals and thereby modify how the device will work.


Jumpers are used in tons of electronic devices and serve one purpose, to close an electrical circuit. Closing an electronic circuit will make the unit act as if it has a connection using the jumper. These jumpers configure the motherboard to be connected to something that will help run the computer.


Heatsinks help the motherboard and other electronic devices to cool down. The power that a computer uses generates heat, and when compacted in a computer case, it would be hard for it to cool down. Even other devices inside can heat up too. This is where heatsinks come in. Most devices have temperature regulations, and heatsinks help to maintain them.

Clock Generator

Clock generators generally help with the synchronization of a system. In a computer, it helps synchronize the action you are doing to the processing unit. A clock generator allows users to alter how mechanical and digital devices carry out their duties or actions with its speed. It controls the speed of the CPU, GPU, and RAM.

All Motherboard Brands

Like in any other type of technology, motherboard brands have been leveling with each other to compete and produce high-quality and consumer-effective motherboards. Here are some of the top motherboard manufacturers.

AsusHas the best-priced motherboards for gaming.
MSIHas the best high-end motherboards.
GigabyteIs the leading brand for motherboards.
ASRockIs the leading brand for motherboards regarding professional works.
IntelHas the highest revenue of motherboard brands.
EVGAHas the best customer support for motherboard brands.
BiostarIs the most suggested brand of motherboard for mining.

How Much Do Motherboards Cost?

With its exclusivity, the pricing always depends on what’s inside the motherboard. Essentially, the price for it ranges from $50 to $1500. For the $50-$150, these are the motherboards used for simple works like typing, working, and internet surfing. For the mid-range, $150-$300, these are for photo editing, more intense browsing, light gaming, etc. And for the more high-end, ranging from $350-$1000, these are for devoted users, programming, rendering, and video editing. And $1000 and above are for computer enthusiasts, heavy gamers, extreme builders, etc.

If you are on a budget or willing to go with the popular high-end ones, there’s undoubtedly a perfect one meant for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

I know it’s a lot to digest but do not get intimidated by motherboards. It doesn’t need to get complicated when learning about it. Motherboards have a variety of choices for your personal needs. If you are here to consider having a new PC, you have a lot to choose from and consider—price, brand, type, compatibility, and usage. We hope this gives you a clearer view of motherboards overall.

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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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