Sweet! You’ve decided to take the plunge to building your very first custom pc and now you’re looking for parts to make that happen. The first component you’ll want to look at is the motherboard. This is where it all happens. Everything in your computer is connected through this system whether it be the CPU, the ram, or the hard drive.

Form Factor

The size and shape of the motherboard is called the “form factor”. There are many form factors out there so I will talk briefly on the most common form factors. There are more form factors but these are the most common and your future motherboard will likely be included in one of these form factors.

  • MicroATX (244×244 mm)
    The microATX or mATX board is as its name implies, small. These boards are typically used in office machines or similar machines where space is tight. These boards typically are low to mid end boards and are not physcially able to offer the same amount of features as a standard ATX or E-ATX. These are also typically the motherboards found on big box computer vendors such as Dell or HP.
  • ATX (305×244 mm)
    The ATX form factor is by far the most common motherboard form factor. This motherboard size typically covers most all mid to high range computers.
  •  ExtendedATX (305×330 mm)
    The ExtendedATX form factor or EATX form factor is one of the more rare types of form factors, but have been seen lately due to the introduction of SLI and Crossfire which allows users to utilize multiple graphics cards to enhance graphics performance. These motherboards are typically reserved for the high end and also carry a heavy price tag. They also require extra large cases to fit.

Motherboard Buying Tips and Tricks

  • Plan out your motherboard, CPU and memoryPurchase a motherboard that uses the same socket as your CPU. For example, a Z68 motherboard uses socket 1155; therefore, you must buy an 1155 CPU or the CPU will not fit.Also, purchase ram that works with your motherboard. If it says DDR3, purchase DDR3. Do not purchase DDR2!
  • Think long term. What features are you looking for? Think ahead when purchasing the motherboard. What features do you want now? What features do you want in 3 months, 6 months, a year. Do you want to upgrade your computer down the road or buy new? Do you want to utilize 2 graphics cards later? These are all questions to think about.
  • Read reviews, buy from a trusted brand and look at the warranty!Always read reviews and always buy from a trusted brand. This may save you from a lot of hassle down the road. Always buy from a trusted brand and take into account the warranty! Do not buy from a company with a 1 year warranty! A couple brands to consider: MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS, Asrock, EVGA, Intel.

Please feel free to drop by the forums for help! Post your full build here and have the community help you make it better!