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by Staff Writer
All of the computer hardware in your computer connects to the motherboard. Your computer processor, expansion cards and memory chips must all be compatible with slots and sockets on the motherboard. Whether you are building a new computer or upgrading your old machine, you will need to match computer hardware, like your processor and video card, to the motherboard you've chosen and vice versa.
Computer case size: Motherboards are made in different sizes, called form factors, to fit different computer cases. You'll find form factors, such as ATX or microATX, in product descriptions. This makes it easier to match your new motherboard to your old computer case or find a new case that fits.
Computer processor socket: The processor (CPU) handles the calculations and instructions for all the programs that your computer runs. This computer hardware takes the form of a chip that slips into a corresponding socket in your motherboard. Just like other computer hardware, the CPU must be compatible with your motherboard, so check to see which socket your motherboard has and look for processors that match the socket number.
Bus speed: The CPU socket communicates with the rest of the computer hardware on your motherboard through a bus or subsystem. The faster the bus speed, the quicker your processor can communicate with memory, boosting overall computer speed.
Memory (RAM) slots: Motherboards have multiple computer hardware sockets for RAM. RAM allows you computer to handle multiple programs at once, and adding additional RAM can significantly improve the speed and performance of your other computer hardware. RAM comes in multiple types (like DDR2 or DDR3). You can only use one RAM type in your computer. Even if you have multiple computer hardware slots, each slot must use identical memory sticks or modules.
Expansion card slots: Motherboards have expansion slots for various computer hardware components, like video cards and sound cards. As with other computer hardware, the slots must match the hardware you wish to install. The most common slot types are PCI and PCI-Express. If your motherboard features support for multiple video cards or multiple GPUs, you can use two computer hardware expansion cards together for an extra performance boost.
SATA and IDE interfaces: SATA and IDE interfaces allow you to connect to hard drives, optical disc drives and other computer hardware. If your motherboard has multiple interfaces and supports RAID configurations, you can use multiple hard drives on the same machine.
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