If what you are looking for is to assemble your first gaming PC, the first thing that you will find is with the complex motherboard and its connectors, which are of various sizes and utilities. That is why for many people the fact of having to build a computer is something that scares and that compared to the situation of years ago it is less and less difficult to build one.
In any case, it is important to know what each of the connectors on the motherboard does and what its usefulness is, not only to build the PC, but it also helps us to understand what the internal functioning of our computer is. As well as to diagnose potential problems that it may have at the hardware level at a glance.
The first of the motherboard connectors is what we call the socket, which is where we connect the central processor or CPU that will act as the conductor of our system.
The appearance of the socket is that of a matrix of holes in which the processor is connected, which varies in size and number of interconnections depending on the generation and brand of the processor that we are using. So not all sockets are the same and that is why there are different motherboards for different Intel and AMD processors on the market.
In today’s PCs, the sockets used are the LGA and BGA, in the second case it is a type of socket in which the processor is soldered on the motherboard by the manufacturer so it cannot be replaced.
Slots for RAM memory (Slots)
The second most important type of connectors on the motherboard are the slots where we install the RAM memory, which will vary according to the type of memory that we are using, since each standard has its specifications in voltage and number of pins. So if we have a motherboard that supports DDR5 memory, we will not be able to connect the DDR4 modules and the limitations do not end there, since even within the same type of memory we can find different types of pinage and size.
For example, RDIMMs with ECC support, used in servers, have a different pin configuration than modules under the same RAM technology as non-ECC DIMMs. In any case, and unless your computer uses an HEDT processor or uses server hardware, all the modules of your PC are generally DIMMs if it is a desktop or SO-DIMM in the case of a laptop or a derivative how can an AIO be.
To finish with the RAM section, some modules have modules with different colors in the RAM memory slots, the usual thing is that the number of colors corresponds to the number of memory channels that the motherboard supports. So if you have a motherboard with two different colors, you will need to connect two RAM memory modules, at least one in each color.
The connectors on the motherboard for power
Since a PC does not work without electrical power, it is obvious that this has to power the different components that are connected to the motherboard and while some receive power through their connectors directly, others instead use special connectors. In any case, the power supply is one of the essential components and nowadays most motherboards usually use connectors of the style ATX, which in current models has a total of 24 pins and whose power supply cable and on-board connector can be seen in the image above.
The other type of motherboard connectors that we are going to highlight are the EPS that provide power to the system processor and of which there are two different variants. The first with pin connections and which is designed for low-end processors that lack limited functions and the other with 8 pins designed in general for gaming CPUs that support overclocking functions.
To finish with the connectors that are related to the power supply of the PC, we have the connector on the motherboard to front panel, which is used for the power and reset buttons, as well as their corresponding LEDs. Nor can we forget about connector for audio system, to which the 3.5 mm mini Jack for microphone, speakers or both will be connected in combination.
PCI Express and M.2 slots
PCI Express Slots They are used today to connect expansion cards, the graphics card being the most widely used in all computers. This slot has different versions with four different sizes that depend on the number of data communication lines they use, the most used being the PCI Express x16, x8 and x4, where the number marks the number of data lines that each transmit
Because graphics cards consume a large amount of energy, the PCI Express port cannot provide enough power by itself as it is limited to 75 W, which is why an additional power port is required, there are ports of 6, 8 and even 12 pins that can be combined with each other to power the most powerful Gaming GPUs.
A variant of the PCI Express x4 port that exists on motherboards is the M.2 port, which is used to connect the NVMe SSD cards in our PC, but also for things like wifi radios. As you can see in the image, the connector is perpendicular to the motherboard. The expansion cards that make use of this type of expansion are not placed at a 90º angle with respect to the motherboard, like PCI Express expansion cards.
Connectors on the motherboard for the USB ports
There is no doubt that USB ports They are the most used to connect low consumption and low bandwidth external peripherals and therefore you will use them to plug in the keyboard, mouse, printer and a host of peripherals of your PC. However, the connectors used on the motherboard are different from the external ones and can be found in two different variants: in a box and with the pins exposed.
In the case of USB 3.0 From now on, the connector changed completely and it became the rectangular shape that you see in the image above these lines. It is not necessary to remember that depending on how the front of your PC case is, you are going to connect the central hub to one type of USB connector or another.
The connectors for the SATA port
Although with the disuse of optical drives and the appearance of NVMe SSDs with PCIe interface are falling into disuse, many motherboards continue to have SATA connectors to connect a conventional hard drive and is that many people still use them even today.
Keep in mind that there are two SATA connectors, the first one is used to transmit data, while the second is used to power the device. The difference between the two? The current is 15 pins and therefore much longer.