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CompTIA A+ Cert Guide: Motherboards, Processors, and Adapter Cards

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This chapter talks about some of the core components of the computer including the motherboard, processor, and adapter cards as they relate to a portion of CompTIA A+ 220-701 and 220-702 objectives.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter covers the following subjects:

  • Motherboards and Their Components—This section talks about the foundation of the computer, form factors, integrated ports and interfaces, memory slots, and expansion slots, and demonstrates how to install and troubleshoot motherboards.
  • Processors and CPUs—In this section you'll learn about the various types of processors available, their architecture and technologies, and installing and troubleshooting processors.
  • Installing Adapter Cards—This section demonstrates how to install video and sound cards, and how to troubleshoot common adapter card issues.

This chapter covers a portion of CompTIA A+ 220-701 objectives 1.2, 1.4, and 1.5, and CompTIA A+ 220-702 objectives 1.1 and 1.2.

In this chapter we'll talk about some of the core components of the computer—the guts of the computer—including the motherboard, processor, and adapter cards. Everything connects to the motherboard, so it stands to reason that proper planning and design of a PC, to a certain degree, starts with this component. Just as important is the processor. The processor (or CPU) is the "brain" of the computer and takes care of the bulk of the PC's calculations. Deciding on a CPU and motherboard should be the first tasks at hand when building a PC. Adapter cards are vital because they allow video, audio, and network capabilities. It is important to know how many and what type of adapter card slots are available on your motherboard before selecting specific adapter cards.

Within these pages you will learn how to install and troubleshoot motherboards, processors, and adapter cards and discover some of the considerations to take into account when building the core of a PC.

"Do I Know This Already?" Quiz

The "Do I Know This Already?" quiz allows you to assess whether you should read this entire chapter or simply jump to the "Exam Preparation Tasks" section for review. If you are in doubt, read the entire chapter. Table 3-1 outlines the major headings in this chapter and the corresponding "Do I Know This Already?" quiz questions. You can find the answers in Appendix A, "Answers to the 'Do I Know This Already?' Quizzes and Troubleshooting Scenarios."

Table 3-1. "Do I Know This Already?" Foundation Topics Section-to-Question Mapping

Foundations Topics Section

Questions Covered in This Section

Motherboards and Their Components


Processors and CPUs


Installing Adapter Cards


  1. The system bus and I/O bus carry four different types of signals throughout the computer. Which of the following are the signals? (Choose all that apply.)

    1. Data
    2. Power
    3. Control
    4. Adapters
    5. Address
  2. Which of the following are considered expansion slots? (Choose all that apply.)

    1. PCI
    2. FireWire
    3. AGP
    4. USB
  3. Which of the following can you use with SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface)? (Choose all that apply.)

    1. Hard drives
    2. Scanners
    3. Laser printers
    4. DVD-ROMs
    5. A dot-matrix printer
  4. Which of the following are in the ATX family of motherboards? (Choose all that apply.)

    1. ATX
    2. Mini-ATX
    3. FlexATX
    4. ATX and Mini-ATX only
    5. None of the options provided is correct
  5. Which of the following are considered integrated I/O ports?

    1. Serial port
    2. Parallel port
    3. USB port
    4. PS/2 mouse and keyboard
    5. Audio port
    6. Ethernet port
    7. All of these options are correct
  6. Which one of the listed processors was the last slot-based processor designed by Intel?

    1. Celeron
    2. Core 2 Duo
    3. Pentium D
    4. Pentium III
  7. Which of the following processors was the first dual-core design by AMD?

    1. Athlon 64 X2
    2. Athlon
    3. Duron
    4. Sempron
  8. Which of the following best describes hyperthreading?

    1. Overclocking your CPU
    2. Processing two execution threads simultaneously
    3. Having more than one processor
    4. None of these options is correct
  9. Before you remove the processor from the motherboard, what device should you remove first?

    1. Power supply
    2. RAM chip
    3. Heat sink
    4. Thermal compound
  10. You have been dispatched to a client's computer. You have decided that the processor is overheating. Which of the following steps can you take to help with the air flow around the processor?

    1. Blow it out with compressed air
    2. Remove the heat sink from the CPU
    3. Place it on a surface covered with old newspapers or waste paper
    4. Clean off the old thermal paste and reapply a small amount to the processor
    5. All of these options are correct
  11. Which of the following are causes of overheating? (Choose all that apply.)

    1. Fan failure
    2. The power supply fan is too large
    3. Incorrect heat sink
    4. Incorrect processor
  12. To connect speakers to the sound card, which of the following must you use?

    1. 1/2-inch jack
    2. 1 1/4-inch jack cable
    3. 2/3-inch jack cable
    4. 1/8-inch mini-jack cable
    5. None of these options is correct
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