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A video explanation
A motherboard by itself is useless, but a computer has to have one to operate. The motherboard's main job is to hold the computer's microprocessor chip and let everything else connect to it. Everything that runs the computer or enhances its performance is either part of the motherboard or plugs into it via a slot or port.
The shape and layout of a motherboard is called the form factor. The form factor affects where individual components go and the shape of the computer's case. There are several specific form factors that most PC motherboards use so that they can all fit in standard cases. For a comparison of form factors, past and present, check out Motherboards.org.
The form factor is just one of the many standards that apply to motherboards. Some of the other standards include:
The slots and ports found on a motherboard include:
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