Motherboard ID

From FreekiWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page has been migrated to a document on Free Geek's Google Drive.

Information remaining behind may no longer be relevant.


When you have tagged this page as migrated,
please add a link to the new document on Google Drive.

(Link to new page immediately below.)



Objective: Be able to find connectors and objects on the motherboard that are important in the build process

The motherboard in your computer system is VERY well-connected - it has communication lines running every which way. This is a brief description of the common connectors that you will see on a motherboard.

On-board Cluster

The on-board cluster is a group of ports attached to the motherboard. They can be found on the edge of the motherboard that would face out of the back of the computer if the motherboard were in a case.

Some of the connectors which may be found in the on-board cluster are:

  • Keyboard and mouse connectors (see note below about keyboard connector types)
  • Printer port
  • Sound ports
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • USB ports

PS2 is the current keyboard and mouse connector type. They are often color-coded purple and aqua. AT keyboard connector is much larger (and older). AT stands for Advanced Technology but is now out-dated and replaced by ATX (Advanced Technology Expanded) and other designations. See the AT keyboard connector on the VA503 mobo in the box, on the example board and on the System Eval example board.

There may be other ports in the on-board cluster that are not listed here. The purpose of the on-board cluster is to provide ports for commonly used devices. If the on-board cluster is complete enough, a user may need few, or no, expansion cards.

Blown Capacitors

A healthy capacitor:

A blown capacitor:

Capacitors or caps are cylinders made of metal and plastic which help regulate the flow of electricity on the motherboard. If capacitors become overloaded, they puff up on top and may look as if they have leaked fluid (think of a blown household battery). This is bad. You should be able to identify blown caps as a condition for recycling a system or component.

If you cannot locate a blown capacitor among the example motherboards provided, please ask your instructor for help.

Processor connector

Socket-type Processor

The Central Processing Unit socket lies flat on the motherboard and the gold pins on the CPU fit down into its holes, with its heat sink and fan on top. ZIF stands for Zero Insertion Force, the amount of force that is acceptable when sliding the pins back into their holes.

See examples on the Board. Look in the Lesson Box for the motherboard that is multiple-processor capable.

Slot-type processor

The slot processor stands up sideways on the motherboard in a slot that looks similar to a card slot. The Pentium II and early Pentium III processors are this type, but no one is manufacturing them any more. It too has a heat sink and fan attached to the side to keep the CPU from overheating.

See the mobo in the upper right hand corner of the Example Board. Note that this motherboard is capable of holding multiple processors.

Drive connectors

IDE Hard Drive Connector - Look at several example motherboards to recognize this connector. Note the blank pin spot in the middle. Is the connector for the master drive color coded?

SATA (Serial ATA) Hard Drive Connector - small L-shaped connector usually protected by a little wall around it. This is the newest hard drive type and you will learn more about it in Lesson E.

SCSI Hard Drive Connector - these are usually found in servers and you will see examples of the various types in Lesson Box E Hard Drives

Optical drives such as CD and DVD - they use the same connector type that the hard drive does, IDE or SATA.

Floppy - a double row of pins like the IDE but shorter and has a blank pin spot near the end.

Bridges and communication facilitators

Northbridge - the integrated circuit that connects the CPU to the system memory, RAM and video card buses. Frequently has heat sink and fan to cool.

Southbridge - the IC that controls hard drive bus (IDE or SATA), USB, PCI buses, keyboard/mouse, etc. On a newer mobo, will often have heat sink and fan.

AMR (Audio/Modem Riser, CNR (Communications and Networking Riser), ACR (Advanced Communications Riser)

HDMR (High Definition Multimedia Riser) and related expansion card and slot types


These are additional exercises to be done for extra practice if needed.

Select any motherboard:

What type of keyboard connector does it have?

Does it have both IDE and SATA hard drive connectors?

Motherboard Sorting

Sort the motherboards in the Lesson Box using the Motherboard Sorting flow chart.