Types of Motherboard | What is a motherboard, History, Function, Components, Features

Motherboard

In this article, you will understand the functioning of a motherboard, different types of motherboard, different components in motherboard, its history, and many more details.

The function of a motherboard in a computer is similar to that of the functioning of the heart in the human body or any living being.

To make it simple and understanding, your body cannot work in the absence of heart, your computer cannot work without the motherboard.

In the digital world, people often discard the term motherboard treating it as not so important as the brand names do.

But you need to understand the importance of the motherboard in your computer since it connects all the components of a computer and also facilitates working and communication of the CPU components with each other.

It also makes sure to route the power requirement of all the components and is considered vital in your computer.

No need to get confused between the CPU and the motherboard. CPU will do the computing for all the inputs given and the motherboard will help in organizing these computations and results.

The Motherboard houses the CPU and other components of the computer connected.

So now you understand why motherboard is equally important.

What is a motherboard?

Let us understand the motherboard in purely technical terms. In computer terminology, a motherboard is a mainboard in your computer.

It is simply a flat board having a printed circuit diagram that enables the communication between the CPU, memory, and other components of the computer in addition to being the hub providing connectors for your secondary devices.

The components are connected via cables or through expansion cards.

It is also called as the main circuit board, system board, baseboard, planar board, and Apple have given the term logic board for the motherboards in their brand of computer (Macintosh).

The motherboard is considered as the backbone of the computer and also a board having expansion capabilities for USB, RAM slots, and few other custom components.

Some of the features of the Motherboard are listed below:-

Every motherboard is designed to support and work with selective CPU type and memory. So, not all the motherboards will work with every processor and memory type.

The peripheral devices such as hard drive will work with every motherboard as it is most universal and designed to work irrespective of brand or type.

The interface cards, peripheral devices, video, and sound cards, network cards will have to be checked for compatibility (to check the compatibility of the hardware with motherboard online using the motherboard number) to function properly.

Ignoring it would land you in troubleshooting and also result in damage to other components.

Various types of motherboards are available to suit different types of components.

Some of the popular OEMs of motherboard include brand names such as Intel, MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, Biostar, etc.

What is the History of the motherboard and the first motherboard?

It is pretty interesting to learn about the history of the motherboard and roll out of the first motherboard.

The invention of the motherboard was not a sudden development but has evolved gradually.

The early computers, even before the microprocessors were introduced, were designed to perform single or few tasks and consisted of several printed circuit boards with the components attached individually and plugged into a backplane having interconnected sockets.

With the convenience, these printed circuit boards replaced the old conventional design of connecting the card connector pins with copper wires.

The first motherboard was developed by IBM that got featured in their Personal computer (PC) in 1981 but it was termed as ‘Planar’ by IBM.

The motherboard housed the CPU and memory along with connectors, ports, etc. for various peripheral devices such as a keyboard, mouse, and expansion slots for an additional card with a system manager that could control and manage the communication flow.

The motherboards had advanced features of integrated onboard CPU, power manager, I/O panels for external devices, and the path of flowing communication between these devices.

The first PC by IBM in 1981 had all these incorporated onto the backplane which also turned out to be economically viable and aesthetically appealing from an engineering perspective.

Today’s motherboard provides you everything that is required to run your computer, be it for networking, audio/video processing, and graphics processors.

It also offers flexibility to enable users to include their own graphics card dedicated for any specific purpose.

How does the motherboard function?

Today’s digital era continues to enhance our expectations on the computer’s capability at a much faster rate.

With the super powerful hardware becoming economically affordable and lightweight, the computing devices are equally evolving at the same speed.

Since the inception of desktop computers, the motherboard has been the central nucleus for all the background operations inside your computer.

You need to understand the motherboard functioning to get an insight into how your computer functions and each component gets connected or communicates with each other.

The motherboard serves the base for several vital hardware components including CPU, memory, and other peripheral devices.

To accomplish a given task by the user, the motherboard will establish a connection between all these hardware components to ensure the task is completed quickly and efficiently.

There are fans installed to overcome the issue of the components gets heated up as these will be continuously functioning round the clock.

What are the Different Components of motherboard?

The motherboard is securely fastened to the case with screws. There are ports to connect the different components of a computer. 

Ideally, it would include a single socket for CPU and multiple slots for RAM. There are ports to connect the optical drives, keyboard, mouse, printer, monitor, and USB slots for plugin/plug out of portable devices (digital camera, pen drive, mobile phone).

You will also find the expansion slots to connect the graphics, video, and sound cards. Each component in the motherboard has its roles while functioning in the PC.

CPU Sockets

The most important and vital component of the motherboard is the CPU (Central processing unit) socket that facilitates the installation of the processor.

The important sockets are listed below:-

The older processors such as AMD k5 / k6, Cyrix M2, and the Intel Pentium 1/ 2 / MMX used the 321 pin socket and also known as socket 7.

The Pentium 3 and Celeron processors used the 370 pin socket and commonly known as Socket 370.

The dual-core by Intel, Xeon, P-4 processors used the 775 pin socket.

The latest motherboards have the socket 1156 or known as 1156 pin socket supporting the recent versions of i3, i5, and i7 processors.

The socket that supports the most advanced i7 processors (9900 K) is the socket 1366.

BIOS

The expanded form of BIOS is the Basic Input Output System and is like an integrated chip on the motherboard.

The BIOS chip contains all the required information and configuration settings of the motherboard.

You can change the settings of the motherboard from the BIOS mode on your computer.

Expansion Slots

The expansion slots are provided in the motherboard in case you want to expand the number of cards or increase the RAM.

It is used to insert additional sounded and video cards, network cards, Wi-Fi cards, and V RAM.

The different type of expansion slots are described as under:-

The ISA (Indian Standard Architecture) slots were found in the AT motherboards and are considered the oldest of its type in motherboards.

They were used to plug in the conventional sound and display cards.

The PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) slots are widely used today to accommodate the additional cards on the motherboard.

It is considered an important component of the motherboard and supports a 64-bit bus.

The PCI Express slots or PCle are the latest types of expansion slots that are more advanced to support the additional cards.

It is capable of supporting a full-duplex serial bus. This type of slot is suitable for gaming purposes.

The AGP (Accelerated GraphicsPort) slot is meant for installing the latest version fo the graphics card.

Like the PCle, the AGP slot also supports a 32-bit bus and is used for installing the high-end gaming graphics card.

We shall now learn on the most important expansion slot which is the RAM (Random Access Memory) slot. It generally comes in 2 types.

The SIMM (Single Inline Memory Module) slot was part of the older motherboards (up to 486-boards) that supported the 32-bit bus.

The DIMM (Double Inline Memory Module) slots are the latest version of RAM slots that supports the 64-bit bus, which is faster than the 32-bit bus.

The DIMMs are also used on the motherboards used in laptops and termed as SO – DIMM.

CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semi-Conductor) Battery

This is a 3.0 Volts lithium-ion button battery or cell that stores the data or information in the BIOS.

The code name of a CMOS battery is represented as CR-2032.

Power Connectors

These connectors are fixed on the motherboard to receive the power.

The AT motherboard had the power connectors with 2 number 6 male pin connectors while the latest motherboards (ATX motherboard) have either 20 or 24 female connectors.

The SATA and IDE connectors are used to interface various hard drives, external disk drives, optical drives. The SATA connector is much faster than the IDE connector.

You will have to be careful in selecting the motherboard type and ensure its compatibility with the other components of the computer to run the PC efficiently.

Since you have learned about the important components of the motherboard, you can now assemble your PC or resolve the hardware related issues.

What are the various types of motherboards?

The motherboard comes in different sizes and is described using foam factor and some of them are specific to individual manufacturers.

This technology was introduced by Intel and has been the industry standard until now.

A form factor usually describes the dimensions of a motherboard and other specifications such as no. of slots, type of holes, power supply type, etc.

The motherboard in IBM designed PC’s were compatible with different sizes of the casing box.

We have listed down the different types of the motherboard with sizes and the features they offer: –

AT Motherboard

The AT motherboards were bulky and not meant for smaller desktops but were quite common in the 1980s and also lasted for a considerable and longer period.

Due to their bigger size, few of the latest drivers could not get installed.

ATX Motherboard

These were called Advanced technology eXtended as they were the improved versions of the old AT technology.

This is the widely and most common type of motherboard design and is in use to date.

However, there has been several upgrades and technology advancement in recent times to meet the changing needs of the customers.

The size of a standard ATX board will be around 30 cm x 24 cm (L x B) and can vary between the manufacturers.

These are specially designed for users involved with a huge amount of work and also need additional expansion slots and several connecting ports.

The ATX motherboard also offers interchangeability of the parts and reduction in sizes as compared to the AT technology.

The latest ATX motherboard has many new features and better arrangement of slots and connectors as compared to its older versions.

This has resulted in better cooling mechanisms and accommodation of additional fans, other cooling setups, and tall heat sinks for CPU and RAM in the ATX mid and full tower cases.

Micro-ATX Motherboard

Micro-ATX motherboards are smaller than the standard ATX motherboard and come in a size of 24 cm x 24 cm and few manufacturers have reduced the breadth by around 1 cm.

They have comparatively fewer slots and connectors as compared to ATX motherboard and are popular amongst the users who do not wish to connect many devices or expand their RAM and graphic cards in the future.

The Micro-ATX motherboard can fit in the case having space equal to the motherboard dimensions and also in the big cases that can accommodate the standard ATC motherboards.

It is also cost economical as compared to the standard ATX model.

Mini ITX Motherboard

These types of motherboards are smaller than any regular motherboard.

Usually sized around 16 cm x 16 cm, they do not have a fan for cooling and relatively consume less power.

They can be used in the cases that are fit for standard and micro versions of ATX motherboards.

E-ATX Motherboard

E-ATX or more commonly known as the Extended version of the ATX motherboard is bigger than the standard ATX.

However, it is not the size that makes it distinct but the enormous features and applications within it make it a great choice.

Some of the features in the E-ATX motherboard are not available even in the standard ATX motherboard.

The E-ATX motherboard is mainly used for gaming purposes. It has a good number of expansion slots to increase the memory and capacity to fit the CPU with more cores.

Some of the cool features are as under:-

  • It has more DIM and PCI slots.
  • It can accommodate up to 128 GB of RAM.
  • It also has inbuilt Wi-Fi cards, troubleshooting, sound cards, and a powerful VRM
  • It has the USB 3.0 and 3.1 slots, thunderbolt, overclocking, etc.

With such advanced features, it is the best motherboard that can help you build a powerful PC with high-end specifications giving the optimum performance.

How to check the motherboard model?

You will have numerous reasons to find out the model number of the motherboard located inside your computer.

Well, the main reasons could be for an update of the drivers or BIOS but it is also required when you want to check its compatibility with other hardware, searching for a matching alternative, or just for knowledge of the specifications.

It is apparent that many of you do not require these details but it will help a good number of users who are not aware of these tools and methods and have relied on documentation or opening the computer to find out the model number. The following 4 options will help you resolve your issue.

How to find your motherboard model through Command Prompt?

The simplest way to find out the basic information on your motherboard is by using the Command prompt.

You can either search by pressing Windows (key) + R or simply go to the ‘Start’ menu and type ‘cmd’ in the Run dialog box to open the Command Prompt.

Just type the command [wmic baseboard get product, Manufacturer, version, serialnumber] in the window and hit ‘Enter’ to reveal the details on the screen.

For Windows 10, you can find out different motherboard and hardware statistics by using Windows Power Shell.

In a few cases, some information will be left unfilled for whatsoever reason but the simple inbuilt Windows command tool helped to find the required information.

It may also be a case wherein the OEM has not filled all the required information or your computer was not able to recognize the motherboard model number.

How to find your motherboard model through System information?

This also helps for finding out your motherboard detail without physically opening your computer.

Opening the Run dialog box by pressing the Start menu or pressing Windows (key) + R. Type msinfo32 and hit Enter.

The System information will open. Select the system summary and expand to see all the information about your computer including the motherboard (Baseboard) model number and sometimes the version.

How to find your motherboard model through the help of third-party tools?

You can go with third-party tools available online for checking on your motherboard model number and other details in case you do not prefer the native WMIC tool.

You can surf the web to find plenty of tools that will provide the details with a simple click of buttons.

So next time, if you want to get details on your motherboard, try the above options rather than crack opening the case.

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