10 Important Parts of Motherboards and their Functions

A motherboard is the central artery of a computer, through which all of a computer’s lifeblood (i.e., the devices) go through. An ordinary person sees a motherboard as nothing more than a collection of chips, circuits, and wires. Still, anyone interested in building a PC must have basic knowledge of motherboard components. So, let’s look at some of the most important parts of motherboards and see what makes them so essential for constructing a PC.

1. BIOS

bios motherboard

The Basic Input/Output System (BIOS, commonly pronounced as bye-os) is a Read-Only Memory (ROM) chipset inside a motherboard, whose software component serves as the main firmware of the motherboard. 

Firmware is the software that starts first-up when the computer is booted (before the main OS starts) and allows you to set up your laptop at the most rudimentary level. BIOS performs a Power-On Self-Test (POST) test to determine whether the installed hardware is functioning appropriately. Once the POST test is deemed successful, it gives the computer go-ahead to boot to the main OS by providing the computer with essential basic information, such as which drives the Operating System is in to boot from. Suppose the POST test is considered a failure. In that case, BIOS indicates that one or more of the components connected to the computer might be malfunctioning through a series of beeps (or some flashing lights in some computer casings).

BIOS provides:

  • The user’s access to all-important functionalities such as setting the CPU frequency.
  • Changing the boot order.
  • Turning the peripherals on/off.
  • The amount of available memory.
  • Setting up a password.
  • Tweaking the system’s temperature settings.
  • Configuring your PC the way you want. 

Motherboard manufacturers release newer BIOS settings with time, which can be updated if your motherboard’s BIOS chip is a flash BIOS chipset. All you need to do is replace your existing BIOS chip with a newer one containing the updated settings. This option is not available for non-flash BIOS chipsets, however. 

Modern motherboards use a newer firmware technology, UEFI (Universal Extended Firmware Interface), to set up computer systems. UEFI boasts better graphics and supports bigger hard drives than BIOS. However, previous generations of computer users have all grown too fond of the term to let it go that easily. That is why the newer technology is sometimes referred to as UEFI BIOS, whereas the ‘real’ BIOS is now most commonly known as Legacy BIOS. 

Nostalgia is powerful, folks. 

2. CPU socket

CPU socket

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CPU socket

A computer works based on algorithms, a collection of tasks and instructions provided to the computer through code. A laptop needs processing power to ‘process’ those instructions and fulfill the duties and functions a user wants. That processing power comes from the CPU (Central Processing Unit), commonly known as a processor, and the CPU socket on a motherboard is where that processor is installed. 

A CPU slot consists of several pins created and used to install a CPU on the motherboard. PC builders must carefully examine the CPU socket of the motherboard they are buying because these slots are not universal, meaning that different types of CPUs may require different types of CPU sockets to be connected. Intel processors are usually installed upon LGA sockets, whereas AMD CPUs require their own AM4 sockets to be connected to. Even then, there are sub-types of LGA and AM4 socket types, corresponding to different generations of either CPU company. Any PC builders will research their preferred choice of CPU before buying a motherboard with a corresponding CPU socket.

3. Northbridge/Southbridge

Northbridge/Southbridge

Every motherboard contains two chipsets belonging to a specific construct known as Logical Chipset architecture.

One of them is located north of the motherboard and is known as North Bridge. This chip is mainly an intermediary between the CPU and some parts of the motherboard. Due to its direction, it is also known as Front Side Bus (FSB). 

The other bridge is known as the South Bridge. This chipset is the one that manages the all-important Input Output (IO) functionality inside a computer and also connects some components to the motherboard, such as PCI and USB. A south bridge is one of the components connected to the motherboard through a north bridge.

4. Memory slot

Memory slot

The computer uses Random Access Memory (RAM) to store data currently processed by the CPU. There have been many configurations to house RAMs on motherboards throughout history, the most modern configuration being DIMM (Dule Online Memory Module), consisting of 168 pins. 

RAMs arrive in sticks of various data sizes, usually between 2-32 GB per stick. The technology that determines how fast a RAM can be is known as DDR (Double Data Rate) technology. The most advanced RAMs are based on DDR5 technology. 

Most ATX motherboards (the motherboard form factor in most widespread use) contain 4 RAM slots inside, which become a pair of two for dual-channel configurations (a configuration of RAM slots that provides faster data transfer speeds). The beefed-up ATX motherboard, Extended ATX (EATX), can feature as many as 8 RAM slots or four dual-channel ones. If you are getting overwhelmed already, there are even motherboards containing as many as 32 of these slots. But since those motherboards are specifically designed for powerful supercomputers to perform essential tasks and are entirely out of the reach of an ordinary person, you should rest easy.

5. PCI slot

pci slot

The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), or their most advanced iterations known as Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) slots, contain some of a computer’s most important external components. PCI slots come in many different configurations, which are:

  1. PCIe x1
  2. PCIe x4
  3. PCIe x8
  4. PCIe x16

Each of these configurations (called lanes) represents the number of direct connections supported by that slot. The more of these there are on a motherboard, the better because this allows a PC builder to install Graphical Processing Units (GPU), sound cards, USB port expansions, SATA expansions, TV Tuners, and Video Capture cards at the same time, allowing for powerful options in many areas. 

PCIe slots also differ by generation, which refers to the technology that determines essential benchmarks such as bitrates and BW Lanes on these slots. The most recent age PCIe slots feature Raw Bitrate speeds as high as 64 GT/s, but they are only offered by modern, often very expensive motherboards.

6. SATA ports

SATA ports

The Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) ports house mass storage drives such as Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). SATA technology keeps witnessing upgrades that increase transfer rates for storage media connected to them. The most recent version is SATA III, which is a 7-pin connector that features a transfer rate of Gbit/s with a bandwidth throughput of 4.8 Gbit/s. SATA III is also backward compatible with its older iterations, which means that all the drives meant for SATA I and SATA II can also be plugged into SATA III ports and will still run smoothly as silk. 

7. M.2 connector

M.2 connector

Previously known as NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor), the M.2 connectors are a favorite among hardware manufacturers and modern PC enthusiasts. It is an internal connector that supports small expansion cards. However, these days it is mainly used to install the Solid State Drives (SSDs) into your motherboards.

For the uninitiated, SSDs are the latest development in the field of storage media that feature lighting fast transfer speeds, far eclipsing those supported by the old-school HDDs. 

There are two types of SSDs currently doing the rounds. The Standards SSDs are still installed in the SATA ports on motherboards. However, they only offer a minor speed boost over traditional HDDs. 

The M.2 connectors support the faster NVMe SSDs, and the differences between the two technologies could be eye-watering. Consider this: the HDDs copying speed is 30-150 MB/s, compared with 500 MB/s of standard SSDs, while the NVMe SSDs reach support transfer rates of around 3000-3500 MB/s. In more generic terms, it would take approximately 30 seconds for an HDD to copy 10 GB of data, which will be replicated in about 5 seconds on a traditional SSD. And the NVMe version? It will copy that data within your computer system in the blink of an eye. No problems at all.

Because storage media is also used extensively by the system’s memory for various functions, the M.2 connectors could prove the difference between a fast computer and one that grows wings and starts flying.

8. Heat sinks

 Heat sinks

Computers are complex machines involving various devices running on electricity. Computer processes generate heat in tandem with electricity being used; the heavier those processes are, the more heat the system causes. If there is no sound heat-dissipation system on the computer, it could render the computer or some parts unusable over the long term.

 That is where heat sinks come in. Heat sinks are pieces of metal on parts of the motherboard, which provide a path for the heat generated by the computer to escape outwards. Heat sinks are typically constructed of lightweight metals, excellent thermal conductors like copper and aluminum. Heat sinks made of copper are bulkier and more expensive than the ones made of aluminum but provide better heat dissipation and almost twice the thermal conductivity of the latter. 

9. USB ports

USB ports

Everyone has heard of Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, but what are they exactly? USB ports are USB pin headers inside motherboards that enable connections to USB ports on the outside of the chassis or in front of the system too in modern casings. USB headers typically consist of 10 pins, which have been arranged in two rows of five. However, USB connectors on the outside of the chassis do not look like the pins they are connected to from the inside.

USB ports are the most popular type of connector configuration in the world. They connect all sorts of external devices to a PC, such as keyboards, mice, gaming devices, printers, scanners, etc. Depending on the model, most motherboards nowadays feature anywhere between 4-8 USB connectors, whereas the more powerful Extended ATX motherboards may contain as many as 20 of those. Most of these USB ports are featured at the back of the casing, but modern cases and motherboards also provide a lot of USB ports on the front of the casing panel.

10. Fan headers

Fan headers are connectors on a motherboard that provide the minuscule amount of power a computer’s fans need. These fans are connected to the motherboard through cables while featuring a 3-4 pin connector at the end to connect to the fans. 

The 3-pin fan connector typically consists of black, yellow, and red cables, wherein the red wire carries the voltage, the black wire is the ground, and the yellow wire sends the reading of the fan’s current speed to the computer. 

The 4-pin fan connector offers a unique feature known as Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This feature allows users to cycle through the power setting rapidly, allowing for better fan speed control. 

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Conclusion

A motherboard is a collection of many complex components and devices, each of which has to be understood separately when building a new PC. This knowledge might sound complicated at first, but over time, PC builders will be able to appreciate the time they spent learning about important motherboard parts, as they can build their PCs in better ways than before. For more information visit vizdeals.com.

FAQs:

What are the parts of the motherboard and its function?

The motherboard is the most essential part of a computer because every other computer component and device is connected to the motherboard in one way or another. Parts of a motherboard are the components that relate to other devices or provide essential functionality. For example, the Processor Socket in a computer is where a CPU is connected, PCI slots are used for installing inside GPUs, Memory slots house RAM, and SATA slots are used for installing hard disk drives for storage. 

What are the ten parts of the motherboard?

The ten most important parts of a motherboard are:

  1. CPU socket
  2. Mouse & keyboard
  3. Parallel port
  4. RAM slots
  5. IDE controller
  6. PCI slot
  7. ISA slot
  8. CMOS Battery
  9. AGP slot
  10. Power supply plugin

What are the seven essential parts of a computer?

A computer is a collection of many devices. Some are optional, while others are necessary to make a computer work. Some of the most essential parts of a computer are:

  1. Motherboard
  2. Central Processing Unit (CPU)
  3. Random Access Memory (RAM)
  4. Storage
  5. Input
  6. Output

What are the six main parts of a motherboard?

A motherboard contains several important components inside it. However, some are more important than others because they provide functionalities without which a computer cannot function. These are:

  1. Keyboard & Mouse
  2. CPU socket
  3. RAM slot
  4. PCI slot
  5. Power supply
  6. Storage slot (SATA or M.2)

What are the most critical components of a motherboard?

A motherboard is the most essential part of a computer, as the whole computer system is built on top of a motherboard. Some of the motherboard’s components are used to install critical hardware devices without which a computer cannot function. These components are:

  1. CPU socket
  2. RAM slot
  3. PCI slot
  4. Power supply
  5. Storage slot

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