A motherboard is the most important part of your system. It is the centerpiece of your PC, hardware that connects all the components and makes them work together. Because of that, it is very important to choose it wisely. That is especially the case in gaming PCs that require a great performance and push the components to the max. The last thing you want in that kind of situation is to have an unstable system thanks to the wrong choice of a motherboard.
When you are choosing the best motherboard for gaming, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive one or the one with the biggest number of features, but the one that gives you a stable performance and lets you play your favorite titles without any problems.
Although more money usually means more quality, that doesn’t promise that you can’t enjoy the high-end games with a lower budget. Luckily, there is something for everyone. Of course, some features will be missing on cheaper boards, but you won’t be missing the important parts.
Sockets used to change with every new generation of processors. Today, that trend has changed and, for instance, LGA 1151 now supports three processor generations: 6th, 7th and the newest 8th generation of Intel processors. In other words, if your budget allows you to, always go for the newest possible socket. That way, you will not only gain better performance but also make future PC upgrades possible without changing the motherboard.
A socket or CPU socket is basically a component that houses the processor and provides both mechanical and electrical connections between the processor and the motherboard. There are two types of sockets: LGA (Land Grid Array), which is present in 1151, 2066 and TR4 sockets, and PGA (Pin Grid Array) present in AM4 socket.
The major difference between these two types is that PGA socket pins are placed on the CPU, and LGA socket has them on the motherboard. PGA type is more complicated since the pins on the CPU need to be put into the holes on the socket, while LGA requires you to put the processor on top of the pins. Therefore, if it is possible to go with the easier solution – LGA.
When talking about the sockets, you should also know that 2066 and TR4 sockets are reserved for high-end configurations, while 1151 and AM4 sockets are meant for the more mainstream machines. Of course, these sockets are not mutually compatible. Therefore, make sure that the processor and the motherboard can be put together before you purchase them.
A better chipset delivers a better performance. Yes, that means taking more money out of your pocket, but in this case, it pays off. Of course, you can get away with cheaper solutions such as choosing a B250 chipset over Z370 and still get a decent performance, but if you are into serious gaming and want to fully exploit all the capabilities of your processor, go for the more expensive “brothers”.
Lighting doesn’t really affect your gaming PC in any practical way, besides making it visually attractive. That is basically its only use – to make your motherboard look cool. But then again, who doesn’t want that?
Connectivity is an important issue. If you have enough connectors you will easily underrate their value. Their real importance is shown when you realize you won’t be able to connect your brand new water-cooling or another hard drive. In other words, always go for as much connectivity as you can. Maybe you don’t need it today, but tomorrow is a brand new day.
The Best LGA 1151 Motherboards
A Smooth Experience for an Affordable Price
GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 7 is a motherboard that offers great overclocking capabilities, combined with amazing audio and lightning, delivering excellent performance for more than a decent price.
Of course, there are also some downsides, such as VRM heatsink that can do a much better job, and the positioning of an M.2 slot, which automatically disables two SATA ports when used for M.2 SSD. It is also worth mentioning that Z370 boards have a minimal difference when compared to Z270 ones. The only major differences are the native support for USB 3.1, and support for PCIe RAID at Z370, which aren’t present with Z270. Also, Gaming 5 motherboards are pretty much the same, without LEDs, ESS Sabre DAC and dual NICs, that are available on Gaming 7, but with Intel Wireless-AC card and Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
Overclocking needs a bit more work to become the best in the market, while fan control requires a lot of polishing. All in all, this motherboard offers a smooth experience that is expected from the best Z370 motherboard for gaming.
- Great overclocking capabilities
- Enhanced audio quality
- Excellent lighting and fan header organization
- A bit expensive
- Efficiency for non-overclockers can be better
Another Good Looking Guy with a Z370 Chipset
All the Z370 motherboards have a very similar performance, these differences are usually within 2% and ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero is no exception. This is visually a very attractive product thanks to the ideal number and positioning of the RGB LED. It doesn’t offer anything extreme, but the right amount of everything.
It comes with a full x16 Gen 3 lane for one graphics card. It is worth mentioning that the first and second x16 slot share lanes and therefore x8/x8 configuration is your max if using two graphics cards. The third x16 slot is actually an x4 slot that draws lanes from the chipset.
Overclocking and tweaking is very easy and presents a real pleasure. The number of M.2 is limited to two, which is more than enough for 99% of users and it’s good to know that its M.2 heatsink is one of the better ones on the market right now. Its real downfalls are lacking WIFI and 5G or 10G LAN Jacks. It’s good to know that for less money you can get ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming, which has the same number of SATA and M.2 ports, same audio codec, water-cooling support and M.2 heatsink. Of course, some of the exclusive features are missing, therefore, you need to decide what is more important for you.
- Vast number of fan headers
- A lot of enthusiast features
- Wi-Fi isn’t included in the standard package
A Budget Motherboard with a Serious Arsenal
If you are into basic things, without a need for a fancy stuff, MSI B250M GAMING PRO might be exactly what you need. Its main goal is to compete for the place of the best budget motherboard for gaming and it does that pretty well.
This motherboard has EZ DEBUG LED that doesn’t give that detailed information but is good enough for you to know what stage the boot process is in. RGB lighting is modest, but it comes equipped with the Mystic Light Extension for easy connection of the RGB and LED solutions. B250 chipset is sufficient, and although it doesn’t deliver miracles, if you are not a heavy gamer you will probably be more than satisfied.
MSI B250M GAMING PRO also has a couple of aces up its sleeve. They include Killer GAMING LAN and Audio Boost 4 with an amplifier for a great gaming experience. Also, its primary PCIe slot is equipped with the Steel Armor, for the support of the heavier graphics cards, which is more than a welcomed bonus.
Tweaking and overclocking, on the other hand, are very limited, but the fact that this is a budget motherboard kind of explains that and makes it more acceptable.
- Good price
- Low power consumption
- Decent performance
- Lack of ports
A Great SLI Capability Motherboard for Serious Gamers
ASUS PRIME Z370-A doesn’t deliver anything spectacular compared to the other Z370 motherboards. As previously mentioned, all Z370 chipset-based motherboards have similar performance, and the same goes for this one. Its main advantage compared to the competition is its SLI capability.
This motherboard includes onboard PCIe switch needed for associating the second card, and the SLI bridge to pair them up. Also, this motherboard allows for the simultaneous use of both M.2 slots and all three PCIe slots, but that requires for a second M.2 slot to run at x2 mode.
ASUS PRIME Z370-A is a great example of a good performance vs. price ratio. Its advantages make it more than competitive and very attractive for the gamers looking for an improved memory performance, SLI and additional M.2/PCIe/SATA slots. Basically, everything that the best motherboard for gaming needs is there.
- Great memory bandwidth
- Low-cost SLI
- CPU overclocking can be better
- Too few USB ports
An Excellent Motherboard that is One Step Away from Greatness
Taichi was a symbol of a great performance and a perfect motherboard for a long time. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. That doesn’t mean this motherboard is bad, on a contrary – it is excellent, but the problem is that its predecessors were even better.
Its main downfalls are lack of USB ports on the rear panel, and fan controls in the OS that are not that great. One of its good features are two LAN ports, but the cost of that is the previously mentioned USB ports, which makes this decision a bit questionable since USB ports are usually more needed than two LAN ports.
Taichi’s great features include amazing audio on the rear panel, great VRM, and M.2 layout that allows for the usage of three drives at the same time (NVME, SATA and Optane). This motherboard is made for premium gaming CPUs and gaming RAM, therefore do not hesitate to pair them with this amazing piece of hardware, you will get a great result. The gaming performance of Taichi is pretty good, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. If you want premium, one of the best gaming motherboards you can buy, this is pretty much the closest you can get to that.
- Good price and performance
- Customizable lighting
- Requires a lot of power during full load
- Poor overclocking
- No flexible SLI bridge
A Motherboard That Offers Great Overclocking Capability for a Reasonable Price
ROG Strix Z370-E is a high-quality product that offers reliable build and fault-free user experience. It has a good combination of M.2, PCIe and USB slots, fancy looking RGB lighting and, of course, Wi-Fi and 3.1 USB headers.
This is a motherboard that gives a premium touch for a reasonable amount of money. Asus has done a good market research and in this price range, ROG Strix Z370-E offers more than, or at least as much as the competition. Compared to, for instance, MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming, this motherboard requires for more voltage for overclocking but gives a much better audio experience, lower temperatures, better M.2 heatsink and an overall lower power consumption.
Its great EFI and other software will help you push your CPU to its limits and fully enjoy the great overclocking adventure. All in all, ROG Strix Z370-E rose as one of the best gaming motherboards for i7 processors, especially 8th generation ones, giving the full package for more than competitive price.
- Dual USB 3.1 Gen2 controllers
- Great performance
- 867Mb/s Wi-Fi/Bluetooth controller
- Price can be more competitive
- CPU overclocking isn’t great
The Best AM4 Motherboards
A Cheap Motherboard That Delivers Top-Notch Performance
This is an amazing motherboard that is made for users who know how to value their money and wisely choose all their system components. B350 chipset isn’t the best chipset you can buy, but for this amount of money and with plenty of features to push Ryzen processors to their max, it is a great choice for any die-hard gamer.
ASUS ROG STRIX B350-F comes equipped with five headers for fans, plus one dedicated to AIO coolers and excellent control options, giving you the full control of all your system temperatures, including overclocked systems. Of course, the affordable price comes with a cost and that is, for instance, that only primary PCIe runs at Gen 3.0 x16 since the PCIe slots share lanes; also, there is only one M.2 slot, etc.
Connectivity, on the other hand, offers two USB 3.1 Gen 2, four USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two USB 2.0 ports in the rear panel, enough for the majority of the gamers. Besides that, ROG STRIX B350-F offers great memory support, amazing gaming experience, RGB lighting, and nice layout, pretty much all that the best AMD motherboard for gaming has to have.
- Plenty of USB ports
- The number of fan headers
- Excellent memory support
- There is only one full speed PCIe port
A Motherboard That Repays You Every Cent
X470 Aorus Ultra Gaming is an excellent motherboard, with very few downsides. Higher power consumption when overclocked, lower bandwidth of the M.2 slot, and not that good SATA support are the major ones. Besides that, everything else is a great deal: there is top-notch audio, support for all standard Ryzen compatible memory, eight fan headers, decent tweaking capability, extra USB 3.1/2.1 slots, etc.
If you pair it with, for example, Ryzen 2600X processor, you will get yourself a very potent gaming PC at a really affordable price, which is generally the dream of any gaming enthusiast. This is probably the best budget motherboard for gaming your money can buy; you will get great performance and high-end experience for a really small price, especially when compared to the competition.
- Great value for the money
- Excellent performance
- M.2 slot has a lower bandwidth
- SATA support can be better
A Good Performance Motherboard for Small Bucks
If you want to save every cent you can and don’t really need all the features that premium motherboards bring with themselves, MSI X470 GPLUS might be the right one to look at. This motherboard is cheap and you will get the basics like eight-channel audio, nice VRM heatsinks, RGB LED headers, six fan headers, one header for water cooling, etc. On the other hand, design, lighting, no support for the USB 3.1 Type-C, are just some of the things you may be missing out on with this board.
MSI X470 GPLUS doesn’t suffer from the problems that other cheap motherboards are facing, like the lack of stability, or complicated use. Its overclocking capabilities and performance are at the levels of its much more expensive “brothers”. The problems for this motherboard arise when we compare it to the competition, such as Gigabyte X470 Aorus Ultra Gaming motherboard, that costs a bit more but outperforms MSI X470 GPLUS in areas from audio quality to the number of headers and ports.
Because of that, although this is a great motherboard and its performance is pretty good, it would be a wise thing to compare it in detail with competition and see what you are really gaining for your money.
- Affordable price
- Audio can be much better
- Lack of ports
- No support for the USB 3.1 Type-C
A Motherboard for a Top-Notch Performance
You can’t fail with X470 motherboards, and ASUS ROG Strix X470-F is no exception. You will get decent audio, plenty of connectivity, two M.2 slots (only the primary goes full speed), good design, BIOS that offers a lot of tweaking… all in all, a very competitive product.
A major issue for the ASUS ROG Strix X470-F, and the ROG series in general, is that they are a bit too expensive. Thankfully, for a higher price you get quality build, proper components and stable work, but the higher price still stays. Performance, on the other hand, is top-notch and the only thing that is really missing is Wi-Fi, besides that, there is everything you can ever need.
Just use a 2600X or 2700X processor, forget about the price tag and enjoy the performance of the best motherboard for gaming there is.
- Top-notch performance
- Great audio
- Good bundle and features
- Price can be lower
An Affordable Top-of-the-Line Motherboard
MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon is a quality motherboard that offers Military Class VRM, double ESD protection, amazing audio solution, PCIe with Steel Armor and DDR4 Boost package. Also, it comes equipped with the flawless MSI’s Click BIOS and a great MSI software to optimize your motherboard from inside the OS. All of these are top class features that will satisfy even the most demanding gamers.
Of course, there have to be some downsides, and with this motherboard, overclocking is limited only to the multiplier. This will prevent you from getting the maximum out of your processor, but luckily that is the only major issue with MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon. Everything else is top of the line, as it should be with the best motherboard for gaming.
With this one, you will get yourself a great performance and an awesome experience for a long time without reaching deep into your pocket.
- Mystic Lighting
- Great performance
- DDR4 boost
- Multiplier only overclocking
The Best LGA 2066 Motherboards
An Overclocking Masterpiece
GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 9 is an excellent motherboard that offers so much: a great number of PCIe x16 lanes, from which six have a steel reinforcement, three M.2 slots (each one comes with a heatsink), Rivet Networks Killer E2500 LAN, Killer’s 802.11ac solution, light zones and a lot more.
Its overclocking capability is tremendous and even includes the automatic overclock that can easily reach 4,6GHz values and keep them rock solid, without dropping to 4,3GHz, which is the case with other motherboards.
With this one there is no mistake, you will get a beautiful, solid design, a lot of storage and PCIe ports. Quality build, that is also obvious when you consider its weigh, which is significantly higher than at the competition. One of the best Intel motherboards for gaming without any doubt, but be prepared to pay a premium price for it.
- Amazing lightning
- Great network connectivity
- Excellent overclocking capability
- Overclocking can be easier
- The rear panel could have more ports
A Motherboard that is a Safe Bet
ASUS PRIME X299-A is the more affordable X299 motherboard that delivers stylish looks and a nice set of features that include everything that is needed, from quad channel memory to RGB lighting. There is nothing not to like about this board. It is a solid product that, combined with i9, gives you solid performance. Overall, it’s a safe bet.
The lack of Wi-Fi, single Ethernet, and no onboard reset button, are its major flaws; everything else that exists on the premium X299 motherboards is there. On the other hand, when compared to a bit more expensive ROG Strix X299-E Gaming, that offers Wi-Fi, better lighting and more user-friendly overclocking capability, there is a serious question if you should invest a bit more and get a Strix, or stay with Prime.
If you are fine with only one Ethernet and have no real need for Wi-Fi connectivity, the choice is simple. Otherwise, there is a bit more thinking in front of you.
- Quad-channel DDR4 memory
- Attractive design
- Compatible with LGA2011v3 coolers
- Supports up to 18 cores/36 threads
- No onboard reset button
- No dual Ethernet and Wi-Fi
The Best TR4 Motherboards
An Extreme Motherboard for Extreme Gaming
Impressive, top-notch performance without any issues is GIGABYTE X399 AORUS Gaming 7’s major characteristic. When turned on, all of its lightings make it looks astonishing, making all of its great components look even better.
The list of its features includes five PCIe slots, eight DIMM’s, three M2 (shielded) slots, eight SATA3 ports, Wi-Fi, RGB Fusion, Killer LAN, Dual Armor, etc. It’s a pretty long list, and other than the lack of 5 or 10Gbps Ethernet jack, everything else that a top class motherboard needs to have, is there.
Another good thing about GIGABYTE X399 AORUS Gaming 7 is that it has similar performance, stability and compatibility, as ASUS Zenith, but is significantly cheaper. Even the features are similar other than the lack of Wi-Fi, which puts GIGABYTE X399 AORUS Gaming 7 in a very attractive position, making it one of the prime contenders for being the best AMD motherboard for gaming on the market right now.
- Excellent overclocking results
- Attractive design
- Great performance
- A lot of fan headers
- Onboard buttons can be better
- Small problems with assembling
A Solid Performer for the Most Demanding Gamers
ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING delivers solid performance, without any serious problems. It offers some great features like eight DIMM slots, 802.11AC Wireless LAN, Aura lighting with a lot of customization options, SupremeFX onboard audio for the supreme gaming experience, and a lot more.
Since serious gaming requires multiple GPU’s, ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING takes up to three graphics cards into CrossFireX or an SLI and, at the same time, reinforces the graphics slot with SafeSlot protect.
Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4 offer prearranged overclocking profiles for automatic and optimal OC performance. All in all, great features that are expected from the top class motherboards such as ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING. Is this the best motherboard for gaming? Probably not the best, but it is for sure more than a good value for money.
- Aura lighting
- SupremeFX audio
- Only two M.2 slots
- No LCD for error codes
Motherboards, as one of the most important components of a PC, should be chosen wisely. Therefore, give yourself some time and think through what your real needs are, and how deep can you reach into your pocket. Find the best combination of those two things and enjoy the pleasures of today’s gaming.