When to Upgrade Motherboard?

Many reasons can warrant a motherboard upgrade. While motherboards are rarely changed, there comes a time when upgrading this crucial component becomes a necessity.

Generally, upgrading the motherboard means a complete overhaul of your system, as a motherboard upgrade often requires a CPU upgrade.

Here we will talk in detail about when to upgrade the motherboard specifically.

Again, upgrading motherboards is not seen as common as some of the easier upgrades you can do to a computer, like a storage upgrade or a memory upgrade.

Here are some circumstances when upgrading the motherboard is necessary.

When to Upgrade Motherboard?

The following are eight reasons why upgrading a motherboard becomes essential.

1. When You Want to Buy a New Processor

When to Upgrade Motherboard
LGA 1155 socket for 2nd Gen Intel CPUs

The motherboard and the CPU are two-piece combos. They both have to be compatible with each other.

You can’t just buy any CPU and place it on any motherboard you like. You have to make sure that the motherboard has the compatible SOCKET for the CPU.

If the socket of your new CPU does not match that of the motherboard, then you will need to upgrade the motherboard.

It is worth noting that a motherboard socket is often shared across CPU generations. For instance, the AM4 socket can be used for the newer 5000 series AMD CPUs and the 1000 series CPUs released in 2017.

If the older CPU and the newer CPU share the same CPU socket, then you DO NOT need to buy a new motherboard. A BIOS update may be required to support the newer generation of CPUs on an older motherboard.

CPUs (Desktop Only) Socket Supported
Intel 6th Gen – 9th Gen CPUs LGA1151
Intel 10th and 11th Gen LGA1200
AMD 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 AM4

Also Read: Can You Upgrade CPU Without Changing the Motherboard?

2. When You Need a More Robust Motherboard Chipset

Motherboard chipsets determine the primary characteristics of the motherboard. Among other things, a chipset determines the following:

  • Whether you can overclock your CPU or not
  • How Many PCIe lanes it has – and their version
  • How many expansion slots and ports it has, and their version
  • Whether it can support multiple GPUs or not
  • and, of course, the CPU socket itself

The more premium a chipset you get, the more features you can expect from your motherboard.

AMD and Intel have three popular series of chipset catering to different budget segments.

AMD Chipsets:

A Series, such as AMD A520 Entry-Level chipset for budget builds
B Series, such as B550 Mid Range chipset, for most gamers
X Series, such as X570 For Enthusiasts and high-performance PC builds
AMD 500 Series Chipset comparison

Intel Chipsets

H Series, such as H310 For budget builds
B Series, such as B460 They are similar to the H series but are considered for mid-range builds.
Z Series, such as Z590 For premium builds. The only Intel chipset that offers to overclock support.

3. When You Need a Motherboard For Overclocking and with Premium VRMs

If you are an enthusiast and want a motherboard capable of overclocking your CPU to great potential, you may need to upgrade your motherboard.

Two factors determine how well a motherboard can overclock your CPU:

  1. Its Chipset
  2. Its VRM size and Phase Power Design

The chipset defines whether a motherboard can overclock or not. For instance, the AMD A520 chipset does NOT allow overclocking, but the B550 and the X570 do.

Also Read: What Makes a Motherboard Good?

VRM and Phase Power Design

VRM stands for Voltage Regulator Modules. These tiny electrical components ensure your CPU gets a clean, stable power supply.

The more powerful your CPU is and overclocked, the more powerful VRMs you should look out for.

In addition, the higher the number of VRMs your motherboard has, the better your CPU performs, particularly when overclocked.

Phase Power Design is denoted with 6+1, 8+2, 14+2, etc. The first number indicates the number of VRMs for the CPU. The second number indicates the number of VRMs for the RAM.

Again, premium motherboards have robust phase power design.

More on this here: What Are Motherboard Power Phases and VRMs?

Also Read: What is CPU Throttling?

4. When You Need Newer and Faster RAM

RAM physical slots identifications
An old motherboard for DDR3 RAM. For DDR4, an upgrade would be required.

The problem with RAM is that you cannot physically install any RAM type other than the one supported by the motherboard. If your motherboard supports DDR3 RAM, the newer DDR4 RAM will NOT work on the motherboard. In other words, the RAM slots are not backward or forward-compatible.

A typical DDR4 RAM is multiple folds faster than a usual DDR3 RAM.

Hence, for RAM-intensive work such as gaming, video editing, and simulation, your PC performance will be missing out tremendously if you are still using the older RAM.

DDR3 vs DDR4 performance comparison
DDR3 1866 vs DDR4-3200Source: taping 

Also Read: How to Tell if RAM Will Work With Your Motherboard?

5. When You Need More Ports and Slots

This is relatively straightforward.

If your motherboard has a limited amount of ports and slots, then an upgrade can be warranted.

There are essentially two interfaces that the motherboard uses to connect devices to your PC:

  • SATA
  • PCIe


SATA Ports and SATA cable

SATA is the primary interface for connecting hard disk drives, optical CD/DVD drives, and SATA SSD drives.


PCIe is a robust interface that supports High-Speed Input Output (HSIO) devices such as graphics cards, network adapters, video capture cards, and port expansion cards.

PCIe is also the primary interface for connecting the M.2 NVMe SSDs – the fastest storage drive you can find for a PC.

pcie slots labelled and watermarked
PCIe expansion cards

In addition, if your motherboard is missing a specific port that you need, such as a Thunderbolt 3 port, you may need to get a new one.

Also Read:

6. When You Need Newer PCIe Version

pcie slot version 2

Another critical consideration is the PCIe protocol VERSION the motherboard operates at.

After every few years, the PCIe standard upgrades, and with each new promotion, it doubles the transfer speed per lane compared to the previous generation.

The following table shows how the speeds of different PCIe generations compare:

1.00.2500.500 1.0002.0004.000

The latest generation of motherboards offers PCIe v4.

A motherboard with PCIe slots conforming to version 4.0 can support newer, more powerful devices such as Gen 4 NVMe SSDs and more powerful graphics cards than older-gen slots.

Read in detail: PCIe 3.0 vs. 2.0

Also, Read: Does My Motherboard Support NVMe SSD?

7. When an Important Port or Slot is Damaged

In certain situations, a specific critical port or slot can get irreparable damage which can warrant a motherboard upgrade.

For instance, if the primary PCIe x16 slot of your motherboard used for installing a graphics card gets damaged beyond repair, you will be compelled to get a new motherboard to use again.

8. When the Board is Dead

This is the worst-case scenario and the most obvious one that warrants a new board.

When the entire board has received irreparable damage, it is necessary to replace it.

At this juncture, you may consider upgrading instead of going for one at the same level as the previous motherboard, as it can give you newer features, expandability, and performance.

Also Read: How to Tell if Motherboard is Dead?

Incompatibility Problems with Upgrading the Motherboard

Here I am just reiterating the points I have made above.

With the new motherboard, especially when upgrading to a different form factor or generation, you may find that some of your older modules are no longer compatible with the new board. This can be the case with your processor and RAM, especially.

Here are some of the things that may warrant a change along with your motherboard:

  • CPU – is of a different socket.
  • RAM – is of another type.
  • Case/Chassis – if it doesn’t support the motherboard form factor.
  • Power Supply Unit – if the newer components require more power.

Also Read: How Much is a Motherboard?

Also Read: Do Motherboards Have Integrated Graphics?

Also Read: Why Motherboard is Called Motherboard?

Final Words

Upgrading your computer’s motherboard should be an exciting thing to do. Apart from the fact that you’re possibly getting a performance boost, you will also get to use newer components that go hand in hand with the new board.

Here we talked specifically about when to upgrade the motherboard, and there are many reasons why doing so becomes essential.

With an upgrade, you can get more ports and slots for your peripherals. You also get to keep some of your older components as long as they can be integrated into the new board without compatibility issues.

Nevertheless, upgrading your motherboard should be accompanied by a valid reason and should not be done needlessly.


1. How Often Should You Change a PC’s Motherboard?

It would be best if you didn’t change your motherboard UNLESS it is damaged or you want to install newer components not supported by your current motherboard.

Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason to change your motherboard.

2. If You Replace Your Motherboard, What Would Happen on the System Start?

Your system would boot up and usually start IF EITHER:

1. The replaced motherboard is precisely identical to the original motherboard
2. The connected components, like the CPU and the RAM, are compatible with the new motherboard.

3. What are some signs that it’s time to upgrade your motherboard?

Some common signs that it’s time to upgrade your motherboard include slow performance, compatibility issues with newer components, frequent crashes or errors, and limited upgrade options.

Additionally, if you are experiencing issues with your USB, Ethernet, or other ports, this could also be a sign that it’s time to upgrade.

4. What are some common mistakes to avoid when upgrading your motherboard?

One common mistake to avoid when upgrading your motherboard is not checking for compatibility with your existing components, such as your CPU, GPU, and RAM.

It’s important to research and ensure that your new motherboard is compatible with your existing components before making the upgrade.

Additionally, not properly grounding yourself before handling computer components can lead to damaging static electricity. Finally, it’s important to be patient and take your time during the installation process to avoid damaging the motherboard or other components.

Photo of author



2 thoughts on “When to Upgrade Motherboard?”

  1. I am running an ASUS P6T with an intel 7 processor bought in 2010. I am running MS Windows 10, 7 & XT and still running lotus. How long before I have a major failure with the mother board or processor. I am running 3 hard drives 2 WD’s and 1 ssd. .


Leave a Comment