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ADVICE ON BUYING A MOTHERBOARD
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Last updated:
12/20/99

READ THE REVIEWSI frequently read many reviews before selecting a motherboard. They are useful, but I take them with a grain of thought. A review is only as good as the reviewer.

COMPARE FEATURESTake the time verify and compare motherboard features.  What kinds of memory will it take.  How much cache' does it have.  How expandable is memory and how much it will the chache' and chipset and cache.'  What processors will it support?  How many and what kinds of expansion board slots are there?   What front side bus (FSB) speeds are there?  What modes of UDMA are supported?  Does it have switching power supplies for CPU voltages (most do now)?  Does it have a motherboard monitoring function (see USDM and Motherboard Monitor Lite)?  I won't buy a motherboard without at least temperature monitoring function.  And the list goes on...

LOOKPictures of motherboards can be deceiving.  If you have the opportunity, take a look at an actual motherboard before buying it.  I can look at a motherboard with an experienced eye and very quickly make an initial judgment of quality and I can usually spot junk in a heartbeat.  How many capacitors does it have? What kinds?  What are the electrolytic temperature ratings? Are there places where the silk screening indicates capacitors and there are none? Are traces well laid-out?  No right angles?  Do you see any "engineering changes": wires or components soldered onto the motherboard to fix problem?  Don't buy it if you do.  What kind battery does it have?  I prefer the CR2032.  Etc.  The list is long and may be less meaningful to the layman.  That's where a good reviewer can be helpful.

WILL IT FIT?  Will the board fit in your computer case?  Will the CPU with fan clear the drive bays?  Do the I/O connectors match one of the I/O panels that came with your case?

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