When you’re building a gaming PC, you have to choose the best motherboards for gaming. These motherboards are vital to creating a gaming rig that can last you for years. Most people think about the CPU or graphics card when building their gaming PC or buying a pre-assembled rig. However, the motherboards for gaming will hold up the entire ensemble.
Motherboards come in different sockets that are compatible with certain chipsets. While you could pair a motherboard meant for AMD CPUs with an Intel chipset, you will not get the best bang for your buck in these situations. This is why you have to consider multiple crucial factors when choosing a motherboard for gaming. Without further ado, let’s look at these factors.
What are the key factors when choosing the best motherboards for gaming?
Before answering this question, we have to get a few basic details out of the way regarding motherboards. Let’s take a look at them.
The basic principles of motherboards for gaming
- Sockets – Motherboards come in different sockets explicitly meant for specific CPUs from manufacturers like Intel or AMD. If you spend a significant amount on a CPU and find that the motherboard’s socket doesn’t support it, it could cost you plenty of extra bucks to get this changed. Ensure that you check the motherboards’ and CPUs’ socket compatibility before purchasing.
- Motherboard sizes – Motherboards for gaming come in different sizes. There are three primary variants to choose from. These are ATX, Mini-ATX, and Micro-ATX. ATX is the largest motherboard size, while Mini is the smallest. Mini-ATX and Micro-ATX motherboards are meant to be used with smaller computers and cabinets. More often, they’re cheaper too. However, you’ll also have to compromise on the ports and slots if the motherboard is a smaller size.
- Budget – Motherboards aren’t as expensive as the latest GPUs or CPUs. Nevertheless, you need to set aside a significant amount of money for a motherboard that you can use for a long time. In other words, you’re looking for a motherboard that offers upgradability. This is even more pertinent if you want to buy the newer CPUs and overclock them.
- The essentials – Even though you’re looking for the best motherboards for gaming that allow room for upgrades, you shouldn’t unnecessarily spend on motherboards. Some motherboards are loaded with in-built WiFi and particular ports for tech enthusiasts to tinker with. Don’t pay extra for them if you’re not someone who plans to use these ports. Pay only for the essentials.
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The nitpicks when choosing the best motherboards for gaming
Now that we’ve taken a look at the fundamental principles of choosing motherboards for gaming, we can look at the nitpicks. These are the more detailed properties you should consider before buying the best motherboards for gaming under your budget.
This is the most essential part of choosing motherboards for gaming. This is specific as motherboards are often designed keeping in mind particular chipsets. The latest Intel CPU, such as the 11th and 12th generation processors, requires a motherboard with an LGA 1200 socket. If you’re going for older chipsets, such as those from the 9th generation, you’ll need LGA 1151 sockets. If all of this seems too technical, you could always go for a more straightforward choice with AMD. Even the modern AMD processors use the same AM4 sockets. This makes it easier for you to choose a motherboard as you’re less likely to have compatibility issues.
If you’re going for AMD Threadripper CPUs, the motherboards need to use the TR4 sockets. Even the high-end Intel processors use the LGA 2066 sockets. However, these are meant for other uses, apart from gaming. So, unless you’re planning on building a supercomputer, you don’t need these sockets for the moment. Moreover, if you want to overclock the CPU, it’s recommended to go for the high-end motherboards for gaming.
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The best motherboards for gaming, for your use case, come in different sizes too. You have to decide which size motherboard you’re going to buy as it determines the number of ports that you’ll have available for use.
Usually, people go for ATX motherboards as it is the standard size. It offers a good number of ports and leaves space for upgrades in the future. With Micro-ATX motherboards, you get roughly 2.4 inches more space in the cabinet/chassis. This also means fewer ports available for use. Lastly, the Mini-ATX motherboards are the smallest, and you should go for them only if you plan to build a mini-gaming PC. Space for dual slots and RAM upgrades are the least here. You might even face connectivity issues due to a lack of extra ports.
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Ports also determine for how long you can use your gaming PC. If you get a motherboard for gaming that doesn’t have a few modern ports, you’ll have to change the motherboard sooner rather than later. This is why you should look at the available ports before choosing a motherboard. Let’s go through some of the essential ports you should have in your motherboard today.
- USB 3/USB 3.1 Gen1 – These are truly universal as they’re used with most accessories and peripherals you can buy. They offer good transfer speeds and lower latencies, primarily when gaming. USB 3.2 Gen2 is also available. They provide incredibly high transfer speeds. However, you’re not likely to find them in many entry-level motherboards for gaming. They’re only available in the mid-range and premium motherboards.
- USB 2 – This is mainly for the introductory keyboards and mice that you may use with your gaming rig. This port doesn’t offer much speed, but it’ll get the job done, especially if you’re not a professional gamer.
- USB Type-C – This port is now used almost everywhere, especially if you want to connect your phone. They’re mostly USB 3.1 (Gen1 or Gen2).
Other ports such as HDMI are offered through most modern GPUs. You don’t need them unless you plan to use only the integrated graphics. That is hardly an option for modern gaming – discrete graphics cards are the way to go. It will also help if you have a Thunderbolt port in your motherboards for gaming. Unfortunately, they’re difficult to find unless you’re willing to spend a substantial amount. Their most significant advantage is the data transfer speeds. Nevertheless, this isn’t an essential component, and you can do without this port for the time being.
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This is essential when choosing the best motherboards for gaming. In today’s gaming era, you can manage very well with 16GB of RAM. Modern games won’t be utilising more than 16GB of RAM, at least for now. 32GB might be considered overkill but can be a good investment for the future. Most mainstream motherboards for gaming come with four RAM slots. High-end motherboards often come with eight slots. If you’re going for a smaller motherboard, you’ll be limited to two slots of RAM. If you only for a motherboard with two slots of RAM, you’ll have to remember that you’ll have to spend more on the RAM to utilise the dual channels for maximum efficiency.
If you’re a mainstream gamer, the only motherboards you need to go for are the ATX and Micro-ATX motherboards. These motherboards provide the standard short PCIe x1 and longer PCIe x16 expansion slots. The first is used for storage expansion, and the latter is used for graphics cards. If you want to install multiple graphics cards, you’ll need the higher-end motherboards for gaming.
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Many motherboards for gaming offer excellent RGB lighting options. However, they tend to be expensive and can set you back financially by a significant amount. Unless aesthetics are critical to you and you plan to show off the lighting segments inside the chassis, there’s no need for a motherboard with lighting.
Our Picks For The Best Gaming Motherboards
Buying the best gaming motherboards can be a complicated affair. Motherboards come in different sizes and are also meant for certain chipsets. If your motherboard doesn’t have compatibility with the CPU chipset that you’re using, it will not be able to perform to its full potential. Moreover, you’ll also have to consider other aspects of your gaming rig, such as the ports you’ll need and the number of RAM slots.
Regardless, buying the best gaming motherboards under your specific budget doesn’t have to be a complete hassle. You’ll find plenty of motherboards that fit your requirements without breaking the bank. You’ll have to research and make an essential list of your needs. Sooner rather than later, you’re bound to find the gaming motherboards that you’re looking for. To make things slightly more accessible for you, we’ve curated a list of the best gaming motherboards for particular budgets. Let’s look at the entries now!
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Asus ROG Strix X570-F – Best overall
The Asus ROG Strix X570-F is one of the best gaming motherboards you can buy in today’s market. While it has a premium price tag, the features you’re getting with this beast are amazing. You will not have to upgrade your motherboard for at least a few years. It’s made explicitly for AMD chipsets, as it comes with an AM4 chip. This makes sense as AMD Ryzen chipsets are comparatively cheaper today and don’t compromise on performance. It’s got multiple ports, including one which supports USB 3.2 Gen2 for maximum speed. In addition, it’s got heatsinks and a water pump if you’re into liquid cooling. For those of you who want to show off the motherboard, it also comes with the Asus Aura RGB lighting. Install this with a compatible Ryzen 5000 series CPU, and you’re good to go!
MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi – Premium pick
If money is no bar for you, and you want the absolute best motherboard for gaming, go for the MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi motherboard. This beautiful motherboard is designed specifically for Intel CPU chipsets. More specifically, it supports the latest Intel Core 12th Generation “Alder Lake” processors. This implies that you will not have to upgrade either the CPU or motherboard for a few years. The motherboard will support you until the next generation of CPUs comes along, which will take a while.
Furthermore, it supports the latest DDR5 RAM, and you can expand it up to 128GB. You could also overclock the RAM up to 6400MHz without facing any issues. It’s got the latest ports to ensure support for the new graphics cards.
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MSI MAG B560M Mortar – Best mid-range option
For most mainstream gamers, a mid-range motherboard works out perfectly. They support the mid-range CPUs and come with all the fundamental ports that you might need for gaming. With this offering from MSI, you’re getting one of the best gaming motherboards that come under the Micro-ATX segment. Since this is a Micro-ATX motherboard, you’ll have to compromise on specific ports and a few RAM slots. Nevertheless, the money you’ll save on this motherboard can be used for buying better RAM. Moreover, it supports all the Intel Core 10th and 11th generation processors. Since most games utilise these processors at their recommended settings, you’ll play most games on High to Ultra settings.
Thanks to the Digital PWM and PCI-E Steel Armor, it’s also highly durable. These components provide proper stability and efficiency under any conditions. For a mid-range budget, you can go for this motherboard with your eyes closed.
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MSI B460M PRO-VDH MATX – For the budget-conscious gamer
At the entry-level, gamers are not entirely newbies to the gaming world but might be starting on their PC assembling journey. It’s also possible that you want to build a second gaming PC under a tight budget. In this situation, you’re looking for the best bang for your buck. With the best gaming motherboards, there’s none better than the MSI B460M PRO-VDH MATX. At the budget segment, it provides all that you’ll need to create an excellent gaming rig for 1080p gaming.
This particular beauty comes with a user-friendly design perfect for those assembling their own rig. You can control the motherboard’s settings via the BIOS. The motherboard supports up to Intel Core 10th generation processors, which are classified as entry-level gaming CPUs today. In addition to this, all the primary ports have been provided so that you don’t face connectivity issues. This also includes onboard WiFi and Bluetooth solutions from Intel. For the RAM, you can expand it up to 128GB DDR4 at 2933MHz. Lastly, it’s a highly durable motherboard, thanks to the Steel Armor implementation. All of this makes it an excellent choice for the budget buyer.
Gigabyte AMD B365M Gaming HD – Best for beginners
If you’re assembling your first ever gaming rig and are working with a shoestring budget, this is one of the best gaming motherboards. The Gigabyte AMD B365M Gaming HD is perfect for beginners. It comes with an LGA 1151 socket ideal for Intel Core 8th and 9th Generation processors. While you may not work the latest games at their Ultra settings with compatible components, this is an excellent choice for your first foray into the world of gaming.
It also comes with Dual Channel DDR4 RAM support, ensuring that you get the best performance possible. In terms of ports, you may not get the newest USB 3.1 or 3.2 port connectivity, but it gets the basics right. You’ll have all the fundamental ports that you need to assemble a budget gaming rig. In terms of GPUs, you’re better off with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1600 series, as it will provide good performance and compatibility. This is an excellent, budget-oriented option for gamers who will be gaming at 1080p resolutions.
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These are our picks for the best gaming motherboards at every price range and preference. You’ve got a premium pick with the MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi motherboard that’s perfect for high-end gaming. For our more budget-conscious readers, either the MSI B460M PRO-VDH MATX or Gigabyte AMD B365M Gaming HD options. Of course, the former supports better RAM and more recent CPUs, but if you’ve got an extremely tight budget, the latter will see you through the most recent games. Hopefully, you’ve now got an idea about the best gaming motherboards and can use this as a blueprint for your newest gaming PC.
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Anirban Dutta Choudhury
Writer, researcher, and avid gamer. Geeks out over postmodern novels and the latest PC games. Usually intends all his puns.