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What is a motherboard?

It’s at the foundation of every PC, but what exactly is a motherboard? And why do you need one?

Updated: Apr 22, 2022 10:54 am
what is a motherboard

What is a motherboard? This is a very important question as motherboards are arguably the most important component in your PC. Forget about your CPU, GPU, and RAM, all of these components would be rendered useless if you don’t have a motherboard to plug them into.
Besides ensuring all of your components communicate in perfect synergy your motherboard also houses a chipset. This is designed specifically to work with a certain CPU architecture, whether that be Intel or AMD’s respective architecture.

what is a motherboard socket

What is a motherboard?: Video

What does a motherboard do?

Simply put, a motherboard is a printed PCB main board that connects all of the integral components your PC consists of together and allows them to communicate. Tracers made of gold plate and copper line the PCB and carry electrical signals around the board to and from all the components involved in a computing task. And it does this billions of times per second. Whenever a calculation involves more than one component of a PC the motherboard is responsible for transporting that information.

What is a Chipset?

A chipset as we outlined earlier resides on every motherboard and is one of the most important components of a motherboard. The chipset is the device that controls the communication between your CPU, RAM, and other components and peripherals. The chipset also determines how many high-speed devices such as USB devices your motherboard can support at any given time.

Chipsets are usually composed of one or more chips that feature controllers for not just hardware devices, but more commonly used peripheral devices too, such as keyboards and mice.

If you know anything about motherboards you will have heard the terms, ‘X570, Z590, B440’, and so on – these are the chipsets. The names can seem a little confusing at first but all you need to know is that they follow a hierarchy for both AMD and Intel processors, and the higher the number the better the chipset and the more it will support.

what is a chipset

Chipset hierarchy

For AMD in order from best to worst:

X – Best, aimed at enthusiast PC builders.
B – Median, aimed at mainstream PC builders.
A – Worst, aimed at budget PC builders.

For Intel in order from best to worst:

Z – Best, aimed at enthusiast PC builders.
H (70) – Median, aimed at mainstream PC builders.
B – Median, aimed at mainstream PC builders.
H (10) – Worst, aimed at budget PC builders.

Intel recently introduced two levels of H board, the H board followed by a 70 is the mainstream option. The H boards followed by the number ‘10’ are the lowest budget boards.

Please note when we say worst we do not mean bad, it’s just a comparative term. It is the worst of the set, supporting fewer features.

What is a motherboard made out of?

A motherboard is mainly composed of two materials: layers of fiberglass for insulation and copper to form conductive pathways. Upon this foundational layer, all the components and small electronics are installed such as VRMs, capacitors and power connectors.
Manufacturing a motherboard is an incredibly delicate process, so much so that more than half of the components installed onto the mainboard are installed by hand, even in 2022.

what is a motherboard made out of

Final Word

Motherboards should be the main focus in any PC, as they play such an integral role in its operation. Anything built needs a good foundation and in this context, it’s a motherboard.
Hopefully, now you know the answer to the question, “what is a motherboard?”. And you’ll know more about what it does and maybe even a little about chipsets and other features motherboards bring to the table.

If we’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to learn more about your motherboard specifically, then check out this article on ‘How to check what motherboard I have. In there you will find a multitude of ways to decode your exact make and model so you can look into what features your mainboard possesses.

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