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How to choose a motherboard: Your 2022 buying guide

How to choose a motherboard: Your 2022 buying guide

How to choose a motherboard - If you're looking to build your own PC the motherboard you choose will serve as the foundation. Your motherboard determines many of the other components that you'll be able to use in your system. Conversely some other components such as the processor determine which motherboards you can choose from to begin with. 

Before we get started here's a big tip: Use Newegg's comparison feature. if you go to the Newegg motherboard page you can select up to five motherboards and receive a detailed look at how they compare in terms of the topics discussed in this how-to.

Check out the links in the description below this video to try it out yourself. The first decision you'll need to make when choosing a motherboard is deciding whether you want to go with Intel or AMD for your CPU. Both offer processor options across a wide variety of different price points and performance levels.

 Whether you're putting together a low-cost build for light home use or something powerful enough to handle 3D content creation, or gaming and streaming at the same time. Once you've decided which CPU family is best for you then you'll need to pick a motherboard that uses the right socket.

Basically a processor socket is the mechanism through which a CPU is attached to a motherboard. You need to pick a motherboard with a compatible socket for the CPU that you plan to purchase. Not every Intel motherboard ever made will work with every Intel CPU on the market. 

When looking at the CPU you have or want to buy a Newegg look for the indicated socket type. Right now the most common socket you'll need to know are LGA 1151 for modern Intel CPUs and AM4 for AMD CPUs.

Then you'll need to make sure to look for motherboards that match that socket type.

Often a motherboards page on Newegg will contain additional information about which CPUs it supports. Motherboards come in different sizes meaning that you have some flexibility in building your PC to fit into your environment. If you have plenty of space then you might want to use a full sized tower case but if you're building a home theater PC that's meant to sit beneath your living room TV then you'll likely want to use a much smaller case and motherboard. Generally speaking the larger the motherboards physical size the more components it will support.

Use the size of your planned PC and the components you want to install as guides to choose your motherboard form factor. The ATX form factor is the most common for PC building but Micro ATX and Mini ITX are options for more compact builds. Not all cases support all form factors, so check the product pages for both your case and your motherboard to make sure that they are compatible.

The components of your PC will all connect to your motherboard in one way or another, most often through the PCIe or SATA interfaces. The PCIe connection is how you'll connect many of your most important components like your graphics card and PCIe slots come in a variety of different sizes with X4 and X16 being the most common.

PCIe 3.0 is the most common version of the connection on the market right now but some of AMD's most recent board's support PCIe 4.0, but they're still backwards compatible. When paying attention to connectivity options on your motherboard you'll want to make sure there are enough slots and ports for the components you want in your build. Now let's talk about graphics cards.

Though some CPUs are capable of outputting basic graphics on their own, if you want to do anything fancy like gaming then you'll want a dedicated graphics card which you'll connect to your motherboards PCIe slot.

Most modern motherboards and graphics cards will work together as long as you have an available PCIe slot so your GPU selection isn't as important to your motherboard choice as some other factors. The main considerations here will be whether you're buying an especially heavy and powerful GPU in which case you might want to look for motherboards with reinforced PCIe slots to handle the weight or if you're planning on running multiple graphics cards together which will require you to pick a board that allows for that.

Today PCs are commonly equipped with at least 4GB of RAM. How much RAM you need for your own PC depends on how you plan to use it and 8GB is typically a safe recommendation for most light users, with 16 or more GB being a good bet for heavier users.

RAM plugs into a motherboard via a rectangular slot that's used for the kind of RAM in use today. The dual inline memory module or DIMM. The number of DIMM slots in a motherboard determine how much RAM you can add and it most commonly varies from two to eight slots.

You can add one RAM module at a time but you will get the best performance when you install RAM and matched pairs. RAM is usually purchased in kits of two or four DIMMs for example if you were looking to equip your PC with 16GBs of RAM then you would typically buy a kit with two 8GB DIMMs.

When choosing RAM you'll see designations like DDR4 and DDR3 that indicate its generation and speed numbers like 3000, 3200, and 3600. Your motherboard will support a wide range of RAM types but make sure you compare your board with your RAM to ensure compatibility.

Every PC needs somewhere to store its data and that's going to come in the form of a traditional hard drive or an SSD. The most common way to connect a storage drive today is through the SATA 3 connection and that will be supported by just about any motherboard you can buy. On the cutting edge of storage technology you'll find NVMe SSDs.

This is a newer protocol that offers increased bandwidth, lower power use, lower latency, and other advantages. NVMe SSDs come in two form factors: cards that plug into PCIe slots and compact versions that plug into M.2 connections. If you're considering an NVMe drive check to make sure your motherboard will support it. One last major consideration when choosing a motherboard comes down to the types of connections available on the back IO panel.

For most people the number of USB ports is going to be the most relevant number here with high-end boards that are more focused on gaming and content creation generally having more options.

Audiophiles might want to pay special attention to any extra audio connections the board supports too. Rounding out your motherboard selection process you'll want to think about what extra features you'd like in your board and how much of a premium you're willing to pay for those features.

Many modern motherboards sport customizable RGB lighting and some are specially designed to be more liquid cooling friendly. Some have built-in Wi-Fi while others have special cooling features that make them better suited for gaming and overclocking

Motherboard product pages will give you a rundown of the notable features so once you've determined the core of what you need in terms of compatibility with the rest of your build plans you can let these extras along with your price range and preferred manufacture make your final determination.

As you're deciding on the right motherboard for you, you'll want to make sure that it meets your needs for both today and tomorrow. If you know that you'll never want to upgrade your PC beyond its original configuration then you can choose a motherboard that provides exactly what you need to get up and running, but if you think you might want to expand your PC later then you'll want to make sure your motherboard will support your needs as they grow.

Check out the links in the description below to shop for motherboards on Newegg, and don't forget to use the handy comparison tool to make your choice easier..