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What Is a Motherboard?

We’re unraveling the complexities of the ‘unsung hero’ of your computer, the motherboard. It’s more than just a component; it’s the central hub that links and facilitates communication between every part of your computer system. Without this crucial element, we wouldn’t experience the smooth operation of our systems, from executing basic tasks to running intricate applications.

As we start our investigation, we’ll see how this key part has progressed over the years and the role it plays in determining system performance, durability, and upgrade potential. So, what makes the motherboard the fundamental building block of each computer, and why is its design significant?

Stick with us as we journey towards the nucleus of your computer.


Key Takeaways

Let’s decode the intricacies of your computer’s ‘quiet achiever’ – the motherboard. More than just a part, it’s the vital hub that connects and ensures communication between all aspects of your computer system. Without this cardinal component, the seamless functioning of our systems, from performing simple tasks to operating complex programs, would be impossible.

In our exploration, we’ll examine how this pivotal piece has evolved over time and its impact on system performance, longevity, and upgradability. So, what makes the motherboard the foundational pillar of each computer, and why is its design so substantial?

Stay with us as we journey to the heart of your computer.


Introduction to Motherboards

In our study of motherboards, we’ll initially discuss their key function within a computer system.

Following this, we’ll map out the intriguing progress of motherboards, noting significant breakthroughs in their growth.

This process will clarify how motherboards have been advanced and built upon over time, turning into the intricate, multi-purpose elements we witness in today’s computing systems.


The Role of the Motherboard in a Computer System

As the main communication center, the motherboard joins all the elements and peripherals in a computer system, working as the essential backbone for data exchange and power delivery. It’s the vital fluid of the system, allowing the CPU to handle data, while the power supply delivers electricity to each component.

Comprehending the role of the motherboard provides us the freedom to efficiently maintain, upgrade, and troubleshoot our systems. Here are three primary roles:

  1. It links all components, facilitating communication between the CPU, memory, and peripherals.
  2. It disperses power from the power supply to all sections of the computer system.
  3. It permits for system administration, including temperature surveillance and system performance tuning.

The motherboard is indeed the uncelebrated champion of any computer system.


Evolution of Motherboards: A Brief History

Grasping the function of the motherboard naturally leads us to delve into its progression, an expedition marked by technological invention and escalating complexity in layout.

From the primary printed circuit board of the first computers, motherboards have changed significantly, mirroring the swift speed of technological progression.

The development of motherboards has brought about a variety of motherboard forms, such as ATX, Micro-ATX, and the extended ITX motherboard technology. These alterations were motivated by the necessity to meet different computer sizes and growing user requirements.

Current motherboards are wonders of downsizing and combination, incorporating more components and capabilities than ever before.

They’ve turned into the control center of our gadgets, an evidence of human resourcefulness and our unending quest for technological advancement.


Understanding Motherboard Components

Proceeding forward, we’ll break down the principal components of a motherboard, commencing with the computer’s nucleus, the Central Processing Unit (CPU).

We shall also outline the role and significance of RAM, also known as Random Access Memory, which collaborates closely with the CPU.

We’ll touch upon the function of expansion slots, with a special emphasis on PCIe.

Additionally, we’ll discuss the contribution of power connectors towards energy regulation.


The Central Processing Unit (CPU)

We’ll start by investigating different kinds of CPUs and how they match with specific motherboards.

It’s crucial to realize that CPUs are available in a range of models and performance capabilities, and they don’t all fit every motherboard.

We’ll further study the primary features of CPUs regarding their placement on the motherboard, with a focus on elements like socket type, power consumption, and data transmission capacity.


Types of CPU and Motherboard Compatibility

Understanding the nuances of CPU and motherboard compatibility is important in order to realize that distinct CPUs necessitate particular motherboard sockets to operate at their best.

  1. Intel‘s central processing unit (CPU) requires LGA sockets, which represent a progression in socket technology.
  2. On the other hand, CPUs from AMD use either AM or FM sockets.
  3. The motherboard, being the primary component, is crafted to accommodate these different socket varieties, guaranteeing maximum performance.


Key Attributes of CPUs in Motherboard Integration

Expanding on our knowledge of CPU and motherboard compatibility, it’s imperative to scrutinize the critical characteristics of CPUs that significantly impact motherboard integration.

These characteristics encompass the CPU’s compatibility with the motherboard’s socket type, its power necessities, and heat production.

The CPU’s instruction set and memory controller are also fundamental for the efficient integration of CPU and memory, crucial components of computer hardware.


RAM (Random Access Memory)

Turning our attention to RAM, it’s vital to grasp the importance of RAM slots and compatibility on a motherboard.

The potential and velocity of RAM that a motherboard can support directly impacts the computer’s functioning.

Therefore, we’ll examine the influence of RAM on motherboard performance, illuminating how upgrading or augmenting RAM can improve system speed and responsiveness.


Importance of RAM Slots and Compatibility

When discussing the components of a motherboard, the significance of RAM slots and their compatibility is paramount, as they’re instrumental in defining a computer’s memory capacity and overall efficacy.

  1. RAM Slots: These are the slots on the motherboard that accommodate the random access memory modules.
  2. Compatibility: The motherboard and RAM need to be compatible to ensure effective operation.
  3. Performance: Properly matched and installed RAM enhances performance.


How RAM Influences Motherboard Performance

In order to comprehend the influence of RAM on motherboard performance, it is essential to recognise that the storage and velocity of the RAM can significantly impact the system’s velocity and efficacy. The following table serves to clarify this:

RAM StorageVelocityEfficacy
32GBVery FastVery High
64GBExtremely FastExtremely High

The appropriate RAM, when working in synergy with the motherboard and memory controllers, enhances the performance of hardware components.


Expansion Slots: Focusing on PCIe

We should now concentrate on the function of PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect express) in motherboard design and the diverse kinds of PCIe slots.

Given their high-speed data transfer capabilities, PCIe slots have become a regular feature on contemporary motherboards, facilitating the inclusion of a variety of expansion cards.

It’s critical to understand the different types of PCIe slots and their specific applications to maximize the efficiency and compatibility of numerous peripheral devices.


Different Types of PCIe Slots and Their Uses

Examining further into the complexities of motherboards, we come across PCIe slots, an essential component that comes in a range of sizes such as x1, x4, x8, and x16. Each size is designed for specific types of expansion cards.

  1. PCIe x1 slots: Perfect for sound cards, network cards, allowing fast data transmission.
  2. PCIe x4 and x8 slots: Less usual, utilized for high-bandwidth gadgets like RAID controllers.
  3. PCIe x16 slots: Most typical, primarily used for graphics cards. These peripheral component interconnect pci express slots are critical for the motherboard’s functionality.


The Role of PCIe in Motherboard Architecture

Within the complex structure of a motherboard, PCIe slots play a central role. They function as fast conduits linking a variety of hardware components including graphics cards, network cards, and storage devices. These slots are a significant part of the circuit design that motherboard manufacturers concentrate on, providing quicker data transfer and additional bandwidth.

Knowing how they work is necessary to fully utilize the capabilities of your motherboard’s architecture.


Power Connectors and Power Management

Let’s shift our focus to the power connectors present on motherboards now. These connectors are vital as they provide power to all parts of the system.

Additionally, we’ll investigate the power needs and distribution, an important part of power management for consistent and efficient performance.


Types of Power Connectors in Motherboards

Transitioning to the key element of motherboards, we examine the different types of power connectors which are integral to its operation and power control.

  1. The 24-pin ATX power supply connector: This is the principal power connector providing electricity to the motherboard.
  2. The 4-pin (P4) power connector: This connector is a necessity for CPU power connections.
  3. 3-pin case fan power connectors: These connectors are used for the power supply of the cooling system.


Understanding Power Requirements and Distribution

Following our exploration of the diverse power connectors essential to the functioning of the motherboard, it’s vital we shift our focus towards comprehending the power needs and disbursement, a significant element of effective power management that assures consistent and trustworthy performance.

The power setup of the motherboard, with its complex electrical connections, controls the power usage of the hardware. This understanding is critical, as it allows us to adeptly set up our system for a balance between efficiency and performance.


Motherboard Form Factors and Build Considerations

Transitioning towards the subject of ‘Motherboard Form Factors and Build Considerations’, we’re going to scrutinize the significance of selecting the appropriate motherboard form factor tailored to your precise requirements.

This process requires a meticulous evaluation of several elements such as compatibility with the CPU, the capacity for RAM, and the quantity of expansion slots, to name a few.

It’s vital to guarantee a synchronized build, furnishing a firm base for your computer’s operational efficiency and future enhancements.


Choosing the Right Motherboard Form Factor

As we plunge into the topic of motherboard form factors, it’s beneficial to first draw a comparison between ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX.

Comprehending that the form factor goes beyond just dictating the physical dimensions and configuration of the board, it also influences our choices in PC assembly.

Considering aspects such as available space, planned usage, and potential upgrades proves vital when picking the right form factor for your assembly.


ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX: A Comparative Overview

Entering the world of motherboard form factors, we come across three dominant types – ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX, each bringing unique features and specifications suitable for assorted build needs.

  1. ATX: Provides ample connectivity and expansion slots, ideal for high-performance requirements.
  2. Micro-ATX: Small size, fitting for basic builds.
  3. Mini-ITX: Super compact, perfect for smaller builds or HTPCs.

Selection should be based on your flexibility in design and build needs.


The Impact of Form Factor on PC Building

In the process of assembling a computer, we need to pay attention to the form factor of the motherboard. This factor is crucial as it not only sets the physical dimensions and arrangement, but it also affects the casing size, expansion possibilities, and compatibility with different parts.

The motherboard model, whether it’s standard ATX, micro ATX, or mini ITX, plays a significant role in our assembly, determining the flexibility we possess in selecting components and future enhancements.


Compatibility: Ensuring a Harmonious Build

When we turn our attention to compatibility, ensuring a harmonious build is of paramount importance. This involves careful selection of the right motherboard form factors and thoughtful consideration of numerous build elements.

Crucial aspects to consider are the types of CPU sockets and their fit with the chosen motherboard, along with RAM and storage compatibility. Taking into account these factors is key to achieving a smooth assembly of components, optimal performance, and a successful build overall.


CPU Socket Types and Motherboard Selection

Picking the appropriate motherboard is like choosing a heart for your computer, and it starts with comprehension of CPU socket types, as they dictate the compatibility of the motherboard with specific processors.

When choosing a motherboard, take into account:

  1. The kind of CPU socket included within the main circuit board.
  2. The form factor for assurance of fitting in your computer case.
  3. The potential for upgrades based on existing expansion slots.


RAM and Storage Compatibility with Motherboards

Continuing from our discussion on CPU sockets and motherboard choice, let’s pivot to another integral component: RAM and storage compatibility with various motherboard form factors. This requires examining the motherboard’s specifications for compatible RAM types, speeds, and sizes, as well as storage interfaces like SATA or M.2.

 RAM SlotsStorage Slots
ATXCan handle large memory capacityMultiple slots for hard drives
MicroATXFewer slots for memoryFewer slots for hard drives
Mini-ITXRestricted memory capacityOne slot for a hard drive


BIOS and Firmware: The Software Behind the Hardware

Let’s shift our focus to BIOS and firmware, the software that drives the hardware in our motherboards.

Initially, we’ll examine the function of BIOS in starting up and controlling hardware components.

Afterward, we’ll talk about the routine of refreshing motherboard firmware, a vital activity for sustaining top hardware performance.


Understanding BIOS in Motherboards

Let’s shift focus to the progression from BIOS to UEFI and the adjustment of BIOS settings for peak efficiency.

It’s pivotal to comprehend how BIOS has advanced to UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), improving the system’s initiation process and offering superior compatibility with current hardware.

In addition, tweaking BIOS settings correctly is a vital step in guaranteeing our systems yield maximum results, specifically in the areas of booting speed, power management, and hardware recognition.


The Evolution of BIOS to UEFI

Delving into the software aspect of motherboards, a significant transition from the Basic Input Output System (BIOS) to the Universal Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) has been observed. This transition has contributed to substantial improvements in system management, security, and compatibility with modern hardware and software.

  1. UEFI accommodates larger hard drives, increasing storage potential.
  2. It facilitates quicker start-up times, promoting efficiency.
  3. Its robust security features safeguard personal computer motherboards against threats.


Configuring BIOS Settings for Optimal Performance

Building on our comprehension of UEFI’s improvements, it’s vital to recognize the significance of the BIOS, the initial and still frequently utilized firmware.

Correctly setting up BIOS parameters on the motherboard constitutes a key factor in attaining peak performance. This process involves modifications within the complementary metal oxide semiconductor, which can considerably enhance a system’s operation when performed accurately, underlining its position as a crucial element of the system.


Updating Motherboard Firmware

The need for updating the motherboard firmware is paramount, as it plays a vital role in maintaining system stability and compatibility.

We’ll be focusing on the significance of BIOS updates, underlining their function in presenting new features, boosting performance, and strengthening security.

Furthermore, we’ll provide instructions on how to securely update your motherboard’s BIOS, ensuring you’re armed with practical knowledge to ward off data loss or system instability.


The Importance of BIOS Updates

Grasping the significance of BIOS updates is critical as they’re key in rectifying glitches, bolstering system stability, and upscaling the complete performance.

  1. BIOS updates facilitate motherboard and system components to communicate via advanced technology.
  2. Periodic updates enhance system security by repairing susceptibilities.
  3. They guarantee compatibility with the most recent operating systems, prolonging the lifespan of our motherboard.


How to Safely Update Your Motherboard’s BIOS

Updating your motherboard’s BIOS can substantially boost your computer’s efficiency and lifespan. However, there are specific precautions we must adhere to in order to prevent possible issues.

Firstly, it is crucial to maintain a steady power supply during the update process. Any interruption in power can lead to a failed update and potentially damage the motherboard.

Secondly, it is important to safeguard our data before updating the BIOS. Backing up important files and documents ensures that we can recover them in case of any unexpected errors or failures during the update.

Lastly, it is essential to refrain from disturbing the update procedure once it has started. Interrupting the update or turning off the system prematurely can cause irreversible damage to the motherboard.

It’s important to keep in mind that the motherboard acts as the central point for all computer peripherals to connect. Therefore, properly and safely updating its BIOS is critical for maintaining a robust and high-functioning system.


Advanced Motherboard Features and Technologies

Our next topic of focus will be ‘Advanced Motherboard Features and Technologies’.

We’ll begin with performance tuning and overclocking, which are methods to enhance a component’s usual capabilities.

Following this, we’ll examine connectivity and expansion, focusing on rapid data transfer alternatives and methods to increase system functionality.


Overclocking and Performance Tuning

While investigating the advanced features and technologies of motherboards, our attention will primarily be directed towards the motherboard’s function in overclocking, along with the necessary tools and safety precautions involved.

When executed correctly, overclocking can substantially enhance the performance of the system. However, the understanding of the inherent risks and the need for meticulous control and monitoring to prevent damage to the hardware are key.


The Role of the Motherboard in Overclocking

Let’s examine the pivotal role of the motherboard in the act of overclocking. This method improves computer performance by pushing elements beyond their standard settings, enabled through advanced motherboard capacities.

  1. Logic Board: The motherboard provides voltage regulation, vital for consistent overclocking.
  2. Northbridge/Southbridge Elements: These govern input and output, assuring effective communication.
  3. Heat Sink: Crucial for handling the additional heat produced by overclocking.


Overclocking Tools and Safety Measures

Venturing into the world of overclocking tools and safety measures, it’s important to grasp that these sophisticated features – commonly found on top-tier motherboards – provide the ability to boost CPU and memory performance.

However, they necessitate a careful tracking of temperatures, voltage, and stability. These protective measures, embedded in the computer’s integrated circuit, are vital to prevent potential hardware harm, ensuring the liberty to securely optimize your system’s capability.


Connectivity and Expansion

When we discuss high-end features of a motherboard, we can’t ignore its connectivity and expansion capacities.

The presence of USB, SATA, and Thunderbolt ports offers various choices for attaching peripheral devices and transferring information.

In addition, the use of expansion cards allows for system capabilities to be personalized and amplified.


USB, SATA, and Thunderbolt: Connectivity Options

Modern motherboards provide advanced connection options that improve the adaptability and performance of computer systems. These options include USB, SATA, and Thunderbolt.

  1. Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports are used to link peripheral devices, which broadens the system’s capabilities.
  2. Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) ports are used to establish connections for storage devices.
  3. Thunderbolt is a high-speed input and output port that is used to link peripherals rapidly, ensuring efficient data transfer.


Enhancing Functionality with Expansion Cards

By supplementing the computer with expansion cards inserted into the motherboard’s PCI slots, we can introduce sophisticated features and technologies that improve connectivity and expandability.

These cards, once connected, supplement the computer’s functionality, facilitating more effective communication between components.

This is a significant move towards tapping into the motherboard’s capabilities and improving your system’s overall performance.


Motherboards in Different Computing Environments

As we refocus on the role of motherboards in diverse computing environments, we’ll investigate their uses from gaming to high-performance workstations and servers.

We’ll scrutinize how specific characteristics affect gaming performance and workstation productivity, and discuss the distinct requirements server environments impose on motherboards.

Grasping these varied uses will offer a holistic view of what to contemplate when choosing a motherboard for different computing purposes.


Motherboards for Gaming: Features and Selection

In the world of intense PC gaming, choosing the right motherboard can significantly boost performance, owing to special features such as compatibility for high-performance CPUs, expanded RAM capacity, and accelerated data transfer rates. An average motherboard, for instance, might struggle to meet the requirements of today’s high-demand video games.

When choosing a gaming motherboard, take into account these three components:

  1. CPU Compatibility – Make sure it supports a single high-performance CPU, ideally with overclocking functions.
  2. Graphics Card Support – Seek out a motherboard that can accommodate advanced graphics cards and several GPUs.
  3. Form Factor – Consider the size of the motherboard. IT extended ITX boards are perfect for compact desktop computers, whereas ATX boards provide more expansion slots.


Workstations and High-Performance Computing

While gaming motherboards give an advantage for high-demand video games, for workstations and high-performance computing, we’re encountering a completely different entity. These motherboards are constructed with the aim to manage intense computations and swift data transfers. Their construction typically includes multiple high-performance CPUs, generous memory capacity, and quick storage devices.

Here’s a brief overview:

FeatureWorkstation MotherboardGaming Motherboard
Connections to the CPUMultipleSingle
Integrated into the MotherboardHigh-speed data transfer portsRGB lighting
Use CaseIntense computing tasksHigh-demand video games


The Role of Motherboards in Server Environments

Exploring the domain of server environments, we find that motherboards hold a crucial role, not only in directing the flow of data but also in improving power distribution and boosting overall system performance.

In detail, here are three ways motherboards contribute significantly:

  1. Data Management: The motherboard’s circuit boards are vital in directing efficient data flow within the server, ensuring quick information transfer between components.
  2. Power Optimization: Sophisticated motherboard designs aid better power distribution, vital for maintaining server efficiency and longevity.
  3. Performance Improvement: With features like advanced technology attachment SATA, motherboards boost the overall system performance, ensuring that servers can handle intensive tasks effectively.

Thus, the role of motherboards in server environments is irreplaceable, underlining their importance in powering our digital world.


Maintaining and Troubleshooting Motherboards

Proceeding with our discussion, let’s ponder upon the significance of routine care and rectification of motherboards.

We’ll touch upon strategies for precautionary maintenance to ensure the durability of your motherboard, and also how to spot and resolve common glitches.

It’s vital to note that effective upkeep and troubleshooting can substantially improve the efficiency and longevity of your computer.


Regular Maintenance Tips for Motherboards

To maintain a computer’s performance, it’s essential that we conduct routine upkeep of the motherboard, a printed circuit board (PCB) that functions as the computer’s primary communication center. This involves tasks like cleaning, checking for physical damage, updating BIOS and drivers, tracking temperature, and ensuring all connections are secure.

  1. Cleaning: Dust can obstruct fan connectors and block airflow, leading to overheating. Utilize compressed air to clean the motherboard consistently.
  2. Inspection: Check for physical harm, particularly around the southbridge and northbridge chipsets. Swollen capacitors are a frequent problem.
  3. Updates and Monitoring: Keep BIOS and drivers current. Continuously check the motherboard’s temperature to prevent overheating.

These routine maintenance tips can assist in prolonging the life and enhancing the efficiency of your motherboard.


Diagnosing and Fixing Common Motherboard Issues

After discussing routine care for motherboards, we now shift our attention to pinpointing and resolving common motherboard issues, key for ensuring your computer’s optimal operation and longevity.

An issue with the southbridge chip, which controls I/O functions, can negatively impact your Flex ATX or IBM PC’s operation. This could interfere with the performance of USB ports and the network controller, which hampers your system’s connectivity.

For diagnosis, you might find it useful to employ tools that can identify issues such as overheating or power supply disruptions. Blue screens or system crashes are often signs of hardware failure.

Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, you can either replace the defective part or modify the BIOS settings as needed. It’s vital to handle components correctly to minimize frequent problems.


The Future of Motherboard Technology

When we look toward the future of motherboard technology, two primary aspects catch our attention: ongoing changes in design and the influence of breakthrough technologies.

We’re in a period of swift evolution, where more potent CPUs demand restructured motherboards to maximize performance.

Simultaneously, the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies like AI and IoT are altering the functionality of motherboards, setting the stage for a significant transformation ahead.


Emerging Trends in Motherboard Design

In the field of motherboard technology, we’re observing a variety of upcoming trends focused on improving connectivity, speed, and performance. These trends include the emergence of compact design formats, such as mini STX and low-profile extended LPX, and the revival of BTX boards.

  1. Compact Design Formats: There’s a movement towards smaller, energy-efficient designs. Mini STX, for example, provides adaptability and the ability to upgrade in a compact package.
  2. BTX Boards: Balanced Technology eXtended (BTX) boards, renowned for their effective cooling and layout, are returning, offering superior thermal management.
  3. Low-Profile Extended LPX: An additional rising trend is the adoption of LPX boards. These thin boards are created for sleek, lightweight systems, granting freedom and versatility in system design.


The Impact of New Technologies on Motherboards

Emerging technologies are significantly transforming the framework of motherboard design, promoting developments in integrated memory controllers, form factors, and the assimilation of video capabilities into CPUs. The influence of these technologies on motherboards is substantial, upgrading the board’s capacity for expansion and connectivity.

For example, groundbreaking wireless network technologies enable swifter data connections, ensuring seamless and more effective communication among the computer’s components.

Moreover, advancements in CPU technology have led to the integration of video capabilities directly onto the motherboard. This not only simplifies the overall design but also amplifies performance.

The advantages of these technologies are evident, giving us the opportunity to expand the limits of what our computers can accomplish.

Technological progresses will persistently determine the future of motherboard design and functionality.


Conclusion: The Central Role of Motherboards in Computing

Appreciating the crucial role of motherboards in computing allows us to understand how all computer elements communicate and work harmoniously together. The motherboard, akin to the spine of the computer, holds a pivotal position in computing. It functions as the main hub enabling all components to interact and perform in harmony.

When we question, ‘What is a motherboard?’ we’re probing into the fundamental core of computing. It’s the base on which various computer elements assemble to execute their tasks.

Three crucial points to remember about motherboards are:

  1. The crucial role of the motherboard is to link and enable interaction between all the computer’s components, including the CPU, memory, and peripheral devices.
  2. Motherboards are available in various forms, each possessing its unique set of features and abilities. These forms comprise ATX, micro ATX, and mini-ITX.
  3. The selection of a motherboard can influence the computer’s performance and upgradability. Factors to take into account include CPU compatibility, RAM capacity, and the number of expansion slots.


A motherboard is a central printed circuit board (PCB) in a computer that connects various computer components and allows them to communicate and work together.

The major components found on a motherboard include the CPU socket, chipset, ports, slots for connecting drives to the computer, and other vital components.

Components on a motherboard are connected through various slots, ports, and sockets which allow them to communicate and work together efficiently.

The chipset on a motherboard is responsible for initializing the hardware components and facilitating communication between different parts of the computer.

There are various types of motherboards designed for specific purposes, such as ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX, each with different sizes and features to suit different needs.

The CPU socket on a motherboard is crucial as it allows the CPU (Central Processing Unit) to be securely installed and connected to the rest of the components.

Motherboards have built-in pathways and connectors that allow different components inside a computer to communicate and work together efficiently.

Factors like compatibility with the CPU, expansion slots, ports, chipset quality, and size of the motherboard are essential when selecting the best motherboard for your computer setup.

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