As the name indicates, a motherboard is an essential part of computer equipment that allows different components of the computer, including the hard drive, memory cards and processors, to connect and communicate with each other. The motherboard also allows the different computer components that are plugged into the motherboard receive power and are typically made from printed circuit boards, or PCB, and have multiple slots for things like video and sound cards. In many cases, a computer's motherboard will have empty slots that allow the user to expand his or her computer's capabilities through adding new equipment to the motherboard.

Because the motherboard supplies power and connection to a computer's different hardware components, it is an essential piece of equipment. Certain pieces of hardware, such as a monitor or mouse, may be powered separately from the motherboard, but in most cases, these components have cords that plug into the motherboard from external ports on the computer case. The large amount of activity and energy generated and circulated by the motherboard can cause high temperatures to spike around this piece of equipment, so motherboards are often air-cooled with a fan or temperature controlled through a piece of equipment known as a heatsink. Motherboards that are exposed to polluted air may also corrode faster.