Gaming

The best motherboards for gaming

When building a powerful computer, it’s important to pair a powerful CPU with a powerful graphics card. When it comes to motherboards, they won’t do much for your frame rates, but if you want features, a higher-end motherboard can deliver what a lower-end model can’t — especially if you’re overclocking. The best motherboards for gaming and all else besides come with better power design, excellent on-board audio, and an array of connectivity options. A good gaming motherboard may not boost your frame rates in games but it will ensure that your parts stay functional for many gaming sessions to come.

Instead of comparing AMD versus Intel, we selected motherboards for both CPU makers at various price points. No matter if you have $ 100 or $ 1,000 to spend on a motherboard, we have an option for you.

Best motherboard for gaming under $ 100

You can still get most of the features of the flagship chipsets from AMD and Intel with their budget chipsets, though there are a few notable exclusions. This price bracket is best for gamers on a budget who don’t need a lot of expandability and don’t care about overclocking too much.

One of the biggest money savers is simply buying a smaller board, however. Both our Intel and AMD pick come in the Micro ATX size, which is usually a good rule to follow. There are plenty of expensive Micro ATX boards, but there are plenty of cheap ones, too. You’ll usually find a Micro ATX version of a full ATX board for anywhere from $ 20 to $ 40 cheaper.

ASRock B460M Pro4 Gigabyte B550M DS3H
CPU support: 10th-gen Intel Core processors Ryzen 3000 and 5000-series processors
Form: Micro ATX Micro ATX
Socket: LGA1200 AM4
Chipset: B460 B550
Memory support: Up to 128GB up to 2,933MHz Up to 128GB up to 4,600MHz
PCIExpress slots: 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 3.0 x1 2 x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 4.0 x1
Storage options: 6 x SATA 3, 2 x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 4 x SATA 3, 2 x M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
USB ports: 4 x USB-A 3.2, 1 x USB-C 3.2, 2 x USB-A 2.0 4 x USB-A 3.2, 4 x USB-A 2.0
Audio: Realtek 7.1 ALC1200 Realtek 7.1 ALC88
VRM: 9 phase 5 + 3 phase
Networking: Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Price:

The Gigabyte B550M DS3H is the more straightforward of the two. The B550 chipset has nearly all the features of the higher-end X570 chipset, including support for overclocking. Despite stepping down, the Gigabyte board we selected still supports PCIe 4.0, though it can only handle only handle PCIe 4.0 on a single slot. Similarly, it can only use PCIe 4.0 on a single M.2 slot (X570 boards can support two slots). The remaining connections use PCIe 3.0, which shouldn’t make a difference for many years, especially at this price.

Despite the small form factor, the Gigabyte B550M DS3H is still packed with connectivity options, including a full four RAM slots that can take up to 128GB at 4,600MHz (with XMP enabled). The 5 + 3 phase VRM design is a step down from the boards around $ 200, though should still provide clean, stable power for moderate overclocks.

It’s worth pointing out that the B550 chipset only supports Ryzen 3000 and 5000-series processors, unlike X570, which supports 2000-series processors, too.

For Intel, we selected an ASRock B460M Pro4, which is an excellent board given the chipset. Intel, unlike AMD, restricts overclocking to its high-end chipset (Z490 for the current generation). That includes CPU overclocking, but also RAM overclocking, topping out at 2,933MHz. Even if you buy a faster kit, your memory will only run at 2,933MHz, even with XMP enabled.

Overclocking is a big feature to give up, but that’s been the case with Intel’s budget-focused chipsets for a while. Even without overclocking, the ASRock B460M Pro4 comes packed with other features, including the Realtek ALC1200 7.1 audio chip featured on the MSI board above.

Best motherboard for gaming under $ 200

Unless you have a very specific need, there isn’t much of a reason to spend more than $ 200 on a gaming motherboard. At this price, you’re able to buy the best and latest chipset from AMD or Intel, and you have access to premium features like front panel USB-C, better VRM power design, overclocking support, and high-speed memory support.

MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi)
CPU support: 10th-gen Intel Core processors AMD Ryzen 2000, 3000, and 5000-series processors
Form: ATX ATX
Socket: LGA 1200 AM4
Chipset: Z490 x570
Memory support: Up to 128GB up to 4,800MHz Up to 128GB up to 4,400MHz
PCIExpress slots: 2x PCIe 3.0 x16, 3x PCIe 3.0 x1 2 x PCIe 4.0 x16, 3 x PCIe 4.0 x1
Storage options: 6 x SATA 3, 2 x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 8 x SATA 3, 2 x M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
USB ports: 1 x USB-C 3.2, 1 x USB-A 3.2, 4 x USB-A 3.2, 2 x USB-A 2.0 4 x USB-A 3.2, 1 x USB-C 3.2, 2 x USB-A 3.2
Audio: Realtek 7.1 ALC1200-VD1 Realtek 7.1 ALC S1200A
VRM: 12 + 1 + 1 phase 12 + 2 phase
Networking: 1x Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbit Ethernet, 1x Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet Realtek L8200A 2.5Gbit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
Price:

The MSI MAG Z490 features the LGA 1200 socket for 10th-gen Intel processors, along with a swath of USB and storage connectivity. Impressively, it includes two LAN ports — one for gigabit and another for 2.5Gbit. It also supports high-speed RAM kits, up to 4,800MHz with XMP, and comes with the usual array of two PCIe x16 slots and three PCI x1 slots.

However, they’re PCIe 3.0 slots with half the bandwidth of the new PCIe 4.0 generation. That really shouldn’t make a difference in gaming, at least not for the next several years. PCI 4.0 may have twice the bandwidth, but modern GPUs are only just starting to max out the bandwidth of PCIExpress 3.0, so it will likely be several years yet before PCIExpress 4.0 is a must-have feature for anyone but those with the highest-end GPUs.

If you’re on team red, you don’t want to worry about the PCIe generation anyway. AMD’s latest X570 chipset supports PCIe 4.0, and the Asus TUF Gaming board we selected matches the MSI board in terms of connectivity (two PCIe x16, three PCIe x1). It, too, comes with a range of USB options, and comes with eight SATA 3 slots — two more than most other ATX boards.

Coming from Asus’ TUF line, the TUF Gaming x570 is built for durability and reliability, and reviews show that the board is, indeed, both durable and reliable. The board supports Ryzen 2000, 3000, and 5000-series processors, though you may need to update your BIOS (you can request a boot kit from AMD).

Most powerful motherboards for gaming

Expensive, overblown, and unnecessary — but undeniably cool — the top-tier gaming motherboards are all that and more, and we love them for it. RGB lighting, masses of ports, upgraded cooling, high-end overclocking capabilities, and all sorts of extras that make these boards the envy of every gamer the world over. Few can and should pay this much for a motherboard, but if you want the most extreme performance out of your gaming system, these boards can deliver.

Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) Gigabyte X570 Aorus Extreme
CPU support: 10th-gen Intel Core processors AMD Ryzen 2000, 3000, and 5000-series processors
Form: ATX ATX
Socket: LGA 1200 AM4
Chipset: Z490 X570
Memory support: Up to 128GB up to 4,800MHz Up to 128GB up to 4,400MHz
PCIExpress slots: 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 3 x PCIe 3.0 x1 1 x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 4.0 x8, 1 x PCIe 4.0 x4
Storage options: 6 x SATA 3, 3 x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 6 x SATA 3.0, 3 x M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
USB ports: 7 x USB-A 3.2, 1 x USB-C 3.2, 2 x USB-A 2.0 2 x USB-C 3.2, 5 x USB-A 3.2, 6 x USB-A 3.1, 6 x USB-A 2.0
Audio: ROG SupremeFX S1220A Realtek 7.1 channel ALC1220-VB
VRM: 14 + 2 phase 16 phase
Networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet,  5Gbit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Aquantia 10Gbit Ethernet, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Price:

Both of these boards represent the pinnacle of gaming motherboards for their respective platforms, and it shows in their extensive specifications and feature sets. The Asus ROG Maximus board for Intel CPUs can support exceedingly fast memory, multiple graphics cards, and huge storage arrays, and it has tons of USB ports for connecting all of your various devices. It also features stylized shielding across the board itself, making for an attractive and functional high-end motherboard.

The Maximus series has always been known for exceptional VRM quality, and the Maximum XII Hero is no different with its 14 + 2 phase design. It also supports multiple network connections right out of the box, including high-speed Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and its RGB lighting is fantastic, giving you full control over how the interior of your PC looks.

Coming in at an exceedingly higher price, the Gigabyte X570 Aorus Extreme board has plenty to offer AMD users who are all in with AMD’s new-gen CPUs. It, too, is a very capable gaming board with plenty of storage options and more USB ports than almost anyone could need. It supports the same high-speed memory and has an excellent audio chip.

What helps it stand out from the Intel counterpart, though, is its support of PCIe 4.0. That gives it more bandwidth on its PCIe ports, offering new-generation solid-state drives what they need to deliver the fastest mainstream storage ever released. It also has native support for Wi-Fi 6 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet for high-speed networking. This is also one of the few x570 motherboards that is so well cooled that its chipset doesn’t need a fan. Its VRM has plenty of conductive metal on top of it, too, helping to keep the 16-phase setup cool for advanced overclocking and extreme system stability.

Both boards also have full support for multiple graphics cards for both Nvidia and AMD GPU owners, and their PCIe slots are “armored,” meaning that they are reinforced to prevent sagging with high-end and heavy graphics cards.

They’re more than most will ever need, but if you want the top motherboard to go with your other high-end components, these boards will see you right.

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Gaming | Digital Trends

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