A motherboard is a PCB that holds crucial components like a CPU, RAM and connectors for peripherals. On personal computers, most Motherboards allows the expansion of upgrading or adding in components for a more suited or efficient system. This involves adding in a Conventional PCI Card like a Video graphics Card, a Network Card or a Sound Card.

Design of a motherboard

The following are the components commonly found in most motherboard designs.

  • Most modern CPU’s are attached by a socket, which is fastened down with a heatsink (See Temperature Subheading). Otherwise, they are soldered into the motherboard.
  • RAM is inserted into memory module slots (DIMM MODULES)
  • A chipset forms the interface between each component.
  • A Flash ROM holding the system’s BIOS
  • Slots for expansion cards, called a Conventional PCI Card in modern systems.
  • Power Connectors which receive power from a Power Supply and gives it to the chipset, CPU, memory, and expansion cards. Most high-end graphics card requires more power, so they have power outlets like 6-pin or 8-pin.

Motherboard Form Factors

There are many form factors a motherboard can come in, but the most common sizes are ATX, Micro-ATX, BTX, ITX and a Mini-ITX. Each varying in size, providing more or less features than another size can have. While ATX and Micro-ATX comes with the standard of most systems, a Micro-ITX can be very small and able to fit in a small Micro-ITX cases. With this saying, it is required to get a case to fit the motherboard form factor.


The motherboard is an essential part of a computer, and like the CPU and Video graphics Card, the motherboard requires cooling, which other components can also be cooled at the same time in a common setup. Overheating of a motherboard in most motherboards will just cause the system to shut down, thanks to temperature sensors and auto-detection.


Usually, 120mm fans are included or added in most cases, but one fan is required usually and fine in non-overclocking usage. However, common cases include ventilation and airflow from the front of the case, which gets ‘pulled’ out from the rear fan of the case. Overclocking for CPU’s and Video graphics Card’s require a more advanced airflow and coolers. For Processing Units, a different heatsink with a more advanced thermal design is required for overclocking. Usually for GPUs, they are normally not required to change heatsinks for overclocking, but in some cases, enthusiast may order a custom made heatsink or liquid cooling for these. Liquid cooling is also used in CPU, premade or custom ordered. The user may use a program with their Operating System to overclock either, but usually done in BIOS to change voltages (Except for Video Cards). Cooling is a major essential to most electronics, especially in modern computers. If there is ever a case where cooling is not achieved or good enough, problems will persist with the system. The following is a list of what may happen.

  • If a CPU ever overheats, older versions like the Pentium may break, rendering them useless. Modern ones will almost always shut down before their Temperature junction max (TJ Max) which is a cores max temperature before the unit begins to start burning. However, its lifespan will also reduce dramatically if temperature is under the TJ Max, but still considered high enough (Like for example, 75c on a phenom 965).
  • If a GPU starts to overheat, it may lead to screen tearing, games crashing and even rendering the system unstable unless if the user goes in safe mode and undo his/her changes.
  • If the motherboard ever overheats, its lifespan may reduce in its capacitors.

Computers | Hardware

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