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Chapter 29. Motherboards

This is where it all comes together. Everything we've talked about so far in this book is either part of, connects to, or comes from the motherboard. Without a motherboard, you would not have a computer. You'd just have a box, a few leftover parts, and a high degree of frustration. You wouldn't even have a jack to plug into.

Not only does the motherboard make your computer, but it also defines it. The components and circuits on the motherboard determine exactly what your computer can do and how fast it runs.

Nearly all computers and compatible computers share one common feature: They are built with a single, large printed circuit board as their foundation. In many cases, the big board—usually called the motherboard—essentially is the entire computer. Almost completely self-contained, the one board holds the most vital electronic components that define the computer: its microprocessor, support circuitry, memory, and often video and audio functions. Anything you want to add to your computer plugs into the expansion bus that's part of the motherboard. As such a basic element, the motherboard defines both the computer and its capabilities. The circuitry it contains determines the overall performance of your system. Without the motherboard, you wouldn't have a computer.

In a modern computer, the motherboard is the big green centerpiece inside the case. Each computer-maker essentially builds the rest of its computer around the motherboard. On the motherboard, the computer-makers put all the most important electrical circuits that make up the computer. The expansion bus on the motherboard provides a foundation for future expansion, adding new features and capabilities to your computer.

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