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by Jason

The motherboard, or mainboard, is what everything connects to. If the CPU is the brains, then this is the heart and soul of the computer. Everything - from the processor to the hard drive, and even the power supply is going to attach to it. So, purchasing the right motherboard is essential.

Here are some buying tips that will help you choose the right board for you:

* Make sure the Socket Type (or processor Interface type) matches that of your chosen CPU. Remember, the Dual and Quad Core Intel CPUs use Socket 775.
* Make sure the Front Side Bus speed matches or exceeds your processors Front Side Bus. This will vary from 500Mhz up to 1333MHz (or higher).
* Take note of the RAM type (DDR, DDR2, DDR3, Dual Channel, etc...) and its speed. Typically, you'll see Ram advertised as DDR2 Dual-Channel 800MH, just make sure the RAM you have matches your motherboards spec.
* Check how much RAM it supports! One of the most frustrating things is buying a motherboard that supports the fastest RAM, but only 2GB of it.
* Take note if it has AGP or PCI-Express (PCIe) slots. AGP is an older, outdated standard. If the motherboard you're thinking of buying doesn't have any PCIe slots, reconsider your purchase.
* If it has PCI-Express, take note of the number of "x16" slots available - if you want to set up an SLI system you'll need at least PCIe x16 slots (you'll also need to make sure the motherboard is SLI compatible).
* Does it have IDE, SATA, or both? Hard Drives generally come with a SATA connector, so you'll want to make sure your motherboard supports this. If you're getting a modern motherboard, make sure it supports SATA-II (also called SATA-300, or SATA 3.0Gb/s).
* Make note of the form factor - ATX, Mini-ATX, Micro-ATX? This will help you select a case later on, especially if you plan on making a small computer.

With these tips in hand, you'll be well on your way to building your very own computer.

About the Author
Building a computer is easy, but building a gaming computer takes research. Our Build a Gaming Computer guide has all the info you need to build your own rig from the ground up.

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