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ADVICE ON BUYING A MOTHERBOARD
ALL-IN-ONE MOTHERBOARDS
Last updated:
12/20/99

Most Pentium motherboards integrate the hard disk and floppy disk interfaces, serial and parallel ports, PS/2 mouse interface, universal serial bus, and an IR interface on the motherboard. This is fine, if they work and can be totally deactivated--in particular, the serial ports. Most users will find them adequate and will not attempt to incorporate plug-in boards to replace these functions.

All-in-one motherboards go further and include such things as the display adapter and sound circuitry. This isn't so fine as far as I am concerned. They make the motherboard more complicated, harder to control when installing expansion boards, vulnerable to failure, add to its replacement cost, and slow it down. Although, there have been attempts at establishing industry standards for all-in-one motherboards, many are manufacturer-specific, do not fit in widely-available, generic computer cases, and very costly to replace--if you can find a replacement. Sound functions, in particular, can add more unchangeable interrupts to the system and can spell problems even if the function is deactivated. I have seen computers with blown display adapters on the motherboard that could not repaired or jumpered out.  There are motherboards with on-board video which use main memory for functions which would otherwise use video memory on a plug-in display adaptor, and very noticeably slow everything down. 

There are many verities of plug-in boards which perform these functions and add to the choices a user has when buying and upgrading a computer.  Also, I like to upgrade my computer in smaller increments. In conclusion, I don't recommend all-in-one motherboards, computers that use these motherboards, or getting yourself boxed-out of the competitive generic computer market. Buy a motherboard that does not have integrated video and sound.  Buy a generic motherboard.

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