Motherboard Compatibility – CompTIA A+ 220-1101 – 3.4

A mobile device uses a very different motherboard than our desktop computers. In this video, you’ll learn about CPU options and compatibilities between server, desktop, and laptop computers.

If you’re building your own computer, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make are whether this will be an Intel-based motherboard or an AMD-based motherboard. These are two very popular CPU manufacturers. And all of the other systems on your motherboard will be based around this decision. This decision might be based on the cost of the motherboard and the CPU.

Some combinations of motherboards and CPUs are different, depending on whether they are Intel-based or AMD-based. And sometimes the most inexpensive device is the one that generally wins. Once you make the decision on whether you’re going with an AMD-based motherboard or an Intel-based motherboard, you’re effectively locked into that decision. You can’t remove an AMD CPU and replace it with an Intel CPU.

Not only are the CPUs very different in how they are designed and how they operate, but the sockets themselves are very different between manufacturers. Whether you go with Intel or AMD, the decision is usually based on a number of criteria. Traditionally, we thought of AMD as being the more cost-effective CPU and Intel as having the more powerful CPU. But you’ll find that these two criteria change quite a bit as time goes on. And you’ll have to check the specifications for your motherboard and your CPU to see if you’re getting exactly what you want out of that system.

The installation of the CPU is very similar, regardless of which manufacturer’s motherboard you go with. Usually, there’s a cover that holds the CPU in place. You would lift that cover, simply place the CPU into the socket, and then bring the cover back down to lock it in place. If you’re designing a system that will be used as a server, then you’re probably configuring a motherboard that has multiple CPU sockets on it. This might allow you to start with a single CPU and upgrade it to dual CPUs later or to simply install it with two CPUs to support a higher load.

Most server motherboards will also have at least four slots available for memory. And they might have additional expansion slots so that you can add on additional features to the motherboard. These are often contained within a rack-mounted device like the one you see here. Usually, you’re installing into one of these cases a motherboard and a power supply that’s designed to fit into this smaller form factor.

Here’s an older server motherboard that has two separate CPUs, has some expansion slots available, and four slots available for memory. Here’s a newer motherboard with similar features. You can see this one also supports two separate CPUs. There are six slots available for memory. And then you have expansion slots also available on the motherboard. If you’re working with the desktop system, then you might find that you have many different options available for size and features.

You might have a full-size system, like the one we see here, or all of the computer itself may be self-contained within the monitor itself. These desktop systems generally have a single CPU on the motherboard. And usually, there are two or four memory slots for additional RAM. Sometimes there might be one or two expansion slots. Or if you’re in a larger case such as this one, you might have even more options available on your motherboard.

Here’s a motherboard you might find on a desktop. You can see this one is a bit smaller than the server motherboards we looked at earlier. This motherboard has a single CPU slot, has two slots available for memory. And we can see some additional options for expansion slots. We have two separate PCI slots and two separate PCI express slots.

And here’s a motherboard type we might use on a very small form factor desktop system. You can see that the CPU is under these sinks on the side. You’ve got one slot available for memory, one slot for any type of expansion. And all of this fits into a very small form factor, allowing you to hide that case or move it to a place where it’s not easily seen.

With laptops, we tend to focus on portability. So the motherboard you would have in a laptop tend to be very small and very light. The CPUs in a laptop are not necessarily designed for speed but instead for power usage and efficiency. And since there’s no space inside of these laptops for much cooling, the CPUs are designed to throttle when the system becomes warmer. That way you’re able to have the system continue to work but not damage itself through any type of overheating.

Laptops are also much less customizable than a desktop system. With the desktop, we can take the cover off. We can add new capabilities into the expansion slots. We can swap out memory or CPU. But in a laptop, it’s very difficult to gain access to all of that inside of the system. So on your laptop, you may not have many options available for memory upgrades, any changes to the CPU, or modifying or adding on any additional features to the existing motherboard.

The goal with these motherboards is to have something that is as portable as possible but also something that does not use a lot of power and can run for a very long time from battery. Unlike desktops, where you can remove one ATX motherboard and replace it with another ATX motherboard, you don’t have quite the same flexibility with a laptop system. Laptop motherboards are usually proprietary. And they’re often specifically built and designed for that specific laptop model.

If you need to replace the motherboard, you have to replace it with the exact type of motherboard design for that laptop. And since your interfaces, your CPU, your memory, and other features are part of that system board, if any part of that happens to stop working, you’ve got to replace the entire motherboard. Here’s a different laptop. And all of the different components inside of the laptop have been removed.

We can see there is a hard drive. You’ve got some memory in the system. And this is the system board or motherboard for this specific laptop version. And here’s another laptop motherboard which is also very different than the other two that we’ve seen. You can see that this motherboard was designed to fit specifically in this laptop case. Which is why when we replace this motherboard, it has to be replaced with the exact duplicate model.