A Short Guide to Motherboard Parts and Their Functions

The motherboard is the most vital part of your PC. When you crack or quick circuit your motherboard or certainly one of its connections malfunctions, it is curtains in your PC. Sadly, motherboards additionally seem to be a mysterious and magical entity to those that aren’t tech fanatics.

With so many components, items, and elements, determining every particular person half’s function can seem to be mind surgical procedure. That’s, till now! Learn on for a complete, albeit fundamental, information to your motherboard!

What Is a Motherboard?

Beneath is the image we’ll use for instance the elements of a motherboard, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus Wi-Fi.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard
Picture Credit score: ASUS

The above is likely one of the top-rated motherboards at the moment in the marketplace, appropriate for Intel’s newest twelfth Gen processors. But, regardless of its seeming complexity, the motherboard nonetheless options the identical standardized array of inputs, outputs, slots, and capabilities. There are three normal points of a motherboard that customers require to configure one appropriately.

  • Slots: Slots accommodate {hardware} elements utilizing raised ports. Relying on the age of your motherboard, the main slots current in a motherboard are AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port), PCI (Peripheral Part Interconnect), and RAM (Randon Entry Reminiscence). We are saying age as a result of AGP has been nearly completely changed by PCI Categorical (PCIe—extra on this in a second!), and also you’re extraordinarily unlikely to search out an AGP slot on a shopper motherboard constructed post-2010.
  • Sockets: Sockets enable customers to put in part items straight into the motherboard. The CPU socket is essentially the most notable instance.
  • Connections: Connections present energy through your energy provide to your part components. These connections are sometimes pin connections, a few of that are positioned in raised sockets (through ATX connectors), whereas others are naked.


Whereas the structure of particular motherboard fashions includes many extra elements than the above, these introduced are the elements designed for consumer-level involvement.

CPU Socket

CPU sockets are available two varieties: LGA (Land Grid Array) and PGA (Pin Grid Array). LGA makes use of small contact plates, whereas PGA makes use of skinny pins, to attach your CPU to your motherboard. The CPU socket is highlighted within the picture beneath.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard cpu socket
Picture Credit score: ASUS

There are additionally numerous variations of sockets throughout the normal LGA kind. Completely different sockets have an effect on the output efficiency of the CPU. A high-quality or extra expensive motherboard will carry a extra not too long ago developed socket kind, usually permitting you to pair the motherboard with a higher-specced CPU. For instance, as talked about above, the ASUS motherboard in our instance comes with an LGA 1700 socket that works with Intel’s twelfth Gen processors, permitting you to make use of Intel’s newest and biggest {hardware}. Within the following picture, you may see the Intel LGA 1151 socket up shut.

lga 1151 socket example
Picture Credit score: Xaar/Wikimedia

Putting in a CPU right into a slot is so simple as inserting the CPU into the slot with the proper orientation (depicted on a CPU with a small arrow indicator) and urgent the CPU into contact with the socket utilizing the contact lever.

DIMM Slots (and RAM Modules)

DIMM (Twin Inline Reminiscence Module) slots home the RAM modules (usually referred to as “RAM sticks”) put in in your motherboard. They’re usually oriented parallel to the again panel connectors of your motherboard. Relying in your motherboard, you may discover both a two-slot or a four-slot configuration. Our instance motherboard comes with 4 RAM slots.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard ram slots
Picture Credit score: ASUS

There are two sorts of DIMMs: SDRAM and DDR SDRAM. The latter is the de facto RAM slot on most trendy motherboards, with one notch in its DIMM module as an alternative of two. Moreover, the notch location modifications between RAM module generations, as you may see within the picture beneath (the newest technology, DDR 5 will not be pictured, however the slot has moved).

ddr ram slots notch and sizes
Picture Credit score: Martini/Wikimedia

DIMM slots are available pairs and are color-coded to separate single from dual-channel slots. Putting in sticks in twin channel reminiscence slots supplies higher efficiency when they’re equivalent.

To put in RAM appropriately, open the 2 small levers on all sides of the DIMM slot and press down the RAM stick till they snap again into place.

PCI Slots

PCI (Peripheral Part Interconnect) slots home {hardware} units akin to graphics and sound playing cards. Trendy motherboards predominantly use completely different PCIe (PCI Categorical) variations. The newest PCIe customary is PCIe 5.0. PCI Categorical is designed to interchange earlier, older bus variations akin to PCI, PCI-X, and AGP.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard pcie slots
Picture Credit score: ASUS

PCI Categorical slots are available standardized sizes starting from x1 (smallest) to x16 (largest). Trendy motherboards will usually allocate house for at the least one PCI Categorical x16 slot to put in a devoted graphics card. Smaller PCI Categorical slots, such because the x1 or x4, are usually used for audio and community playing cards. Moreover, some motherboards additionally include a slot for an M.2 NVMe drive, which might additionally use PCIe for fast information switch.

Like most different PC slots, the notch in your edge connector will decide the orientation of the part.

CMOS Battery

The explanation your PC can boot into your BIOS/UEFI even when your OS malfunctions is as a result of the BIOS is situated inside your CMOS chip. Your CMOS battery then powers this CMOS chip.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard cmos battery
Picture Credit score: ASUS

You could obtain error messages regarding the cost of your BIOS or endure some voltage-related PC situation and have to take away or exchange your CMOS battery.

Merely pull the small lever situated on the facet of the battery to take away the battery, which ought to spring up immediately. Have in mind this half is especially vulnerable to static shock, so watch out with the part.

Energy Connectors

Energy connections present energy to your motherboard through your energy provide. The cables used for these connections, termed ATX connectors, present your motherboard a safe and constant energy connection.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard power connectors
Picture Credit score: ASUS

Two ATX connectors are required to get your motherboard in working order: one for the CPU (4 pin ATX for low finish and eight pin ATX for prime finish) and the opposite essential connector (usually the bigger 24 ATX) for the remainder of the board.

Entrance Panel and USB Connectors

Energy connections for extra {hardware} like entrance panel audio and USB inputs are situated in smaller, naked pin clusters. When you look carefully at your motherboard, you may discover that every of those seemingly random motherboard connectors has a person title both inside or alongside, detailing what the connector does. For instance, you may discover entrance panel slots in your audio connectors, USB ports, and so forth.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard front panel connectors
Picture Credit score: ASUS

Extra significantly, entrance panel connectors require that customers set up particular person pin connectors into the motherboard as an alternative of pre-configured connections. Entrance panel connectors generally is a critical annoyance. As an example, misplacing your case energy button connector will trigger your PC to fail to activate. When your motherboard arrives, it will have a helpful information detailing precisely find out how to plug these tiny connectors in. It’s also possible to examine in your user manual online to search out the precise entrance panel connector configuration of your motherboard.

SATA Connectors

SATA connectors enable customers to attach their exhausting drives or solid-state drives to their motherboard through a SATA cable.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard sata connectors
Picture Credit score: ASUS

Completely different motherboard configurations place SATA ports in a different way, however you may at all times notice the half given its distinctive plug and onboard labeling. The small dimple on the plug determines its configurations.

Again Panel

The again panel supplies customers with the primary array of I/O connections akin to LAN, USB, and audio ports.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard io connections
Picture Credit score: ASUS

The beneath picture supplies a portrait structure of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus Wi-Fi again panel.

asus gaming z690 plus wifi motherboard io connectors
Picture Credit score: ASUS

From left to proper, the ports are:

  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DisplayPort
  • 1x USB Kind-C (USB 3.2 Gen 2×2—white port)
  • 4x USB Kind-A (USB 3.2 Gen 1—mild blue port)
  • 2x USB Kind-A (USB 3.2 Gen 2—mild inexperienced port)
  • 2.5Gb Ethernet/LAN port
  • 1x USB Kind-C (USB 3.2 Gen 1—white port)
  • Twin-Wi-Fi 6E antennas
  • SPDIF Out
  • 5x audio outputs, together with mild blue for a microphone, mild inexperienced for audio enter, and pink for audio output

That is (Not Precisely) All, Of us!

A motherboard is a fancy piece of know-how. Whereas the clusters of bumps, plugs, and pins could seem overwhelming at first, it would not take an engineer to notice the varied connections you would wish to construct your individual PC.

Now that the fundamentals, open up your individual PC and examine to see for those who can find the above by yourself motherboard. Who is aware of, it may turn out to be useful for those who ever wanted to interchange a part.

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