PC Mainboard Identification

Every now and then, we see questions in the PC911 Forum regarding identification of the mainboard installed in a PC

Many users simply don't know the make and model of the mainboard (motherboard or mobo) that their systems are built around. Does this really matter? No ... not unless and until something goes wrong where you need that info to effect a repair. Or, until you decide to perform some DIY system upgrade and suddenly you need to know something specific about the board.

If all was done according to Hoyle when you purchased your system, you received some sort of documentation with it. Many times, that documentation will include at least a spec sheet itemizing the individual components, and at best it will include a User's Guide or manual for the mobo.

Several types of system upgrades might require the user to have this documentation. Sometimes, you will need to change jumper or DIP switch settings when installing a processor of a different type or speed. Some memory changes will also require such changes. Then there are such tasks as enabling or disabling integrated sound, modem, and video features. Or, maybe you're just plain curious! If you find yourself in the position of needing to identify an unknown mainboard, fret not - there are several workable alternatives to throwing darts at a list of mobo makers.

In this article, I will concentrate on the American Megatrends and Award BIOS'es, as they are by far the ones most commonly used by modern desktop systems. I will address three basic methods for use in determining your mainboard manufacturer.

The "Lookatit" Method...

The first thing to do, and probably the last thing that many folks think of, is to simply "look at it". Many mobo makers will screen-print their ID right on the board. Ideally this ID will be on the upper (visible) surface of the board, but this is often not the case with "generic" mobo's. With some of these boards, if they are ID'ed at all, it is on the lower surface, which is normally not visible on an installed board.

Look carefully at the entire surface of the board, including those areas that may be hidden behind drives, cables, or the power supply. Many boards are labeled between their expansion slots. Another common location on newer boards is in the area of the CPU slot or socket. Also, be aware that while the board may not have its maker's name showing, it just may have its model name or number printed there for all the world to see.

While you are searching the board for make and model info, take a minute to note the location of any jumpers or DIP switches on the board. If you are doing an upgrade requiring resetting any of these devices, it will help to know where they are located. Figures 1A through 1E illustrate the mainboard identification schemes used on four different mainboards.

Figure 1A - Two model numbers on same board, on side of ISA slot

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