Computer motherboard buying tips

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

For users planning on building a computer, a motherboard can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating decision. Below we have listed some considerations and tips when looking at purchasing a computer motherboard.


The type, or form factor, of the motherboard is a crucial consideration when looking at a motherboard. There are various form factors and not all computer cases can accommodate each form factor. Today, the most commonly found and used motherboard is the ATX motherboard. When looking at the motherboard, make sure your case supports your motherboard form factor. Additional information and help with the form factors is available through our motherboard help and support page.

When looking at who to purchase a motherboard through, consider all brands motherboards since all motherboards have positive and negative reviews. A listing of motherboard links and manufacturers is available on our motherboard companies and related links page.


CPU socket or slot

There are a wide variety of different CPU sockets and slots. When looking at purchasing a motherboard, ensure it is compatible with the CPU you have or that it will be compatible with the CPU you plan on purchasing.

Additional information about CPUs and the sockets or slots can be found on our CPU buying tips page.

Drive connectors

Drive connectors can be an important consideration when purchasing a computer. Determine the interface of the drives you plan on using, and ensure that the motherboard supports that interface or has the connector for that interface. An example of such an interface is IDE, EIDE or SCSI.

Additional information about hard drive buying tips can be found on our Hard drive buying tips page.

Additional information about CD-ROM buying tips can be found on our CD-ROM buying tips page

Memory slots and type

Today, there is a wide variety of different types and speeds of memory. When looking at purchasing a motherboard, ensure that it is compatible with the memory you currently have or plan on purchasing.

Additional information about memory buying tips can be found on our Memory buying tips page.


The available slots can be an important consideration. Below is a listing of the different slots used in motherboards.

  1. PCI Express - The latest and greatest slot and bus type.
  2. AGP - AGP, or Advanced Graphics Port, is used for video cards as a replacement for PCI.
  3. AMR - AMR, or Audio Modem Riser, is a slot that is used for audio and modem cards and is found on some motherboards. This is not a critical slot and has been replaced by the CNR.
  4. CNR - CNR, or Communication and Network Riser, is a slot that supports audio, modem, USB, and Local Area Network cards. This slot is highly recommended for any user building a large amount of computers as the cards are cheaper than the standard PCI or ISA cards.
  5. ISA - Today, ISA is becoming obsolete and is not found on all motherboards. Unless you have old ISA cards that need to be used, it is recommended you purchase a new motherboard with no ISA slots and additional PCI slots.
  6. PCI - The most widely and commonly used slot.


Jumpers are overlooked when considering a motherboard; however, they can be an important consideration, especially for users who plan on overclocking their computer. Below is a listing of some of the jumpers that should be asked about or known when purchasing a computer motherboard.

  1. Does the motherboard have a clear CMOS jumper?
  2. Does the motherboard have CPU settings jumpers? Or is it configured through CMOS? Is it auto detect?
  3. Does the motherboard have onboard video or sound? If yes, can they be disabled with jumper or is it done through CMOS? Note: either way is fine as long as it can be disabled.

USB ports

While all motherboards today have USB ports, ensure that the motherboard you plan on purchasing has USB ports.


Upgrading and replacing a new computer motherboard may have the below effects on the computer.

  • Speed up the overall performance of the computer. May not be noticeable.
  • Allow for new improved hardware to be added into the computer.

Motherboard installation

Additional help and information about installing a computer motherboard and other computer hardware can be found through our Installation section.