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Motherboard Options

Best Of Tom’s Hardware: How To Build A PC

The motherboard is one of the most critical selections in any build. There are hundreds of possibilities, but choosing a case, processor, and graphics solution first may reduce them down to just a few possible best matches. Fortunately, our Beginner's Guide to Motherboard Selection contains most of the information needed to initiate first-time builders. In fact, the plethora of previously-published information available allows us to narrow motherboard selection down to a list of criteria:

  •  What form factor will best match the selected chassis?
  • If the chassis uses riser cards, do the correct expansion slots align?
  • What socket does the CPU use?
  • Has the board been approved to work with the chosen processor model?
  • Will the system need onboard graphics?
  • If onboard graphics are used, which monitor interface will be required?
  • How many graphics devices will be installed?
  • If onboard sound is used, what type of audio system connection is required?
  • How many network connections will be used?
  • Will IEEE-1394/FireWire/Sony i.Link be useful?
  • What other external connections might be required?
  • How many non-graphics expansion cards will be used, and which slot type is required for each?
  • How many Serial ATA and Ultra ATA devices will be connected?
  • Will RAID be required? If so, what modes are needed?
  • How many memory modules will be installed?
  • Will the board be overclocked?
  • If top performance is a priority, what features can be given up?
  • If a wide variety of onboard features are required, can a small amount of performance be sacrificed?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you're ready to take a closer look at our Motherboard Reviews!

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