Technology Explained

6 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your PC Motherboard

Georgina Torbet Updated 10-04-2020

When your PC is getting slow and it’s time to upgrade it, you might wonder: Should I upgrade my motherboard? It is an essential component of your system, but it’s not always easy to know when you should upgrade your motherboard. Replacing the motherboard can be expensive, but it can also bring you benefits in terms of speed, hardware support, and better graphics support.


We’ll explain some reasons why you should upgrade your motherboard and some considerations to keep in mind when you do.

1. For Faster CPUs

If your CPU is rather new, the performance gains that come from upgrading to a newer one are going to be fairly minimal. If you have a processor that’s three or more years old, however, you’re going to notice massive gains jumping to a newer processor.

But to do that, you’ll need a motherboard that supports the upgrade.

On another note, if you’re upgrading for the sake of gaming, save your money and upgrade your graphics card instead. Most modern games lean more heavily on your GPU than your CPU.

2. For Faster RAM

Making the upgrade to newer iterations of RAM requires a motherboard that will support those new RAM modules. If you’re currently using DDR3, for example, you can’t make the jump to DDR4 or the newer DDR5 without swapping out the motherboard and the CPU first.


The performance increase between iterations of RAM, however, isn’t all that mind-blowing. If speed is the sole reason for the upgrade, rethink where you’re spending your money.

3. For Better Graphics Cards

All of the above reasons are good, but in my opinion, this is the single greatest reason to upgrade your motherboard.

If you’re a gamer or video editor, a new CPU/motherboard combination and a higher-performance GPU will make your PC feel like an entirely different machine. Games will run faster and with less lag, all while letting you increase the in-game settings to run at more graphically-intense levels than your previous card. (Depending on when you last upgraded, that is.)

If you’re not a gamer, and you’re more of a casual internet user, the best bang for your buck is going to be a RAM or SSD upgrade, and you can skip GPU upgrades altogether.


4. For Faster Data Transfers

Making the upgrade to SATA III or USB 3.0 increases the transfer speed of data from one piece of hardware to another. For example, SATA III has a maximum rated speed of 6Gbps and USB 3.0 tops out at 5Gbps. Both are fast enough for simple file and data transfers, but the highest-end SSDs top out around 2Gbps in terms of transfer speed. Most don’t even hit that mark.

There are other considerations at play, such as SATA III being faster than USB 3.0 due to drive options like native queuing, and USB 3.0’s disadvantage of being a shared bus.

But the reality of the matter is that while both are fast enough for what you’ll need them to do, neither will hit their max speeds. You’ll probably have to upgrade your motherboard on an older system in order to use them.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in upgrade land, however. For those of you that don’t have a lot of experience in building your own PCs and don’t typically catch on to written tutorials all that quickly, you may be spending additional cash to fix novice mistakes.


5. You Have Damaged Parts

Damaged motherboards are an infrequent but huge problem. Snapped pins, disconnected plugs, static electricity discharge, and other issues will all lead you back to the repair shop to buy new plugs, or, hopefully, to get a professional installation.

Same thing goes for fire damage, smoke damage, water damage, and even physical trauma from impact.

Remember, the CPU/motherboard upgrade is one of the most expensive upgrades you can make to your existing PC.

If you aren’t confident in your ability to match up parts or to correctly piece everything together once you’re in the midst of your build, it’s always going to be best to opt for a professional installation rather than the cost of replacing damaged hardware.


6. You Want New Features

Finally, you might not think about motherboards as things which come with exciting features. But there are technological developments in the world of motherboards. And you may want to upgrade to take advantage of these.

For example, you might want to use an M.2 SSD What Is an M.2 SSD? The Pros, Cons, and How to Install One Want your operating system to run even faster? The answer is to use an M.2 SSD drive. Here's what you need to know. Read More . This is a very small format SSD which screws directly into your motherboard. But you’ll need a motherboard which supports M.2 drives for this to work. Or perhaps you want a computer which supports fast transfers via Thunderbolt 3, in which case you’ll need a motherboard with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

Finally, if you’re looking to squeeze a bit more performance from your system, or you’re just looking to learn, you might want to try overclocking your CPU. To do this, you’ll need not only an overclockable CPU, but also a motherboard which supports overclocking.

Beware of Issues With Compatibility

To facilitate an upgrade, you’ll need to match up your new hardware to your existing hardware — or you can go buy a set of all new equipment.

The most crucial bit is that the motherboard and CPU must match. More specifically, the motherboard CPU socket needs to match that of the CPU’s socket. For example, if the motherboard supports LGA 1150, your CPU must support that as well.

There are other considerations too, such as BIOS compatibility, TDP support, and the number of SATA ports. You can use online sites like PC Part Picker, which is an invaluable resource for first-time PC builders PC Part Picker: An Invaluable Resource for First-Time PC Builders Planning to build a PC but not really sure how to get compatible parts? Here's how to use PC Part Picker for an easier build. Read More , to check whether your parts are compatible with each other.

Choosing the Right RAM

Remember that the option of DDR3, DDR4 and the emergence of DDR5 RAM means that you’ll have to take extra caution to ensure that your motherboard/CPU combo is capable of handling the specified memory you select. If it’s not, you’ll need to upgrade. Unfortunately, there isn’t a workaround for this one, but you can write it off as a learning experience.

The RAM’s frequencies and voltage must also match up to the motherboard’s desired range. 1,333, 1,600, 1,866, 2,133 and 2,400MHz with voltages of 1.65v should match up equally to the stated range of the motherboard.

Meaning, if you have 2,400MHz RAM and use it with a 2,133MHz CPU at 1.65v, you could run into compatibility issues that could be detrimental to performance or lead to machine failure.

Watch Out for Bottlenecks When Upgrading Your Motherboard

Remember, the motherboard connects to the CPU, RAM, HDD, GPU, and other hardware, so it’s not only important to ensure compatibility, but also that you aren’t experiencing a bottleneck in the system somewhere.

No matter how fast your CPU/motherboard combination is, it’s still reliant on existing adapter cards that control video, storage, and processing speed (as it relates to RAM). If any of these items are on their last legs, incompatible, or lagging behind in performance, your entire machine can slow to a crawl with or without the new CPU/motherboard combo.

To learn more about how to avoid bottlenecks, see our guide to how to pick the right components for building your next PC How to Pick the Right Components for Building Your Next PC Building a PC is challenging, but get the hardware balance right and the result can be a computer that is as powerful as you need. Read More .

Related topics: Building PCs, Computer Maintenance, Computer Memory, CPU, Graphics Card, Hardware Tips, Motherboard.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. dragonmouth
    April 10, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    The title is a bit misleading. Yes, it is recommended to replace the m/b every few years. However, to take full advantages of the features of the new m/b, most, if not all, the hardware needs to be replaced also. So the title should be "5 Reasons to Replace Your Hardware."

  2. oshonuga mutiat
    October 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    u guys are wonderful problem solver

  3. Joseph Obeng
    January 25, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Does a computer motherboard makes it quad core or dual core??

    • Kenneth
      April 25, 2018 at 6:32 pm

      Neither. That relief on the architecture of the CPU

  4. Alex
    December 29, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hi, I have a Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P which served me well with a Phenom II X4965 Black, along with Saphire Radeon 4890 1 GB and 6 GB DDR Kingston.
    Haven't played games in the past 3-4 years or so and now when I want to play GTA 5 or Dishonored 2 or Doom 2016 I'm disappointed by the performance.
    So time for an upgrade, but not an expensive one.
    I was thinking for: ASUS M5A97 R2.0, SAPPHIRE Radeon™ RX 480 NITRO OC, AMD FX X8 8350 4000MHz, HyperX FURY Black 8GB DDR3 1866MHz.

    For the time being I will stay with my Recom 550 Plus, and 1 TB WD.

    What do you think, is this a worthy enough upgrade in my limited budget?

  5. James
    December 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    "...a new CPU/motherboard combination and a higher-performance GPU will make your PC feel like an entirely different machine..." lol, well that's pretty much everything bar the case and power supply so I guess it would do! :)

    I'm also building my first new machine in about 10 years (have been making do with work cast offs and hand me down graphics cards). Managed to pick up 16GB of Corsair Vengeance Pro 2400Mhz for £65!! from amazon to go with Z97 motherboard (£62) and i5 4690k (£177). No money left for a new GPU and monitor, so it will be interesting to see if this platform upgrade (from Intel Q9400 cpu + LGA775 Mobo) will give me some extra life/performance from my aging GTX 560ti while I save my pennies for the GPU upgrade.

    • ThomasJamal
      March 11, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. A new CPU/motherboard combination and a higher-performance GPU IS an entirely different machine.

  6. Anonymous
    December 1, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I usually replace my system every four or five years. Money is the main consideration for this as I live on a fixed income from a pitiful disability check.

    This also usually means I constrain myself to the cheaper of things I can find that are still sort of cutting-edge or at least close to it.

    AMD cpu's, budget nvidia gpu'd video cards, etc. I personally see nothing great or good enough about SSD's to spend the amount of money they cost for one as my sata hdd's do just fine (especially the nice and fast WD Black 1TB hdd I have).

    As for of yet, since using and working on computers since 1993, I've yet to see any real value in installing gobs of RAM in any 32bit system. I've not once in all these years had any addition to the amount of RAM I started with in my system do anything making the spending of that money worth it (Except for my very first computer, I *ALWAYS* build my own so I know *EXACTLY* what's in my system, how it's configured, what parts I want and the case configuration will work for any future mods).

    • Anonymous
      December 6, 2015 at 12:00 am

      I'm a lot like you in that I go about the same time in between builds, and I never buy bleeding edge stuff. That philosophy of not having to have the *best* (read: newest and most expensive) works in a lot of other areas cars and clothes come to mind.

      I did go nuts on my last build in 2012 though and I used an Intel Core I5, my first Intel CPU ever since I started building in 1995. But it definitely wasn't the latest and fastest, and I shopped shopped shopped til I knew I had found a bargain price.

      Keep it up, man. Way more people than you know think like you do. Every upgrade is fantastic, no matter what it is or how little it costs, because it's better than what you had.

  7. Anonymous
    November 30, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    I replace my main desktop every two years or so. I'm on a Haswell-E CPU and an M.2 SSD already, and absolutely nothing is in the pipe for the near future to make me think I should be thinking about any sort of a switch. I don't see Skylake-E or Cannonlake (the next desktop CPU revisions) doing anything exciting enough to make me upgrade, so I'm probably going to be on my current machine for quite some time.

    • Anonymous
      November 30, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      I, on the other hand, built my current machine in 2009. I don't game on it... it's mostly USENET downloads and remoting into my work computer on off hours, so it's been able to get by with the only real upgrade being a bump to 12gb of memory. It mostly just sits there, semi-quietly and serves up my media via Plex.

      That being said, 2016 is the year of the new build for me.