The Best Motherboards for Gaming on Your PC


Biostar Z170GT7
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

PC gaming is in a great place in 2019, with fantastic offerings from both AMD and Intel and new-generations of exciting hardware just over the horizon. But just as picking a top gaming CPU and powerful graphics card is important when building or upgrading your gaming PC, you need a great motherboard too. But which are the best motherboards for gaming?

No motherboard is going to give a big boost to your in-game FPS, but a bad board can hold them back and if you want to overclock, you need a good board to do it. Here are the motherboards we think are best for gamers, categorized by cost and platform.

Note: Since it’s typically better to base your preference for system on the benefits of its CPU rather than its motherboard, we won’t do much in the way of comparison with these sections, but will offer a choice of both Intel and AMD motherboards so that whatever your choice of gaming CPU, there’s a motherboard out there for you.

Best motherboard for gaming under $200

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The midrange gaming sector is the sweet spot as far as performance goes. You get a lot more than the average budget entry, but you don’t have to spend hundreds just to get some niche top-tier features. Perfect for gamers of all types who don’t need extreme overclocking capabilities or expensive lighting options. These are the best motherboards for mid-tier gaming.

ASRock Z370 Killer SLI MSI X470 Gaming Plus
CPU support: Intel 8th generation, 9th with BIOS update AMD Ryzen 1st and 2nd generations
Form: ATX ATX
Socket: LGA 1151 v2 AM4
Chipset: Z370 X470
Memory support: Up to 64GB DDR4 up to 4,266MHz with overclock Up to 64GB DDR4 up to 3,466MHz with XMP
PCIExpress slots: 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 4 x PCIe 3.0 x1 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 2.0 x4, 4 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage options: 6 x SATA 3.0, 2 x Ultra M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 6 x SATA 3.0, 2 x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4/PCIe 2.0 x4)
USB ports: 2 x USB-C 3.1, 7 USB-A 3.1 2 x USB-A 3.1, 8x USB-A 3.0, 6x USB-A 2.0
Audio: Realtek 7.1 channel ALC892 Realtek 7.1 channel ALC892
VRM: 10 phase 11 phase
Networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Price:

Both of these boards come at competitive prices and though they aren’t cheap (see below for more budget options) they do come with fantastic feature sets without breaking the bank. Both support high-speed memory well beyond the specifications of most mainstream DDR4 kits and plenty of it if you plan to do more than just game. They also both support multiple generations of CPUs (though the Intel platform may need a BIOS update first) so give you some breathing room for CPU upgrades down the line — like when AMD’s Ryzen 3000 chips launch.

Each of them comes with plenty of storage options and heaps of USB ports, although the MSI x470 Gaming Plus doesn’t come with USB-C and a number of its ports are internal ones. The audio is the same on both and won’t blow your socks off, but if you want basic 7.1 surround or stereo sound, they’ll do the trick nicely.

Both boards are capable of overclocking with the Z370 Killer SLI the better of the two. It should be noted that reviewers have reported that the MSI X470 actually has a 4+2 phase VRM rather than the advertised 11 phase.

Both motherboards also come with armor shielding to reinforce their PCIExpress ports and each company’s take on RGB lighting should you want to make the interior of your PC look that bit prettier.

Best motherboard for gaming under $100

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Budget gaming is nothing to turn your nose up at, it’s where the best bang for buck components in the world can be found. The best budget gaming motherboards give you decent performance and plenty of scope for upgrades in the future and that’s exactly what these two offer.

Note: Both of these boards are Micro-ATX. That means they’re not only cheaper but smaller too, so these are perfect for those looking to build a system that’s smaller than your average gaming tower. You don’t have to go budget if you want an M-ATX setup as there are some expensive and powerful small boards out there, but these just happen to be two great budget offerings too.

MSI B360M MORTAR ASRock B450m Pro4
CPU support: Intel 8th and 9th generation AMD Ryzen 1st and 2nd generations
Form: M-ATX M-ATX
Socket: LGA 1151 v2 AM4
Chipset: B360M B450M
Memory support: Up to 64GB up to 2,666MHz Up to 64GB up to 3,200MHz with XMP
PCIExpress slots: 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 x PCIe 3.0 x2 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16, PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage options: 4 x SATA 3.0, 2 x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 4 x SATA 3.0, 1x Ultra M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4), 1x M.2
USB ports: 2 x USB-C 3.1, 1 x USB-A 3.1, 2 x USB-A 3.0, 6 x USB-A 2.0 1 x USB-C 3.1, 1 x USB-A 3.1, 4 x USB-A 3.0, 2 x USB-A 2.0
Audio: Realtek 7.1 channel ALC892 Realtek 7.1 channel ALC892
VRM: 4+2 3 phase
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Price:

Budget boards don’t have to mean budget features and both of these small-form M-ATX motherboards pack a lot of great features. Along with 7.1 surround sound right out of the box, they have support for up to 64GB of memory, plenty of storage options for both SATA and M.2 drives, and a bucket-load of USB ports for expanded peripheral and external device support.

Both support multiple generations of CPUs and there is no need to update the BIOS on either to enjoy that benefit.

One major difference between these two boards is overclocking. The B360M chipset doesn’t support overclocking at all, while the B450M chipset does. That’s not much of an issue if you’re buying a budget Intel CPU anyhow, as those chips (non-K versions) do not support overclocking either. However, B450M overclocking is a nice addition, since all first and second generation AMD Ryzen CPUs can be overclocked, so even on a budget board like this one you can still achieve some respectable overclocks. A three phrase design isn’t great, but it’s one of the better ones at this size and price and should let you hit some higher frequencies than stock with a little tweaking.

The lack of overclocking on the B360M does also mean its supported memory speeds aren’t particularly high, but that can mean saving more on memory and bandwidth isn’t as crucial for Intel chips as it is for AMD’s.

Most powerful motherboards for gaming

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Expensive, overblown, 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 utmost extreme performance out of your gaming system, you need a great motherboard too.

Asus ROG Maximus XI Code Z390 Gaming Gigabyte X570 Aorus Extreme
CPU support: Intel 8th and 9th generation AMD Ryzen 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation
Form: ATX ATX
Socket: LGA 1151 v2 AM4
Chipset: Z390 X570
Memory support: Up to 64GB up to 4,400MHz with overclocking Up to 64GB up to 4,400MHz (with overclock)
PCIExpress slots: 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (at x4 speed), 1 x PCIe 3.0 x1 1 x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 4.0 x8, 1 x PCIexpress 4.0 x4
Storage options: 6 x SATA 3.0, 2 x M.2 Socket 3 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 6 x SATA 3.0, 3 x M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
USB ports: 1 x USB-C 3.1, 3 x USB-1 3.1, 10 USB-A 3.0 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 8-Channel S1220 Realtek 7.1 channel ALC1220-VB
VRM: 4 phase 16 phase
Networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band Intel Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0 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, huge storage arrays, and 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.

Don’t be put off by its low-phase count VRM, it’s of exceedingly high-quality and can help you to hit 5GHz on your powerful CPU with ease. 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 SSDs all that 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, 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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