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Why are Motherboards Green: The Secret Behind PCB Colors

“Green” is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about motherboard colors. Motherboards are crucial components of any computer, but they seem to follow the trend of the familiar shade. So, the question here is: Why are motherboards green?

Although motherboards are now easily recognizable because of this color, it’s enough to keep curious minds wondering. 

Interestingly, some fabrication processes are responsible for this pigment. But can motherboards take on other colors? Must they be green?

Keep reading to find answers and see if they can take up other colors.

Why are Motherboards Green?

Placing components on a green motherboard 

Placing components on a green motherboard 

Typically, motherboards are partially green. The resin’s outer covering (or solder mask) is the culprit responsible for the famous shade. In truth, solder masks are hardened resins with colored pigments. Hence, most manufacturers apply these solder-resist oils on the board like silkscreens, causing the board to adopt the classic green.

Solder masks are crucial for protecting electronic traces and saving the actual core. For instance, a standard FR-4 circuit board has a plain, yellow color. Moreover, solder masks can accommodate various colors like blue, black, yellow, and white.

They may come in more exotic colors like matte, orange, purple, pink, or mixed colors. So, why is green the most popular? Here are some significant reasons:

Green is Perfect for Countering Visual Fatigue and Eases Inspections 

Green motherboard with high contrast

The Green motherboard with high contrast

Early fabrication days suffered many technological restrictions causing workers to inspect the motherboards manually. 

But struggling to examine tiny circuits induces fatigue. So, psychologists and neurologists discovered that the green wavelengths were more relaxing and reduced fatigue.

In addition, scientists also found that human eyes are more sensitive to green light. As a result, it’s easy and quick to detect any errors on the PCB’s external layers.

Green Solder Masks have Superior Properties.

Green motherboard

The Green motherboard

Green boards are the top choices for people looking for the maximum form factor. The shade is more functional in this area than other aesthetically pleasing colors.

In short, the classic green solder mask is the only color capable of creating 0.1mm solder mask dams. Other colors like yellow, red, and blue come close to producing 0.12mm, while black and white get about 0.15mm.

Green Works for Bulk Production

Usually, applying a different solder mask color involves removing excess solder mask oils and washing the silkscreen. Also, most manufacturers would need silkscreen stations to produce each color. 

Further, opting for lighter solder mask shades would require separate stations for creating black silkscreen ink. Unfortunately, these oils are not the best for mass production, and most unpopular colors may waste chemicals and reduce efficiency. And they’re not as durable as green.

In addition, some manufacturers may reject requests combining specific colors with other colors except green. In other words, most PCB manufacturers prefer grouping various orders and designs on a single panel.

Interestingly, it’s a great way to maximize real estate and reduce waste. However, most of these panels require the same processing style for the fabrication processes, like surface finishes and plating.

Moreover, creating a custom solder mask with all the necessary qualities is difficult–making green the best option.

Other Colors of Motherboards

Here are other alternative colors you can find on motherboards.

Red

Red board 

The RedBoardd 

Red is the next best alternative for modern motherboards. It offers excellent contrasts rivaled only by green. Therefore, it’s easy to identify labels and markings on red motherboards.

Some developers use red for prototype motherboards not intended for sale. However, the color is now available to the general public, and consumers can purchase red motherboards & other circuit boards.

The Black

Black motherboard

The Black motherboard

Black motherboards are incredibly rare. In truth, it’s more expensive to produce these motherboards as most manufacturers find lettering on black challenging. And inspecting black motherboards require good lighting and proper magnification.

Regardless of the apparent difficulties, using black on circuit boards offers enhanced thermal absorption properties. However, your board would be prone to dirt accumulation quickly.  Hence, you may spend some time cooling and heating systems with black motherboards.

White

White motherboard

The White motherboard

White motherboards are pretty similar to their black counterparts. However, they’re rare and may feature complex labeling and component placements.

White also offers little or no contrasts for standard board inscriptions. However, you can make custom color orders, but it’ll cost you more than other colors.

Blue

The Blue motherboard 

Blue dominates green in the aesthetics department but doesn’t come close in functionality. Nevertheless, it’s a great color alternative, especially for label-heavy motherboards.

Additionally, blue is perfect for making specific models stand out from other variants on a lineup. However, blue motherboards offer lower contrasts and may need magnification during inspections.

Other colors

Motherboard colors are not limited to those listed above. You can get more exotic by opting for orange, lime, or purple. Also, you can request custom coatings for motherboards in your preferred shade.

Yellow is one particularly effective color in the exotic category. It contrasts almost welledod as green but is more prone to fading and may look brown after a few years.

FAQs

Do motherboard colors matter?

No. Solder mask color will not enhance a motherboard’s performance, But it is crucial for easy inspection. Asides from that, motherboard colors are for aesthetics.

Can you pick your motherboard color?

Some PCB manufacturers allow custom color orders for unique motherboard designs. However, this option is expensive.

So, consider using motherboards printed in specific colors–if you want something more aesthetically pleasing.

Can you cover your motherboard?

You can request or build a motherboard cover plate as an alternative to changing your board’s color. However, it would only cover some sections.

Regardless, it’s a great way to add aesthetics and colors to your motherboard. Unfortunately, not all boards are compatible, and you may reduce accessibility.

Are the motherboard and circuit board the same thing?

All motherboards are specially designed circuit boards with enough power to run a computing device. And you can add extra circuits to motherboards through ports and expansion slots.

In contrast, not all circuit boards are motherboards. Instead, they perform specific tasks and can have various sizes.

Final Words

You’re more likely to see the rich green color when you open a PC. Why this color? Well, green is ideal for ease of production and adding aesthetic value. 

Motherboards started as brown, which caused several difficulties–especially during the inspection. Thankfully, green offered a better option with easy-to-spot contrasts. The color quickly became mainstream after Intel made its first line of green motherboards.

Notwithstanding, you can have other motherboard colors as they don’t affect performance. Do you have any questions? Contact us, and we’ll be glad to assist.

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Hommer Zhao
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far, we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help you can provide.

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