The motherboard serves as the central circuit hub that connects all the peripherals and components of a computer. It also regulates the power received by the hard drive, graphics card, CPU and system memory from the power supply. It is a key piece of computer hardware that can be viewed as the "backbone" of the entire computer system.
The motherboard has a few built-in components like the system bus, the BIOS, the CMOS and the chipset. It also has several ports and sockets including the Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE), Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Universal Serial Bus (USB), Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) and the RAM slots. The motherboard controls external data flow via the IDE and USB ports and directs the data to the hard disk.
The layout and shape of the main board is referred to as the form factor. The form factor acts as a defining standard for motherboards and determines where specific components will fit, the power supply and the type of case. All three must be compatible for the entire system to work.
Different motherboards support different types of video cards, disk drives, memory, CPUs and other peripherals. Component compatibility with the connector types and slots available on the motherboard should be a key consideration when replacing any faulty parts or assembling a computer.