Motherboard vs CPU: What’s the Difference?

By looking at the physical structure of the components motherboard and processor, you may find the difference in design and architecture. But, what’s the actual difference between motherboard and CPU, and why they aren’t coming combinedly like GPU?

The motherboard connects all the computer parts for power supply and signal transmission whereas the CPU process these signals and gives the result that we want.

The motherboard connects with all the other components and transfers the signals from input devices like the mouse, keyboard, etc to the output devices called monitor, speaker, etc.

The CPU role is in between the input and the output devices to process the transferring signals via Arithmetic and Logical operations and give the output result.

Along with the Arithmetic and Logical Unit (ALU), the Central Processing Unit (CPU) has the Control and Memory Unit. These two units will request the processor to perform how and when the operations need to be performed.

We can compare the motherboard and the CPU in different aspects. However, here is the table of comparisons so that you can understand the differences between them.

SpecificationMotherboardProcessor (CPU)
Product Dimensions12 * 9.6 inches or 305 * 244 mm (Standard ATX motherboard)Mostly square i.e., 37.5 * 37.5 mm
Unique PurposeAt present, motherboard replacement is nothing but building a new PCProcess the signal and perform Algorithmic and Logical operations
Data Accessing SpeedTransfer the signals with the speed of lightProcess the signal at high frequency i.e., 2.3 GHz, 3.0 GHz, etc.
TypesBTX, mini ATX, micro ATX, ITX, ATX, etcI5, i7, i9, etc from Intel and Ryzen 3, 5, 7, etc from AMD
Connectivity TypeIt gets the power supply from the PSU through 20, 24, 30, or other power pin connectorsThe processor gets the power supply direct from the motherboard
Installation PlaceThe motherboard needs to place inside the compatible CPU towerThe processor position is at the center of the motherboard with a proper locking system
Average Price$100$200
Power ConsumptionAnywhere between 100 to 150 Watts100 to 150 Watts
Component Replacement FeaturePresent, motherboard replacement is nothing but building a new PCExist. Processor replacement is possible according to the motherboard compatibility
Dependency StatusSome motherboards can work without the processorWithout a motherboard, the processor does nothing
WeightAnywhere between 250 to 500 grams50 to 100 grams
Elements used to manufactureGlass, Copper, Iron, Capacitors, Resistors, etcSemiconducting material Silicon
Component ColorBlack, Green, Red, and BlueGold color
DurabilityHigh compared to the processorVery sensitive
Motherboard vs CPU – Difference Table

These are the things that we need to consider in the comparison of motherboard and CPU. However, there are some other factors like cost of manufacturing, the technology used in manufacturing, time-consuming to manufacture, design, manufacture complexity, lifespan, etc.

All these things are unnecessary for a normal PC user. That’s why I’m not discussing all of them in detail. But, you should know more about the basic differences between the motherboard and the CPU.

Let’s find out the differences in detail.

Motherboard and CPU are Different in Architecture

You can easily find the architectural difference by just looking at both components.

The motherboard shape might be square or rectangular based on its type and model. In the olden days, the motherboard comes with fewer features and occupies more space in the CPU case. But nowadays, the mini and micro ATX boards are compact and highly efficient.

The motherboard comes with a 305 * 244 mm size and the processor size is 37.5 *37.5 mm. The processor position is on the motherboard and the motherboard position is inside the CPU case.

Motherboard Transfers but CPU Process Signals

The motherboard can transfer the signals from one component to another and the processor (CPU) can perform operations on these signals. Both are compulsory components of a computer.

Along with the processor, all the other components are also necessary and their speed also matters. And both the CPU and the motherboard depend on all other components like SSD, RAM, high-speed cables, etc, to perform well.

Here you can find the optional and compulsory parts of a computer.

Component priority:

As I said, both components are important in a computer. But when it comes to deciding on only one component for a computer, then it is the motherboard. Because it is possible for a motherboard to have a built-in processor. But in processors, it is hard to install the complete motherboard technology.

A computer without a motherboard:

Without a motherboard, it is not hard to transfer the signals from one component to another. The computer connections become more complex and it consumes more space. The price of the computer will rise and the efficiency will drop.

It is an old technique to use cables to connect each component in a computer. Especially on motherboards, we can find many components like inductors, capacitors, thyristors, PCIe buses, etc. It is hard for a normal PC user to connect all these small components.

There are different ways to find what motherboard we have in a computer.

What do computers do without processors?

The processor itself represents the process or function of the computer. The motherboard can hold small programs and perform small operations like BIOS setup, boot manager, etc, through the CMOS battery.

However, the motherboard can’t perform the operations that are required by the operating system. Hence we consider the processor as one of the compulsory components of a computer.

What happens when a motherboard comes with a built-in processor?

You are wrong when you think a motherboard that comes with a built-in processor is a good feature. The reason is, that a normal motherboard can support different processors, and it is completely our wish to choose the best compatible processor for your work under budget.

When the board manufacturer adds the CPU to the board, we don’t have any other option except to accept it. And the price of the board will raise.

Another main disadvantage is we need to change the motherboard (PC rebuild) when we want to change the processor. This is a completely money-consuming approach. To avoid all these problems, manufacturers design the board and the processor separately. 

The lifespan of the board and processor:

The motherboard can work well in the first five years from the manufacture date. In between 5 to 10 years, you can change or continue with the same motherboard based on the performance. After 10 years, it is highly recommended to change your motherboard because at this time the motherboard technology becomes outdated in the real world.

There is no rule to upgrading your motherboard after 10 years. But it is suggestible. If you are a light PC user, you can use the same motherboard for 20 years.

Here you can find what’s the right time to upgrade your computer motherboard.

When it comes to processors, you need to change or upgrade your processor only if required. If your PC performing well, what’s the need to change the processor? However, all these 5 years and 10 years goals are just recommendations.

Replacing the computer components (not only the motherboard and processor but all) is completely based on the performance.

  • If your PC turns off unwantedly, it is caused by overheating and the solution is to fix more fans
  • Likely, the slow computer needs the processor upgrade with more RAM
  • If the continuous Blue Screen of Death occurs, time to replace the motherboard.


Hope you find the required information about the comparison or differences between the motherboard and the processor. Whatever problem occurs on your computer, give the least priority to the component replacement.

We have a lot of ways to fix hardware issues. That’s what this website is all about. Hope you learn something today.

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