Detailed analysis of computer circuit boards

Detailed analysis of computer circuit boards

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Computer circuit boards are assembled from printed circuit boards (PCB).PCB is an indispensable part of all computer circuit boards. The conducting path on the computer circuit board delivers a path for electrical current for efficient routing among miniaturized components over the boards replacing bulky wiring and bigger devices.

However, a computer circuit board is dependent on the kind of applications for which designed, for example, PC boards might perform many tasks relevant to data transfer, communication, computing, etc. Apart from such tasks, the computer circuit board is responsible for the integration of electronic devices into a compact space.

PCBs are allowing all components to be correctly aligned and connected to perform a specific function along with ensuring proper insulation. A computer circuit board is less expensive when compared to other competitive options as their design is possible with tools of digital design and are also manufactured in higher volume with the assistance of automated factories.

The major computer circuit board in computers and its attributed devices is known as the motherboard or system board. While smaller boards that are supposed to be plugged into a bigger board are known as cards or boards. This article has thorough details of the computer circuit board such as types, the material of manufacturing, features, structure, etc.

Table of Contents

What is a computer circuit board?

Computer circuit board is not the same as printed circuit board, we usually say that the printed circuit board refers to the bare board – that is, there are no components on the circuit board, and the upper and lower sides of the computer circuit board cloth circuit and components.A computer circuit board can either be of single or multiple layers up to 50.

The role of computer circuit boards in a computer

The computer circuit board is electric circuit as mentioned earlier composed of copper traces and mounted components like motors, computing chips, transistors, resistors, and LEDs.

The basic role of the computer circuit board is to ensure the functionality of a specific application or purpose within a system. For example, the motherboard of a computer is the main circuit of a computer ensuring the proper functioning of a laptop or desktop computer system. Similarly, the processor and RAM is ensuring the processing of different functions performed on the computers.

computer circuit board

The Type of computer circuit board

The following are the different types of circuit boards for computers.

Single board

Single-sided PCB is the common kind of PCB computer. Such boards are having mere copper path over their substrate. All of the components are soldered onto it on a single side and the whole etched circuit is visible on its other side. The conducting path is not supposed to overlap or intersect at any point over the entire circuit because of having a single conductive copper layer.

Double board

In a double-sided PCB computer, a thin copper layer is introduced on the bottom and top sides of the computer circuit board. The holes within the circuit are allowing the metallic parts to be connected through both sides. Such boards are capable of connecting different circuits on either side through the utilization of a couple of mounting techniques such as a surface mount or hole technology.

Multi-layer Board

The multi-layer circuit board of computer consists of more than two layers of copper. Generally, such circuit boards are designed in a sandwich manner having many double-sided layers of conductor that are divided with equivalent insulating sheets. However, all of these layers must be laminated and bonded under higher temperatures and pressures for ensuring zero air gaps that exist for ensuring the stability of the final PCB after assembly.

Rigid board

The rigid PCB computer is a circuit board having no flexibility or cannot be molded, folded, or twisted. The base material of the board is a rigid substrate giving strength and rigidity to the board. Such boards are made of multiple layers comprising of a layer of substrate, copper, solder mask, and silk-screen that are adhered together with heat and adhesives. Such boards can be either single, double, or multiple layered. However, once made, such circuits cannot be then modified.

Flexible board

As the name illustrates, a flexible PCB computer is made of a flexible substrate and has components arranged on its surface. Such circuit board of computer is composed of polyamide or transparent conductive polyester film. Flexible boards are also known by other names such as flex boards, versatile circuits, flex PCBs, etc. Such boards can be either single, double, or multiple layered.

flexible board &rigid board

 The features of the computer circuit board

A computer circuit board is having the following main features.

  • These circuit boards must have higher density developed with advancements in installation technology.
  • The computer circuit board must be reliable. Numerous tests are performed on circuit boards for ensuring their reliability.
  • Compact and good design is another requirement of the computer circuit board. The boards must follow all of the mechanical, chemical, physical, and electrical properties that are achieved with design standardization.
  • The producibility must also be good. Through the adaptation of modern management, scaling techniques, production, and automation good quality PCBs can be guaranteed.
  • The testing analysis of a computer circuit board must be easy. Distinguished testing standards, testing equipment, methods, and instruments are dedicated for the purpose.
  • The assembly process of the boards must be easy to follow.
  • The maintainability of the boards must also be long-lasting. If any failure of the computer circuit board occurs then the components or modules must be easily replaceable.
circuit board of computer

What materials are used in a circuit board of computer

A computer circuit board might utilize several materials for their components and substrates. The choice of material is dependent on the requirements of a specific application because different types of materials have different types of qualities being offered to the circuits. The designers are preferring the selection of material grounded on the electrical performance for higher speed applications, thermal survivability, or mechanical properties. The following are some of the key materials used for the manufacturing of computer circuit board.

  • FR4 is a popular material used for preparing the substrate of boards. FR4 has the best mechanical, electrical, and thermal characteristics. This material has endurance and enough strength-to-weight ratio making it ideal for manufacturing computer circuit board.
  • Polyimide material is offering the capability of enduring high temperatures when compared to FR4 material and is also improving the electrical properties to a certain extent. However, polyimide material is more expensive than FR4 but offers enhanced survivability in harsh temperature operation.
  • Teflon is another material used in the manufacturing process of computer circuit board. The Teflon-made bonding and laminate materials are offering superior electrical properties making them perfect for high-speed circuits. However, Teflon materials are further expensive than polyimide. Such materials can also be coated onto glass fabric; however, can also be used as an unsupported film with dedicated fillers and additives for improvements in mechanical properties.
  • Flexible laminates are also utilized as manufacturing materials for boards. The flexible laminates are thin materials delivering the capability of folding an electronic design deprived of losing any electrical continuity. The material has no glass fabric for support but is having plastic film.
  • Many other materials are also used in the computer circuit board for bonding and lamination such as ceramics, cyanate ester, blended systems, and BT combining resins for getting distinctive mechanical and electrical performance characteristics.

Main board structure in PCB computer

The motherboard is the main circuit board in a computer and is also known as its backbone as it performs its main functions. Motherboard possesses the power to hold and allow all types of communication among crucial electronic components of the system like RAM, ROM, and central processing unit (CPU), and it also offers all connections with other peripherals. The motherboard of a computer has significant sub-systems like the chipset’s output/input, memory, and CPU controllers along with other integrated components that perform different functions. The motherboard is the major computer circuit board having capabilities of expansion. As its name illustrates, it is referred to as the mother of all components that are attached to it.

What are the processes of a computer circuit board manufacturing?

The manufacturing process of the computer circuit board requires complex procedures for ensuring the ultimate performance of the finished product. As discussed earlier, the circuit board may be single, double, or multilayered but its fabrication process might differ after the production of its first layer. Because of many differences in the structure of the boards, up to 20 or more steps may be required in the manufacturing process discussed below.

  • Printed circuit board design on a software tool
  • Review the PCB design and answer questions related to its engineering.
  • PCB design printing.
  • Copper layer printing for its interior layers.
  • Removing additional copper with the etching technique.
  • Alignment of all layers.
  • Optical inspection.
  •  PCB layers lamination.
  •  Drilling.
  •  Plating of the PCB.
  •  Imaging of the outer layer.
  •  Etching of the outer layer.
  •  AOI of the outer layer.
  • Application of solder mask.
  •  Application of silkscreen
  •  PCB finishing.
  • Test for checking electrical reliability.
  • Route out and profiling.
  • Visual inspection.
  • Quality checking.
  • Soldering of components.
  • Packaging.
  • Delivery.
circuit board manufacturing

How do the components of a computer circuit board connect

The computer circuit board are simplifying the process of the wiring through the replacement of wiring numerous components with an easy way of assembly with through hole or surface mount technology. A computer circuit board is composed of numerous components that are sophisticated and complex, sometimes with more than 30 layers.

Traces are a source of linking the layers and components together. The traces are supposed to be as short as possible to incorporate as many devices required for achieving a specific function. One of the key assets of circuit boards is that they deliver an easy path for adding and replacing components without making a hassle. Headers are utilized for avoiding hassle in the replacement of components.

The judging standard of a high-quality computer circuit board

The following factors can be monitored for judging the quality of a computer circuit board.

The standard rules should be followed for the thickness and size of the board while its manufacturing is undergone.
The boards should be light in weight and must have standard colors such as blue, green, red, etc.
The weld appearance must look professional as numerous components are supposed to be mounted on it.
The board should be capable enough of withstanding high temperatures.
The surface of copper must not be oxidizable.
The boards must limit electromagnetic radiation.
The shape of boards must be firm and should not be vulnerable to being deformed.
The boards must be capable of withstanding humidity and other environmental factors.

 How to choose the right computer circuit board manufacturer?

The following factors must be considered for choosing the right computer circuit board manufacturer.

  • The quality of circuit boards must not be compromised. Therefore, the manufacturer must take care of the dimensions, drilled holes, the accuracy of components placement, passing reliability and performance tests, board warping, material compliance, etc.
  • The manufacturer must not over cost you. For example, if you are ordering in bulk, the offered price must be reduced to the actual price.
  • The manufacturer must deliver the boards within the time decided at the time of the contract.
  • The material used for the manufacturing of circuit boards must be of good quality.
  • The manufacturer must take care not to use materials related to RoHS (Restriction of hazardous substance), conflict materials, and REACH (registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals).

FAQs about computer circuit boards

The checking processes of a computer circuit board

You must have following is the procedure for checking the circuit board.

  • Digital or analog multimeter.
  • Soldering gun.
  • De-soldering station.
  • Magnifying glasses.

Starting with a visual inspection of the board, first, check the power module, and after that follow checking other modules like communication ports along with output and input ports, etc.

What problem appears in computer circuit board after a long-term usage?

Following problems may arise.

  • Plating voids.
  • Insufficient clearance of copper to the edge.
  • Bad soldering.
  • Slivers.
  • Acid traps.
  • Starved thermals.
  • No solder mask among components.

The way to fix a circuit board of a computer

  • First of all, having a soldering machine is important. The machine is picking and places components onto the board.
  • Soldering iron is required for the guided placement of components onto the board.
  • A de-soldering station or pump is required for sucking additional soldering wire from the board.
  • Magnifying glasses or lamp is required for having an insight view of the board.
  • A Digital multi-meter is required for checking the working of the circuit.

What is the difference between a motherboard and a circuit board?

The motherboard is the primary circuit board of a computer responsible for central communication among different modules within the computer. This board is also known as the backbone of the computer. While circuit board is known as a board for delivering mechanical support and electrical connection among different components mounted on it with help of a conductive path.


 Is a CPU a circuit board?

CPU or central processing unit is the electrical module or component that has the responsibility of attaching the circuit boards within a computer. CPU is designed for housing all components, microprocessors, boards, modules, and cards together into a single casing.