Is a motherboard an input or output device?

It’s important to understand what type of device a motherboard is because it is one of the essential components of a computer. Without it, communication between different parts of your computer would be impossible. 

A motherboard is not an input or an output device, it is a printed circuit board that connects all of the components of your computer. It allows the different elements of your device to communicate with one another. The motherboard sends and receives information, however in the context of computer devices it would not be considered an input or output device. 

Let’s take a closer look at what a motherboard is and understand why it is not an input or output device.

What is a motherboard?

Conductive trace layers on a motherboard

The motherboard is the main printed circuit board (PCB) in computers and other electrical devices. It allows communication between the different components and devices such as the central processing unit (CPU), memory (hard drive and RAM), and video card. The motherboard is the backbone of your computer and also contains connectors for devices like USB flash drives and CD & DVD drives.

Motherboards are made specifically for certain processors. It means you can’t interchange them with different brands before checking compatibility otherwise you’ll get the blue screen of death when you start your computer. In contrast, memory components like hard drives and RAM tend to work with all motherboards.

The base of your motherboard is a rigid non-conductive material like plastic which has a layer of traces printed onto the sheet. These narrow traces are made with a conductive material like copper or aluminum and form the connections between the different components. 

The main functions of a motherboard are to:

  • Connect the CPU, memory, various drives, sound card, graphics card plus other ports and expansion cards.
  • Allow other devices to connect and interface with one another 
  • Provide power to the different units 
  • Act as a hub to allow components to send and receive information through the motherboard

Is a motherboard an input or output device?

Image of an NEC motherboard

In computing terms, a motherboard is not an input or an output device, it is the central printed circuit board that allows all other components of a computer to communicate. The motherboard brings all the parts of your computer together. The CPU, memory, graphics & sound cards, and various other drivers all plug into the motherboard. 

The motherboard facilitates communication by allowing information and power to pass to the various elements of your devices. It uses conductive aluminum or copper traces to allow devices to communicate with each other. There are also various ports that memory and graphics cards can plug into. 

There are various input and output components that make up the motherboard. Input devices include the temperature and power sensors, while output devices include the components that control the clock speed. There are also input/output components like the real-time clock that can be both read and set. 

However, it is not referred to as an input or output device in computing terms because these are not its primary function. The motherboard’s primary role is to allow all of the other components to communicate and work together.

Think of the motherboard in a similar way to the engine of your car. It consumes fuel and produces the power that enables the other devices to work. It is essentially the focal point to which everything else in the computer connects. 

Input and output devices on the motherboard

The motherboard houses the most important elements of your favorite devices and without it, they would not be able to function. The components that sit on the motherboard are input, output, memory, or processing devices. It facilitates the input and output of information, but the motherboard is not an input or output device itself. 

A typical input device like a scanner plugs into the motherboard via external connectors. The same is true for output devices like speakers. These two components do not communicate directly with each other. Instead, information is sent to the CPU by the input component, processed accordingly, then sent to the output component. If data needs to be sent or retrieved from memory, the CPU will also handle this. With all of these input and output devices, the motherboard is essential as it is the narrow conductive traces that pass all the information.

Is a motherboard a storage device?

A motherboard is not a storage device, it is the main circuit board of a computer that enables all the other components to communicate and function correctly. The motherboard is the chassis and engine of an electronic device, while the CPU is the brain of the operation. Hard drives and random access memory (RAM) plug into the motherboard but this does not make it a storage device. 

The motherboard in any electronic device ties every other part of the system together. It powers them and enables them all to talk to one another. The motherboard isn’t as ‘clever’ as the CPU which processes and sends data, but it enables the CPU to function. 

Storage devices are compatible with pretty much any computer. Switching a hard drive or RAM from one system to another usually doesn’t cause too many complications. In contrast, motherboards are designed to work with specific processors and have specifically built-in sound and graphics cards. Using the wrong processor with the wrong motherboard will cause your computer to crash. 

Resources