Upgrading Motherboard


My computer is an older computer and I have thought of upgrading my computer for some time now yet it is old enough that it would require replacement of the motherboard to do much of an upgrade. And in looking into this I have a few questions:

  • When you purchase a motherboard do you buy them with the CPU already installed or are they separate?

  • What components do I need to check for compatibility? I assume power supply, hard drives, sound card, video card. And how do I check to ensure the components are compatible? (I know how to check the video and sound card but not sure on the rest)

  • What specs make a good motherboard? Meaning what are the important specifications to check for on a motherboard? (I want to note here that I am doing graphic editing and will need some speed preferably)

  • Will I need to do anything special to windows when upgrading? I plan to upgrade from XP to 7 during this process, should I do that before or after upgrading the motherboard?

  • Any general advice in upgrading a mother board?

Best Answer

If you have an older motherboard an upgrade is effectively going to be a complete new system.

Firstly, you will need a new CPU. Some suppliers will sell you both together, others will sell you them separately.

Secondly, you will more likely than not need new memory as the modules in your current board won't be compatible e.g. DDR2 vs DDR3 modules.

Thirdly, you may need new hard drives as the current standards is SATA connections not IDE. You can get converters but SATA has a higher transfer rate.

Fourthly your graphics card might not fit if it's an AGP card - you don't say how old the current computer is. Current motherboards have PCI Express slots for graphics cards, though the higher end boards do have decent graphics built in. It depends on what you want to do whether you need to install a separate card.

The network connection and sound are also on the motherboard.

The power supply will probably have the same connections for the motherboard power, but might not have the right connectors for the hard drives. You can get mole to SATA converters, but you need to check it's output against the consumption of all the components. Again, it might be simpler to buy a new PSU as well.

So, all in all, you might be better off buying a whole new computer! You can find companies selling compatible components as a package - though as with all these things check out the specs first. You can then fit all of these as a single unit into your existing case. I had to do this last year as my old motherboard failed and I couldn't find one compatible with the CPU and memory that I assumed was still working.

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