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    Now for the motherboard, there are several things that you are going to want to know about choosing and buying a motherboard. The most important factor is the processor it supports. The motherboard may be the entire backbone of the system, and it can be the part that makes the computer your pride and joy, or your constant, infuriating project to get the thing working; but without a processor, the motherboard is worthless (and vice-versa). The main choices today as far as processors are, include Pentium, and the AMD. Make sure you choose your motherboard to fit. (Iíll explain this choice in a bit).

    The next consideration is what additional components it can support, never get a motherboard with more than one ISA slot, unless you have multiple ISA cards to put in your system. The ISA system interface is older, and therefore less common. PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) is the standard among PC cards that you add to your computer. You can find everything from video cards, to sound cards, to complete processor-memory upgrades in the PCI card format. Basic rule is keep to PCI unless you only have ISA slots left, or if you have ISA cards that you want to use. For motherboards the more PCI, (or ISA) slots you have, the better. These allow you to add components such as modems at will, as long as you have a slot open.

    >Reader note: PCI slots on motherboard actually come in two different flavors, 32 bit and 64 bit. 64 bit is an advanced form and is mostly found in servers. Keep in mind the flavor of your current PCI cards and the PCI cards you plan to buy. (RTFM) Also youíll want to know the difference between the ISA and PCI slots: if youíre looking at a motherboard the PCI slot is the smaller, white slot, and the ISA slot is a larger, black slot.

    The next consideration in upgrading the motherboard is itís front side bus speed (FSB). The FSB speed as described above is the speed at which the motherboard traffics information between the components of your system. The FSB affects the two main components (besides the motherboard) of your system, the processor and the Random Access Memory (ram). More recent systems can be found with components ranging from 66mhz FSB, to a blazing 200mhz FSB (AMD systems only, Pentiums-as of the creation of this article-only run from 66mhz to 133mhz, but they do plan to release higher speeds). So when buying a motherboard keep in mind the FSB speed of the components you have and components you plan to get.

    Motherboards also include the interface designed to transfer information between the motherboard and the drives (hard drive, CD-ROM, etc.) The most well known system to date is the IDE interface (Integrated Drive Electronics). The IDE system is pretty much the standard in the down-to-earth priced systems. IDE controllers currently come in speeds of ATA-33, ATA-66, and ATA-100. The speed differences are there, and if you plan on using your old drives, make doubly sure that the IDE interface is backward compatible (RTFM). But as with megahertz ratings, amounts of memory, and cost, bigger are better.

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