If you were to open up your computer, you would see a big circuit board along one side of the box. This is the motherboard. It is the main circuit board of your computer. The main parts of the motherboard are the BIOS, memory chips, the CPU chip, hard drive connections, PCI slots, sound card, graphics card, and various other connections. Some of these components are separate with only connections to them on the motherboard and others are a part of the motherboard. I will discuss these components in more detail in future issues.

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Symptoms of a bad motherboard range from a single component like the mouse not working to the entire computer not working. Before blaming the motherboard, you should check the related components. For example, if the mouse does not work, you should first try connecting another mouse to see if it is not just a bad mouse nytuesday.

The motherboard seldom goes bad but when it does it is usually replaced instead of repaired.

Cheaper computers have everything soldered to the motherboard so that if you want to replace the motherboard, you basically have to replace the entire computer. If your motherboard does not have components soldered to it, it may be feasible to replace it. A new motherboard costs around$100 and up. Motherboards come in different types and have different features. They are limited in the type of CPU and memory that they can take, so if you want a Pentium 4 CPU, you must get a Pentium 4 compatible motherboard.

Replacing a motherboard is doable, but not easy. If you make a mistake while replacing a motherboard it can ruin your entire computer, so unless you are experienced at working with computers or want to risk doing it on a spare computer, you should probably leave this to the repair shop. Usually by the time a motherboard goes out, it is time to upgrade anyway, so a better alternative to replacing a motherboard is buying a new computer.