Looking at the Motherboard as a Backbone
The motherboard is the backbone of the system, in our case it's a C7B250-CB-ML that Supermicro donated for this guide.
So let's take a look at this affordable B250 chipset motherboard. Supermicro's SuperO brand is all about server quality parts in consumer hardware, and it makes SuperO motherboards quite interesting and different from other motherboards in regards to quality and component selection.
We found our first jumper near the 8-pin CPU power plug; the motherboard has many jumpers used to enable or disable features, so you don't need to enter the BIOS. The purpose of the blue jumper here is to enable standby power. The VRM here is basic but uses excellent components including server-grade inductors and integrated power stages not typically found on motherboards in the sub-$150 range. SuperO did add a stylized heat sink to cool down the phases responsible for CPU VCore.
The first x16 slot is routed directly to the CPU, the x4 and x1 slots are routed to the PCH. All PCI-E lanes use the latest PCI-E 3.0, the x4 and x1 are open-ended allowing you to install longer cards, however, will use less bandwidth.
The rear IO features a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, two USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, four USB 3.0 ports, 1Gbit LAN, and 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF out. There are also six SATA 6Gb/s ports.
We get one USB 2.0 internal header, one USB 3.0 internal header, and one COM port header. The front case panel headers are found to the left of a TPM header.
A single M.2 slot sits right below the CPU socket; it ONLY supports PCI-E/NVMe based SSDs. There is also a front panel HD audio header, and we also find one important jumper to the right of the audio header. The motherboard offers USB BIOS recovery, and the JBR1 jumper can enable that feature in case your BIOS becomes corrupted, or a BIOS flash fails.
A Realtek ALC888S audio codec is used to produce audio. ELNA audio capacitors and clean audio routing should produce decent output. We find that Supermicro used the i219v PHY for Intel Gbit LAN, this is the most recent Intel PHY for Gbit LAN.
Monolithic Power Systems produces high-quality DC/DC components. An MP2955A is used as a VR13 capable multi-rail multi-phase PWM controller supporting up to 6 phases. Surprisingly we find MP86905 Intelli-Phase 50A integrated power stages, which are better than what we find on many Z200 and Z300 chipset motherboards that cost over $150. We do get the minimum phase count for the CPU and iGPU, but extremely high current rated power stages, so it should work excellently. We also get inductors from Cooper Bussmann rated for 50A as well.
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- Page 1 [Our Mission and Part Selection]
- Page 2 [Looking at the Motherboard as a Backbone]
- Page 3 [Putting It Together]
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