Whether you're building your first PC or you're an old hand, motherboard selector tools can save a lot of time when it comes to matching up hardware.
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Buy the Right PC Components
While it is possible to purchase a PC pre-built, many enthusiasts prefer the challenge of building a computer from components
Shopping for new PC components can take a lot of work. You need to decide upon a suitable motherboard and CPU combination before looking for suitable RAM, graphics cards, perhaps a sound card – and all of these items need to be compatible. There is also the task of matching the motherboard form factor with a suitable case and power supply unit, not to mention purchasing suitable fans.
Failing to get the right match can result in a PC that can’t work, doesn’t work, or works poorly, often because the RAM isn’t optimised for use with the motherboard and CPU.
Finding the right motherboard/CPU combi can involve quite a bit of online research – or you can use a shortcut…
(Image credit: author)
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Top Online Motherboard Selectors
Sadly, while there are several good websites that offer reviews and opinions on various motherboard/CPU combis, there are only a handful of tools for matching up the right hardware for your PC building needs.
Additionally, these focus on Intel chipsets, so if you were planning on an AMD system, some more research is required!
First of all, the Intel website features a useful index of motherboards with Intel chipsets that can be easily sorted by processor. Available at http://www.intel.com/reseller/mbselector/index.htm, all you need to do is use the Filter by processor drop down menu to select the CPU you want and find a suitable motherboard.
Additional filters on manufacturer, model, form factor, memory type and more can also be used. Sadly no images are available, so don’t forget to Google the motherboard type to get an idea of what the product looks like and find other information such as expansion ports, on-board sound, etc.
A more comprehensive option is available at www.cclonline.com. By using this tool you can select and AMD or Intel CPU, suitable motherboards, memory and graphics options, as well as suitable power supply units, cases and cooling. While designed for use in the UK, you can still use the tool to find the right options and then order them locally.
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Saving Time with Barebones Systems
If you’re not too bothered about playing around with these websites and finding the right motherboard/CPU combination but still want to take advantage of the benefits that adding your graphics card, power supply and storage devices bring to building a PC, you might instead consider a barebones system.
These are basically PCs that include a motherboard, CPU and RAM (although not always) and offer plenty of expansion options for adding your own RAM, choosing a hard disk drive, DVD or Blu-ray drive, graphics card, etc.
Barebones PC systems are also great for anyone building a PC on a budget, allowing you to start off with a minimal initial investment and ramp up the specs with each additional component you purchase over the following months.