Advanced Selection Criteria
This final section is be a bit on the advanced scale of knowledge, so if you higher up the expertise scale so if you don't feel like waddling through the technical jargon, you can really skip this because it won't really matter to you. This section is really for the hardware enthusiast and the control freak who absolutely want to know exactly what they are buying.
Capacitors, especially electrolytic ones, are a very important part of any motherboard design. They store and buffer electrical charge so that the flow of electric current is smoother. This allows them to filter out disturbances in the current (known as ripple), harmonics and interference. They also help in ground coupling. So, their quality is of utmost importance especially if you want maximum stability for mission-critical applications or easier overclocking.
In all motherboard designs, the most important capacitors are the ones placed next to the processor socket. These filter the power that is fed to the processor. Because the processor is the fastest-running component in the PC and therefore, much more susceptible to signal noise; the capacitors that filter their power supply greatly affect their stability.
Two kinds of capacitors are currently used in motherboards - the standard aluminium electrolytic capacitor, and the solid polymer electrolytic capacitor. The main difference between the two is type of electrolyte used. The former has a liquid electrolyte while the latter has a solid electrolyte. We will discuss their advantages and disadvantages below. I will now list down the key metrics to look out for in the capacitors used in your motherboard, but this knowledge is only useful if you can get hold of their datasheets.
Short for Equivalent Series Resistance, this is a measure of how much resistance a capacitor has when placed in series between the load and a power supply. This is given in ohms. The lower the ESR, the better. To find out the ESR of a capacitor, look out for its series on the jacket - it usually comes as a three letter acronym with the brand name. Take for example, KZG capacitors on DFI motherboards. KZG is their series, and their maker is Nippon Chemicon. Another example would be Rubycon MCZ capacitors, which are usually found on Intel motherboards.
Just look them up on the Internet and you will have the information you need. If you don't know how to search the Internet using Google and other search engines like Live.com, you can try Badcaps.net. They're pretty good at this.
Measured in mArms (Milliampere Root Mean Square), it tells us how much current ripple a capacitor can absorb at any one time. Current ripple is a type of disturbance in the power supply, very much like how a ripple in pond disturbs its calm surface. Capacitors are designed to filter this out. The better a capacitor's ripple rating, the better it is at filtering the ripple out and making sure it doesn't affect your sensitive electronics.
This vital metric can only be found in the capacitor's datasheet, so you will need to do a little online sleuthing. Just remember you should only compare the capacitor's ripple rating with other capacitors of similar voltage rating and diameter (Di size).
Measured in a percentage of ωRC (angular frequency ratio tangent), it is a measure of how much electrical power a capacitor loses as heat. Obviously, the lower the dissipation factor, the better. The less electrical charge is lost, the shorter it takes for the capacitor to fully charge up. It also means more better efficiency and lower power consumption. So, look for capacitors with a low dissipation factor. Again, this number is usually found in the capacitor's datasheet.
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