Updated 23 May, 2013, 8:16 pm IST
Buying Guide: Motherboards
| by Rossi Fernandes
Every once every couple of years, we wish to upgrade our slow PCs and since technology has moved at its ever blazing pace, it means that we need to start afresh, and that means buying a motherboard. Motherboards sound like a complicated piece of hardware from whichever way you choose to look at it. The motherboard itself looks complex and the plethora of weird model names doesn’t help either. They are priced at anywhere between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 25,000. Let’s start by looking at how to choose a motherboard and what the fuss is all about.
Choosing a platform
If you’ve never assembled your PC before, you should know that you can’t simply walk out and pick up any motherboard in the market and expect it to work on the processor. The simplest way to identify the motherboard you should be buying is to look at what socket your processor is.
AMD's AM3 and Intel's LGA1366 sockets side by side
Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors available today use one of the following sockets - LGA1155, LGA1156 or LGA1366. Most modern AMD processors just use the AM3 socket. The processor package will clearly mention what socket the processor uses.
USB 3 support
One of the future trends to expect is the move from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. USB 3.0 offers far superior speeds and can easily match the performance of SATA drives.
USB3 capable boards are becoming more and more common
Look out for boards that support USB 3.0 but also remember that you’ll need USB 3.0 complaint drives to take advantage of the speed. Don’t overspend just to get the USB 3.0 feature. Most new boards should have USB 3.0 anyway.
Effective cooling solutions
The pace at which systems operate today, it’s no surprise that motherboards require cooling. Every single motherboard today comes with a heatsink attached to it. If you’re going to be building a PC and overclocking it, a good cooling solution on the board is important.
Large heatsinks on motherboards designed for overclocking
Look for motherboards with sufficiently large heatsinks and heatpipes. At the same, be careful that the cooling solutions aren’t so bulky that they obstruct any of the slots.
The cheapest of boards in the market allow some bit of overclocking, which is usually just changing the FSB or multiplier if your processor lets you do so. Look for boards that allow fine control over the FSB. Smaller increments allows more accurate overclocking which means you can overclock till you find the right level of stability.
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