The motherboard is the critical ingredient of every computer setup. While the CPU is considered as the brain behind a computer’s operation, the motherboard works as the heart and soul of the system. A motherboard is a flat, square plastic board comprising circuit chips, connector pins, and expansion slots printed on it. Every operation which is directly or indirectly involved with the PC’s functioning is carried out by the motherboard, also known as the mainboard, system board, baseboard, or logic board.
The motherboard is located inside of your computer on a system tray. It is referred to as the “mother” or “main” board because most of your computer’s peripherals are attached to it. The motherboard is responsible for carrying out the majority of the tasks on your PC. The components attached to the motherboard are
- CPU (Central Processing Unit)
- RAM (Random Access Memory)
- Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
- Video Card
- CD/DVD ROM
- Network/LAN Card
- Sound Card
However, these motherboards come in different shapes, sizes, and types. This is termed the “Form Factor.” You must know all this before you get around to replacing your old motherboard with a new one. Also, if you plan to replace your motherboard by yourself, you need to be aware of the process in detail. This is because the motherboard needs to be installed properly to ensure smooth functioning and to avoid your system from fusing or overheating.
Therefore, this article will walk you through the fundamental components of a motherboard in detail. Also, we have included a detailed guide on how you can install a new motherboard.
Explaining Motherboard Parts
As we mentioned above, the motherboard is the route through which various computer peripherals interact. Therefore, your system automatically stops working every time there is a glitch in your motherboard. A majority of the computer’s peripherals are attached to your motherboard, which is it is highly essential in ensuring your PC’s smooth functioning.
Therefore, here are the parts of a motherboard explained in detail to help you better understand what goes into making a motherboard.
|Part Name||Part Description|
|1. CPU Socket||As the name suggests, this is the place wherein your CPU will be plugged in. It is easy to locate this orange bracket that helps support the weight of the heat sink. This socket holds the CPU and establishes an electrical interface with the CPU. Different types of CPU sockets present are: Land Grid Array (LGA Socket), Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) socket, PGA Socket & BGA Socket|
|2. DIMM/RAM Ports||The DIMM is one of the most commonly used memory systems in modern-day computers. They come equipped with various speeds, but you should choose only the one which is compatible with your system. Generally, people opt for a motherboard that has 4 DIMM ports and 2 RAM ports.|
|3. VRM Heatsink||The Voltage Regulation Module (VRM) is responsible for voltage regulation between a computer’s essential peripherals, such as the CPU and GPU. You will find a heat sink right next to a CPU socket. Having a VRM Heatsink is critical since it keeps the voltage in check and provides a cooling effect.|
|4. CPU Power Connector||The P4 or the EPS4 connector connects your CPU to the power supply. These connectors are generally pins that ensure that enough power reaches the CPU. This power connector is essential since it is the primary power source to the motherboard. The majority of the modern-day motherboards come equipped with a 4-pin power connector that provides sufficient power to the CPU when it is overclocking.|
|5. Fan Headers||Fan headers are usually a 3-4 pin socket on your motherboard that powers your system fan. Also, some fan headers can read your fan’s RPM, vary the voltage, and control the fan speed accordingly.|
|6. Power Connector||The computer power supply consists of multiple peripheral power connectors. Out of these numerous connectors, generally, two or more connectors are connected to the motherboard. These power connectors supply additional power to the CPU.|
|7. USB Headers||The USB headers are another set of pins mounted on the motherboard. Plugging a special cable into any one of these pins will provide USB ports on your computer chassis. USB headers are typically found on every motherboard.|
|8. Chipset||The chipset is generally mounted at the back of a motherboard and generally controls factors such as the number of high-speed components you can connect to the motherboard or how many super-fast USB ports the motherboard supports. The chipset is the crucial component permanently attached to a motherboard.|
|9. PCIe Slots||These PCIe slots are required to attach/insert additional cards to your system, such as a LAN card, sound card, capture card, or a TV tuner card. There are between 1-6 PCIe slots generally available on a motherboard.|
|10. CMOS Battery||The CMOS is the motherboard battery. This CMOS battery powers the southbridge and the BIOS and saves your settings, date, and time accordingly.|
|11. SATA Ports||SATA, also known as the Serial AT attachment, is responsible for hosting mass storage devices like HDDs, SSDs, and optical hard drives. There are 2 SATA ports available on a motherboard with an additional slot for adding another drive.|
|12. Front Panel Header||The front header is where all the connections are mounted. This front header is nothing but a set of lights that light up during an activity, such as the hard drive activity, computer power on/off, reset button, key lock, and so on.|
|13. BIOS Chip||BIOS, i.e., the basic input/output system, is a ROM chip mounted on your motherboard. This BIOS chip allows you to set up your system at the most basic level. This BIOS chip is usually located at the bottom of the motherboard or under a chipset.|
|14. M.2 Connector||Also known as the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), the M2 connector is an internally mounted expansion card on your motherboard which automatically replaces an mSATA card. An M2 connector is faster than an SSD since it offers a direct route to the CPU by bypassing the South Bridge.|
|15. RGB Header||An RGB header is used to connect LED lights or any other lighting accessories onto your motherboard. An RGB header can control limited colors on a strip for a certain amount of time.|
|16. TPM Header||The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a microchip attached to your motherboard that provides enhanced cybersecurity by acting as fully tamper-proof storage for crypto keys.|
|17. COM/Serial Header||This is nothing but an I/O interface that established a connection between a serial device and the computer. These COM ports are also referred to as a serial ports and are used to support peripherals like the keyboard, mouse, gaming controllers, joysticks, modems, printers, etc. However, the modern-day computing system has replaced COM ports with faster USB slots.|
Explaining Motherboard Ports
|Port Name||Port Description|
|1. Mouse Port||The mouse port, or the PS/2, is a dedicated mouse socket for holding a computer mouse. However, with modern-day computing, you can now plug your mouse into any of the USB ports present on your system. But the PS/2 mouse port is superior to a USB port but is slowly being abandoned due to economic reasons.|
|2. Keyboard Port||The PS/2 is also known as a mouse or keyboard port. Two PS/2 ports allow you to connect a mouse and keyboard to your motherboard.|
|3. VGA Port||The Video Graphics Array (VGA) port uses VGA cables to carry analog signals. With the help of high-frequency, these VGA cables can achieve a high video resolution. This standard connector is used for computer video output and is the link between the computer and the monitor or between the computer and a TV screen.|
|4. USB Ports||The current generation motherboards come with 6-8 USB ports, with four soldered to the back of the motherboard with 2-4 ports left unattended. These USB ports are generally available in a 9 or 10 pin connection. These USB ports are used to connect devices such as hard drives, pen drives, MP3 players, etc.|
|5. DVI Connector||Using the DVI connector, you can send information to any digital display around, a flat-screen LCD/LED TV or monitor.|
|6. HDMI Connector||The HDMI connector/port allows the transmission of audio and video signals from one device to another with the help of an HDMI cable. It provides a faster data transfer speed for external devices. An HDMI connection is now supported by most devices such as HDTVs, DVDs, Blu-ray players, and video game consoles. Using an HDMI connection is a much better option than a VGA port as it delivers a clear image and transfers more data.|
|7. IEEE Port||The IEEE port is used every time the system wants to conduct high-speed communications and real-time data transfer. This port is a pin connection that allows additional USB connections to be added to the computer.|
|8. eSATA Port||This external interface is accessible from outside the computer and provides a signal connection for other external storage devices such as an HDD, pen drive, and so on. It provides a faster data transfer speed for external devices by combining with the USB 2.0.|
|9. RJ-LAN Port||The RJ-45 LAN port is used for Ethernet Connectivity. It is similar to a telephone jack but varies in size. Every ethernet cable has an RJ-LAN line at each end that allows a computer to be connected to the Internet using a wired connection.|
|10. Analog Audio Ports||An analog audio port is used to link the computer’s sound hardware with your speakers, headphones, earphones, or any other audio devices. Every computer has at least one analog audio port that lets you connect your stereo speakers and a microphone.|
How To Install A Motherboard?
The motherboard is the key ingredient of our entire computer setup. Therefore, it is vital that we have all the information about how they work and how to keep it functioning efficiently. In addition to that, knowing how to install or uninstall a motherboard comes in handy. This is because when you install a new motherboard, you are rebuilding a whole new system. Note that upon installing a new motherboard, you will need to reinstall your entire OS.
It is NOT possible to upgrade to a new motherboard without re-installation.
If done properly, you will see that is very easy to replace a motherboard without disturbing any component alignment whatsoever. While installing a new motherboard, you will need tools such as a screwdriver
CAUTION: Ground yourself before you start working on the interior of your CPU. Note that your hands are dry to prevent electrostatic. It is advised that you wear an Antistatic Wrist Wrap when working on the installation/uninstallation of the motherboard.
There is no set order when it comes to installing new motherboard components. To install a motherboard, follow the given steps
- Open your computer case
- Remove both side panels (Doing this will allow you to easily access the motherboard tray)
- Locate the two screws holding the motherboard
- Using a screwdriver, remove the screws and keep them aside (Ensure that you don’t lose these screws)
- Locate the I/O panel shield located at the back of the case. (It is located near the motherboard connectors that spread out to the USB, monitor, and other peripherals)
- Remove the I/O shield
- Replace it with the panel that came with your new motherboard (Compare it to the actual layout of the motherboard before you install the panel)
- Locate the Standoffs. (The standoffs are vital in keeping your motherboard from fusing or overheating) (Your motherboard will come with its own set of standoffs)
- Install the standoffs (Some standoffs will need to be screwed in, whereas some will require minimal pegging to install)
- Match the standoffs to the holes present on your motherboard tray and install accordingly
- Connect maximum standoffs. DO NOT USE ANY EXTRA STANDOFFS.
- Slowly place your motherboard on the installed standoffs (Gently push the motherboard against the I/O panel to fit it)
- Once the motherboard is fit, secure the connection with screws using a normal screwdriver. DO NOT USE AN ELECTRIC SCREWDRIVER.
- Tighten the screws
- Install all of your components such as CPU, CPU cooler, and RAM before reinserting the motherboard tray (You can install these components after wiring if your motherboard does not come with a removable tray)
- Secure the motherboard using screws once all the components have been installed
- Turn On The Power Supply (Ensure that both the 20/24 Pin Connector and the 4/8 pin 12V connector are attached thoroughly.) Refer to the Power Supply Documentation To Get A Clear Understanding Of Which Cables Are To Be Used And The Order In Which They Are To Be Connected.
- Connect all the components to the motherboard
- Connect the front panel switches and indicators by locating the following wires and inserting them into their respective motherboard pins
Power Switch, Reset Switch, Power LED, Hard Drive LED (HDD), Speaker
- Connect the front USB ports to the appropriate motherboard connectors (Ensure that the ports are connected to the right pins)
- Connect your case and CPU fan to the right motherboard pins
- Once all this is done, install all the Drivers to the motherboard
- Finally, install the VIDEO CARD (Installing A Video Card Is OPTIONAL and depends on your system’s needs)
- Check that the WIRING is in order. Adjust the wiring if needed to prevent them from trapping heat or sticking in fans. You can use zip ties to bundle excess cable or can simply tuck them into the spare drive bay.
- Check whether all the installed components have enough room around them
- Screw the Side Panels Back In and close the computer
- Plug-In your computer to the power supply
- Turn on your computer
- Prepare for OS Installation
- Install your respective OS.
The Bottom Line
We hope our article successfully walked you through removing, replacing, and installing a new motherboard. It is easy to be confused when you look at a motherboard since there are dozens of connections, pins, and wires. And with several new models available in the market, it is key that you are updated with the tech knowledge. The motherboard is the key component of your computing system, and therefore, it is necessary to install it correctly. This is because a motherboard is the route via which every computer component communicate with each other.