Why Your Mobo & CPU Really Matter
Your processor is absolutely integral to your build, no matter what sort of PC you’re trying to build. The CPU is the brain of your computer, literally processing every task and program that you run and making sure they work smoothly.
While it’s far from the only important part of your PC, it’s certainly up there as one of the most important. Without a decent CPU, you’ll find browsing and multi-tasking difficult, and the wrong processor can really make workstation and gaming a total chore, or in the worst cases completely impossible.
If the processor is the brain of your PC, then the Motherboard is it’s beating heart. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish with your machine, you won’t get by without a mobo providing power to all of the other integral parts of your PC build.
Since all the rest of your components will plug into it, choosing the right mobo is essential. You’ll need to make sure it has the right ports for the other components you want to add, and that can affect how fast your memory, storage, and processors can be. Choosing the wrong motherboard can leave you severely restricted when it comes to buying parts, or upgrading them in the future.
The Best CPU and Motherboard Combination Picks
When it comes to understanding how important your CPU and Motherboard are as a team, we’ve got you covered. No matter what you need to build a PC for, the options we’ve provided below should give you exactly what you need.
Easily the best pick for anyone working on a tight budget will be a board with the B450 chipset, and a Ryzen 5 2600. This combination will get your new machine up and running, give you some decent performance, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get it. It might not match up with your wildest performance dreams, but it’s certainly a great place to start for new builders, or those looking for a cheap-and-cheerful setup.
The battle that rages between Intel and AMD when it comes to CPUs has been pretty fierce, and while Intel still holds the edge when it comes to gaming, AMD provides a great workstation processor, and in the budget arena they’re both pretty evenly matched. With newer processors now available on the market for quite some time, the older 2600 has seen a huge dip in price, but it still offers a lot of features that make it a highly usable processor in 2021.
It’s a 6 core, 12 thread CPU that comes with clock speeds of 3.4 GHz out of the box, but even that can be boosted to a decent 3.9 GHz with some tweaking. This processor is great for mid-level gaming and a decent amount of multi-tasking and light workstation tasks, especially when combined with our mobo choice.
The MSI B450 Gaming Plus is an insanely popular motherboard and it’s easy to see why. It’s simple, cheap, and well-lasting enough to mean that you’ll get a lot of use out of it before needing to upgrade or replace it. Combine that with a decent amount of support for expansions and upgrades and you can see why this is pretty much the only choice for builders on a budget.
MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon Max WiFi
It’s AMD and MSI once again taking our mid-range spot, and it’s not difficult to explain why. The Ryzen 5 3600 is the next-gen budget CPU that replaced the 2600 we chose above, and is effectively a souped-up version of that processor. It still packs a lot of the same great design, while offering improved performance over its predecessor.
The Ryzen 5 3600 is a great processor when it comes to gaming, providing you with triple digit framerates in a lot of online games depending on your GPU as well. It comes with out-of-the-box clock speeds of 3.6 GHz and can be boosted up to an impressive 4.2 GHz with a little bit of overclocking. Just like its predecessor it’s a 6 core, 12 thread CPU and should provide you with great gaming performance, and decent workstation performance.
The MSI mobo we chose this time is the B450 Gaming Pro Carbon Max WiFi, another board based on the B450 chipset. In terms of expansion and upgrading it’s got a lot of the features that were to be found on the Gaming Plus, but it also has some solid overhauls. The VRM solution here is much better, meaning better overclocking potential overall, and it comes with a great cooling system and RGB features.
When it comes to pure gaming performance, it’s hard not to go for an Intel CPU and ASUS mobo. The Intel i5 11600K is widely considered to be one of the best gaming CPUs on the market, and it’s not hard to see why with its great gaming performance, yet surprisingly affordable price. Similarly, the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero offers all of the key features that a gaming mobo needs.
The choice of an Intel i5 11600K for this combo was almost a no-brainer. Not only is it relatively easy to find one of these processors, but they can also compete against the more expensive CPUs that you’ll find on the market. Out of the box it’s a 6 core, 12 thread processor hitting 3.9 GHz in terms of clock speed. WIth a boost, that can reach a titan 4.9 GHz without too much trouble, even giving some i9s a run for their money.
The Maximus XIII Hero is the latest in a long line of Maximus gaming mobos and provides a lot of great features that make it perfect for a gaming build. Not only is there an epic cooling solution that covers most of the board, but it’s got all the RGB support you could want, and comes with plenty of expansion slots for cards, and high-speed M.2s for faster loading and boot times.
For our final CPU/Mobo combination, we’ve chosen an AMD and ASUS team and that makes a lot of sense for a workstation PC. Not only does this Ryzen 9 provide unparalleled performance when it comes to workstation tasks, but the ASUS TUF line is known for being well-made, hard-wearing, and providing the user with the tools needed to boost performance in all the right ways.
The Ryzen 9 3900X is a great CPU for workstation tasks, and while we could have chosen a much more powerful processor from the Ryzen line, there’s really no need to go out of your way and spend an insane amount of cash when the 3900X provides you with excellent performance without breaking the bank as well. It’s already a 12 core, 24 thread CPU with out-of-the-box speeds of 3.8 GHz that can be boosted up to 4.6 GHz with some overclocking, and with those kind of stats you can tell it’s great for multi-tasking as well as workstation stuff.
Once again the board we’ve chosen, the ASUS TUF X570 WiFi, isn’t the most expensive or powerful board out there, but it’s perfect for a workstation. The TUF line of products from ASUS has always been known for both durability, and reliability, and when you’re working away for hours at a time, you need to know your parts aren’t going to let you down. Combine that with a great VRM, all the expansion slots you could want, and a great cooling system, and you’ve got a perfect choice that won’t let you down or cost the world.
That’s All There Is To It
With this list in hand, you should have no trouble getting started with your next PC build, no matter what sort of PC it is that you’re actually trying to put together. Whether you’re hunting for a bargain or trying to create a super computer you’ll find the parts you need on this list to get what you want at a reasonable price.
If you’re still not sure about your PC build then consider checking out our other articles. We’ve covered everything from reviews on different peripherals and components, to complete build guides that take you from the start to finish of a build and cover all the best parts along the way. All of our guides also include pre-built PC options, just in case you decide to skip the building part altogether.