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What should I be considering when choosing a motherboard?

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July 12, 2012 11:30:32 PM

I've been doing a little research but I wanted to make sure of a few things:

1) Does size need to be absolutely correct for the case? If it's, say, one size too small, will it not fit?

2) Do I need to spend a lot if I don't intend to overclock, or at least don't need more than around 3.0-3.2GHz for quad-core?

3) Can I save by not getting one that can connect USB 3.0? I'm not really sure if this is quite worth it? I hear people who say great things about this but I'm not really sure I need it (I use USB's mainly for saving Word Documents for school and I'll be using my laptop for schoolwork).

4) How can I tell if my processor will fit properly in a motherboard I order from Newegg? Do I need to compare, for example, Intel Z77 to another Intel Z77 (I just found this one at random for an example).

5) Are certain components not compatible with certain motherboards even if they can fit properly? I assume no. Say, a GPU or RAM?

I've been interested in building a custom computer for almost 2 years. Recently I started looking into components that I could use. I apologies for so many questions. I just have a big interest in this and it'll be a useful device so I can separate my games from my work while learning about something I've been using for so many years. Sorry if I seem less knowledgeable that I maybe should before posting but I assure you, I'm doing research on my own :)  Thanks in advance.

More about : choosing motherboard

a b V Motherboard
July 13, 2012 12:28:31 AM

1.) In general smaller will fit fine. The most common size nowadays is micro atx (few years ago it was atx).
2.) No you don't need to spend a lot. In fact many gamers will prefer to save money on a motherboard and put that extra cash into a better cpu or more likely GPU.
3.) Not really most have USB3.0 so trying to find one without USB3 won't necessarily save you money.
4.)Can we tell yes. Link the motherboard and CPU you're thinking of using. There are some problems where you cannot for example use certain older 1155 CPU's i.e sandybridge in the new Z77 boards without a bios update. Obviously if you can't get your hands on an ivybridge cpu and ordered say a sandybridge 2500k CPU you essentially couldn't use them. It is worth checking the manufacturers website for supported CPU's PRIOR to ordering!
4.) As in three, look up the socket you want, if intel it will most likely be 1155. Motherboards chipsets for these can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_chipsets#5.2... or on the intel website. On the wiki scroll down to the core i series to get an overview of what chipset supports what (which can overclock, which has SSD caching etc.)
5.) Ram can cause some issues. Not very often and usually it will be very specific brand that will not work, again here I'd suggest checking the manufacturers website. They usually have a plethora of products tested. GPU wise pretty much any modern card should work. At least I've never heard of incompatibility.
July 13, 2012 12:48:13 AM

Thanks a bunch for your help. I read about sockets before so I'll look into that more. I read that certain sockets can't fit certain processors. And I wonder if about $50 is a good price for a motherboard? I was looking to spend up to $200 on CPU+GPU but I wasn't sure how much to save on my motherboard. I'll have to do some browsing. I read that it's better to start with the CPU then search motherboard.
a b V Motherboard
July 13, 2012 1:10:54 AM

Actually you can use a Sandybridge in a Z77. You can use sandy in any 1155 socket. The problem is when you try to use Ivy Bridge chips on an older chipset like a P67 or Z68, you would need to update the BIOS to do that.
!