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How to choose a motherboard for a PC

The motherboard is the foundation of your build

The choice of motherboard (mobo) is critical because it determines which components you can or cannot install in your build. The mobo also determines how upgradeable and expandable your computer is in the future.


AMD or Intel platform


Before you even start you need to decide whether you want to use an Intel CPU or an AMD CPU. You can't install an Intel CPU on an AMD platform mobo and vice versa.

Motherboard chipset is key

Next you need to decide which chipset you want on your mobo. A chipset is a bundle of chips on the mobo that gives it different features. The more features in the chipset the more expensive the mobo. Chipsets in the past were two chips, a north bridge chip and a south bridge chip, now it's a single chip.

The Intel H110 Chipset for Intel 6th generation CPUs has all the features you might need for a mainstream performance computer.

For a power or gaming PC use an Intel H170 Chipset for Intel 6th gen CPUs. For extreme gaming builds we recommend the Intel Z170 Chipset, again for Intel 6th gen CPUs.

For an ultra gaming build with three or four graphics cards, or for a workstation or server for heavy work loads, consider the Intel X99 Chipset, which with a BIOS upgrade supports Intel Core i7 Extreme CPUs for Haswell-E and the upcoming Broadwell-E CPU architectures. The Intel X99 Chipset also supports certain Xeon CPUs for the Haswell-EP and Broadwell-EP CPU architectures.

From the Intel Skylake architecture onwards, Xeon CPUs now need their own chipset motherboards, that would be the Intel C232 Chipset and Intel C236 Chipset of which we recommend the Intel C236 Chipset.

For AMD Athlon X4 CPUs and AMD A-Series APUs the motherboard chipset to get is the A78 Chipset or A88X Chipset for gaming. For AMD FX CPUs get the AMD 990X Chipset or AMD 990FX Chipset for extreme gaming builds.

Motherboard features

A short list of features we think a mobo should support include:

  • A CPU socket that allows for an upgrade to a better CPU when prices fall. The socket LGA 1151 for Intel CPUs or the socket FM2+ for AMD CPUs are good options. Or better still for AMD, wait for the socket AM4 for their upcoming in late 2016 Zen CPU and APU architecture.
  • A PCI Express x16 slot for adding a separate video card now or later.
  • Dual channel DDR4 2133 MHz memory or DDR3 1600 MHz memory.
  • USB 3.0 header to connect to the front panel of your PC case (your case also needs two USB 3.0 front panel inputs).
  • The case rear USB ports can be USB 2.0 ports, but it's nice to have rear USB 3.0 port(s) as well in addition to the front 2.
  • 4 or more SATA 6 Gbps ports for your storage and DVD drives. For a mini PC at least 2 ports.
  • Gigabit LAN for your internet connection.
  • 5.1 channel HD Audio, though all you really need is HD 2.1 channels or even just HD 2 channels. The 0.1 is for the sub-woofer.
  • At least one open PCI Express x1 or x4 slot, preferably Gen 3.0.
  • Optionally a S/PDIF digital audio output jack for digital audio output.
  • Optionally a PCI Express x4 speed M.2 slot for a M.2 form factor Solid State Drive (SSD) to run in the new NVMe protocol as opposed to the AHCI protocol.



For computer enthusiasts it is important that the motherboard provides access to advanced BIOS settings to overclock our PC. Enthusiasts love to tinker to improve the performance of their PC and they can convert a great computer into an even better one through overclocking without spending more cash. You also need an overclockable CPU.

Upgrading and Expanding

The motherboard should also allow upgrading and expanding. For example if one chooses integrated graphics now, the motherboard should include a spare PCI Express x16 slot to add a video card at a later date, when prices have fallen. It should also allow for the expanding of the number of hard drives and other devices.

Motherboard form factor or size

Micro ATX form factor is our recommended motherboard size for a performance PC. An ATX motherboard is recommended for an extreme gaming PC, to potentially accommodate multiple video cards.

Smaller is usually better in tech. Mini ITX form factor, smaller than micro ATX, is also very appealing but strangely enough these ultra small motherboards are still more expensive relatively in some cases. When prices fall in proportionate to size this would be a good option for a performance PC or HTPC (home theater PC). Mini-ITX is the recommended form factor for a mini PC.


Linux interest and freedom from big tech articles!

Microsoft’s greed is killing Windows 11 for me - TechRadar, April 21st, 2022:
It's pretty obvious now. Kamil

March 21st, 2022: Windows 11 will add a watermark if you use unsupported hardware - engadget
More control, less freedom, same old story. Kamil

Feb 24, 2022: Bill Gates: ‘If every country does what Australia did,’ the world could prevent the next pandemic - CNBC
I don't see him as a champion of human rights and freedom, do you, lol. Kamil

Dec 2, 2021: Microsoft’s new Windows prompts try to stop people downloading Chrome - The Verge
“Microsoft has also been making it harder to switch default browsers in Windows 11 and forcing people into using Edge through Windows updates. These latest prompts also follow widespread criticism of Microsoft building a “buy now, pay later” tool directly into Edge that prompts users to use a short-term financing service.” - from the last para in that article.

Oct 8, 2021: Amazon Delivery Partners Rage Against the Machines: ‘We Were Treated Like Robots’ - Yahoo Finance
“They say work hard and make history, but Amazon is a culture of fear and anxiety.” - From the last line in that article.

Sep 10, 2021: Epic v. Apple ruling: Judge finds Apple's App Store restrictions violate antitrust law - Yahoo Finance
About time! - Kamil

Aug 28, 2021: Why You Suddenly Need To Delete Google Chrome - Forbes

FTC says Facebook has been a monopoly ‘since at least 2011’ in amended antitrust complaint - The Verge

Windows 11 Is Making It Absurdly Difficult to Change Browsers - GIZMODO
Don't these people at Microsoft behind this latest move know how to behave, it appears they never grow out of that mindset of cheap anti-competitive tricks, motivated by greed I guess or something else who knows, instead of just trying to do great stuff. Here try this instead Microsoft, create your browser, don't integrate it with Windows, make it available for download, market it like any other product, if it's any good people will use it, if not they won't. Don't force people to use it because you think you can get away with it. Weren't they told something similar by antitrust regulators sometime back, that article references that case, did they forget? - Kamil

What the Linux Mint developers have pulled off is nothing short of astounding - TechRepublic

Fired by Bot at Amazon: ‘It’s You Against the Machine’ - Bloomberg News
This is not good - Kamil

PC users are furious about the new Windows 11 design - Creative Bloq
Windows has been wanting to be Apple forever, constantly copying them, try and be original for a change, don't be afraid you're a big boy now, or maybe not lol - Kamil

Epic v. Apple fight: Billions at stake as judge determines fate of App Store - Yahoo!
Controlling and receiving a big cut of all apps on an iPhone by Apple is a joke, let's hope for a tech freedom verdict - Kamil

Google reportedly made it difficult for smartphone users to find privacy settings - The Verge

I looked at all the ways Microsoft Teams tracks users and my head is spinning - ZDNet

Microsoft just force restarted my Windows PC again to install more unwanted apps - The Verge

Disastrous Windows 10 update is reportedly breaking some PCs - TechRadar

With Edge, Microsoft’s forced Windows updates just sank to a new low - The Verge

A million students and counting have learned Linux - ZDNet

Linux Mint 20: Still the best Linux desktop despite one quirk - ZDNet

What Operating System Is the Best Choice for Software Engineers? - Interesting Engineering
Hint: From the article "GNU/Linux is, hands down, the most highly acclaimed operating system for software engineering."

Microsoft: we were wrong about open source - The Verge

How to choose PC parts

CPU Video card Memory
Motherboard SSD/HDD DVD CD
Power supply Case OS
Speakers Monitor Linux

How to assemble a PC

PC assembly guide
PC assembly project
High Performance Everyday PC build
Premium Everyday PC build
Premium Everyday Mini PC build
Gaming PC build
Extreme Gaming PC build
Workstation Computer build
Save with Linux on a PC
How to choose PC parts
Dual boot Linux and Windows
Upgrade to SSD project
Transfer data from old PC to new PC

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