The motherboard is Control Central for a computer. Every other component processor, memory, drives, expansion cards, and even the power supply connects to and is controlled by the motherboard. The motherboard defines the computer.
Replacing the motherboard is the most complicated and time-consuming upgrade you can make to a computer, simply because so many things connect to it. But there are many good reasons to replace a motherboard, including:
- The original motherboard has failed.
- You want additional features such as Serial ATA, USB 2.0, FireWire, support for hard drives larger than 128 GB, or a PCI Express video slot that your original motherboard does not provide.
- You want to upgrade your processor, but the original motherboard does not support the type or speed of processor you want to install.
- You want to install additional memory, but the type of memory used by your motherboard is no longer available or is very expensive.
- Your motherboard is one of the millions made with defective capacitors, and so may fail without warning. Figure 4-1 shows a row of six healthy capacitors on an ASUS K8N-E Deluxe motherboard. If those on your motherboard appear swollen, popped, or are leaking fluid, that motherboard will soon fail.
Figure 4-1: Healthy capacitors show no signs of bulging or leakage
If your motherboard fails, there are no options but to replace it or discard the computer. If your goal is simply to repair the system as inexpensively as possible, you can probably find a suitable motherboard for $50 to $75 that will accept your current processor and memory, unless the system is elderly.
But even if the current motherboard is operating perfectly, there are many good reasons to consider replacing it with a newer model. Installing a new motherboard in effect gives you an entirely new system, with a new BIOS and chipset that support all of the most recent standards. Even if you decide to replace the processor and memory at the same time, you can spend as little as $150 to $200 and end up with computer that compares favorably in performance and features to new systems that cost much more.
In these sections, we'll tell you everything you need to know to choose, install, and configure a replacement motherboard.
Can't find what you need? Try this upgrade and repair index.