Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tips for buying a motherboard

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We must take into account when choosing a motherboard.

Well, we're riding our computer and we have chosen the processor you want to mount (see tutorial What is better AMD or Intel?).

Once seen if we will assemble a computer based on Intel (socket 755) or AMD (socket AM2) it's time to see that we'll put motherboard.

As can be observed, since AMD does not have the socket 939. This is because a socket is destined to disappear, because on one side only supports DDR (which are increasingly selling less) and partly because AMD already has a few processors only for this type of socket, replacing the models has little by little by the AM2 socket, supporting DDR2 and also have a considerably lower consumption.

All manufacturers of motherboards (with the exception of Intel, which only makes motherboards for Intel processors) have plates for both processors and subject to the specific characteristics of each type of processor (Intel or AMD) are plates that offer the same benefits and grades for both processors. In saying this I mean, for example, we will not find a motherboard for Intel to support HyperTransport, as this technology is unique to AMD processors.

At this point we must clarify one very important thing. As we say in Spain, nobody gives hard four pesetas. By this I mean a plate of high performance, good quality and cheap there. There might be differences in cost between a brand and another, but equal quality performance and these differences will always be small. If for example we saw a plate with several characteristics and performance of a manufacturer X for 200 euros, we can find a motherboard with the same quality, performance and features in another manufacturer for 190 or 185, but not by 150 or 125.

The quality of a motherboard is not dependent on performance. It depends on the quality of components and that the services offered are not picks, but constant.

There is a minimum required number of elements to a current motherboard must incorporate. Let's see one of these:

- Processors supported.
Within its range (socket type) must bear all the available processors.

- Memory.
The most common is that support DDR2 (although there are some motherboards for socket 775 DDR (Intel) and socket 939 (AMD)).
Must be at least 4 slots for memory, with a minimum capacity of 4GB in total, and supports Dual Channel, as well as frequencies of 533, 667 and 800Mhz.
There are some low cost boards only have two slots, supporting only 2Gb of RAM.

- 100mbps network card.
Today all motherboards incorporate this element. In high-end plates often lay 2 cards, one being the type 100/1000.

- Expansion Slots.
The minimum requirement is:
16x PCIe 1 slot (for graphics, even in the case of plates with embedded graphics).
2 Slots PCIe 1x.
2 PCI 2.2.

- Front Side Bus
Must support an FSB of 1066 in the case of Intel and 2000 for AMD.

- SATA2 connectors.
At least 4 connectors for SATA2. In the medium and high is normal to have 6 or 8 SATA2.

- Support for hardware RAID0, RAID1 and JBOD.
In mid-range boards also have to bear higher RAID 0 +1 and RAID5.

- IDE connector.
Typically have 2 IDE connectors (IDE1 and IDE2), but there are some plates with 3 IDE connectors (2 discs, usually RAID, and 1 exclusively for ATAPI devices) and more and more motherboards that only have 1 connector IDE ATA / ATAPI.

- USB 2.0 ports.
All current plates have a nice collection of USB 2.0 ports, both external and internal. In some cases reach up to 10 USB ports.

- Sound card.
Today all motherboards have built-in sound card, although this can be very different qualities. From plates with basic sound cards (in any case 6.1 as a minimum) to plates with medium and high end HD 8.1 sound card with digital output S / PDIF.

- Internal connector for serial port.
In the case of not having an external COM port must have at least one internal connector for serial port and have its corresponding output plate.

- Remote start capability.
Almost all current motherboards support remote boot (WoL and WoR).

- Cooling the chipset.
It is very important (especially if you're going to ask a high yield or we do Overclocking) that the motherboard has a good cooling system chipset.
With the increased benefits are many motherboards that incorporate Pipeline cooling rate for these chipsets, in some cases supported by fans.

- Power connectors in motherboard cooling (fans).
All motherboards have several power connectors for fans (CPU_FAN, CHASIS_FAN, POWER_FAN).
The more connectors of this type are better because through these connectors we can control various parameters relating to these fans (state, speed ...).

Ability to boot from different devices.
More and more motherboards that support USB booting.

The plates also tend to have high end with:

- IEEE1394 Ports.
Normally one internal and one external.

- External SATA2 connector.
More and more motherboards that have an external connector on the rear panel SATA2.

WiFi network card.
It is increasingly common for high-end motherboards incorporate your connectivity between WiFi cards.

As you can see on this list do not appear or parallel ports or external serial ports. That's because of an increasing number plates that lack this kind of port, especially in the upper range. For most parallel port (and practically only) use the printer connector, and these already are connected to the USB port and in the case of the serial port are rare devices that use this port at present, limited in practice and EPROM burners HyperTerminal Configuration link a particular peripheral and little else. In both cases on the market to USB adapters, both serial and parallel port.

To this we must add that each manufacturer can assemble a set of specific tools to handle issues like the Overclocking, BIOS upgrade from Windows control software temperatures and fans, etc..

One of the determining factors in a motherboard is the chipset it uses. This chipset is to be responsible for supervising the operation and performance of the motherboard, the chipset used to be a determinant for the price of the motherboard.

The most common chipset boards are the chipset as NVIDIA, Intel and VIA. Some boards rely on economic SiS or ALi chipset.

For his kind of graphical output motherboards can divide into three groups:

Integrated graphics.
This is usually plates and economic performance generally low to medium (NOTE, this does not mean that their quality is too low to medium).
This type of plate is ideal when seeking a low-cost computer, which we will not ask a high-performance graphics (games of last generation CAD / CAM, renderings).
They are usually graphics 64Mb or 128Mb, using shared memory (reserve this motherboard installed RAM memory), so that the RAM that we must subtract the one on the chart.
In any event must have a 16x PCIe slot to put in any time a separate graphics card.

Chart not integrated.
It is the most common type of motherboard. This group fits a variety of motherboards, with yields ranging from medium to higher.
Its major peculiarity is that they have only one PCIe 16x slot dedicated to graphics (although they may carry a second 8x or 16x PCIe slot not support SLI).

Graphic SLI or CrossFire.
The technologies are both SLI and CrossFire multi-GPU technology (developed in the case of SLI by Nvidia and the case for ATI CrossFire) that allow for benefits such as adding the power of two graphics cards in a single output or connect multiple monitors to a computer.

You can see more about this kind of plot in the tutorial system What is SLI and CrossFire system.

It is in all cases of high-end motherboards, as the smooth operation of this technology requires high performance.

They are also high-priced motherboards, so it is not recommended purchase if you are not going to use this technology, especially bearing in mind that almost all manufacturers have within their respective ranges motherboards prestacionesy the same characteristics but without SLI or CrossFire technology.

Motherboards SLI or CrossFire type are recommended both for players who require maximum performance for next generation gaming to design professionals. Just note that if we use a motherboard of this type with only a graphics card will have absolutely no advantage on a motherboard with identical characteristics, but without support SLI or CrossFire.

Recently emerging market a series of high-end motherboards with concrete specifications in two fields:

Badges for Windows Vista.
These high-end plates are designed to get maximum performance, both in performance and security in this operating system.
These plates feature a dedicated module for ReadyBoost Flash memory and a connection for TPM modules on which to run the BitLocker encryption system hardware.
They often also bring other extras such as remote controls to control Windows Media Center and even small monitors.

Boards games.
Sacer plates are designed to the most games of last generation. These high-end specialty plates between which we can highlight the series Manufacturer UP DFI Lanparty or ASUS Striker series.
In this sort of board is usually boosted especially everything related to the overclocking, and with graphics support, treated in practically all cases of SLI or CrossFire boards.

Seeing this is important when deciding on a motherboard or other have clear which is the preferred use we are going to give. Buy a high end motherboard for office automation, Internet and occasionally a game or another is wasting money.

We must also think of the other components (processor, graphics card and memory) are going to mount. Think of the computer as a whole in which the components should be as balanced as possible. Do you imagine a high-end motherboard with a Celeron processor and 512Mb of RAM?. Or a Core 2 Duo E6700 and 4Gb of RAM on a plate of 60 euros?.

One issue to take into account when choosing our motherboard is its quality and high quality motherboards cheap simply do not exist. Another thing is they have a better or worse value for money, but a motherboard (or any other product) has a better value for money does not mean it is better than other more expensive means that only for their benefits is the best you can buy for that price.

Very important is the support that the brand of the motherboard offers. To do this we must look both at the support (warranty service) and support on the issue of drivers and updates via the Web.

We must also look at both the compatibility and the existing support for the operating system you want to install either the Windows, Linux, OS X or whatever.

Grounds so far relates to configure a new computer, but what happens when it is a motherboard upgrade or replacement for damage from this?.

For in this latter case we have a keyword: COMPATIBILITY.

By this I mean that the first thing we need to find a motherboard that is as compatible as possible with the other hardware we have, particularly to avoid large expenditures.

Here we will find quite a range to choose smaller. This range will be less the older we leave the team, so in many cases we even have to make do with what little we find.

As an example of this, currently in production there any motherboard that supports SDRAM memory and there are fewer that support AGP graphics cards.

This to say nothing of motherboards for AMD Intel 478 or 754, where the real supply is limited to one or two brands.

One brand that keeps making motherboards for these procesasores is Asrock.
This is a brand without being first row manufactures motherboards with good quality and very good value for money.

In the pictures above we can see two Asus motherboard, in both cases the plate with onboard graphics and DDR memory.

The left image corresponds to the model K8NF6P-VSTA (AMD 754), with a PCIe graphics port and the right is a P4VM800 (INTEL 478), in this case with an AGP port for graphics. This same board also made with port PCIe (P4VM890).

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