CompTIA A+ Prep: Identifying Components of Motherboards and Understanding Their Functions


CompTIA A+ Prep: Identifying Components of Motherboards and Understanding Their Functions

Every computer enthusiast understands the importance of a motherboard. It is one of the most fundamental hardware that without one, a system cannot operate. The motherboard is also the most common computer-related terms that most people know about. However, what most people do not know is the primary function of the motherboard, its chips and the role played by each, and all the components present on the board. For a normal individual, this kind of information would seem unnecessary. But if someone is preparing for a computer science certification or specifically acquiring CompTIA A+ Certification Training, learning about the motherboard, its components, and all their functions are highly important. Moreover, such information is key to help one with troubleshooting processes or even building their own PC.

What are the Motherboard Basics?

A motherboard is like every other computer hardware that has a respective function. Motherboard basically allows computer components to communicate with one another. Every component on a computer system is installed on a motherboard or connected to it, which instigates an important aspect about the motherboard that it is the central unit of a PC that brings everything together.

Following is a list of motherboard components:

  • Power connectors – Any component cannot operate without power and the same goes for a motherboard. The power connector is a 20/24-pin connector that sits near to the processor socket on some hardware while is present beside the right edge in others. It’s the area where the main connector attaches and thus, supplies power to all components.
  • Processor socket – It is a central unit present on the motherboard located on the center and the main function of it is to hold the entire processor. In layman’s terms, it is called “the brain of a computer”.
  • Video card slot – It does not require much explanation as it remains one of the most common components. Just as the name suggests, a video card slot attaches a card. It is a PCI-Express slot. High-end gaming PCs have motherboards that comprise of multiple video card slots.
  • Memory slots – These slots are usually situated on the upper right area of the motherboard and carry a computer’s memory modules. Slots can differ in number and it usually depends on the motherboard. It starts at 2 and goes up to 8 slots. The latter number is usually present on gaming PCs’ motherboards.
    Users generally pay close attention to the memory of the motherboard when buying it. Modern motherboards have the DDR3 memory that is now industry standard. Basically, the number of slots determines the capacity of memory on a motherboard.
  • IDE & SATA ports – These ports are used to allow connectivity for optical drives and storage devices. IDE is rather outdated, so it is not much common anymore to be found on motherboards. IDE was replaced by SATA interface because it is smaller and faster. In fact, it can allow speeds up to 600 MB/s.
  • Expansion slots – Their primary function is to allow a user to attach additional hardware to optimize their PC’s performance. A user can install a high-performance sound card or a TV tuner.
  • Northbridge & Southbridge – Looking at the motherboard, anyone can easily spot a square and metallic component on the bottom right area. This area is for the evacuation of heat building up in the system. It provides thermal protection for the Northbridge that is an important component of the motherboard. Northbridge coordinates the flow of data between video card, memory, and the processor. The Southbridge has the same function, only that it coordinates data flow between soundcards and the processor.
  • BIOS Chip & Battery – The BIOS chip is a component which consists of a basic code required to carry out the boot process on a computer. The process goes on to the point where the operating system or OS takes over. BIOS is present on a memory chip, and this chip needs a constant supply of power in order to perform its function. However, the power supply can be cut if unplugged from the grid, which is why there is a battery that supplies adequate power to keep it running.
  • Front Panel Connectors, USB & Audio Headers – Front Panel connectors is a place where all the elements on the front are connected. It comprises of USB connectors, power button, power LED, audio connectors, and the reset buttons.
  • Rear Panel Connectors – Rear Panel Connectors act as a bridge between the inside and outside of a computer. These connectors are situated on the left edge of a motherboard, so it is pretty confusion what the name suggests. However, these connectors can be accessed from the outside, so their name simply tells where they can be accessed from. These connectors power all external hardware which include a mouse, keyboard, speakers, monitor, etc.

The above mentioned are the primary components of a motherboard and are very important to keep in mind. To understand better, a person can read this article while examining each and every component. However, one must be careful because these components are delicate parts that can cease to function if mishandled. In the case of mishandled, these small components cannot be replaced individually, rather the entire motherboard would need to be replaced.

These components on the motherboard are highly durable and can last a significant amount of time depending on their usage. In most cases, a PC would run out of its lifetime, yet the motherboard and its components would continue to work. This kind of knowledge is significant, and one can even sign up for CompTIA A+ classes here. These CompTIA A+ courses are designed to provide the right kind of knowledge and analysis which is important to acquire a certification.

People who have signed up have reported an incredible difference in their fundamental understanding. Basics of computer hardware are equally important to the advanced level concepts. Since these are the main components on which the entire operation of a computer is based on, every computer science student needs to have comprehensive knowledge about them, most importantly, their primary functions on the motherboard. 

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