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What elements are responsible for the compatibility between Motherboard and Video Card and motherboard and Hard Drive, respectively?

Are there any other factors that need to be taken into consideration except the PCI Interface and SATA interface? Maybe form factor (2.5"/3.5")?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Regarding physical mounting of drives, there are brackets that let you put 3.5 inch devices into a 5 inch bay, I would imagine there are adapters and such to put 2.5 inch (and possibly 1.8) devices into a 3.5 bay. Worst comes to worst, get creative with some case modding.

The following factors affect what video card you can put into a specific motherboard:

  • Mainly: slot type, this is either ISA (very obsolete), PCI (ancient - for video cards), AGP (legacy), and PCIe (current). If your video card is PCIe x16 and your motherboard only has an AGP slot, it won't work obviously.
  • If the motherboard has an nVidia chipset I'd be wary of installing an ATI graphics card and vice versa.

The following factors affect what hard drives you can use with a specific motherboard

  • Port type: this is either ISA MFM/RLL (very obsolete), EIDE (getting pretty legacy), and SATA. There are PCI IDE "paddleboards" and PCI/PCIe SATA expansion cards, so if you are missing ports on your motherboard or need more ports you can add them if you have PCI/PCIe slots. Not to mention there's a plethora of USB enclosures for both IDE and SATA drivers.
  • Some old (1990's era) BIOSes had issues booting or accessing data from hard drives above specific capacities. This is usually no longer a concern.
  • Real old 286/386 motherboards around the late 80's when the ATA standard was more in flux might have had some issues with specific brands of drives or using two different brands in a master/slave combination. This hasn't really been an issue since the mid-90's.

The chipset or "Super I/O" chip on a motherboard is responsible for communication between the hard drives and CPU.

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Thank you, very helpful post. – glass Nov 19 '11 at 14:01

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