The motherboard is your PC’s backbone, giving power to everything within it. It allows for the most basic functionality required for your PC, its components, and peripherals to run so you can use it. So, do you need a good motherboard for a PC?
A decent PC requires a good motherboard (with a decent chipset) that will adequately power its components and will properly manage the communication between them. A cheap motherboard is prone to failure, limiting your PC’s potential and even lacking essential features necessary to optimally run your PC.
A good motherboard will ensure that your PC runs fine and adequately for many years of use. Many downplay the necessity of a decent motherboard and significantly limit their PC by buying a cheap motherboard. Below I will elaborate on why you need a good motherboard and why you shouldn’t cheap out.
Does the Motherboard Matter in a Pc?
At its essence, the motherboard is the primary circuit board within your PC. All your hardware components, such as your GPU and SSD, are connected to and powered by it.
Some important hardware pieces, attached and powered by your motherboard, include, but are not limited to, your GPU, CPU, HDD, SSD, and other essential ports such as USB.
The motherboard not only powers all your PC hardware but ensures that they communicate with one another so that they work in tandem to ensure your PC’s functionality.
Games require a good CPU and GPU to work correctly. The motherboard ensures that the GPU and CPU communicate with one another to run your video game.
How Important Is the Motherboard When Building a Pc?
Many people inexperienced in PC building underestimate the importance of a good motherboard.
Never cheap out on your motherboard, it’s an essential part that allows your PC’s components to work at maximum performance.
Most cheap motherboards use fickle parts and lack crucial features. At the same time, do not spend a fortune on a motherboard that looks good and has non-essential features that you will never use. It is essential to find a balance between price and functionality.
Essential Functionality to Look Out for in Motherboards
There are a few essential functionalities you must ensure you have when purchasing a motherboard, even if you are on a budget. A good, decently priced motherboard must strike the correct balance between price and functionality and support all these features below:
Basic Adequate Connectivity Functionality
Ensure that your motherboard has adequate connectivity to connect your hardware components and peripherals to your PC. Ensure it has sufficient fan connectors, SATA ports, ethernet ports, Wi-Fi functionality, and USB ports. SATA ports connect such things as an SSD and optical drives such as a DVD ROM. An Ethernet port allows you to use a LAN cable to connect to the internet. Wi-Fi functionality so that you can connect to the Wi-Fi without an adapter.
Number of USB Ports
The number of USB ports on your motherboard is necessary to connect the many peripherals required to use your PC. Such peripherals include your mice and keyboard to use your PC. More advanced peripherals such as a graphics tablet and modern headphones also require a USB port. Not to mention, a flash drive and external storage also need another USB port. Ensure you have enough USB ports to connect all your necessary peripherals.
A CPU socket that works with your CPU is also necessary for your motherboard to be able to communicate with your CPU and power it. CPU architectures frequently change as hardware advance, and so does CPU sockets. Intel CPUs use the LGA format, while AMD CPUs generally use PGA. Ensure that your motherboard has the correct CPU socket for the CPU you intend to buy.
Ensure that your motherboard’s CPU socket can be used to upgrade to another generation of CPU in the future, so you do not have to purchase a new motherboard when upgrading it.
PCIe x16 Slots
You must also ensure that you have a PCIe x16 slot to connect your motherboard to your GPU. Without it, your GPU will not connect to your motherboard and, in turn, your PC. Ensure that it has more than one PCIe x16 slot should you buy a sizeable powerful GPU, as they often require more than one of these slots.
Check that your motherboard has an adequate amount of RAM slots and not only one or two of these slots. Many cheap motherboards only come with one or two slots, which will limit you later if you plan to upgrade your RAM to make your PC faster, as you will generally use two RAM slots when starting up and more later. As technology develops, you will need more and faster RAM to run; therefore, enough RAM slots are necessary to future-proof your PC.
Finally, your motherboard must also have a good voltage regulator module or VRM. The VRM ensures that your power supply functions correctly and adequately power your motherboard and the rest of your PC. Cheap motherboards do not come with good VRM, limiting your PC and its functionality.
What Are The Benefits Of a Good Motherboard?
Investing in a good motherboard has many benefits for your PC now, below I elaborate on why you should strongly consider investing in a great and capable motherboard:
- Invest in a good motherboard with the latest CPU sockets to fit in the latest processors on the market.
- Use the latest storage and data transfer technology.
- USB technology has advanced to USB 3.0 technology which is much faster than UBS 2.0 and comes built into the newest and latest motherboards. USB 3.0 is about 5 Gbit compared to 480 Mbps, making it about ten times faster than USB 2.0.
- Built into the latest great motherboards is SATA III technology which makes your storage device, such as your SSD’s usage, and transfer speed much faster than the older SATA II technology. SATA III can transfer and use a maximum speed of 6Gbps, making your storage devices connected to it incredibly swift.
- Good motherboards support the newest and fastest RAM technology. To access the latest and fastest RAM, you need the correct RAM slots compatible with it. The newest RAM technology is DDR5 RAM which only the latest and most decent motherboards support.
- A good motherboard will allow you to upgrade your PC hardware in the future. By buying a good, well-priced motherboard, you will later be able to put in more storage devices, a better GPU, and even possibly a new CPU.
What Is the Most Significant Disadvantage of Having a Low-Budget Motherboard?
A cheap motherboard has many disadvantages due to the manufacturer cutting costs, such as few SATA ports and RAM slots, but the most significant drawback is its low VRM (voltage regulator module).
The VRM of a cheap motherboard will limit the capability of your hardware components and most likely damage them in the future. A motherboard with low VRM will limit your CPU and potentially render it worthless.
Instead, get a good motherboard with greater functionality than one lacking basic functionality and, most importantly, have a low VRM. VRM affects the power that goes to your components, and if you do not have a good one, your component’s use will be limited and may not even function.
A good motherboard is a significant component of your PC. The motherboard, at its essence, drives your PC and its hardware components. It ensures that they communicate with one another so that your PC is functional.
If you cheap out on your motherboard, it will limit the basic functionality of your PC and you may not get your money’s worth from some more expensive components like the CPU and the GPU.
I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.