If you've ever opened a PC case and stared inside, or looked at a bare motherboard, you may be taken aback by the number and variety of connectors, free and video poker, and slots that exist on a modern PC motherboard.
In your friend has won some money you ask guide Your friend has won some money you ask identify some of the most common and a few uncommon your friend has won some money you ask on motherboards used in most home PCs.
I won't cover server- or workstation-class boards here, just what you might find in a typical midrange or high-end home PC.
For a similar discussion of the ports that you're likely to encounter on the exterior of a PC case, see "" Since no single motherboard contains every type of connectors, I've used photos of four different boards to illustrate key examples.
In one or two instances, there is some overlap; but for the most part, connectors are mentioned only once.
Many of them may exist across different motherboard designs, however.
Asus P5WDH Deluxe Let's start with an older motherboard, an Asus P5WDH Deluxe.
This motherboard has a few connectors that aren't included on current-generation boards, as wll as some that do are still included, but are more readily visible here.
Connections on an older Asus P5WDH Deluxe motherboard.
Audio front panel: This ten-pin connector links to the front-panel headphone and microphone inputs.
The particular connector shown is an AC97 connector, which existed prior to multichannel HD audio.
It's still in common use today.
Azalia digital audio header: You rarely find this connector, used to tie the motherboard to multichannel digital outputs on the case, on current motherboards.
Serial-port header: This connector isn't physically present on the board shown--you can just see the solder points for it.
But this header does appear on a few modern boards.
It supports a nine-pin, RS-232 serial port, usually as a Friends slot and machine Ned his that occupies a slot space on the back of the case.
A number of RS-232 connections remain in use today, mostly in point-of-sale devices or specialized test instruments.
Consumer boards typically don't have them.
FireWire IEEE 1994a : Once common as a digital camcorder interface, FireWire has largely been supplanted by USB, and the motherboard makers are gradually phasing it out.
Some professional audio hardware still uses FireWire, though; you may also occasionally find higher-speed IEEE 1394b headers, but they are even rarer.
SATA connectors: These components connect via cables to various storage devices, including hard-disk drives, solid-state drives, and optical drives.
IDE connector: Rarely found today, IDE connectors were used to link to older hard drives.
In addition, until a couple of years ago, many optical drives supported IDE.
Today, all new storage devices ship with SATA.
Floppy disk connector: The venerable 3.
But unless you have a pile of old floppies, you won't need a floppy drive.
And if you do find yourself needing a floppy drive, you can always pick up an external, USB-connected drive.
Intel DP67BG Now let's examine a more recent motherboard: an Intel D67BG, based on Intel's P67 chipset and supporting LGA 1155 CPUs like the Sandy Bridge-based Core i7-2600K.
Intel D67BG motherboard: a modern Intel design.
DDR3 memory sockets: Current-generation PC systems your friend has won some money you ask DDR3 memory, but in many instances they support different operating speeds.
The P67 chipset used in this board maxes out at DDR3-1600, but to achieve that level of speed you'd have to overclock the chipset--officially the P67 supports only DDR3-1333.
Here, we see four memory sockets.
The system supports dual-channel memory, meaning that the system is populated with paired memory modules, which are mounted in sockets of the same color.
CPU fan header: This connector is specifically designed to link to the CPU cooling fan.
The system BIOS monitors CPU cooling fan speeds; and if the fan isn't connected to this header, you may get an error at bootup.
Eight-pin ATX12V CPU power connector: Back when the Pentium 4 processor first shipped, Intel realized that high-performance CPUs needed their own source of clean, dedicated power beyond what the standard 24-pin power connector could deliver.
Thus was born ATX12V.
You'll see four-pin connectors on lower-end boards supporting CPUs with lower thermal design power TDPbut the eight-pin version of the connector is used with higher-end processors and on boards that users may overclock.
Power for secondary fans: Many motherboards with secondary-fan power headers; these connectors are mainly used to power and monitor various case fans.
PCI Express x1 connector: PCI Express is a serial interface, though multiple lanes may be ganged together.
Sound cards, for example, are typically PCIe x1 devices.
PCI Express x16 graphics : PCI Express x16 slots are used mostly for graphics cards, though they can be used with any Slots and ports on a motherboard Express card.
Confusion may arise, however, because not all PCIe x16 slots are true PCIe x16.
Occasionaly, you'll see PCIe x16 connectors that are physical slots for slots and ports on a motherboard graphics cards, but are actually eight-lane x8 or even four-lane x4 electrically.
On some boards, even slots that support true 16-lane PCI Express for graphics may revert to eight lanes if you install a second graphics card into a second PCIe x16 slot on the motherboard.
The P67 chipset, for instance, has only 16 total PCIe lanes for graphics.
So if you drop in two graphics cards to run in dual GPU mode, each card will have just eight lanes available to it.
This situation isn't as bad as it sounds, though, since even eight lanes in a PCIe 2.
A host of expansion cards support 32-bit PCI; and to accommodate them, most motherboards are likely to have at least one 32-bit PCI slot going forward.
You may see some system boards configured so that a particular back-panel case bracket can support either a PCI slot or a PCIe slot, with some overlap between the two because they're very close together.
Front-panel switch header: This header connects various wires to the front panel of the case, where they link to power and reset buttons, and status LEDs for power and storage-drive activity.
Next: Motherboards for AMD CPUs and for the Intel Z77 chipset PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the slots and ports on a motherboard done.
Beginners Guide to Motherboards
details of Figure 3-1, which shows a microATX motherboard by Intel that can hold an Intel Core i7, Core i5, or Core i3 processor in the LGA1155 processor socket. When selecting a motherboard, generally, you’d need to pay attention to the form factor, processor socket, chipset, buses and number of bus slots, and other connectors, slots, and ports.
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