The motherboard dictates what PC components can be utilized in a specific PC build, and how they can be optimized for maximum performance. For example, if you want to use the latest 7th generation Intel Core processors then you’ll need a motherboard with a LGA1151 socket using a chipset like the Z370. Therefore, you’ll need to select the motherboard strategically to achieve the desired frames per second (FPS), because that end result is determined by the components you opt for.
The current market offers a wide range of different motherboards, and it can be overwhelming trying to make a selection. The most popular Intel sockets are LGA 1151 and LGA 2066, whereas for AMD the two most popular options are AM4 and TR4. The Intel chipsets to go with include X299, X99, Z370, Z270, Z170 and B250. AMD has a fewer number of chipset options: X399, X370 and B350.
However, there are other factors you can use to select a motherboard. For example, the form factor and there are 4 main options: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, ATX and E-ATX. Also the latest motherboards come with cutting edge technology like Thunderbolt 3 and Intel Optane Memory.
This guide will offer you a comprehensive education on what you must look for in a motherboard. You’ll learn about features like PCle slots, DIMM slots and sockets to figure out what you need to build for your PC gaming system of choice. You’ll also be presented with the most relevant and best motherboards based on different categories. Therefore, if you’re buying a motherboard based on a particular socket, chipset or GPU, you’ll be able to find the top selection of motherboards available for each category.
For Intel based systems the best chipset is the Intel Z270, because there are a number of excellent motherboards in this category, but one towers above them all. This is the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9, and it comes with cutting edge features like Thunderbolt 3 and 4-way SLI support. This chipset allows for 6th and 7th generation Intel Core processors to be installed, which are still the best CPU options for gaming by Intel.
On the other hand, for AMD the chipset with the most options is X370, but if you want to take advantage of the MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon/AC, then you’ll need a X399 chipset compatible motherboard. You’ll be able to install a Threadripper processor that will push the boundaries of your gaming rig.
The form factor is essentially the size of the motherboard. It is a practical consideration that must be made with respect to your case. If you’re going for a small-sized PC case (SFF PC) then a smaller form factor must be selected such as mATX. Examples of these are the Corsair Obsidian Series 350D and the Thermaltake Versa H15 SPCC. Mini-ITX is similar to mATX but they do have a number of differences, our guide to the Mini-ITX vs Micro ATX form factor can be found here.
The two common sizes are mATX and ATX, where the latter is bigger. A mATX motherboard will fit into both types of cases, whereas the ATX form factor will only fit in an ATX case. Keep in mind that bigger motherboard can fit more features.
The socket your motherboard uses will dictate the CPU that will be compatible. Intel CPU’s are compatible with the LGA (Land Grid Array) sockets. The two socket types for Intel you need to know about are LGA 1151 and LGA 2066. Opting for LGA 2066 means you’ll have access to the best CPU’s out for Intel such as the i7-7820X and i9-7900.
For AMD the main sockets to consider are AM4 and TR4. For each socket type there are a number of chipsets that can be selected. These include the X399, X370 and B350.
This is related to the number of RAM sticks that you can insert into your motherboard. Typically there are 3, 4 or 12 DIMM slots that can be used to upgrade your RAM. Having more slots means better RAM and that gives you more flexibility. For instance, you might want to go for multiple 4GB sticks as opposed to one 16GB stick.
Furthermore, you’ll want to make a decision between DDR3 and DDR4, where the latter is at a faster frequency and works with a 288 pin design, and the DDR3 RAM uses a 240 pin design. Nowadays, DDR4 tends to be the norm when selecting RAM, with DDR5 likely hitting the market within the next couple of years.
Nowadays 16GB of DDR4 RAM is recommended for a mid-tier gaming PC build, but going for 32GB in order to future proof your gaming rig is not a bad idea, either. Our guide to the best DDR4 RAM for gaming can be found here.
PCIe slots have replaced AGP and PCI, and it can be used for a gaming setup with multiple graphics cards. The number of slots available indicates the number of graphics cards that can be used. For a gamer having the option to upgrade the hardware by adding a 2nd or 3rd GPU means a significant boost in gaming power.
For AMD users the CrossfireX technology can be utilized to combine multiple AMD GPU’s to increase the graphical performance. Likewise NVIDIA SLI can combine one or more GPU’s to boost performance.
SATA drives can be used to install traditional hard drives. However, to take advantage of fast SSD’s M.2 ports are required. SSD’s can improve the quality of gameplay because loading times will be reduced. Games such as Witcher 3 and Battlefield 1 can take a long time to load up. However, when booted from an SSD the loading time is drastically reduced. Therefore, an SSD is the best type of hard drive that can be used by gamers right now. Here is our guide to the best HDDs for gaming.
A motherboard with plenty of USB ports is ideal to ensure that a number of gaming peripherals can be connected. This includes a mouse, keyboard, gaming headset, gamepads, external hard drives and so on. Ideally a USB 3.1 port should be available that is backwards compatible. Also for futureproofing reasons a few USB Type C ports should be included in the gaming motherboard.
Phases on your motherboard are the components responsible for supplying power to the CPU. The most common phase designs are 4+1, 2+2, 4+4 and 8+2. So in the last example 8 phases would be dedicated to the CPU, 1 phase for the HT and 1 phase for the RAM. If you are looking for Power Phase and Phase Design information on motherboards, which is often difficult to find, a good resource to look at is HardwarePick.
Having a reliable power supply is important for overclocking the CPU with stability and longevity in mind. Overclocking is a nice feature to have for gamers as it boosts the performance of games. This might not be by an earth shattering amount, but if you’re a perfectionist then overclocking is probably a big deal to you.
Cooling with a VRM heatsink allows the CPU cooling performance to be improved. If you’re using a high end CPU that is prone to getting hot under load, then an excellent cooling solution is a must. This is especially true if overclocking your CPU is something you’re interested in.
Bios Chips allow you to access the computer and set it up at the most basic level. The bios settings allow you to alter configuration for the motherboard, such as the temperatures you’re comfortable with and the fan speed. Software can take care of this job, but the BIOS settings are a failsafe which can always be relied upon. For a gamer understanding the BIOS is advantageous as you can alter the variables to improve hardware performance for gaming.
The quality of your audio will somewhat be limited by the sound card on your motherboard. Ideally the audio chip should support 7.1 surround sound to take advantage of immersive gaming. Audio is not as demanding as video so from a processing standpoint the task is not as intense. Having a dedicated audio card provides a more robust solution for gamers.
The LAN chip allows you to connect to the internet using an Ethernet cable, which is much better than a WiFi connection. Not only is it much faster, but also more reliable. For those interested in smooth online gaming must have a motherboard with a LAN chip.
When it comes to motherboards and electronics in general the brand you go for is a big deal. In the gaming PC components industry some of the top players include ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte. They all provide offerings across an array of different sockets and chipsets. However, the devil is in the details and motherboards have a lot of them.
For example, you need to consider the warranty that brands offer. One brand might offer a longer warranty, but it won’t cover as many damage types as another brand. So do your research and pick accordingly.
Overclocking will only be possible if your motherboard allows it. For Intel based motherboards if there is a Z in the name such as Z370 and Z270, then you’re good. Also the X99’s allow overclocking so you can’t go wrong with that chipset type. For AMD based motherboards overclocking is possible with almost all models so you won’t have trouble finding one.
Excellent cooling is a must for overclocking so look for this when buying a motherboard. Some motherboards have built-in features and controls that automate the overclocking process. These can be particularly useful if you’re inexperienced at overclocking.
In this section we will over over the main socket types for Intel (LGA 1151 and LGA 2066) and AMD (AM4 and TR4). Selecting the socket type determines the compatible chipsets and ultimately the CPU that can be installed.
The LGA 1151 socket is compatible with the Intel line of Skylake and Kabylake processors – the best consumer grade processors for gamers. The best motherboard in this category is the GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X Gaming 9, which is aimed at the high end of the market. The standout features include extreme, 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3, G-Frost Hybrid Water Block, Killer DoubleShot-X3 Pro, 4 way GPU SLI support and in-depth RGB customizability. All of these features are excellent for the modern day gamer looking to squeeze everything out of their hardware. The 4-SLI support allows for up to 4 GPU’s to be connected providing the potential for incredible graphics performance.
The intelligent cooling of the Smart Fan 5 allows efficient overclocking of the CPU, to get the best gaming performance possible. Additionally, the Ethernet E2500 feature means lag during online games will be at a minimum. The gigabit Ethernet controller does a great job of prioritizing network traffic.
An alternative choice is the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7. It didn’t beat the number 1 pick because it has 2 fewer SATA ports, and doesn’t allow 4 way SLI configurations.
For the best gaming performance opting for a LGA 2066 motherboard, paired up with an i9 Intel processor will push your gaming rig to the max. It’s aimed for the high end consumer, but the price tag of these motherboards is worth the asking price.
The best option is the GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 9, which as the name suggests uses the X299 chipset. The stand out features here for the gamer include DDR4 support of up to 4333Mhz, built-in-in features for overclocking, M.2 Thermal Guard and an intelligent cooling design with the help of Smart Fan 5.
The connectivity is impressive here as you get access to 5 USB 3.1 ports, USB type-C and Type-A. Connectivity for USB Type C is important as in the coming years an increasing number of compatible devices will enter the marketplace. Finally, to make the device your own the RGBW & UV-Light effects can transform your gaming rig into a spectacular light show.
An alternative is the MSI Gaming PRO Carbon AC X299 Motherboard for LGA 2066. This motherboard didn’t make the number 1 slot because the connectivity and lighting options aren’t as impressive as the AORUS Gaming 9 LGA 2066 motherboard.
The AM4 motherboards are aimed at the budget consumer who is looking to get the best cost to performance ratio. The top pick in this category is the MSI X370 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM, which has a distinctive white design. For gamers it’s perfect as a number cooling features are implemented, such as full fan control, DC/PWM mode, and 6 fan headers. The extra fan headers allow for an improved cooling performance, which is important for gaming rigs under full load.
Also for those interested in a VR experience will be pleased with the VR Boost Accelerator Chip. There is also DDR4 boost, amplified audio and PCI Express Steel Armour slots for that durable touch. It’s the ideal purchase for those looking to setup a Ryzen based gaming rig.
An alternative is the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero, which honestly is almost as good as the MSI X370 XPOWER. However, it doesn’t have as many USB ports and the cooling control isn’t as comprehensive.
Interested in the latest Threadripper CPU’s? Then you’ll need a TR4 motherboard socket, and they are on the pricey side. The recommendation is to go for the ASUS ROG “ZENITH EXTREME” X399 motherboard as it has everything a Threadripper owner would want.
One of the main features for gamer here is the Auto-tuning FanXpert 4, which allows for 5-way optimization regarding cooling. It allows for a dynamic cooling solution, which ensures high-performance CPU’s can be kept cool. Additionally, patent pending SafeSlots provide a strong PCIe slots for SLI and Crossfire. It means gamers can install multiple GPU’s for instance gaming performance. Finally, industry leading 8-channel HD audio contributes towards an immersive gaming experience.
Another option you can go with is the GIGABYTE Socket TR4 X399 AORUS-Gaming 7. This choice is great for the majority of gamers, but compared to the ZENITH EXTREME has a few shortcomings. It has two fewer SLI/Crossfire slots and the cooling solution doesn’t allow for as much fine tuning.
As you can see from the Socket types available there are some great motherboards for each category. With up to 4 way SLI support, an array of USB ports, advanced cooling support and excellent RGB lighting the modern day gamer is truly spoilt. The top picks in each socket category is just the cream of the crop, and there are plenty of quality alternatives to choose from.
Intel has dominated the CPU market for a number of years and if you’re not yet ready to switch over to the latest offerings from AMD, then in this section we will show you what chipsets are available.
Those who are looking to invest in an i9 Intel CPU then the X299 platform is for you. To get the most impressive motherboard in this category the GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 9 is an excellent choice. This impressive offering provides eight DIMM slots for RAM upgrade – we recommend a minimum of 16GB is ideal for playing the best games today.
There are eight SATA connectors for devices and two M.2 slots. They come with heat dissipaters allowing the SSD to be kept cool during intense period of gaming. Most competitors do not offer this feature. There are 8 fan headers, which is more than most other gaming motherboards. This allows the CPU to remain well within acceptable temperature levels during max load for extended periods of time.
Another choice for this chipset is the ASUS TUF X299 MARK I. It doesn’t support as many fan headers as the AORUS Gaming 9, and the RGB lighting effects aren’t as impressive, therefore it didn’t receive the number 1 spot in this category.
Another chipset that’s compatible with the LGA 2011 socket is the X99, which supports the Broadwell-E, Haswell-EP and Haswell-E processors series. This chipset is aimed at the budget end of the market that provides excellent value for the money. As a gamer squeezing every bit of performance out of every dollar spent is a difficult yet enjoyable challenge.
Our pick is the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING motherboard, which has plenty of features for the demanding gamer. 4 way SLI is supported allowing for up to 4 GPU’s to be installed, which allows for impressive levels of graphical fidelity to be achieved. Also there are up to 4 M.2 slots and a USB type C port, which means you’re somewhat future-proofed. Another standout feature is the excellent RGB lighting options. This might not improve gaming performance, but makes your gaming rig look cooler.
Another great choice in this category is the ASROCK X99 EXTREME4. However, it doesn’t provide maximum flexibility for those interested in SLI configurations. Also a lack of USB type C means you won’t be able to take advantage of the format in the future.
For those of you looking to buy the i7 8700K Coffee Lake CPU then the Z370 chipset is the perfect choice. The CPU is a gaming beast and should be at the top of the buying list for a lot of gamers. There are plenty of options at the budget end of the scale for motherboards using this chipset.
The top choice in this category is the GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming. It comes with great connectivity, for instance second generation USB 3.1 ports are available and USB type C. This means when an increasing number of devices are launched with USB type C you can take advantage of them – not every motherboard offers this.
Multi-way graphics support is available so you can install more than one GPU for improved graphical performance. The Smart Fan 5 contributes to intelligent cooling with the 6 temperature sensors. To ensure that hardware performance under max load without damage an adequate cooling solution is essential. Also the RGB Fusion Lighting gives the product that finishing touch gamers love. Upon first glance it certainly has the visual looking of an elite gaming motherboard.
However, if this motherboard doesn’t match your requirements then consider the GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 7. This offering has pretty much the specifications of the AORUS Ultra, but it comes at a higher price point. Therefore, the value for the money isn’t as good.
The i7-7700K and i5-7600K are still at reasonable prices offering great gaming performance for the asking price. If you already have one of those CPU’s or are interested in buying one then the Z270 chipset motherboards offer great value for those on a budget.
The best overall motherboard for the Z270 chipset is the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero. Those interested in overclocking will be pleased with the performance here. The one-click overclocking feature is great for those who want an automated approach. This allows you to spend less time fiddling around with the settings and more time on the games.
The SupremeFX audio technology contributes towards an immersive gaming experience. The 113dB signal to noise ratio allows for a superior recording quality. Additionally, there is support for 3D printed accessories. This gives you more flexibility to install the components that max out your gaming performance.
Another suitable choice is the MSI Z270 Tomahawk, which provides exceptional performance for the cost. However, it doesn’t outperform the number 1 selection because the overclocking performance isn’t as good. Also the cooling control features are not as detailed, which means you’ll have less control.
For Skylake users the Z170 chipset is an excellent choice that still has the performance to provide impressive gaming performance. With the release of the Z270 motherboards the prices for these models are dropping and therefore offering a lot of value. It’s an excellent choice for buyers not worried about future proofing and need a solution for today.
The choice for this chipset is the Asus Maximus VIII Formula. The 1 click overclocking is an attractive feature for those not interested in manually changing the variable to max out their CPU. The CrossChill EK supports a water cooling solution to keep your CPU cool. This improves the reliability and stability of the CPU if you’re overclocking it on a regular basis.
The Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN allows for no-lag gaming. If you’ve ever felt the frustration of lag during online play then you know the importance of utilizing a reliable LAN based connection.
Another solid option in this category is the Gigabyte Z170 Gaming 7. This option is not as competitive as the Asus Maximus VIII Formula because the overclocking features are not as automated. Also no water cooling support is provided for an extreme cooling solution.
The B250 chipset is for the budget gamer that’s looking to build a system for less. It supports Intel Kabylake CPU’s, but doesn’t provide any overclocking capabilities. If you weren’t looking to overclock then this chipset might be the one for you.
Our choice is the MSI B250 Gaming M3, which comes with basic gaming features, but there is enough for the average gamer to get excited about. Twin Turbo M.2 slots are available for SSD installation. This helps reduce the loading time of games. Also Multi-GPU installation is supported to increase the graphical horsepower of your gaming rig.
Additionally, the Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2 provides an excellent audio performance. For those taking advantage of a great audio setup will appreciate the audio provided by this motherboard.
You can also select the ASUS PRIME B250M-A. This offering from ASUS doesn’t provide multi-GPU support, which means if you’re interested in upgrading with an additional GPU then you’ll need a different motherboard.
You may have noticed that there are plenty of great motherboards at all price ranges giving you a lot of choice as a buyer. High end motherboards for the latest i9 Intel CPU’s all the way down to the 6th and 7th generation Intel chips released in previous years. Before making a selection consider your specific requirements. For instance, if you don’t need overclocking or multi-GPU support then select a motherboard accordingly.
In the year 21017 AMD has made a comeback in the CPU market, and with so many new options available exploring the landscape is a must. In this section we will examine the top motherboards for AMD based on the chipset. There aren’t as many chipsets as there are for Intel, but there is enough choice to end up with a gaming rig which matches your specific requirements.
In previous years an 8 core CPU was not on the shopping list for every gamer, but Threadripper has turned the CPU landscape upside down. Threadripper has the potential to go through computational tasks that require memory, cores and bandwidth at a lighting fast pace. The X399 chipsets represents the best motherboards possible and have options from budget products all the way up to the top tier.
The best choice is the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme. This motherboard comes with all the features a gamer could need to make the most of their Threadripper CPU. Included is a ROG Areion 10G Card, which improves the transfer of large 4K video files and supports 2.5G and 5G connectivity. All this is great for gamers, because if you’re creating content then the 10Gbps networking will make light work of the large files.
The inclusion of 802.11ad means you can enjoy a lag-free gaming experience, or at least drastically minimize the occurrence of lag. Connections of up to 4.6Gbps will be possible allowing for streaming of 4K UHD video.
There are up to three NVMe M.2 drives, which allow for a fast SSD to be installed. The inclusion of such a storage devices means loading times for games will be cut down significantly. This is great if you’re constantly playing AAA titles such as Witcher 3 and Battlefield 1 where the loading times can take a while on traditional hard drives.
Another choice is the Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7, bit it lacks the same comprehensive array of features such as 802.11ad for next generation networking and a patent pending SafeSlots metal framing for the PCIe slots.
The X370 motherboards come with the AM4 socket type and is aimed at the budget consumer. Overclocking is available using this chipset, which allows you to take advantage of the fact that every Ryzen chip can be overclocked.
The best selection in this chipset category is the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero. It comes with 5-Way optimization which features advanced fan control features. It’s a hands-off approach to achieving great temperature stability. However, you can also play around with the settings manually to achieve exactly what you want.
You SSD can connect with the system at a speed of 32Gb/s, which is perfect for gamers because loading speeds will be increased. No longer will you need to wait excessively for games to load up.
If the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero is not something you’re interested in, then consider opting for the ASUS ROG Strix X370-F GAMING motherboard. However, here you’ll find fewer USB ports, which means connecting all of your gaming peripherals could be problematic if they are all USB based. Also the number of ROG features is reduced here.
For AMD users that are looking for a budget motherboard should go with the B350 chipset. It’s perfect for those with a Ryzen 5 or 7 processor. You can still overclock the processors with these cheaper motherboards. This goes to show that you do not need to spend a premium price in order to overclock a CPU.
The top choice in the B350 category is the GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming 3. For the price you get up to 4 DIMM’S allowing you to install plenty of the latest DDR4 RAM sticks. Also Smart Fan 5 is offered that comes with 6 temperature sensors. That’s great for monitoring the temperature of your PC components and overclocking within safe temperature limits.
For gaming rigs that are going for a colourful the LED type design the MultiZone Light Show feature is excellent. It allows for 16.8M RGB colors and 7 different lighting effects. This feature doesn’t impact gaming directly, but does improve the look of your gaming rig.
Another option you can go with for this chipset is the Asus Prime B350-Plus. It’s a great alternative, but doesn’t have as many audio jacks and the RGB lighting options are not as comprehensive.
As you’ve seen from the 3 different chipsets for AMD there are options for all budgets. For those interested in high-end performance should go with the X399 and X370 chipsets. However, if you’re on a budget then the B350 chipset offers excellent value for money. Consider what your budget is and choose a motherboard type accordingly.
In this section we will be taking a look at the best motherboards based on the form factor. The form factor is basically the size of the motherboard and the 4 types we will be looking at are Mini ITX, Micro ATX, ATX and E-ATX. This section is excellent for those of you that have decided on your preferred form factor and want to buy the best motherboard based on that variable.
If you’re willing to sacrifice on the features and in exchange get a compact motherboard, then the Mini ITX category is for you. It’s one of the smallest form factors and there are plenty of options in this category.
The best option in this category is the MSI Pro Series B250I PRO, which uses the LGA 1151 socket type and B250 chipset. This product is excellent for the gamer on a budget, because of the low price. There is support for up to 32GB of memory, which is excellent for gamers that want to future-proof their RAM setup. Also there is an audio boost feature that’s perfect for gamers seeking to get the most out of their audio experience.
However, if this Mini ITX motherboard is not for you then consider the ASUS ROG Strix H270I Gaming. This option comes with excellent temperature control options that gamers seeking to overclock their CPU will appreciate.
Another form factor on the small side is the Micro ATX, which has an excellent choice of gaming motherboards. You’ll find that these motherboards are also on the budget end of the scale, and considerably cheaper than the ATX motherboards.
If you’re ready to buy the best motherboard in this category then the ASRock B250M Pro4 is a great choice for gamers. The Socket type here is LGA 1151 and the chipset is B250. You can combine this motherboard with 6th and 7th generation Intel Core processors. It comes with support for up to 64GB of RAM, which means as a gamer you’ll be covered for a long time to come.
It also supports 7.1 channel sound, and therefore surround sound is covered here. For gamers having surround sound increases the immersive aspect of the experience. It also gives you a competitive edge since you’ll have a sense of directionality when enemies and bullets are focus on you.
In the Micro ATX category you can also go with the ASUS Z170M-PLUS. It provides M.2 for SSD’s that improve gaming performance via lower loading times. However, it didn’t make the number one spot because the value to price ratio isn’t as great.
This is perhaps the most common form factor and the choice here is massive. You can go in a number of different directions when selecting an ATX motherboard, and there are options for budget and premium buyers.
The motherboard we suggest to go with for gamers is the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero. This particular motherboard uses the socket LGA1151, and it’s perfect for 7th generation Intel processors. It’s packed with gamer friendly features and this includes patent pending SafeSlots, which are used for the installation of multiple GPU’s. You can use NVIDIA SLI to install more than one GPU to take advantage of additional GPU horsepower.
Also the 8-channel industry leading audio contributes to a superb experience. Audio is a big part of gaming and this feature allows gamers to take full advantage of their games.
Another option for ATX motherboards that you can select is the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7. The SLI support isn’t as comprehensive here as the number 1 option, and also the audio is not at the same industry leading level.
The E-ATX or Extended-ATX is the biggest form factor that’s available for the gaming consumer market. For PC build where size restrictions are not a problem then this is the option for you. Both AMD and Intel have plenty of options in this category, we have weeded out one of the best.
The Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9 is an expensive gaming motherboard, but the advanced features here out-rival any motherboard out there. It’s an Intel based motherboard with the LGA1151 socket type. You can use the NVIDIA SLI feature to install 4 GPU’s here.
Additionally, the Dual Killer E2500 Gaming Network optimizes the gigabyte Ethernet connection you’re using to play games on. Lag can be a big downfall of online gaming, and this feature somewhat improves the experience.
An AMD alternative for the E-ATX form factor is the ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME. It’s also stacked with gamer friendly features such as FanXpert 4 that allows the automated overclocking of your CPU. This is great for gamers as extra performance is squeezed out of your CPU.
For gamers where size is a problem because of a small room, or because you prefer a smaller system, then in this section you’ll learn which motherboard is a top choice, yet doesn’t compromise on the quality of the gaming experience.
The Asus ROG STRIX Z370 is a superb gaming motherboard for the size. Asus has managed to fit a number of gaming features on this LGA1151 socket motherboard. For those interested in overclocking will find the 5-Way Optimization with Auto-tuning an excellent way to monitor temperatures. It’s an automated one-click feature that’s perfect for the novice over clocker. Also the double decker heatsink ensures your SSD is kept cool. SSD’s are a great way to improve the loading speed of your games as transfer speeds are increased.
An AMD alternative to choose in the smallest motherboard category is the ASRock Mini-ITX Motherboards X370 GAMING-ITX. It comes with DDR4 DIMM slots allowing you to install the latest RAM, and also 7.1 channel surround sound is on offer for immersive audio.
You might have noticed that the smaller form factor like Mini ITX and Micro ATX are cheaper and suitable for the budget PC builder. Furthermore, the more expensive form factors are the bigger ones like ATX, and especially E-ATX. The extra space is used to pack more features and those extra features increases the price of the unit.
The majority of PC gaming component purchases is simply a matter of figuring out what features you need, and also what represents the best value to price ratio. In this section we will examine the most expensive motherboard, where price is not an issue. Also we will check out the best gaming motherboard for those on a budget.
When price is not a concern and you want the best that the consumer gaming market has to offer then there is one motherboard in particular for you. It’s the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9, which is a beast of a motherboard. It’s a LGA1151 socket motherboard perfect for 6th and 7th generation Intel processors.
The notable gaming features here include the creative Sound Blaster, which produces immersive sound at 192 kHz/24-bit for life like audio. This is going to improve the clarity of the gaming audio. Also the execution of the Smart Fan 5 here is superb, as 7 temperature sensors and 8 fan/water pump connector are used for a comprehensive cooling solution. This feature improves cooling of overclocked components such as the CPU and GPU.
The majority of gamers looking to build a system will have a long shopping list, which means making every penny count is important. It’s understandable that you might want to spend more on the GPU and CPU, as that’s what determines the performance for the most part. So in this section we present you with a budget gaming motherboard that’s capable of great gaming performance.
Our pick in the budget category is the MSI Gaming AMD Ryzen B350M Gaming Pro, which features DDR4 memory support, USB 3.0 headers and is VR ready. This motherboard is for the AMD Ryzen users.
Selecting the right motherboard for your needs might be based on the features of the motherboard. Therefore, in this section we will suggest a few motherboards based on commonly desired features by gamers such as built in Wifi, USB Type C and Thunderbolt 3. However, keep in mind that the motherboards presented here will have plenty of other gamer friendly features in addition.
Built-in Wifi is desirable for those gamers that might not be close enough to the modem to take advantage of a Gigabyte Ethernet connection. Having a good quality Wifi adapter is especially great when the majority of your games are online based. Lag can be a problem if the internet connection is not setup optimally.
Our pick for the best motherboard with built in Wifi is the GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 5. It’s ideal for 8th generation Intel Core processors and uses the LGA1151 socket type. It’s a great mid-tier motherboard that has many features, including USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Type C connectivity, on-board WiFi as mentioned as well as RGB capabilities to really enhance your gaming rig visually.
Another Wifi built-in option motherboard to go with is the GIGABYTE Ultra Durable GA-Z170N-WIFI. However, this motherboard model isn’t as impressive because of the relative lack of features, such as the RGB lighting options are not as comprehensive and the GA-Z170N-WiFi isn’t as future proof and only supports older generation intel processors.
The future of USB connectivity is Type C. Even if devices now aren’t utilizing this technology to the max in the future you can expect that to change. Therefore, if you want to future-proof your PC gaming system, then opting for a motherboard with USB Type C is a no-brainer.
A great motherboard with USB Type C is the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F GAMING. It’s a LGA1151 socket motherboard with the ATX form factor. It features two patent pending SafeSlots, which allows heavy GPU’s to be installed. Using NVIDEA SLI more than one can be installed. Furthermore, the dual M.2 slots allow SSD’s to be installed for a faster gaming experience.
The AMD users among you can select the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming K4 motherboard. It also has the Type C connection and comes with AMD Quad CrossFireX for multiple GPU usage. Also you can make use of DDR4 RAM capability and high OC threshold for faster performance.
Thunderbolt 3 allows computer port connections to reach speeds of 40Gbps, which is great for gamers as the size of games is constantly increasing. It’s a technology that will be widely adopted by all motherboards in the future. However, for now we will show you an excellent motherboard worthy of any PC gaming rig.
The ASUS PRIME Z270-A is a LGA1151 socket motherboard and uses an ATX form factor. You have a bunch of connection options, which includes Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 type A and Type C. This means you connect your gaming peripherals in a hassle-free manner. Additionally, the SafeSlots feature allows the PCle slots to be anchored down. Therefore, heavy GPU’s like the GTX 1080 Ti can be installed without fear of damaging the motherboard.
For any gaming feature the number of available motherboards is plentiful. You do not need to be stuck with a particular motherboard if you want to take advantage of the latest technology. It’s always a great idea to buy a motherboard with features that improves the connectivity and flexibility of your PC gaming rig.
If you’re building a system with the GTX 1080 Ti and want to pair it up with a great motherboard then we have got you covered. It’s one of the most expensive GPU’s on the market today with awesome performance, but that doesn’t mean you need to pair it up with an equally premium priced motherboard.
Our pick for the best motherboard for GTX 1080 Ti has to be the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex motherboard. This motherboard has a fantastic price to performance ratio, and the features are pretty packed on this model – the connectivity and temperature controls are superb. Features include USB 3.1 Type C connections, dual M.2 slots and compatibility for Intel Optane memory, as well as dedicated water-cooling fan headers and dual BIOS chips. PWM is also available on this model, so its certainly a motherboard not short of features, and makes a great companion to the GTX 1080 Ti graphics card.
For RX Vega 64 owners there are plenty of motherboards that allows the GPU to be pushed to the max. Vega is the much anticipated line of GPU’s that makes AMD competitive again in the GPU marketplace. If you’re interested in switching to the red team you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the performance available for the asking price.
Our pick for this category is the ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VI EXTREME. It’s an AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard that allows 7th generation Athlon processors to be installed. You can take advantage of water cooling to ensure that overclocking for your CPU is an effective process. Overclocking the CPU allows extra FPS to be harness for an improved gaming performance. Patent pending SafeSlots are available for two RX Vega 64 units to be installed. This would equate to a powerful gaming rig capable of taking on any game at 2K and even 4K.
You cannot go wrong with the GIGABYTE AORUS GA-AX370-Gaming K7 as an alternative, which is also an AMD Ryzen-compatible motherboard. However, this design doesn’t feature the patent pending SafeSlots like in the Asus ROG CROSSHAIR VI EXTREME, as well as a number of other features we dig on the VI Extreme.
For 1080p gaming the GTX 1060 is still one of the best cost to performance buys out there. It’s at the budget end of the GPU market, and therefore it makes sense to buy a motherboard that’s also at the budget end.
For the GTX 1060 our selection is the GIGABYTE GA-Z270-HD3P motherboard. It can house up to two GPU’s, which means you can harness the power of 2 GTX 1060’s, and also the latest 6th and 7th generation Intel Core processors can be installed. It’s vital to pair up the GTX 1060 with a decent processor to ensure impressive frame rates are achieved. Also the USB 3.1 Type Aand C ports are great for ensuring connectivity to your gaming peripherals is not a problem.
An even more budget orientated purchase in this category is the GIGABYTE GA-B250M-DS3H. This doesn’t match up to the number one pick because it can only house one GPU and USB connectivity options are not as comprehensive.
For any given GPU there are a bunch of motherboards that match up well. This might be because of the strength of the installation port, the ability to install several units, or because it makes sense for the build. For example, if you’re going with a budget GTX 1060 build, then you are probably looking for a motherboard in the $50-150 range.
The Intel Optane Memory technology essentially increases the loading speed of games. This includes booting up the game and also when going from one level to another. It does this by sorting the raw data required to load up the required files in the Intel Optane Memory, which provides fast transfer speeds. It predicts what files will be needed based on your usage history.
The big advantage for this technology is that you can combine it with a 1 TB HDD and receive SSD like speeds. Therefore, you do not need to buy an expensive SSD in order to receive the advantages it brings. However, it only works with 7th generation Intel processors, and you must have a motherboard that’s compatible.
USB Type C is slowly but surely becoming the go to standard for charging and transferring files. It uses a 24-pin connector system and allows for different protocols to be used. Therefore, you can have adaptors with an output that’s HDMI, VGA, Display Port and so on. However, USB Type C is not backwards compatible, so you’ll still need to have a few USB Type A ports on your PC to connect with the majority of devices today.
For gamers the big advantage of having USB Type C ports is that you can connect Thunderbolt 3, which allows for very fast transfer speeds – up to 40Gb/s. You’ll learn more about that in the last section of this new technologies round up. Also USB Type C allows different devices to be connected that gamers might need, such as external hard drives and monitors.
A new technology that will be a game changer for wireless connectivity is WiGiG Lan, and it works at the 60Ghz frequency. This allows for a wireless internet connection that’s as fast as 10Gb/s. Bandwidth intensive applications have 20 times the amount of frequency spectrum to receive and transmit data.
For gaming this means much faster download speeds for those that aren’t using a wired Gigabyte Ethernet connection. Download speeds are becoming increasingly important as the size of AAA games are reaching up to 100GB in size. Also the online connection will be much better during multiplayer games – even when multiple members of the household are taking part in bandwidth intensive activities like streaming 4K media.
The fastest way to transfer data is by using Thunderbolt 3, which allows for speeds of up to 40Gb/s, which is double the speed of Thunderbolt 2 and 4x the speed of Thunderbolt, or USB Type C. It can also move up to 100 watts of power along a single cable. Therefore, you could have two 4K monitors running at 60Hz to be connected via a single cable.
For gamers Thunderbolt 3 means you can connect monitors and gaming peripherals with a much bigger degree of freedom. It’s especially great for users that want to opt for a multi-monitor setup, yet minimize the number of cables used.
As you’ve seen there are a number of emerging technologies that can potentially improve the quality of the gaming experience. However, to take advantage of those technologies a compatible motherboard must be installed. Pay attention to the support of these features in the motherboard that is of interest to you and you’ll have access to cool new features.