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.
1. ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING
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
2. GIGABYTE X399 AORUS Gaming 7
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
3. ASUS PRIME X299-A
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
4. GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 9
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
5. MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon
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
6. ASUS ROG Strix X470-F
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
7. MSI X470 GPLUS (GAMING PLUS)
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
8. GIGABYTE X470 AORUS ULTRA GAMING
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
9. ASUS ROG Strix B450-F
ASUS stays at the top of the charts for MOBO manufacturers each year for a reason – they make great boards. If you prefer Ryzen and Athlon chips to Intel’s processors, the ROG Strix B5450-F may be your next motherboard.
If you like what the ROG Strix boards bring to the table design-wise, but use AMD’s chips you’ll love this one. It’s decked out with Aura Sync RGB lighting with two extra RGB headers for total control and has a clean look with a pre-mounted I/O shield to make installation easy. It has the usual array of PCIe slots along with an M.2 socket, but no wireless connectivity options.
This board will look great in any ATX case, and just like the company’s chips, it sports an affordable price tag. There are more than enough ports to keep most gamers happy, and it’s straightforward to set up whether you’re a rookie or a pro.
- Easy to manage
- Quality audio
- Solid overclocked
- Quality control
10. ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E
No, you’re not doing a double take as the ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E shares more similarities than differences with the XI Hero. Both boards are made for the 300 series platform with LGA1151 sockets, but the Z390-E is a bit cheaper if you can get by without a few BIOS buttons and a 4-pin connector.
The ROG Strix Z390-E is a high-tech board that’s smarter than most with AI Overclocking and 5-way optimization – it’s very user-friendly from an overclocking standpoint. OptiMem II is present as well along with a simple, but effective RGB system. In regards to the tech specs, it’s basically the same board as the XI Hero minus the aforementioned extras and a few other things like 3 RGB headers instead of 4. It’s a slick board no matter how you slice it, even if the price is somewhat puzzling.
Simply, put the Maximus XI has better VRMs and a few other bells and whistles that cater to the overclockers. The ROG Strix Z390-E is just a step below that, but the price gap is minimal so it may be a tough decision depending on your needs and build plans.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0
- 8-channel SupremeFX audio
- Pre-mounted I/O shield
11. ASRock Z370 TAICHI (300 Series)
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
12. ASUS Prime Z390-A
Motherboard pricing varies depending on the features overall quality of components used. Well, you don’t need to break the bank for the ASUS Prime Z390-A, an affordable fan favorite built for LGA1141 sockets.
When Intel released the 9th generation of their processor lineup, plenty of gamers knew it was time for an upgrade. The newest iteration of the ASUS Prime Z390-A is perfect for LGA1151 sockets and can handle those chips with ease. You’re also getting a board that’s easy to overclock with 5-way optimization. The company’s FanXpert 4 dynamic cooling system makes an appearance here as well along with their popular Aura Sync RGB lighting.
Like most modern boards from ASUS, there are three PCI-E 3.0 slots and two M.2’s. They are Safe Slot protected against damage from bulky GPUs as well. Overall, it’s an easy board to deal with if you need to overclock although the RGB system isn’t quite as prevalent as systems found on other motherboards. The price is quite nice, however, and we dig those reinforced slots.
- Easy to manage
- Dynamic fan calibration
- Reinforced PCI slots
- No wireless
13. MSI B250M GAMING PRO
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
14. ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero
ASUS managed to crack our list multiple times, but our favorite board from the company comes from the Maximus lineup. The ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero is a big board with plenty of slots and one of the better-looking boards we’ve come across.
The Maximus XI Hero uses the 1151 socket and the Intel Z390 chipset. It’s compatible with 8th and 9th generation Intel processor and features OptiMem II for memory mapping across different PCB layers. It also has 5-way optimization which provides you with intelligent overclocking along with a dedicated onboard clock generator.
While the style of this board is evident, the Aura Sync RGB lighting with addressable headers helps set it apart. Cooling is also excellent, and it has support for up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM like most of the top boards. Other highlights include multi-GPU support for both AMD and NVIDIA cards, Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, a slew of ports, and the ESS ES9023P DAC.
The ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero is a solid upgrade over the previous version and an excellent value for the price considering it has extras missing from other boards in this range. It’s a great choice for ATX cases, and the RGB system adds a nice bit of color to the mix as well.
- Excellent connectivity options
- Addressable RGB headers
- Water cooling support and fan headers
- The price tag
- Only two M.2 slots
15. GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Ultra
GIGABYTE has plenty of boards on the market, but their AORUS line is one that gets our attention with each new release. The GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Ultra is an excellent option if you need a motherboard with some flair and ideal if you’re running an 8th gen chip.
Whether you’re looking for RGB lighting or a board that’s ideal for overclocking, the Z390 AORUS should be on your list. The board has a Smart Fan cooling system with nine temperature sensors and a USB Type-C header for USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity. It has support for dual-channel DDR4 and triple M.2 with Thermal Guard as well.
We’re also fans of the ESS SABRE DAC which produces top-tier audio and the company’s vivid FUSION RGB system. It’s a multi-zone system with 16.8 million colors that pops in the dark and looks great in a case. The Armor is a nice touch as well and helps give it a more futuristic vibe.
This LGA 1151 motherboard if full of cool features and it definitely looks like it belongs in a gamers case. We feel it’s fairly priced considering what it brings to the table compared to similar models and a wise choice if you’re in the market for a board that lets you overclock at high speeds.
- 4,133 MHz Max OC
- RGB FUSION lighting
- Excellent audio and connectivity
- No Wi-Fi
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.