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A motherboard is certainly a complicated and important component in your computer system. The choice should not be made lightly, but it should also not be too difficult. It is more important to choose the proper CPU, memory and I/O devices (video cards, hard drives, etc.) and then find the motherboard that supports them. It is not important to know every nuance of every chipset, but it is a good idea to have a general idea about the major features each provides. It is very important to know what your particular needs and requirements are, in terms of hardware support, and what applications you will be running. It is also important to purchase a motherboard based upon more than just price, since a poorly-functioning or defective motherboard will render the entire system next to useless.
You should not let anyone else's recommendations determine what motherboard is best for you unless you know that his or her requirements match yours. Computers are very personal items, and every person uses his or hers slightly differently than everyone else, and has different performance requirements as well (remember, performance isn't just about speed). A search of the various hardware newsgroups will show that there are very happy users of motherboards the hardware sites (and many "expert" users) have rated extremely poorly - because the board satisfied their needs. Bottom line: learn how to make your own choices, and don't rely upon an "expert" that has no idea what your needs are.
Dean Kent is the webmaster of Real World Technologies and a software engineer for Sterling Software's Storage Management Division. He has been involved in the computer industry for over 20 years, working with both hardware and software on mainframes, minicomputers and PCs. He recently closed his retail hardware business and is focusing his energies on hardware and software issues concerning IT professionals, and on current computer technologies. In addition to maintaining his own site, Dean rewrote the RAM guide on Tom's Hardware Guide.
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