A motherboard on a computer is pretty hard to miss. It is the giant printed circuit board on any computer build. A motherboard is the circuit board on top of which the rest of the components sit.
So where is the motherboard located in a computer? A motherboard is located inside the case of your laptop or the desktop PC. To access a motherboard, you have to open the PC case up.
There are many analogies used to describe what a motherboard looks like. Some say it looks like a city with different blocks and complexes, and to an extent, its working does mimic that of a town.
For instance, a motherboard has information highways (PCIe lanes) and circuits passing traffic from one component to another. Similarly, it has various landmarks and structures, such as the CPU socket, Chipset, Slots, etc.
Others liken a motherboard to the human central nervous system. A motherboard not only acts as the skeleton for the PC hardware, but its circuits also act as neurons passing information from the brain (CPU) to the rest of the limbs (components).
What is a Motherboard?
Well, a picture would be worth a thousand words here.
Above is an image of a typical ATX motherboard WITHOUT anything attached.
It has various slots, ports, and chips, all serving different yet critical functions.
To understand what each of the different components on a motherboard does, I recommend reading this article: What Does a Motherboard Look Like?
There are various sizes of motherboards commonly referred to by their form factor name. There are three common motherboard form factors for commercial PCs and one common form factor for workstations:
- ATX – 12 x 9.6 inches (305 x 244 mm)
- Micro ATX – 9.6 x 9.6 inches (244 x 244 mm)
- Mini ITX – 6.7 x 6.7 inches (170 x 170 mm)
- E-ATX – 12 x 13 inches (305 x 330 mm) – For Workstations
Knowing what a motherboard looks like would help you identify its location since you need to know what you are looking for to locate it.
Also Read: Are All Motherboards the Same Size?
So Where is the Motherboard Located?
Now that you know what a motherboard looks like, where is it located?
As alluded to earlier, a motherboard is located INSIDE the PC case.
Motherboard Location in Desktop PCs
The image above shows the location of a mini-ITX motherboard concerning the case and the rest of the components.
Note that since the components plug on top of a motherboard, it may be hard to locate or reach.
A motherboard sits parallel to the motherboard, but the expansion cards and most connected components sit perpendicular to the motherboard.
The motherboards sit on top of standoffs that are screwed into the various holes in the PC case.
Standoffs are small cylindrical like screws that lift the motherboards off from the PC case. The reason is that you do not want the motherboard to come in contact with the metallic surface of a PC case.
The standoffs come with the PC case.
Also Read: What are Motherboard Standoffs?
Motherboard Location in Laptop PCs
A motherboard on a laptop is also located inside its case. However, laptop motherboards DO NOT follow a set standard, unlike desktop motherboards.
As such, the laptop’s motherboard can be found in irregular shapes and sizes.
However, the general idea of locating the motherboard on a laptop is the same. You must open the case and remove the attached components to get to it.
Also Read: Can You Upgrade a Laptop Motherboard?
Essentially A Motherboard = Computer
In many ways, a motherboard technically IS the computer. It is the foundation upon which the rest of the laptop builds.
A motherboard dictates what kind of CPU and devices would attach to it.
As such, the make and model of your CPU, the choice of your expansion cards, the number of components you can attach, the size and type of RAM you can connect, etc., are all decided by the motherboard you have.
While a motherboard may not directly impact your PC’s performance, if you are an enthusiast or a gamer, its subcomponents and expandability may indirectly affect the performance.
Read in Detail: Does Motherboard Matter for Gaming?
So the answer to the question “where is the motherboard located in a computer?” is very easy IF you know what you are looking for.
Once you can identify what a motherboard looks like, it is just a matter of opening up the PC case to locate it.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Is Motherboard Located in the CPU?
No, it is the other way around. A CPU is located (or instead plugged) into a motherboard.
However, when building a PC, a motherboard and a CPU are separate components that must be procured individually.
2. Where is Motherboard Mounted?
A motherboard is mounted inside the PC case. However, it is not just attached to the PC case.
Instead, a motherboard is mounted on standoffs.
Brass Standoffs enter the case and hold the motherboard off the metallic case surface.
3. What are some common issues with motherboards, and how can they be fixed?
Common issues with motherboards include power failure, overheating, and physical damage.
Power failures can be fixed by checking and replacing faulty power supplies or resetting the BIOS.
Overheating issues can be resolved by cleaning the fans and heat sinks, improving the airflow in the computer case, and applying thermal paste.
Physical damage to the motherboard may require replacement.
4. Can you upgrade the motherboard in a computer? If so, what are the benefits of doing so?
Yes, you can upgrade the motherboard in a computer.
Benefits of upgrading the motherboard include increased compatibility with newer components, improved performance, and expanded functionality.
Upgrading the motherboard also allows for the use of newer technologies such as USB 3.0 and SATA III, which can improve data transfer speeds.
5. What factors should you consider when selecting a motherboard for a custom-built computer?
When selecting a motherboard for a custom-built computer, you should consider factors such as the socket type for the CPU, the form factor of the motherboard, the number and type of expansion slots, the number and type of RAM slots, the type of onboard audio and networking, the number of USB and other ports, and the overall quality and reliability of the motherboard.
It is also important to consider the compatibility of the motherboard with other components in the computer, such as the CPU and RAM.
Also Read: What is Motherboard Revision?