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If you've ever taken the case off of a computer, you've seen the one piece of equipment that ties everything together -- the motherboard. A motherboard allows all the parts of your computer to receive power and communicate with one another.

­­­Motherboards have come a long way in the­ last twenty years. The first motherboards held very few actual components. The first IBM PC motherboard had only a processor and card slots. Users plugged components like floppy drive controllers and memory into the slots.

Today, motherboards typically boast a wide variety of built-in features, and they directly affect a computer's capabilities and potential for upgrades.

In this article, we'll look at the general components of a motherboard. Then, we'll closely examine five points that dramatically affect what a computer can do.