Anatomy of a Motherboard: Dissecting the Tech Behind PC Components

Julio Franco

Posts: 8,567   +1,448
Staff member

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,698   +2,345
My cousin damaged his motherboard, an Asus Hero Z390e by bending some of the CPU pins (somehow). I spent Saturday back and forth to Microcenter helping him rebuild it and upgrade it to 2TB Crucial MX500 and the PSU from an EVGA 650 to a Corsair 850...which we took back for a EVGA 850 because the Corsair's wires were short.

Almost 12 hours worth of work but I finished.

So now it's a EVGA liquid cooled Core i9 9900k with a 1080Ti, 16GB DDR4 and 2.5TB SSD

I'd say the most imprtant thing to remember about your motherboard is to be careful with the CPU installation. The GPU card installation isn't so difficult.

Properly laying down the CPU, pasting the water cooler and not touching any contacts is the part that bothers me most.

The second issue is ensuring your cables are long enough and having neat cable management so they don't interfere with the motherboard.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: beardrinksbeer

Evernessince

Posts: 4,998   +5,124
My cousin damaged his motherboard, an Asus Hero Z390e by bending some of the CPU pins (somehow). I spent Saturday back and forth to Microcenter helping him rebuild it and upgrade it to 2TB Crucial MX500 and the PSU from an EVGA 650 to a Corsair 850...which we took back for a EVGA 850 because the Corsair's wires were short.

Almost 12 hours worth of work but I finished.

So now it's a EVGA liquid cooled Core i9 9900k with a 1070, 16GB DDR4 and 2.5TB SSD

I'd say the most imprtant thing to remember about your motherboard is to be careful with the CPU installation. The GPU card installation isn't so difficult.

Properly laying down the CPU, pasting the water cooler and not touching any contacts is the part that bothers me most.

The second issue is ensuring your cables are long enough and having neat cable management so they don't interfere with the motherboard.
What a waste of money pairing a 9900K with a 1070. You could have easily spent half the amount and gotten equal gaming performance. If he needed the gaming performance and multi-thread he should have went AMD.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,698   +2,345
What a waste of money pairing a 9900K with a 1070. You could have easily spent half the amount and gotten equal gaming performance. If he needed the gaming performance and multi-thread he should have went AMD.

He is going to get a 3000 series as soon as they are available.

None of us are interested in AMD anything. I'll gladly spend "more"on Intel, EVGA, Nvidia and anything else to avoid AMD.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 4,998   +5,124
He is going to get a 3000 series as soon as they are available.

None of us are interested in AMD anything. I'll gladly spend "more"on Intel, EVGA, Nvidia and anything else to avoid AMD.
It sounds more to me like you told him to buy that even though it is a bad choice. After all, you openly admitted to doing so at your prior job at Best Buy.

I feel bad for the kid. "None of us are interested in AMD anything" isn't a logical reason against a product nor a point supporting an argument. It's a testament to bias.

FYI there are lower end Intel processors you could have gotten as well. The 9600K would have been more then fine with that GPU. Even if you completely ignored AMD you could have still saved a lot of money without sacrificing performance.
 
Last edited:

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,698   +2,345
It sounds more to me like you told him to buy that even though it is a bad choice. After all, you openly admitted to doing so at your prior job at Best Buy.

I feel bad for the kid. "None of us are interested in AMD anything" isn't a logical reason against a product nor a point supporting an argument. It's a testament to bias.

FYI there are lower end Intel processors you could have gotten as well. The 9600K would have been more then fine with that GPU. Even if you completely ignored AMD you could have still saved a lot of money without sacrificing performance.
ACTUALLY, I told him years ago to get the Core i7 instead of the Core i5 he had prior. But he's your typical newbie who wanted what he wanted.

I made an error. He had a 1070 and he upgraded to a 1080Ti so the MSI card in the photo is a 1080Ti.

He specifically wanted an Asus Hero z390e and the i9 9900k. I personally don't even like Asus and wouldn't have gotten it but he specifically wanted them both and he saved money for it.

He specifically wanted a Corsair 850. I wanted him to get an EVGA 850 to match his EVGA AIO. He saved $25 getting the Corsair...the wires were short...we brought it back and refunded and got the Evga 850 like I said. Could have saved me 3 gallons of gas.

And as for your reminding me: absolutely - anyone who sees my computer setups wants one "like mine" and I specifically steer them to EVGA, Intel, Crucial, Nvidia, Hyper X, Samsung or HP.

They've all been nothing less than happy with my builds.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

dreamer2908

Posts: 11   +4
You can see that, on this motherboard, the memory sockets are colored in way to let you know which ones are managed by which controller. They're commonly called memory channels, so channel #1 handles the 2 black connectors, and channel #2 the grey ones.
Are you sure?
From the simplified diagram, the 2 black connectors are DIMM_A1 and DIMM_B1, and the gray ones are DIMM_A2 and DIMM_B2. In the user manual, Channel A and Channel B are mentioned.
It appears to me in this Z97-PRO GAMER mobo, memory sockets of the same color are on different channels.
 
  • Like
Reactions: neeyik

neeyik

Posts: 910   +838
Staff member
Good catch, you’re absolutely right. I’ll adjust the article later today. (y) (Y)
 
Are you sure?
From the simplified diagram, the 2 black connectors are DIMM_A1 and DIMM_B1, and the gray ones are DIMM_A2 and DIMM_B2. In the user manual, Channel A and Channel B are mentioned.
It appears to me in this Z97-PRO GAMER mobo, memory sockets of the same color are on different channels.
This is precisely what is shown, and exactly how most manufacturers have been color coding DIMM sockets for years. I can see how a novice builder or reporter would get confused by this coding mechanism, because it goes against practically every other color coding scheme known to man. Voltage wires don't suddenly change shielding colors, red lights don't suddenly mean go just cuz you're in New Jersey, and I'd expect that one color defines one memory channel while another defines a second. Alas, no, the industry mostly decided on dumbing it down enough that everyone makes that mistake the first time and wonders why only one channel of memory is populated. Common convention or not, I RTFM anyway because I never know what shady engineering decisions were made for a PCB for which I just smacked down multiple hundreds.
 

neeyik

Posts: 910   +838
Staff member
When I was writing it, I think I had my mind on another old motherboard of mine where the same colour was used for each channel. My fault, though, as I should have referred to the layout diagram that I put into the article.
 

Karl Hungus

Posts: 56   +30
Excllent article, very informative, and it just so happens to be my exact motherboard, which made it even more interesting obviously!
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrtraver

mark kram

Posts: 46   +10
Theoretically, the board isn't needed: you could connect everything together by using a huge mass of wires. The performance would be terrible, though, as the signals would interfere with one another, and there would be notable power losses by using this method, too.

In the days when vacuum tubes were king they were soldered together using a huge mass of wire. Acid etched boards proved to be cheaper and much less labor intensive. Above printed circuit boards came about when our EPA decided there was too much lead in solder. I've sucessfully used wire to jumper across a break in automotive boards. Resistance will increase slightly.
 

itgee

Posts: 6   +6
Liked your reports so much. I have a request though. I would love to a similar report on desktop PSU or "Anatomy of a PSU"
 

neeyik

Posts: 910   +838
Staff member
I've sucessfully used wire to jumper across a break in automotive boards. Resistance will increase slightly.
Like-for-like, a simple connecting wire will indeed only have a small increase in resistance over an embedded copper trace. I was trying to give a visual image of a big 'crow's nest' of wires, rather than a direct replacement of the traces - in other words, the mess of wires will be longer and thus the increase in power loss across the connections will be higher. The biggest losses would be seen from the CPU's VRMs as these can be carry high current levels.

Liked your reports so much. I have a request though. I would love to a similar report on desktop PSU or "Anatomy of a PSU"
Many thanks for the kind words (and to other folks in this thread too). The next piece in the Anatomy series will be on power supply units :)