Aussie · 07-20-2001 · Category:
Note from MoboCop: This is taken with permission from our forums. It was written by Aussie an expert on identifying unknown motherboards.
It certainly may appear to the inexperienced that there is some "black magic" involved in the art of motherboard identification but really it only involves patience, determination and a little common sense in most cases.
There is no doubt that those of us that have some experience do have an advantage in the ability to recognise some common model numbers or bios strings and in knowing the location of certain resources but all this really does is make the search quicker.
80% of the requests for motherboard identification in this forum can be answered in a few seconds by doing a search using the information supplied by the poster and a good search engine such as www.google.com
This can be done by anyone, "guru" or not.
The level of difficulty of the search will depend on the quality of the information supplied of course. There is no doubt that the provision of a bios ID string makes the job fairly easy and this string usually brings results very quickly when entered into a search engine. If no result is forthcoming you can at least use the string to identify the chipset used and the manufacturer, a quick search of the manufacturers site can usually locate the boards using that particular chipset. Some provide images and specifications of their boards on-line which can be a big help or else you can download manuals and search those for layout diagrams etc.
I prefer to use a search engine when a bios string is provided even though there are sites, such as the excellent http://www.ping.be/bios/ , that specialise in matching bios strings with model numbers. This is because there are other resources on the net that contain bios strings and their matching model numbers such as y2k testing facilities etc.
Model numbers or part numbers are the next most useful information although these will not always bring a satisfactory response from a search engine. Some part number prefixes are useful in indicating the possible manufacturer such as AA or PBA which indicates an Intel board, either genuine or OEM. PcPartner (Vtech) boards have a PCB number usually in the format 35-XXXX-XX. If you have a board with a model number in the format MXXX you most likely have one of the infamous PcChips boards.
Posts with just a physical description of the board, sometimes just a poor description at that, are very difficult to solve. The best method in this case is to use the mobo ID tools on this site or others such as http://www.stud.fernuni-hagen.de/q3998142/pcchips/index.html which specialises in PcChips boards.
OEM boards present the biggest challenge to a searcher and it is sometimes just impossible to identify the manufacturer of these boards. There are some known suppliers such as Acer for IBM, Asus for HP and Intel for Dell but these aren't always hard and fast rules. Most OEM's provide very little info about their boards on their sites and even when they do it is difficult to locate. The lesson here is DON'T BUY OEM MACHINES they SUCK.
Take your time when searching, use the "Edit Find" facility in your browser to search pages using the same keyword you used in your search engine, copy and paste relevant information into Notepad as you go, particularly URL's where you find some clues because you may want to come back to check the page further when you find more info elsewhere.
If you use google remember the cached pages facility when you find a broken link that looked promising. If the keyword you used in a search produces too many hits to search through try putting the word "motherboard" after the keyword to reduce the hits to fewer more relevant pages.
What are the special tools that I use? Well, I keep over 2Gb of motherboard manuals on my hard drive and a list of every bios string and it's matching model number that I have ever come across on the net as well as many board images. I bookmark every useful resource that I come across during my searches for future use and have most motherboard manufacturers sites bookmarked as well.
Good luck in your search.