The computer motherboard is perhaps the most misunderstood and overlooked component of a PC. It’s true that the CPU and GPU are going to play a bigger role in most gaming rigs, but if you can’t find the right one within your budget for a gaming motherboard, it’s likely that of these components will work as well as it should. It’s basically glue that holds your computer in place.
Whether you’re looking to build a new gaming PC from the ground up or just get a better understanding of the specs when buying an already built model, our guide can help. Along with providing gaming motherboard reviews for 10 of the best models, we’ve also included a breakdown of some of the most important things you need to know.
6 Best Motherboard for Gaming in 2023 – Reviews
1. MSI Performance Gaming Intel X299
The X299 is the flagship high-end motherboard from a company that specializes almost exclusively in meeting the needs of gamers. And this DDR4 motherboard is as good as you can hope for given its pedigree. The number of available PCIe 3.0 lanes (over 20!) provides a phenomenal amount of room for memory, storage and networking without you having to sacrifice CPU connectivity. This results in 4 M.2 storage slots and one U.2 as well as compatibility for WiFi and USB 3.0.
This LGA 2066 motherboard also features a clean aesthetic, but that won’t be a problem unless you’re looking for an open tower design that really shows the guts. Its VR capabilities (which can produce excellent results without lag) and support for phenomenal sound quality through the built-in BOOST 4 technology are of more practical use.
2. GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 3
If you don’t want to try and get the most out of overclocking your CPU, it’s better to opt for a cheaper Z 3 70 chipset than the more loaded H370 alternatives. And with something like this gigabyte model, you can trade that overclocking potential for a spectacular price and a wide range of features.
It can still reliably serve as an i7 motherboard and has all the goodies you’d expect from the Aorus series: the best and newest WiFi controller, an integrated 2nd generation USB 3.1 controller and a generous choice of RGB lighting. . Motherboards with WiFi are now the rule rather than the exception in a good gaming motherboard, but it’s still nice to see it in such an affordable model. For the most part, overclocking is the only real thing you’re sacrificing here. The ports are still large and protected by heat sinks.
3. GIGABYTE X450 AORUS PRO WIFI
The X450 is AMD’s latest attempt at a high-end processor, and the company seems to have finally found a high-end processor that can hold its own against Intel. The combination of quality and price of the Gigabyte X450 only makes the X450 more viable for gamers. The RGB lighting is substandard, but that’s the only omission (and it’s justifiable) in a board that otherwise punches above its weight class. In addition to the six SATA ports, it has headers for USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports and plenty of space reserved for cooling systems.
The Realtek 1220 audio is respectable on its own, but it’s only bolstered by the inclusion of a solid software suite. Considering the number of cores available in the latest Ryzen processors, this motherboard could well turn your computer into a tank.
4. ASUS ROG Strix Z390-F motherboard
Asus’ Republic of Gamer products are typically bombarded pieces of hardware that strive to deliver innovative new designs, sometimes with mixed results. The Strix Z390-F – I shy away from standards to produce a motherboard that focuses on the fundamentals, and it manages to put just about everything in place. The level of commitment to USB generations means it can meet your needs no matter how old your other components are, and WiFi and Bluetooth are both built in.
The dual M.2 ports are a pleasant surprise considering the price. If you need proof that a mini ITX board can compete with more standard options, the Strix is for you. VRM improvements are also notable, including six components for better virtual memory. It may not be a showpiece, but it’s a masterclass in how a quality manufacturer can do more (much more) with less.
5. ASUS Prime Z390-A Motherboard
The PRIME series from Asus is not technically suitable for gamers. This is a motherboard aimed at hardware enthusiasts, and while it loses some gaming-specific features due to this specialization, its comprehensive functionality makes it a worthy product. It’s a meat and potatoes motherboard, offering little more than what the chipset offers out of the box, but it’s a methodology that allows Asus to keep the price down. And the basic parts of a Z390-A motherboard are pretty beefy anyway.
High-definition audio and Intel Optane overhead are two great features, and if you’re planning on using dual graphics cards, the option is there. The PRIME supports NVIDIA Two Way SLI and AMD 3-way CrossFireX technologies, giving you flexibility in GPU choice.
6. GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming
There’s a reason our list is so packed with Gigabyte’s Aorus builds. They thread the needle of quality and price perfectly, and that’s as true for their Z370 model as it is for any of their other entries on our list. As this is a Model Z-compatible chip, you can expect overclocking functionality, and Gigabyte’s superb cooling tech really shines here.
The Aorus brand protection, which has been multiplied by 5 and which appears on all other models, is also available here, as well as the five-way optimization for ideal overclocking conditions. Gigabyte has also been generous with their specs. Both external and internal USB 3.1 slots are available.
Buying guide for the best gaming motherboards
If you’re looking to build a new gaming computer, you almost never want to start with the motherboard. The CPU and GPU will play the most critical role in a computer’s performance, and since motherboards have very specific capabilities with these components, the ones you have available will be limited by your base specs.
That’s why it’s important to understand what these specs mean at a glance. The ability to browse a motherboard’s specs and immediately understand which ones will work with your components will allow you to quickly narrow down the results to those that are applicable to your build. We present the main features below so that you can easily understand what you are looking at. Once you’ve figured out which cards work with your processor, you can start digging deeper into their specs to see which is the best fit for your needs.
The most important consideration when looking for a new motherboard is what processors it is compatible with. The processor is the living brain of any gaming PC, and finding a powerful processor for your gaming needs will be one of your main considerations when building it. Three of our specs relate to CPU compatibility: socket, chipset, and CPU.
These three specifications can be considered as family, genus and species. The socket type can tell you at a glance which manufacturer’s processor the motherboard supports. Modern Intel processors use 1151 or 2011 form factors, while current AMD processors use AM4 sockets. If you have a specific brand in mind but haven’t decided what kind of processor you want to use yet, this can be a useful identifier.
The chipset is a little narrower, as it directly identifies the group of processors compatible with a motherboard. While AMD and Intel both offer a huge selection of chipsets, the fact that we deal exclusively with gaming motherboards narrows the possibilities considerably. Either way, you have to look to the chipset when trying to pair the right processor combo to the motherboard.
The majority of motherboards on our list are Intel boards. The letter on the front of an Intel chipset tells you its general function. Class H chips are a good choice for basic gaming performance. They are compatible with most modern Intel processors and offer a wide selection of ports. Z-class chips are basically the same, but they have overclocking potential. Class X chipsets are compatible with Intel’s X-series processors and use a 2011 form factor socket.
The main difference between 370 and 390 chipsets is the native inclusion of 802.11ac WiFi and USB 3.1 Gen 2, but many manufacturers have integrated these protocols into 370 motherboards. Only two AMD gaming motherboards made our list. The B450 is a budget-range processor broadly equivalent to Intel’s H-series, while the X470 competes with Intel’s Z390. It is important to understand chipset classifications, as they are not limited to compatible CPUs. It can also give you an overview of the features and variety of ports available.
When looking at which Intel processors are compatible with a motherboard, you want to keep an eye out for which ones support eighth and ninth generation Core processors. Core is the recognized standard for gaming rigs. The eighth generation is a major leap in quality from the previous generation, so anyone looking for a gaming PC that will be equipped to really get the most out of it. party of next-gen games will want to make this a priority.
Random access memory (RAM) is not the only factor that determines the speed of your computer, but it is an important factor. RAM is basically your computer’s short-term memory. The more space you have for RAM, the more information your computer can hold is easily accessible. This reduces the workload on your central processor and results in faster performance. Two factors should be considered when evaluating memory: the number of available slots and the maximum transfer speeds of those slots.
Any good gaming motherboard offers four DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots, but some high-end models offer eight. Eight slots are a great choice for running servers, but four should be enough for most players. 32GB of RAM is more than enough for the biggest AAA games, and that can be achieved with just two modules. It can’t hurt to have more, but you don’t have to worry if the board you’ve chosen only has four.
DDR (double data rate) is the other important definition. It allows RAM modules of the same design to pair together to increase data transfer rates. The current standard is DDR4, and it supports a maximum bandwidth almost twice that which can be achieved with DDR3. If you want to get the most out of your RAM, you’ll want to pair modules of the same capacity and design. Two 8GB modules paired together will have significantly better performance than a single 16GB module.
Today’s biggest games can take up an awful lot of space, and until streaming is a viable alternative to traditional games, it will remain a bottleneck for gaming PCs. hard drives is determined by your motherboard, so you need to make sure you have a reasonable amount of space. Of course, if you’re a dedicated Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed player, your demands will be higher than if your Steam roster is mostly loaded with Indians. There are two formats to consider here: SATA and M.2.
SATA has been the standard used for a long time, and its main advantage is its wide compatibility. SATA slots can be used to connect traditional hard drives, optical drives, and solid state hard drives. SATA also comes in different speed categories. SATA 3, for example, offers a maximum data transfer rate of 6 Mbps. Almost all modern motherboards will carry the SATA 3 designation.
If you’re really looking to maximize those data rates, you should dig a little deeper and look at the supported RAID protocol. This allows multiple drives to work together to transfer data faster. RAID support often varies from SATA port to SATA port in motherboards.
M.2 slots are definitely more modern, but they’re consistently available on all the motherboards we reviewed. M.2 drives are designed like traditional SSDs, but are significantly more compact. They’re a great way to provide more efficient storage in a smaller space (and SSDs are universally superior to HDDs), but M.2 drives come in a number of different lengths, so you’ll need to check and make sure you get an M.2 that fits comfortably on your motherboard. The M.2 slot can also be used to connect some WiFi cards, and they often use their own heatsinks.
A motherboard’s form factor refers to its size and component layout, and it can have a major impact on the type of features and connectivity options available. But you also need to consider the size of your computer case. If a motherboard doesn’t fit in your tower, it won’t do you much good. While there’s a wide variety of form factors on the market, there are three you need to consider when building a gaming rig: ATX, micro ATX, and mini ITX.
Standard ATX motherboards are the most common option in the consumer market, and they are the standard used in most PC towers. They generally offer dimensions of 9.6×12″, although this may vary a bit depending on the manufacturer. If you have room for them, they will be the best choice since they offer the largest selection of slots. Micro ATX motherboards are the middle option, often used in desktop cases. At around 9.6″ in size, they offer fewer slots than a standard ATX, but usually enough slots for graphics cards and a few additional cards. Mini ITXs are the smallest standard, with a standard square dimension of 6.7″. They usually offer only one expansion slot.
Unless the idea of a small frame computer is particularly appealing to you, you’ll almost always want to go with a standard ATX board. This is especially true when you’re looking to build a gaming PC. Even if you don’t have the space to use all of the available expansion slots, a larger board allows you to strengthen your machine over time. without having to replace the entire motherboard.
Finding the right balance between your budget’s max specs and your actual needs is one of the biggest issues gamers face. In some cases, such as the number of expansion slots supported, choosing more will allow you to expand your PC in the future. In other cases, such as over-purchasing RAM capacity, this potential will almost certainly never be utilized. Dual-CPU gaming motherboards generally fall into the latter category.
That doesn’t mean dual processors can’t be useful in hypothetical terms. Packing two separate CPUs into a single computer can result in impressive improvements to your multitasking, and dual CPUs tend to come with extra PCIe and RAM slots. But the four cores that make up the standard baseline for gaming processors are more than enough to meet gamers’ needs. There is a plateau where the CPU value flattens out and the GPU becomes the main area where improvement occurs. Ultimately, a single high-end CPU will outperform two dual-budget cards, and once you start thinking about putting two high-end CPUs in one machine, you don’t just have to deal with expensive installation. You also care about performance that far exceeds gaming needs.
There is an exception to the rule. If you want to stream your games at a professional level, a dual CPU gaming motherboard might be what you’re looking for. Streaming and gaming at the same time can monopolize your performance, and many professionals use separate computers to distribute the workload. A dual CPU can be a reasonable solution that doesn’t require building two separate machines.
Compared to buying specs for a GPU or CPU, a motherboard might seem boring. This means that it can sometimes be overlooked by new builders, but that’s not a mistake you should make. The motherboard may not offer much direct performance on its own, but the choice you make will ultimately determine your computer’s maximum performance threshold. In particular, it is crucial to determine the right CPU combo of the gaming motherboard.
That’s why it’s important not to jump into the deep end of the pool without knowing what you’re talking about. Check out our guides to the best CPUs and GPUs for gaming, and combine them with the knowledge you’ve learned in this guide to create a balanced machine that’s within your budget.