Mainboards – Great buying advice

In our special, after we took a close look at the new Intel 11000 CPUs last week and also offered general advice on how to buy a CPU, we take care of motherboards. Today it’s about sockets, chipsets and the question of how to find a suitable mainboard. We clarify this and more and have also prepared 60 mainboards for current AMD and Intel CPUs in a market overview.

The tasks of the mainboard

Nothing works with a PC without a mainboard. The alternative name “main board” sums it up well, because the mainboard represents the central element of the inner workings of a PC.

MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk (AMD AM4)

MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk (AMD AM4)

Those: MSI

It ensures that the individual components can communicate with one another, i.e. CPU, RAM and the drives as well as additional things such as a mouse, keyboard, printer or even a sound card. With a gaming PC, of ​​course, there is also the graphics card, which is not necessary with many office PCs if the CPU has its own graphics unit (IGP). The BIOS or UEFI of a mainboard is in a chip and offers a kind of basic operating system. It enables basic settings such as checking the correct clock rate of CPU and RAM or specifying the drive from which a correct operating system is to be loaded later. The BIOS enables the PC to start in the first place so that Windows or another operating system can be installed. In addition to the basic tasks, the mainboard also offers slots for graphics cards or other additional cards. It also has numerous connections – accessible after installation on the back of the PC. For example for USB or for speakers and a network cable, since every mainboard has integrated a sound and network chip for several years. Last but not least, there are also connections on the mainboard that can be connected to the front of the case so that USB and audio ports are also available there.

Some models already have WLAN and Bluetooth on board – this occurs especially with the very small Mini-ITX models, as these are often used for living room PCs. The presence of WLAN prevents you from having to lay a long network cable to the PC.

A question of the base

Every mainboard has a very specific socket. This is the device into which the processor is inserted and then locked in place with a small lever. The CPU also “has” a socket – this refers to the nature of the CPU underside, which must match the mainboard socket exactly.

Asus Prime H510M-E (Intel 1200) - the base is the metal-colored framed area near the center.

Asus Prime H510M-E (Intel 1200) – the base is the metal-colored framed area near the center.

Those: Asus

The CPU has many small contact points there that match the contact points on the socket – with Intel you can see the number of contacts by the socket name such as 1150, 1155 or 1200. This shows how delicate it is with processors. Currently, the processors of interest to gamers have the Intel 1151 v2 socket and the newer 1200 socket, while AMD has the AM4 socket. Matching mainboards must have exactly the same socket. Since there are often several CPU generations per socket, it can happen that a new CPU is not recognized even though it fits purely mechanically on an older mainboard due to a suitable socket.

Here a BIOS update is first necessary, which – if there is not even a picture on the monitor with the new CPU – can be carried out with the help of an older CPU. Some mainboards also offer an update via USB stick without a CPU having to be in the socket at all. In our special we will later offer motherboards for the two sockets with the currently best price-performance ratio for gamers, regardless of whether they are beginners or hardcore gamers with streaming ambitions, in a market overview: AMD AM4 and Intel 1200. The CPU Recommendations from our processor special linked at the beginning all have one of these two sockets.

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