Evaluating Mainboard Components and Features
When selecting a mainboard, examine how many PCI expansion slots the board has. See how much RAM the board supports. Does the board have the built-in features you want? For example, if youre running Linux, you might want as few built-in features as possible to prevent conflicts and unrecognized hardware. You might rather have PCI cards for sound, networking, and the like. Newer versions of Linux seem better at recognizing various on-board capabilities.
You could also read about the chipset of the board. The chipset are the chips on the mainboard that support the CPU. The ultimate capabilities of the board are limited by the chipset of the board. For a first-time builder, I wouldnt worry too much about the chipset the board uses. If you want to learn more about a particular chipset, type the chipset name into google.com and see whats written about it. But, thats probably a step you dont really need to do.
Some more advanced builders might say, How can you ignore the chipset? The chipsets the most important part of the mainboard! You cant ignore the chipset! (Kind of like the nerdy kid in the movie October Sky). A first-time builder doesnt need to understand this level of detail. If the board has good reviews, supports the features you need or want, and is in your price range, youve made a good selection!
The point is that there are many technical details about the parts that you assemble that you really dont need to fully understand to successfully build a PC. How much you choose to learn about the inner workings of mainboards is entirely up to you. At the basic level, this book shows you all you really need.
For those who want to learn more about the inner workings of computers, you might want to take a college class that covers the topic. I also recommend Upgrading and Repairing PCs by Scott Mueller. You can learn about things like bus speeds and how data is actually transferred about on the board. Or, how RAM actually works. Maybe, someday, youll decide to become a computer designer or an electrical engineer. But, thats a much higher level of knowledge than is covered here. And, if your goal is only to build a reliable and cost-effective system, you dont need a lot of extra knowledge.
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How to Build Your Own PC (http://www.PCGuide.com/byop/) on PCGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005
Adapted with permission from a work created by Charlie Palmer.
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