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How to Decide Whether to Upgrade Your CPU/Motherboard

How to Select a New PC Motherboard

When you need a new motherboard on your PC, you may be overwhelmed by your motherboard-replacing options. Selecting a motherboard isn’t as complex as you might think, though. Keep these guidelines in mind while shopping for a new PC motherboard:

  • Determine which type of motherboard fits in your PC’s case. Virtually all PCs manufactured in the past few years use ATX cases and ATX motherboards but it never hurts to make sure. Older cases might use AT or Baby AT motherboards.

    If you need help with classifying your case, take it to your local computer shop and have a technician tell you.

  • Remember that FSB stands for Front Side Bus. The higher the bus speed on your new motherboard, the better the performance — and the more expensive the RAM modules. (At higher bus speeds, more data is sent to the CPU at one time, and the data arrives there faster.) Most CPUs work with a range of bus speeds.

  • Shop for the best controllers. Today’s motherboards have onboard hard drive controllers that vary widely in performance. Therefore, make sure that you compare the motherboard controller’s rated speeds and supported hard drives.

  • Consider onboard FireWire, Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0, sound, and network hardware. Why force yourself to add a separate adapter card later when you can buy a motherboard with networking, FireWire, Dolby surround sound, and USB 2.0 ports built in?

  • RAM capacity is important. Check which type of RAM is supported and the maximum amount of RAM the motherboard can accept.

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