V. Ryan 2006


Motherboards are the most important part of a computer unit. Although there are many manufacturers each keeps to a standard layout to ensure that their motherboards are compatible with a range of accessories and components.




1. CPU Socket. The Central Processing Unit fits into this socket. This is the component that processes all the data from the software, hardware and keyboard/mouse. Two main manufacturers are INTEL and AMD. The CPUs tend to become extremely hot when in use and usually have a large fan fixed on top, to cool them down.

2. Inputs and Outputs. These are a range of connectors at the back of the computer unit. They include USB ports for the mouse and COMs ports (communication ports) for network connections or a printer. Firewire connectors are normally found in this position along with audio inputs and outputs.

3. PCI-Express Slots. These slots are for the graphics and video cards. Graphics Cards control the way images and text are seen on the monitor and screen definition.

4. PCI Slots. Used for expansion cards. For example, a TV card would be pushed into a PCI slot. When the computer is turned on, Windows Software will normally detect a new card and load the necessary drivers for it to work.

5. Front Panel Headers. These include the power and reset buttons and activity lights that show that hardware such as the hard drive is working.


6. RAM Slots. The RAM memory modules are pushed into the slots. When purchasing the memory for a computer always read the information from the motherboard book. A range of memory exists and it is very important to fit the correct type and speed.

7. IDE Ports. Modern hard drives use Serial ADA ports although older hard drives use the IDE ports. It is worth noting that two hard drives can be connected to one IDE port. The drives are set to Master and Slave.

8. USB Headers. These are normally connected to extra USB ports at the front of a computer unit, via short cables.

9. CMOS Battery. This provides power to the CMOS when the computer is off. The CMOS stores all the basic information on the computer system. The battery charges up when the computer is turned on. If the battery was to be removed the standard information held in the CMOS, such information regarding the hard drive, will need refreshing. An indicator of a battery losing its charge is that it will not keep time accurately.

10. Serial ATA Ports. This interface is for new, modern hard drives. Unlike IDE ports each ATA port controls only one drive - each making it easier to configure / set up a system.