best motherboards for gaming
A motherboard is what holds all your components together, so to speak, under one roof. Whether you’re building your first PC, upgrading, or just upgrading, it’s all about your motherboard. You’ll need a good motherboard to take advantage of the best CPU and GPU, otherwise, you could risk bottlenecking your system, or, in the worst case scenario, not being able to power those expensive fans. In addition, AMD and Intel offer different motherboard designs, so you will need a specific motherboard with each CPU platform. Manufacturers and OEMs are usually clear about this. The majority of people won’t need cutting-edge motherboards, unless they plan to overclock. Before you buy, you should find out the exact chipset that you need.
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ASUS Z690 HERO1~The best gaming motherboard
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is the best gaming motherboard right now. This board is compatible with Intel 12th gen chips, including the i9-12900k, and comes with large heatsinks to cool your VRMs so you can overclock them, as well as a huge LED shroud that does not offer any performance benefits, but is certainly attractive, isn’t it?
In addition to a huge number of ports for I/O around the back, ASUS offers an AI overclocking mode that you’ll want to use for this type of board. There are also three NVMe drives supported, so you might want to consider it if you need a huge amount of storage on your device. A ROG Hyper M.2 card is included with the board, so you can access PCIe 5.0 speeds without fully impacting your PCIe 5.0 lanes.
It includes all the features you need for a modern gaming setup, such as I/O, networking, storage, and RGB lighting. For most people, this is already overkill, which is why we’ve ranked it at the top of our list. Despite the fact that there are higher-end boards out there, they mostly use water blocks instead of air cooling.
CPU socket: LGA 1700
Memory support: 4x DDR5 DIMMs, up to 128GB at 6400 MT/s (Dual-channel)
Expansion slots: 2x PCIe 5.0 x16, 1x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x4 speeds only)
M.2 slots: 3x slots, 2x PCIe 4.0 x4 (1x supports SATA mode), 1x PCIe 3.0 x4
Networking: 1x Intel 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi 6E
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ASUS Crossfire VIII HERO
If you’re on an older AM4 platform, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII might be the one for you. ASUS continues to dominate the high-end motherboard game. DDR4 RAM is supported, dual PCIe 4.0 m.2 slots are available, and heatsinks have been designed to provide active cooling between power phases, making you want to overclock your AM4 system.
In our opinion, the only downside to the AM4 platform is that it is destined to become outdated soon, so you should not purchase it or build a system on it until then. If, however, you want the best performance from AM4, this board has it all, including excellent audio compatibility and DDR4 Boost, which promises higher clock speeds with greater stability.
CPU socket: AM4
Memory support: 4x DDR4 DIMMs, up to 128GB at 5300 MT/s (Dual-channel)
Expansion slots: 2x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1x PCI3 3.0 x1
M.2 slots: 3x slots, 2x M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4, 1x PCie 4.0 x4 22110
Networking: 1x Realtek 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, 1x Realtek Gigabit LAN, WiFi 6E
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MAG B660 Tomahawk Wifi~The best mid-range motherboard
MSI’s MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4 motherboard is our best mid-range gaming motherboard because AM4 is fast approaching retirement, so we’re sticking with 12th-generation Intel boards for our recommendations. If DDR5 is still too expensive for your taste, you’ll get DDR4 compatibility here. With a blacked-out, no-frills look, this motherboard comes in a no-frills design with good heatsinks, a decent amount of NVMe slots, and good heatsinks. Even so, it can handle even the hottest of chips, while also offering excellent quality-of-life features like WiFi, I/O, and 7.1 audio, making it more than enough for most mid-range builds.
CPU socket: LGA 1700
Memory support: 4x DDR4 SIMMS, up to 128GB at 4800 MT/s (Dual-channel)
Expansion slots: 1x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x1
M.2 slots: 3x slots, 2x PCIe 4.0 M.2 x16, 1x PCIe 4.0 x8
Networking: 1x Realtek 2.5 gigabit LAN, 802.11ax WiFi
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Gigabyte B660 Gaming x~ The best budget motherboard
With Gigabyte’s motherboards, you’ll get great gaming performance even if you’re on Intel’s 12th-generation platform, as they support the latest CPUs and DDR4 RAM, so you don’t have to pay for incredibly expensive DDR5 memory, while still enjoying great gaming performance.
Aside from large VRMs for cooling, the B660 Gaming X offers a good suite of networking and I/O options without completely breaking the bank like some of the other motherboards on this list. Furthermore, it supports PCIe 4.0, which means you won’t be losing out on a lot of bandwidth, and Gigabyte’s QFLASH feature can be used if your BIOS needs to be updated. With Gigabyte, you can build a great mid-range PC for just about any budget. You could do worse at this price.
Read more on Best LGA 1700 Motherboards
CPU socket: LGA 1700
Memory support: 4x DDR4 DIMMs, up to 128GB at 4400 MT/s (Dual-channel)
Expansion slots: 1x PCIe 5.0 x16, 1x PCIe 4.0 x16,1x PCIe 3.0 x16
M.2 slots: 3x slots, 2x PCIe 4.0 x 4, 1x PCIe 3.0
Networking: 1x Realtek 2.5 Gigabit LAN
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DDR4 or DDR5?
You will want to ensure that whatever RAM you choose is compatible with your system because we’re in a transition between DDR4 and DDR5. In each generation, the DIMMs are keyed differently, which means they won’t fit or be compatible with your motherboard, as they use slightly different physical keying.
PCIe standards and the BIOS
In addition, you need to pay attention to the PCIe standard used by your motherboard. 5.0 is the latest version, and you’ll see that on many high-end boards. You will need to keep an eye on this for future-proofing your system, but it comes at a price.
Aside from the number of fan headers, you’ll also want to consider how many USB headers your board has, as well as the BIOS flashback feature. It’s incredibly difficult to find the perfect gaming system for your budget, and there are a lot to consider.
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Which size motherboard?
You’ll find that ATX motherboards offer the most functionality for most PC builds, especially for gaming, even though they come in a few different shapes and sizes. You might want to pick up a gaming laptop instead if everything we just said doesn’t make sense to you, and if you want something a little bit simpler.
Socket type matters
It is required that you use a motherboard that works with the socket type. Since it is possible to use a Ryzen or Intel Core CPU in a socket it was not designed for, you will not be able to use them in a socket that they were not designed for.
Intel has been known to change its socket types every two CPU generations historically, which is similar to cross compatibility. The same goes for socket types, which change with every major manufacturing jump in processing. We’ve seen AM4 motherboards in their various forms over the past few years that AMD tends to stick to the same socket type for a longer period of time.
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Connectivity options are important
You may be tempted to get one of those inexpensive motherboards that has inferior rear I/O ports, but we’re telling you to reconsider. Building a computer is an investment, regardless of whether you buy it new or used. Building a new computer shouldn’t leave you with slow USB ports, poor internet speeds, and poor peripheral performance after all the effort and money you put into it.
In addition, the latest USB-C peripherals, storage drives, and controllers have been designed to take full advantage of USB-C, so you don’t want to be left behind a few years from now.As games continue to grow in size, you’ll want to make sure that your router and internet service have the capacity to keep up. If you can, prioritize boards with 2.4Gbps connections over those with Gigabit.
Additionally, we believe that NVMe SSDs, especially with the advent of DirectStorage API, are an essential component of many modern games. All of these best motherboards offer at least one Gen 4.0 M.2 port, so you don’t have to load them on a 7200 RPM HDD or slower SATA if you want them to perform at their best.
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Final thoughts on best motherboards for gaming
When it comes to gaming, the motherboard is an essential component as it connects all the other parts of the system together. A good gaming motherboard should have a fast and stable processor, sufficient memory and storage, and good cooling features.
Here are some final thoughts on the best motherboards for gaming:
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490: It is an Intel-based motherboard that supports 10th Gen Intel Core processors. It has a robust power delivery system, fast Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 3 ports for high-speed storage and peripherals.
MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge WiFi: This motherboard is also Intel-based and supports 10th Gen Intel Core processors. It has a high-quality audio design, fast Wi-Fi 6, and a lightning-fast 2.5G LAN port for low-latency online gaming.
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