ADVICE ON BUYING A MOTHERBOARD
Last updated: 12/20/99
Most Pentium motherboards integrate the hard disk and floppy
disk interfaces, serial and parallel ports, PS/2 mouse interface, universal
serial bus, and an IR interface on the motherboard. This is fine, if they
work and can be totally deactivated--in particular, the serial ports. Most
users will find them adequate and will not attempt to incorporate plug-in
boards to replace these functions.
All-in-one motherboards go further and include such things
as the display adapter and sound circuitry. This isn't so fine as far as
I am concerned. They make the motherboard more complicated, harder to control
when installing expansion boards, vulnerable to failure, add to its replacement
cost, and slow it down. Although, there have been attempts at establishing
industry standards for all-in-one motherboards, many are manufacturer-specific,
do not fit in widely-available, generic computer cases, and very costly to
replace--if you can find a replacement. Sound functions, in particular, can
add more unchangeable interrupts to the system and can spell problems even
if the function is deactivated. I have seen computers with blown display
adapters on the motherboard that could not repaired or jumpered out. There
are motherboards with on-board video which use main memory for functions
which would otherwise use video memory on a plug-in display adaptor, and
very noticeably slow everything down.
There are many verities of plug-in boards which perform
these functions and add to the choices a user has when buying and upgrading
a computer. Also, I like to upgrade my computer in smaller increments.
In conclusion, I don't recommend all-in-one motherboards, computers that
use these motherboards, or getting yourself boxed-out of the competitive
generic computer market. Buy a motherboard that does not have integrated
video and sound. Buy a generic motherboard.
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