Trading Computers Buyer's Guide

By Scott Tafel, founder of

Main Board / Motherboard

Mass produced computers that are commonly sold by the major computer brands have reduced performance after many years of intense cost cutting from a very price competitive environment. They often combine newer processors with low-end and sometimes outdated motherboard chipsets. Most computer buyers are unaware of what a motherboard chipset is and how important it is in getting the full measure of use out of a microprocessor.

The motherboard chipset is a set of "chips" (integrated circuits) that manages the data flow between the processor and peripherals (video cards, sound, internet, etc.). Lower cost Intel chipsets like the B*5, Z*5, H*7, Q*7, B*5, H*1, H*7, and Q*7 will generally not sustain the turbo mode of the Intel processor for more than a few seconds (the * indicates the generation such as H77 or B85). If you want to get full access to the speed boost from the turbo mode you will need one of the high end Intel chipsets: Z*7, Z*70, X*9.

The size of the motherboard on the computer will have a large effect on what features you will be allowed to have. Inexpensive computers will have the smallest motherboards with the fewest features:

trading computers motherboards

To get the full performance out of your computer you generally need to have a full sized motherboard (Standard-ATX) although there are some higher-end Micro-ATX motherboards that are quite good and worth considering. Most mass produced computers use the smallest motherboards (often in a larger box to make it look more powerful).

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