Below are annotated images of an MSI 945GCM5-F (Intel Socket LGA775) motherboard and its ports panel. This motherboard provides an onboard graphics chip, hence the analog VGA graphics output port. If you want to attach this motherboard to a monitor that only has a digital DVI input port (no VGA port) , you have to make use of a VGA-to-DVI analog adapter cable, which can be purchased for less than £10/$20. The LGA775 FSB 1066/1333 MHz socket houses the processor.
Note that some motherboards now have integrated graphics and provide a standard analog VGA and a digital DVI port and a digital DisplayPort graphics port on the ports panel, enabling the use of up to three monitors (one connected to each port). If there is an HDMI port on the motherboard, if a monitor has an HDMI port itself, it can also be used to display the graphics. The ports panel shown above only has an analog VGA port. The ports panel of the motherboard shown in the second image below does not have integrated graphics. A video/graphics card has to be used with it to provide the graphics capability.
Most of the Socket FM1 motherboards that run AMD's A-Series APU processors that have an onboard graphics chip provide all four graphics ports - VGA, DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI outputs, as shown in the annotated image below of an Asus F1A75-V Pro Socket FM1 motherboard's ports panel taken from its user manual. They can all be used to display the graphics output of the processor's onboard graphics chip a the same time if the four monitors support the one of the output ports.
Note that this motherboard provides both USB 2. 0 and USB 3.0 ports. USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed USB) can only be utililised fully by external SSD drives, which can be used instead of a hard disk drive as the boot drive and for data storage. Internal SSD drives use the same SATA 3.0 standard as internal hard disk drives. USB 2.0 is more than adequate for devices such as an external hard drive, external CD/DVD drive, keyboard and mouse, etc. USB 3.0 was first made available in November 2008, but its takeup has been slow, no doubt due to the fact that USB 2.0 is adaquate for most USB devices.
Below is the ports' panel of an MSI K9A2 Platinum (AMD Socket AM2+) motherboard. It has two eSATA ports for external SATA hard disk or CD/DVD drives. (External Blu-ray optical drives will probably be available in the eSATA format soon.) The IEEE 1394 port is a FireWire port.
Below is an image of the ports' panel of an MSI 790GX-G65 (MS-7576) AMD-based Socket AM3 motherboard. It shows its single HDMI port (below two USB 2.0 ports) that can provide high-definition graphics and sound output to an HD TV, games console, etc. Many motherboards now come with an integrated sound chip that provides sound of an acceptable quality via its analog mini-jack connectors, which support 5.1 surround sound via a set of five speakers and an inexpensive set of stereo speakers, making it unnecessary to have a sound card. A line-in jack to connect the PC to an amplifier and a microphone jack is usually provided. However, note that the motherboard must have a block containing 6 (two rows of 3) sound ports on its ports panel, as shown in the images immediately above an below. If only 3 sound ports are provided, as shown in the images of the Socket 939 motherboard lower down on this page, 5.1 surround sound plus line-in and microphone input ports cannot be provided simultaneously, because they function by switching inputs for outputs, depending on whether the speaker configuration is set to 2.1 stereo of 5.1 surround sound.
The Line-In port is used for external CD player, tape player or other audio devices. Line-Out is a connector for speakers or headphones. The Mic port is a connector for a microphone. The three other output ports are for surround-sound speakers. - RS-Out (Rear-Surround-Out) in 4.1/ 5.1/ 7.1 channel mode. CS or SS-Out (Center/ Subwoofer Out) in 5.1/ 7.1 channel mode.
Visit the Sound section of this website for information on the different types of delivered sound.
Note that the motherboard user manuals for any current or previous processor socket type provide annotated drawings or images of the motherboards, naming the components and ports. If you don't have the paper copy that comes with a boxed motherboard, all of the major motherboard manufacturers provide user manuals as downloads in the PDF document format from their websites. Visit the Processor Sockets section of this website for information on past (superseded) and current Intel and AMD socket types.
An annotated image of a Socket A (aka Socket 462) motherboard for an AMD Athlon XP processor
motherboards (superseded technology) are no longer being used for the latest AMD processors, but most of the features are still found on the latest Socket AM2 /AM2+ motherboards that can run the latest AMD processors. The one ISA slot shown in the annotated image of a Socket A motherboard below do not appear on the latest motherboards, because they are used for superseded video cards and sound cards. The next image of a Socket 939 motherboard, has no ISA slot. The Socket 939 motherboard has both IDE and SATA connectors for hard disk and CD/DVD drives. (In June 2006, when this motherboard was available, there were very few SATA CD/DVD drives, but they are now widely available.) The SATA standard was not available when Socket A motherboards were the current type being used for AMD's processors.
Click here! to visit information on Hard Disk Drive section of this website on RAID.
The RAID controller is on the motherboard, so you cannot use a RAID array of HDDs unless the motherboard has such a controller.
The built-in ports in the top left-hand corner of the board (the three blocks viewed from above with the white processor socket behind them) are shown in (front view) detail under the main image. The BIOS battery is the circular object on the bottom right-hand side of the motherboard.
Note that motherboards are coming out now that use their own colour schemes for the slots instead of the standard black (ISA), white (PCI), and brown (AGP/PCI Express) colours. The slots can be in any colour that the manufacturer sees fit to use.
The motherboard shown below has a single PCI Express slot for a video card. Click here! to go to information on the current standard on this website.
The Socket 939 motherboard shown above is the MSI RS480M2-IL, which has onboard video, sound, and networking chips and the corresponding ports on the ports back panel (Back Panel Connectors), an image of which appears below.
The Mouse and Keyboard ports are to connected wired PS/2 mouse/keyboard. The COM Port/Parallel port are used to connect a non-USB serial device (joystick) or parallel device (parallel printer). The VGA Port is a standard analog D-Sub VGA port used to connect the PC to an LCD or CRT monitor. There is no digital DVI port, so, if the LCD monitor has only a DVI port, you need to make use of a VGA-to-DVI adapter. Note that most new LCD monitors provide a VGA and a DVI port. Moreover, every graphics card I have seen that has two DVI connectors also comes with at least one, and usually two, DVI-to-VGA adapters. Most graphics cards that have dual-DVI ports use DVI-I, which also passes the analog VGA signals. So, even if you buy a graphics card that has two DVI connectors, you'll be able to connect them to an old VGA monitor. The 1394 Port is a FireWire port. There are four USB 2.0 ports under it and the LAN port which is a connection for an Ethernet network. The SPDIF-Out port is usually used to connect the output of a DVD player to a home theater receiver that supports Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound. Another common use is to carry uncompressed digital audio from a CD/DVD player to a receiver. The three remaining ports are to carry sound - the line-in, line-out and microphone ports. This motherboard has no HDMI port that is used to connect a PC to a (high definition) HD TV. The Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H motherboard is an example of a motherboard that provides an HDMI port. It is shown as d in the image below.
You can download the user manual for the MSI RS480M2-IL motherboard in the PDF format from MSI's website
June 2006. - AMD was migrating all of its processors to Socket AM2 motherboards, but Socket 939 Athlon 64 processors were still available.
AMD's Socket AM2 processors have an on-board memory controller that supports the DDR2 RAM.
In November 2007, the AMD Socket AM2+ quad-core processors called the Phenom arrived on the market.
AMD's Socket AM3 processors and the motherboards that run them were made available on February 9, 2009.
Visit the Processor Sockets section of this website for more information an the socket types used by AMD and Intel, which Wikipedia provides in-depth information on.
Note that the Information on the new Socket AM3+ AMD FX (Bulldozer) processors, released in October 2011 and available in 4-, 6- and 8-core models, was scant in November 2011 when this page was updated. The information provided on Socket AM3+ was inaccurate on the Wikipedia article on Socket AM3, which did not have a page devoted to AM3+. AMD's official stance is that an Socket AM3+ motherboard is required to run the FX processors; that they are not backward-compatible with Socket AM3 motherboards.
You can download the user manual for the Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H Socket AM2+/AM2 motherboard in the PDF format from Gigabyte's website.
There is only one x16 PCI Express slot for a PCI-E video card, but other PCI Express motherboards can have short x1 and x2 PCI Express slots for devices other than a video card. The four SATA ATA headers are for four SATA hard disk drives. The BIOS battery is in the bottom middle of the board next to the middle PCI slot. The board runs AMD Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX processors which have an onboard memory controller instead of making use of a memory controller built into the motherboard itself. To run the RAM memory in dual-channel mode, two modules have to be installed in either the blue or black DIMM slots. This motherboard has an inbuilt PCI Express video/graphics chip - the ATI Radeon XPRESS 200. Unusually, its chipset is also made by AMD/ATI. Unusual because the company doesn't usually produce motherboard chipsets.
The IEEE 1394 Port is a FireWire 400 port. The VGA Port is for a CRT or LCD monitor. The RJ-45 LAN Port can be used to cable the computer with this motherboard to a network, or it can be used for a broadband modem. The S-Video Port and Composite Out ports are used to connect the computer to devices such as a VCR video recorder. The four bottom ports, including the coaxial S/PDIF Port, are for sound, which are dealt with on the Sound section of this website.