Differentiate between motherboard components, their purposes, and properties

Differentiate between motherboard components

1.2 Differentiate between motherboard components

The motherboard is the main integrated circuit board in a PC. All of the other components must fulfill certain stipulations and guidelines to function properly with a specific motherboard.

A PCs form decides its dimensions.

    • ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended) is the most common form factor. It uses a soft power switch, PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors, and re-positioned components for better air flow and easier access. An ATX board is 305mm x 244mm.
    • Micro-ATX has a smaller outline. The micro ATX motherboard measures 244mm x 244mm but still provides all of the functions of the full ATX board. The smaller motherboard offers savings in terms of reduced output power supply.

  • ITX- A mini-ITX (17×17 cm) is a low-power motherboard form factor .They can usually be passively cooled due to their low power intake.

Expansion slots

An expansion slot is a connector on the board that is able to increase the functionality of a PC’s system through the expansion bus.

    1. PCI – Peripheral Component Interconnect. This is used for network, modem, sound, and graphics adapters and will support bus speeds 33 or 66MHz and 32-bit and 64-bit bus widths.
    2. PCIe – Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. PCIe hardware is compatible with PCI software on Microsoft OS. It is intended to replace PCI and AGP.
    3. CNR – Communications and Networking Riser. This provides modem, audio or networking functionality on a CNR card. Riser technologies are generally considered obsolete, and have been replaced by embedded components.

  1.  AGP – Accelerated Graphics Port. This is a fast point-to-point channel for connecting a graphics card to a motherboard to assist in the acceleration of 3D graphics. This has also been deemed obsolete by PCIe.

RAM slot 

A RAM slot (expansion slot) is a rectangular opening in the motherboard. Expansion cards are placed inside of it to increase RAM in the PC.


A CPU socket is a mechanical component, mounted permanently on the motherboard. It runs mechanical and electrical connections from a microprocessor to PCB. It accommodates particular processor packages, and allows the CPU to be swapped without welding.


The Chip set is group of circuits created to offer communication between the CPU and other components throughout the computer. The north bridge is a part of the chipset, and is responsible for communication between the CPU, AGP, and the memory. Unlike the south bridge, the north bridge is directly connected and acts like a literal “bridge” for the south bridge to interact with the CPU and RAM.

CPU and RAMCMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) is the memory in a computer motherboard that holds the BIOS settings, which gets its power from a CMOS battery. CMOS batteries will need to be replaced every 10 years if they outlive the motherboard. Wrong system date and time, or loss of BIOS settings, usually indicates it’s time to replace it.

Jumper settings are a mechanical means of setting configuration options but they are no longer widely used.

Power connections and types

The motherboard, processor, memory, chipset, integrated components (such as video, LAN, USB etc.) all require power supply, hence the need for power connections. Attaching these connectors incorrectly can cause your motherboard and or power supply to burn up. Connecting a power supply with an incompatible pin into a motherboard will result in you damaging your board and/or power supply.  There are two main sets of motherboard power connectors:

 1. AT/LPX Power Supply Connectors – Industry-standard motherboards use the same type of main power supply connectors which are P8 & P9 (P1&P2) and they both have 6 pins.


Fan connectors

1. 3-pin Molex connector KK Family

Fan connectors

This is used when connecting a fan to the. It is a rectangular female connector with two polarizing tabs.

2. 4-pin Molex connector KK Family


The additional pin is used for a pulse-width modulation signal to provide variable speed control. They can be connected into 3-pin headers but there will be no speed control.

Front panel connectors

The front panel header is where hard disk drive activity lights, speaker, reset button, power button, PC power light, and key lock lights are connected to make them function smoothly.

Front panel connectors

Bus speeds

A computer bus is a pathway where the processor converses with both internal and external devices. Some boards have multiple buses to enable specialization of different functions. A bus is defined by how much bit of data it can transfer at once (width) and how fast it can transfer this information (speed – MHz).

Width x speed = throughput (volume of work that a PC can do in a given time period).

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