If you’re looking to build your own PCthe motherboard you choose will serve as the foundation. Your motherboarddetermines many of the other components that you’ll be able to use in yoursystem. Conversely some other components such as the processor determine whichmotherboards you can choose from to begin with. Before we get started here’sa big tip: Use Newegg’s comparison feature. if you go to the Neweggmotherboard page you can select up to five motherboards and receive a detailedlook at how they compare in terms of the topics discussed in this how-to.

The first decision you’ll need to make when choosing a motherboard is decidingwhether you want to go with Intel or AMD for your CPU. Both offer processoroptions across a wide variety of different price points and performancelevels. Whether you’re putting together a low-cost build for light home use orsomething powerful enough to handle 3D content creation, or gaming and streamingat the same time. Once you’ve decided which CPU family is best for you thenyou’ll need to pick a motherboard that uses the right socket. Basically aprocessor socket is the mechanism through which a CPU is attached to amotherboard. You need to pick a motherboard with a compatible socket forthe CPU that you plan to purchase. Not every Intel motherboard ever made willwork with every Intel CPU on the market. 

When looking at the CPU you have or wantto buy a Newegg look for the indicated socket type. Right now the most commonsocket you’ll need to know are LGA 1151 for modern Intel CPUs and AM4 for AMDCPUs. Then you’ll need to make sure to look for motherboards that match thatsocket type. Often a motherboards page on Newegg will contain additionalinformation about which CPUs it supports. Motherboards come in different sizesmeaning that you have some flexibility in building your PC to fit into yourenvironment. If you have plenty of space then you might want to use a full sizedtower case but if you’re building a home theater PC that’s meant to sit beneathyour living room TV then you’ll likely want to use a much smaller case andmotherboard. Generally speaking the larger the motherboards physical sizethe more components it will support. Use the size of your planned PC and thecomponents you want to install as guides to choose your motherboard form factor.

The ATX form factor is the most common for PC building but Micro ATX and MiniITX are options for more compact builds. Not all cases support all form factors,so check the product pages for both your case and your motherboard to make surethat they are compatible. The components of your PC will all connect to yourmotherboard in one way or another, most often through the PCIe or SATAinterfaces. The PCIe connection is how you’ll connect many of your mostimportant components like your graphics card and PCIe slots come in a variety ofdifferent sizes with X4 and X16 being the most common. PCIe 3.0 is the mostcommon version of the connection on the market right now but some of AMD’s mostrecent board’s support PCIe 4.0, but they’re still backwards compatible. Whenpaying attention to connectivity options on your motherboard you’ll want to makesure there are enough slots and ports for the components you want in yourbuild. 

Now let’s talk about graphics cards. Though some CPUs are capable ofoutputting basic graphics on their own, if you want to do anything fancy likegaming then you’ll want a dedicated graphics card which you’ll connect toyour motherboards PCIe slot. Most modern motherboards and graphics cards willwork together as long as you have an available PCIe slot so your GPUselection isn’t as important to your motherboard choice as some other factors. The main considerations here will be whether you’re buying an especiallyheavy and powerful GPU in which case you might want to look for motherboards withreinforced PCIe slots to handle the weight or if you’re planning on runningmultiple graphics cards together which will require you to pick a board thatallows for that. 

Today PCs are commonly equipped with at least 4GB ofRAM. How much RAM you need for your own PC depends on howyou plan to use it and 8GB is typically a safe recommendation formost light users, with 16 or more GB being a good bet for heavierusers. RAM plugs into a motherboard via a rectangular slot that’s used for thekind of RAM in use today. The dual inline memory module or DIMM. The number of DIMMslots in a motherboard determine how much RAM you can add and it mostcommonly varies from two to eight slots. You can add one RAM module at a time butyou will get the best performance when you install RAM and matched pairs. RAM isusually purchased in kits of two or four DIMMs for example if you were looking toequip your PC with 16GBs of RAM then you would typically buy a kit withtwo 8GB DIMMs. When choosing RAM you’ll see designations like DDR4and DDR3 that indicate its generation and speed numbers like 3000, 3200, and 3600. Your motherboard will support awide range of RAM types but make sure you compare your board with your RAM toensure compatibility.

 Every PC needs somewhere to store its data and that’sgoing to come in the form of a traditional hard drive or an SSD. Themost common way to connect a storage drive today is through the SATA 3connection and that will be supported by just about any motherboard you can buy.On the cutting edge of storage technology you’ll find NVMe SSDs. This isa newer protocol that offers increased bandwidth, lower power use, lower latency,and other advantages. NVMe SSDs come in two form factors: cards that plug intoPCIe slots and compact versions that plug into M.2 connections. If you’reconsidering an NVMe drive check to make sure your motherboard will support it.

One last major consideration when choosing a motherboardcomes down to the types of connections available on the back IO panel. For mostpeople the number of USB ports is going to be the most relevantnumber here with high-end boards that are more focused on gaming and contentcreation generally having more options. Audiophiles might want to pay specialattention to any extra audio connections the board supports too. Rounding out yourmotherboard selection process you’ll want to think about what extra featuresyou’d like in your board and how much of a premium you’re willing to pay forthose features. Many modern motherboards sport customizable RGB lighting and someare specially designed to be more liquid cooling friendly. Some have built-inWi-Fi while others have special coolingfeatures that make them better suited for gaming and overclocking. Motherboardproduct pages will give you a rundown of the notable features so once you’vedetermined the core of what you need in terms of compatibility with the rest ofyour build plans you can let these extras along with your price range andpreferred manufacture make your final determination. As you’re deciding on theright motherboard for you, you’ll want to make sure that it meets your needs forboth today and tomorrow.

 If you know that you’ll never want to upgrade your PCbeyond its original configuration then you can choose a motherboard thatprovides exactly what you need to get up and running, but if you think you mightwant to expand your PC later then you’ll want to make sure your motherboard willsupport your needs as they grow. 

Written by -Ritik Gupta.CHOO