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What is a Motherboard Identifier?

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 10/2/2010

Every motherboard comes with a signature that reveals what manufacturer made it. Called the motherboard identifier, this signature is useful to learn what drivers are required for the board, where to get warranty information about it, or for a variety of other purposes.

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    About the Motherboard Identifier

    Finding out what motherboard is in your computer is usually done best via physical inspection. Many people don't want to do thisATX motherboard - labeled  because they are intimidated by the inside of their computer or afraid they might break something if they were to open the case.

    Once your computer is open, you will need a flashlight to inspect the board, especially near the edges and sometimes in between the expansion slots. Normally, you will see some number that is silk screened onto the board that represent its model number. Write this number down (if you see more than one number, write them all down) and then look it up in Google. This is the most reliable and successful method for identifying the manufacturer of your motherboard.

    Still, some motherboards give no physical indication about what company made it or what its model number is, but you can still find out what the manufacturer of your board is through an electronic signature that is usually stored inside the motherboard BIOS. It is called the BIOS string or motherboard identifier. This number is unique to a particular manufacturer, and can give you the needed clues to investigate warranty status, drivers, jumper settings, BIOS updates, and other information by visiting that manufacturer's Web site.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Yerpo

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    Finding the Motherboard Identifier

    Because the motherboard identifier is stored electronically inside your system, your computer must be operational (i.e. you can turn it on and you see intelligible information on the screen). Finding this number used to be very easy because you could view the BIOS during its POST test and write it down. This still works sometimes, but with many computers display logos and other information rather than BIOS information at start-up, so you may not always be able to rely on this method.

    If you can get the BIOS string as your computer starts, than you can search for it online and you usually can find out the manufacturer from those results.

    Another way to find the motherboard identifier is by viewing your system's BIOS settings. Usually, you must tap <F2> or the <DEL> (delete) key when you turn on your computer (Look for a message on your screen that tells you what key to press). The motherboard identifier for Intel boards is often found here as part of the BIOS Version information.

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    Using the AMI BIOS Utility

    Finding the motherboard identifier of a board is very easy if you have a board that has a BIOS made by AMI. Look on your screen at startup to see if there is an American Megatrends logo or text displayed on the screen. To find the motherboard identifier of your AMI board, all you have to do is download the AMIMBID utility and then run it on your computer. When you run this utility on your computer, it will save the motherboard identifier to a file named "results.txt."

    BIOS 02 

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    Everest

    Everest is a popular diagnostic program that reports a lot of system information including your motherboard identifier. This program is not free, but you can download a free 30 day trial version.

    BIOS 03 

    Launch the program after it installs and you will see an icon labeled, "Motherboard." Click it and you will get a whole page of information about your motherboard. Most of the time it will even provide clickable links that will take you directly to driver and BIOS updates.

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    CTBIOS

    If you still haven't been able to find your BIOS string (motherboard identifier) you can try an older utility called CTBIOS. This is a command prompt (DOS) utility that will give you some information about the manufacturer of your motherboard and BIOS version. The following is an example of the output of CTBIOS from a Dell laptop computer.

    BIOS 01 This utility gave us the BIOS date, revision, and manufacturer; and told us that this motherboard was manufactured by Intel.

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    Conclusion

    This tutorial gave you some specific suggestions for how to find out the manufacturer and model number of your motherboard through a system value called the motherboard identifier or BIOS string. If you cannot physically identify the manufacturer and model number of your motherboard, one of these methods will help. This information is valuable for locating product support, driver and BIOS updates, and warranty information.

    Image Credits: Screen shots taken by Bruce Tyson