For decades, I’ve been constructing PCs from the ground up, and the motherboard has always been a vital component—especially in gaming PCs. Gamers expect more performance and frequently push the envelope, whereas a casual PC user may not be as concerned. Higher frame rates in first-person shooters can be the difference between a great game and one that is dull, choppy, and unpleasant.
Motherboards used to be very similar with gaming platforms, including higher-end graphics cards, back in the day. Things have evolved so dramatically that gaming motherboards are no longer comparable to standard PC motherboards (despite the fact that they are still very similar).
Examining a few of the most recent gaming PC motherboards is the easiest method to see the differences. The first is the Super Microcomputer (Supermicro) C7Z170-SQ motherboard (Fig. 1), which is optimised for Intel’s sixth-generation Skylake LGA 1151 processors.
1.The C7Z170-SQ motherboard from Supermicro can accommodate Intel’s unlocked Skylake LGA 1151-based CPUs, enabling for performance overclocking.
The tiny distinctions begin with a high-quality PCB made of woven E-glass that has been covered in epoxy resin. During combined with heavier copper traces, this allows for enhanced signal integrity, especially when overclocking. Overclocking is the process of driving the processor at higher clock rates than usual. If not addressed by other means, such as better heat sinks that include water-cooled solutions, this normally raises operating temperatures, which can shorten processor life.
Overclocking is not possible on all processor chips. A CPU chip, such as the Intel Core i7 6600K, is usually “unlocked.” Similarly, the motherboard will need to support user-selectable non-standard clock rates.
On gaming motherboards, power supply capacitors are also an important component. The C7Z170-SQ only uses ceramic chip capacitors of the X5R or X7R class, and there are several hundred per motherboard. A faulty capacitor can result in sporadic operation or a motherboard that is fully dead.
Gaming motherboards also have higher-quality sockets than standard motherboards. In comparison to the standard 2 micron gold plating found on ordinary condensers, the C7Z170-SQ uses a thicker 15-micron gold plating.
2.Along with x1 PCI Express connections, the Intel Z170 Express Chipset adds audio, USB, and Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The CPU chip has memory and x16 PCI Express connections.
With gaming motherboards, the choice of supported processor chip set is important because it dictates the possible peripheral complement. The Intel Z170 Express Chipset is used in the C7Z170-SQ. Gigabit Ethernet, up to 20 extra x1 PCI Express connections, six SATA connectors, ten USB 3.0 ports, fourteen USB 2.0 ports, and high-definition 7.1 audio are all included. The HD audio is combined with a Realtek ALC1150 multichannel DAC in the C7Z170-SQ (digital-to-analog-converter).
Only a few peripheral ports are visible, including all six 6 Gbit/s SATA ports, an Ethernet port, six USB 3.0 connectors, and six USB 2.0 ports. An second chip provides a 10 Gbit/s USB 3.1 port, which is connected to a USB Type-C connector on the back panel.
The diagram depicts how the processor chip can be configured to accommodate an x16, a pair of x8, or an x8 and two x4 lane arrangement. A gaming PC usually has numerous x16 slots for video cards, which are connected to the x16 interface through PCI Express switch chips. Only one of the three PCI-E 3.0 x16 sockets on the C7Z170-SQ has an x16 connection. One is an x4 and the other is an x8, however the x16 is used as an x8 connection.
One is an x4 and the other is an x8, however the x16 is used as an x8 connection. There are three x4 sockets, one of which only accepts x1 connections.
For merging several GPU boards into a single system, some gaming motherboards enable AMD’s Crossfire and NVidia’s SLI (scalable link interface). This enables a group of GPUs to control a single set of monitors at a higher frame rate and resolution. The PCI Express switch on these motherboards is usually larger, providing x16 connectivity to three PCI Express x16 sockets. The problem is to make full use of all available bandwidth; otherwise, the additional potential throughput will be wasted.
3.The 256 Gbyte SM951 M.2 module from Samsung can be plugged into the Supermicro C7Z170-SQ motherboard’s M.2 socket.
The M.2 socket is one change that is showing up in modern motherboards. The M.2 is unique in that it supports SATA, x1 PCI Express, and x4 PCI Express connections. It requires motherboard and M.2 board support that is compatible. A x4 PCI Express-based NVMe interface is used in Samsung’s 256 Gbyte SM951 M.2 module (Fig. 3). It would not function in a socket that only supported SATA, but it would work in a socket with an x1 PCI Express interface because PCI Express can adjust to the number of available lanes.
4.The back panel of the Supermicro C7Z170-SQ includes video (HDMI, DVI, and Display Port), HD audio, Ethernet, and USB interfaces, including a Type-C port.
A gaming motherboard’s rear panel resembles that of a standard motherboard. The back panel of the Supermicro C7Z170-SQ. It still has a PS/2 port for an older keyboard or mouse. The built-in video support drives HDMI, DVI, and Display Port connectors. The majority of non-gamers would use one of these, but most gamers would instal a video card with its own output. Even yet, in a multi-screen setup, the built-in interfaces can be handy.
The tiny USB Type-C connection to the left of the six audio plugs on the right side is dwarfed by the rest of the ports.
Keeping a Gaming PC Cool
Now it’s time to take a step back and consider cooling. This is usually an add-on component of the gaming system, such as a second GPU board. A heat sink is required at the very least for a PC processor, and high-end processors such as the Core i7 utilised by gamers are particularly hot. The bare minimum is a huge heatsink and fan, however liquid cooling is frequently utilised because it is more efficient and can manage the extra heat generated by overclocking.
5. A 280-mm radiator and dual SP140L PWM fans are used in the Hydro Series H110i GT all-in-one liquid CPU cooler.
Corsair’s Hydro Series H110i GT is one example. A 280-mm radiator and two SP140L PWM fans are included. The heat exchange unit, which sits atop the processor, is connected to it via tubes. Although the whole liquid cooling solution is larger, it has a lower profile than conventional forced air solutions.
Corsair Link is supported by the H110i GT. The system temperature monitor may now change the colour of the LED illumination on many gaming PC chassis.
6.A 240-mm liquid cooling system can be mounted on top of the Supermicro S5 chassis.
A gaming PC’s chassis is especially important because it houses both the motherboard and the cooling system. The Supermicro S5 chassis. It can accommodate 240-mm or 280-mm cooling systems, such as the Corsair Hydro Series H105 or the H110i. The chassis can support up to nine big fans at the same time.
The use of liquid cooling for the processor is only the beginning. Other chips on the motherboard, such as the GPU(s), memory, and support chips, can get rather heated and require cooling. The GigabyteGA-Z170X-SOC FORCE is one of several motherboards from Gigabyte that are compatible with the latter. You can also check out best am4 motherboard
The support heat sinks have G1/4 thread fittings on them, allowing them to be connected to a system liquid cooling system that can include the processor, GPU(s), and RAM.
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7. The support heat sinks of the GigabyteGA-Z170X-SOC FORCE have G1/4 thread fittings, allowing them to be connected to a system liquid cooling system that can include the processor, GPU(s), and RAM.
The radiator is shared by all of the cooling system’s devices. The various components are connected via tubes, and liquid flows through the entire system. If GPU video boards are to be incorporated in the cooling system, they must have corresponding support.
The UEFI BIOS (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface)
A UEFI BIOS is one feature that will be featured on all new motherboards. A UEFI BIOS enables larger storage devices and incrementally improves the functionality of new devices. Secure boot is one of the features it provides.
Most non-gaming PC motherboards can be utilised to play high-end games, and adding a GPU board can assist, but if you want the finest gaming experience, a gaming motherboard will be worth the money.