What is a Motherboard on a Computer? (Is It Really Like a Mother)?

If you are an average computer user, you will find the motherboard on a computer to be a complex thing with its intricate design. That is precisely why I thought of letting you understand everything about the motherboard and how it works. 

What is Motherboard on Computer?

A motherboard is the main printed circuit board on a computer and acts as the central communication backbone connectivity point. A motherboard is a single platform on a computer that is used to connect all the parts of a computer. It is used to connect the CPU, RAM, hard drives, graphics card, and many other parts together. 

You would find a motherboard on practically every computing piece of equipment – whether it is a desktop or a laptop. Along with the internal components, the motherboard also lets you connect with the other external components such as WiFi, Ethernet and other parts that are connected to the computer. 

What Does a Motherboard Do?

As we have already understood, a motherboard is the heart of almost every modern-day device. It works by connecting all the components of a computing device and lets them work with one another. 

The motherboard alone does not do anything as such, as it has NO COMPUTING POWER. The major purpose and functionality of the motherboard lie in acting as the building block of the entire computing system.  I would consider the motherboard to be a highway on which all the transport of the information is handled for completing the task. 

Motherboard Form Factors and Types

motherboard form factors

A motherboard comes in different types and form factors. The four primary form factors of the motherboard would include:

  • Mini-ITX  
  • Micro-ATX  
  • ATX 
  • E-ATX

Mini ITX

The Mini ITX motherboard has a physical size of 17 cm x 17 cm. It can be the right size for smaller and space-saving desktops. It will feature all the major components that include DIMM slots for RAM, multiple USB slots, and PCIe lanes, to name a few. 

Even with a small size, you would find support for all components. It doubles up as a great asset for the small and mighty PC. 

  • It can be an excellent choice for small PC building needs
  • Affordable PC building
  • No support for multiple GPUs
  • It cannot work with high overclocking
  • Smaller RAM capability

A few good choices for the Mini ITX motherboards that you can go with can include GIGABYTE Z690I AORUS DDR4 Motherboard

Micro ATX

The Micro ATX motherboards are slightly larger than the Mini ITX motherboard. They are best suited for the smaller builds and can be a good option for any budget that you can think of. You would have access to practically all the basic functionalities and features. 

You will have only one GPU slot, and you will find it a great option to help you fit properly inside a full tower case. The smaller size of the motherboard ensures that you can achieve a better airflow and an efficient cooling. 

  • It can be a good fit in most of the cases
  • They are good for a single set-up GPU system
  • It can be quite affordable.
  • Cannot work with multi-GPU setup
  • It does not work with overclocking

If you are looking for a powerful Micro ATX motherboard, you will find the ASUS TUF B550M PLUS Motherboard a great choice. 


The next motherboard form factor – ATX – has the typical measurement of 30.5cm x 24.4cm, and you can fit it properly inside a mid or full-tower case. The best part that I found with this motherboard form factor is multiple PCIe lanes and multiple GPU support. 

These ATX motherboards are best suited to work with the gaming enthusiasts and can take advantage of the latest gaming hardware. You can have a higher gaming capability and RAM capacity on the ATX motherboards. 

  • High RAM capability
  • The best option for multi-GPU support
  • You can efficiently overclock it
  • Expensive price tag
  • Will not fit inside small cases

If you are looking for the best ATX motherboards, we would recommend checking out ROG Gaming 10th Gen Motherboard.


If you have been checking out the best high-end motherboard, the E-ATX motherboard to be a great choice. It is an extended form factor for the ATX motherboard. The motherboard has the physical dimensions that read 30.48cm x 33.02cm!  You would gain access to a tremendous optimal airflow and the best overclocking capability on the E-ATX motherboards. 

You can make use of the multi GPU set up. The higher RAM capacity makes it all the more unique in its own right. If you are a competitive gamer or a content creator, you would want to go with the E-ATX motherboards. 

  • Best possible overclocking   ability
  • High RAM capability
  • Best for gaming enthusiasts and content creators 
  • Expensive pricing
  • Will not fit inside the smaller cases

Are you looking for the best E-ATX motherboard? You can perhaps choose GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Thunderbolt Motherboard

How Many Connections, Ports, or Slots Are on a Motherboard?

The ports, slots, and connections on a motherboard are most important for plugging into different devices. You can check out the ports on the rear and front sides of the computer. If you are wondering how many connections, ports, and slots are there on a motherboard, there is no specific standard that defines the number.

If you are wondering how many slots or connections your motherboard has, it is wise enough to look for the relevant information in the motherboard documentation. If you do not have the documentation with you, it would be practical to download the documentation in PDF form.

Motherboard Components – An Overview

Before we can move into the details of the different components of the motherboard, it should be noticed that not every motherboard comes with the same set of components. A few of the components are defined as core components, and a few others would be optional, depending on what purpose you are picking a motherboard. 

CPU Slot 

The CPU is what executes the functions that make up a program. The Central Processing Unit is the brain of your computer, and it executes the different programs as specified by the desktop programs. It is what would process the instructions from different programs and operating systems. 

RAM slots 

Depending on how much RAM your motherboard support, the motherboard can have multiple or single RAM slot. The RAM is used as the temporary memory and thus stores the data and programs that are currently being used by the CPU. The RAM makes it rather simple and easy to use, and your programs work really faster. 

General I/O Ports

You would have multiple slots for the input and output ports. A typical motherboard would generally have multiple USB connections, a few display connections (such as HDMI, USB-C, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort), and a few networking I/O like an ethernet connection. These ports are used for making external connections with the external devices. 

Power Supply Plug-In

The Power Supply Plug-In is used to deliver power to the computer. The type and capacity of the power supply would be based on how much power the computer requires. The gaming devices, servers, and even a few power hungry devices would require a power supply ability larger than the devices that are less power hungry. 

CMOS Battery

The CMOS battery is also called a memory battery and stores the BIOS settings of your computer. It will retain the settings and clock timings even when your computer is turned off. That would ensure that the BIOS is never lost even when there is no power supply available to the computer. 

Storage interface 

The storage interface can be either for SSDs or HDDs. It would be used for persistent data and application storage. 

Graphics card 

A Graphics card is a complex hardware that is used for hosting the GPU. It is used for rendering the graphics from games and other videos. 

Optical drives 

Even when the optical drives have gone out of fashion, these may not be the basic or core components on a motherboard.

Where is the Motherboard Located?

The motherboard of a computer generally resides inside the case that you have chosen for the computer that you are looking to build. Your motherboard is generally screwed securely to the case through the pre-drilled holes. 

The motherboard contains the ports for all of the internal components. A computer motherboard is located in a computer case, and this is where most of the parts and components inside your peripherals connect. In the case of tower computers, the motherboard will be located either on the left or right side of the case. 

How Do Motherboards Work?

Based on the primary definition of a motherboard that we just went through, a motherboard is the main Printed circuit board on your computer. It is the primary piece of circuit board that all the other pieces plug into one single interface or option. 

The motherboard simply ties the components of the computer together and thus lets the different components communicate with each other. Without the motherboard, none of the components, viz CPU, GPU, or hard drive, or any other component for that matter, will not be able to communicate with one another. A complete motherboard functionality is essential to help all the components on the computer to work properly. If the motherboard fails, even when the other components are working fine, you will end up facing performance issues with your computer. 

How Can I tell if My Motherboard is Dead?

Even when made with powerful technology, it is always possible to find your motherboard die or even become unusable. It should be quite easy to find that your motherboard has gone dead. 

A few of the symptoms that should indicate that your motherboard has gone dead can include:

  • Peripherals may begin to stop working or even take a very long time to start up 
  • The computer may begin powering off or shutting down unexpectedly 
  • The computer may not turn on at all 
  • You may also experience a burning or similar smell from your computer

These symptoms may also be indicative of other common PC problems. It may not be sure because of the motherboard failure. That is why we would recommend trying different troubleshooting solutions before reaching the conclusion that the motherboard has failed. 

In most of cases, the Motherboard BIOS may be an issue. Flashing the BIOS can be helpful in letting you solve the issue more effectively and efficiently. 

Where Did the Motherboard Get Its Name?

The exact information on why it is called a motherboard may not be that easy. One assumption is that it is called a motherboard because of the fact that it is the main circuit board on your computer. The term Mother in the name primarily denotes the essential nature of the motherboard in terms of the normal functionality of the component. 

It is quite similar to the word -Mothership. You would also find it unique to know that the other circuit boards connected to your motherboard are termed as a daughterboard. That would perhaps stand as proof to the fact that it again signifies the essential nature of the primary or secondary circuit boards. 

So, Since there is a motherboard, is there a fatherboard? No, definitely. There is no fatherboard or any concept on those lines. However, you do have a daughterboard which should make it evident of the importance of womenkind. 

Is There a Motherboard in a Laptop, Smartphone, and Tablet?

Just like your computer or laptop has a motherboard, you also have a smartphone or tablet having its own motherboard. In general terms, the motherboard on a smartphone is referred to as the logic board, but the functionality of the logic board is on similar lines as the motherboard. 

However, there is a difference between a laptop motherboard and a smartphone motherboard. The size requirements of the smartphones and tablets make it obvious to go with the soldered components on the smartphone motherboards. Also, you would find no slots or sockets as the smartphone or tablet motherboards do not offer any upgrade options. 

The Parting Thoughts

A motherboard is the most essential part of the computer ecosystem. It is an equally tricky part to diagnose or repair. Given the fact that the motherboard is the central hub of your entire PC build, it is always quite important to have a proper understanding of the details and infrastructure of your motherboard. 

Of course, the motherboards are everywhere – in your phones, in your computers, in your microwaves and even in your smart TVs. It is what creates a cohesive environment for your components and assists you in handling your computer components more efficiently. 

A Few FAQs

How does a motherboard connect to a computer case?

A computer motherboard connects to a computer case through the standouts. Once you connect your motherboard to your computer, you will be able to connect the other devices directly to the motherboard or through an expansion card 

What the things does a motherboard do?

The motherboard is the main circuit board that connects all the other computers together inside a computer. It has the relevant sockets for the CPU, RAM and expansion cards and many other components. It also connects everything that you need to work with your computer. 

What is the most critical part of a motherboard?

The chipset is the most crucial part of a motherboard. The chipset has a vital function that includes communicating different components that include CPU, HARDdisk, ports etc.

About the author

Timmappa Kamat

Timmappa Kamat is an expert in PC components with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a deep understanding of the latest technologies and trends in the PC industry and is well-versed in the performance and capabilities of various components such as CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, and RAM. He has written extensively about computers online. He has a degree in computer science from One of the best universities in his city and continues to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in the field.

About the Author

Timmappa Kamat is an expert in PC components with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a deep understanding of the latest technologies and trends in the PC industry and is well-versed in the performance and capabilities of various components such as CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, and RAM. He has written extensively about computers online. He has a degree in computer science from One of the best universities in his city and continues to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in the field.