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What Makes Laptops Work - The Laptop Motherboard

Learn more about what makes up your laptop motherboard.


The motherboard (aka mobo) on a laptop computer is unlike desktop computers as it is built with video chips, audio chips and processors assembled and integrated with the motherboard. These elements are not upgradeable by the user and you must look closely at the specifications for each part of the motherboard to be sure you are getting what is best for you.

Audio Chips & Speakers

Again the audio chip is an integrated component and the speakers are built right into the system. Good quality audio chips will have additional software that can enhance the sound or there are third-party programs available that will make listening to your music a better experience. The speakers will not be the same quality that you get from external speakers, although that is changing with higher end laptops. You can also use external spearkers to make it easier to hear audio content or when there are others who need to hear it.


The actual brains behind how well your laptop operates is not sadly the person using the laptop but the processor contained within. There are processors which have been designed specifically for laptops; they are optimized to reduce heat and save energy. Laptops now have processors which operate just as fast as desktops. When deciding which laptop to purchase, select one which has the fastest processor that you can afford. The processor is not an upgradeable item in a laptop and if you purchase a laptop with a slow processor you could regret it in the future. Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core Duo are the fastest of the processors and the majority of new laptops will have this type of processor.


Ram is random access memory and this is an internal component that in some laptops can be upgraded. Laptops use SODIMM (small outline dual in-line memory module) which is different than desktop RAM and more expensive. It is noticeably smaller than desktop RAM and is normally 2" x 1" with 144 pins. RAM can be specific to laptop manufacturers and models. You can't mix types of RAM with your laptop. Some laptops require that you install RAM in matched pairs. For a system that has 512MB of RAM, that is composed of two sticks of 256MB RAM 2 GB is the minimum you should get. When purchasing your laptop have the RAM upgraded before you purchase.

Video Chips

Video chips are integrated on the motherboard and are specific to different models and manufacturers also use different grades of video chips on their laptops. Lower price models have lower end video chips and high price models have high end video chips. The video chips in laptops have been optimized to use less power and can either have dedicated RAM or share RAM with the rest of your laptop system. NOTE - If you will be needing your laptop for multi-media or heavy graphics work, select a laptop which has a video chip with dedicated RAM. Your system will run much faster and smoother.

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