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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | The Motherboard | Parts of the Motherboard ]

Motherboard Manual

No motherboard is complete without proper documentation. It should include the following at an absolute minimum:

  • General Information: The model number of the board, the name of the manufacturer, and contact information. You need this to get help, BIOS upgrades or information on your board.
  • Assembly Instructions: Instructions on how to install, jumper, and configure the board. Some motherboards put this on a single page; others include a 50-page-plus manual. I'm sure you can figure out which is better. :^) This should include a diagram of the board showing where all the components are. If this diagram doesn't look like the actual board (it happens!) you could have trouble, but not always. It is also fairly common for there to be slight differences between what is actually on the board and what the manual says. Be very careful to watch for these.
  • Configuration Information: Information on acceptable processor and memory configurations for the board. You need this information to determine what processor and system memory to buy.
  • BIOS Manual: An explanation of the board's BIOS settings, what they mean, and how you should set up the machine. These manuals (which are sometimes separate from the motherboard manual and sometimes just a second section in a single manual) range in size and quality much like the assembly instructions; however, they are less important, only because many years of pathetic BIOS manuals has led to the development of many Internet resources to help with BIOS settings (including mine). Motherboard assembly instructions are much more board-specific and so are harder to find outside the manual itself.

Warning: If you can't read or comprehend the motherboard manual sufficiently well to allow you to install it, wouldn't it be sensible to consider purchasing a different brand, even if it is a few dollars more?

Warning: Beware "no name" motherboards that have a model number (or sometimes not) but no manufacturer name. Good luck to you if you ever need troubleshooting, upgrade advice or other information on your board! And forget about BIOS upgrades, if you can't find the manufacturer's web site readily.

Next: I/O Cables / Connectors

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