What is a Motherboard?
The motherboard serves to connect all of the parts of a computer together. The CPU, memory, hard drives, optical drives, video card, sound card and other ports and expansion cards all connect to the motherboard directly or via cables.
The motherboard is the piece of computer hardware that can be thought of as the "back bone" of the PC.
The Motherboard is Also Known As
mainboard, mobo (abbreviation), MB (abbreviation), system board, logic board
Important Motherboard Facts
Motherboards vary greatly in respect to the types of components they support. For example, each motherboard supports a single type of CPU and a short list of memory types. Additionally, some video cards, hard drives and other peripherals may not be compatible. The motherboard manufacturer should provide clear guidance on component compatibilities.
In laptops and tablets, and increasingly even in desktops, the motherboard often incorporates the functions of the video card and sound card. This helps keep these types of computers small in size.
Popular Motherboard Manufacturers
In a desktop, the motherboard is mounted inside the case, opposite the most easily accessible side. It is securely attached via small screws through pre-drilled holes.
The front of the motherboard contains ports that all of the internal components connect to. A single socket/slot houses the CPU. Multiple slots allow for one or more memory modules to be attached. Other ports reside on the motherboard which allow the hard drive and optical drive (and floppy drive if present) to connect via data cables.
Small wires from the front of the computer case connect to the motherboard to allow the power, reset and LED lights to function. Power from the power supply is delivered to the motherboard by use of a specially designed port.
Also on the front of the motherboard are a number of peripheral card slots. These slots are where most video cards, sound cards and other expansion cards are connected to the motherboard.
On the left side of the motherboard (the side that faces the back end of the desktop case) are a number of ports. These ports allow most of the computer's external peripherals to connect such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, network cable and more.
All modern motherboards also include USB ports here, and increasingly other ports like HDMI and FireWire, that allow compatible devices to connect to your computer when you need them - devices like digital cameras, printers, etc.
The desktop motherboard and case are designed so that when peripheral cards are used, the sides of the cards fit just outside the back end, making their ports available for use.