Best Motherboard for Gaming

Picking the right motherboard is essential but tricky; there’s so many specs to go over, but it’s your PC’s foundation.

It connects all your components together, and calls the ultimate shots on how much overclocking you can do and how fast your gaming PC will actually be.

If you get it wrong, you might end up having to rebuild everything later down the line.

Which is why we’ve done the legwork for you and selected the top gaming motherboards for all budgets.

What Makes a Good Motherboard for Gaming?

Compatibility

Compatibility reigns king for motherboards. First up, you’ve got to match up your motherboard with your components (or soon-to-be components). This is particularly crucial for CPUs.

The CPU socket on your motherboard will either be Intel or AMD, so you need to pick your team now. And even then different models can require different sockets. The latest Intel Core CPUs use LGA 1151, whilst the latest AMD chips use AM4 CPU.

Aside from this, you want to check it supports your RAM and it’s got enough PCIe slots, memory slots and ports, taking into account any extras you might want to add later.

Finally, think about casing; make sure it can actually fit into your case.

Size

There’s 3 main sizes (or to use the more technical term, form factors) of motherboard: ATX is the largest and most ‘standard’ size, Micro-ATX is smaller and Mini-ITX is the smallest. (I know, you would think Micro would be the smallest but it isn’t).

Generally, the bigger the board, the better; it will have more features, and more connectors, heatsinks, card expansion slots, and RAM slots.

Micro and Mini have to inevitably make some pretty large sacrifices, so we recommend ATX if you can.

How We Choose Motherboards for Gaming

Features and Performance

Although specs are important, real-life testing is even better. For example, for gaming, gaming benchmarks and testing how well a motherboard can handle overclocking is crucial.

Purpose

We always bear the user purpose in mind, instead of just going for the highest specs.

Value for money

The price has to be reasonable and fit for purpose. And the most important question is, can you get more for your money elsewhere?

Best Overall Motherboard for Gaming

Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro Wifi

Tech Specs

Form Factor: ATX

Socket: LGA-1151 (8th and 9th-gen only)

Chipset: Intel Z390

 

PROS

  • Overclocks well
  • Wifi
  • Great value

CONS

  • Not the most power-efficient
  • 2nd M.2 slot is under the GPU slot

 

Aorus target gamers, and this model is the best of the bunch hitting a sweet spot between performance and value.

It’s aimed at those using the latest 8th or 9th generation Intel chips, and gives premium features at a mid-range price

There’s 3 steel-reinforced full-length PCle 3.0 slots, perfect for gamers, allowing three-way Crossfire multi-graphics cards.

For USBs, there’s 10 in total: 1 USB 3.1 G2 Type-A, 2 USB 3.1 G2 Type-C, 3 USB 3.1 G1 Type-A and 4 USB 2.0 ports.

In terms of memory, there’s 4 slots allowing 128GB of DDR4 RAM.

There’s also 2 M.2 slots with their own heatsinks, and 6 SATAs.

It features a stellar Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec.

It also includes the capability to install a Thunderbolt adapter, which is usually reserved for more high-end motherboards.

It overclocks well, overclocking an i7-8700k chip from 4.3GHz to 5.0GHz easily.

It’s also packed with plenty of RGB lighting on the RAM slots, the chipset heatsink, the rear panel cover, and the audio PCB separation line.

Honorable Mentions: 

Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro: if you’re not fussed about wifi, Aorus also offers a non-wifi option which could save you some cash.

Best Bang for the Buck Motherboard for Gaming

Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X

Tech Specs

Form Factor: ATX

Socket: LGA 1151

Chipset: Intel Z390

 

PROS

  • Cheap
  • Good overclocking
  • Excellent USB ports

CONS

  • Voltage regulator runs hot
  • No front-panel USB3 Gen2
  • No RGB

 

This the best budget option for overclocking Intel’s latest chips, and is more than capable for mid-range chips too.

It’s very similar to the slightly more expensive Z390 Gaming SLI model (which is now discontinued in the US), making it a steal.

2 full-length PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA M.2 slots are featured, one of which is reinforced, and one has its own heatsink. Memory has a maximum capacity of 64GB.

There’s 8 USB ports in total: 1 USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, 5 USB 3.0 Type-A and 2 USB 2.0 ports. 2 extra 2.0 and 2 3.0 ports can be made via the internal headers.

Audio is controlled by a Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec, which is cheaper than the SLI’s ALC1220-VB.

It runs a lot hotter than the SLI, so you’d need a fan for powerful chips to keep the voltage regular cool, but you’d do this anyway.

It’s overclocking performance was incredible, overclocking a Core i9-9900K chip to 4.9GHz as well as some of the best on the market.

Honorable Mentions: 

Gigabyte Z390 Gaming SLI: if you can get hold of one of these and are willing to spend a little more, this gives a little better performance.

Five More Strong Motherboards for Gaming

  1. Asus ROG Maximus XI Code

Tech Specs

Form Factor: ATX

Socket: LGA-1151 (8th and 9th-gen only)

Chipset: Intel Z390

 

PROS

  • Incredible overclocking
  • Packed with unique features
  • Excellent BIOS

CONS

  • Pricey
  • M.2 slots share space

 

If you’ve invested in a top-of-the-line 9th generation Intel chip and you want the most elite motherboard to match, look no further.

The Z390 chipset supports 8th and 9th generation Intel chips.

Memory is DDR4 with a maximum 64GB capacity across 4 RAM slots.

Slots consist of 3 full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which support two-way SLI or three-way CrossFire multi-graphics cards.

Accessories include a SLI High-Bandwidth Bridge, helpful for installing GeForce cards.

It provides 6 SATA ports and 2 M.2 slots. In terms of USB, there’s 10 in total: 3 USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C and 6 USB 3.0 Type-A ports.

There’s also two notable buttons, a BIOS Flashback and a CMOS reset, perfect for overclocking gamers who need to constantly reboot and reset.

The audio codec is quality Supreme FX S1220A HD, with 5 3.5mm audio jacks and an S/PDIF optical output.

Wifi is of course available with 2 Wi-Fi antenna connectors powered by an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 chip. This model comes with 2 antennae with decent cable lengths so you can move them around the room to get the best signal.

The BIOS is well-designed, with a beginners mode that even teaches users how to overclock, and an advanced mode for the pros.

Asus knows the way to gamers hearts with its styling. It’s covered in what Asus calls ‘ROG RGB Armor’, a ton of plastic and metal enabling it to be covered with attractive RGB lighting.

This includes the power and reset switches, PCIe and rear panel covers, and the Republic of Gamers logo across the center of the board.

It’s only the price that will preclude it from some, but believe it or not it’s not the most expensive in the Maximus series. Nevertheless, this is the one we think represents the best value at the moment.

Honorable Mentions: 

ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 – slightly cheaper, with 1 more M.2 port, but not as good in performance.

  1. Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra

Tech Specs

Socket: AM4

Chipset: AMD X570

Form Factor: ATX

 

PROS

  • Front and Rear USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port/header
  • Three high speed M.2 slots with heatsinks
  • Great expandability
  • Great overclocking

CONS

  • Only Gen2 M.2 slot

 

If you’re looking to use a AMD Ryzen 3rd or 2nd Generation chip for gaming such as the quality Ryzen 7 2700 or 3700X, this is the best motherboard sporting the AMD X570 chipset.

It delivers great performance, stability and overclocking, topped up with an attractive design and expandability options.

This model holds its own against more expensive X570 boards, the only major difference between losing 2.5G network capabilities and 2 less SATA ports.

It’s a very well-rounded board with 3 M.2 slots, premium audio, wifi, a quiet fan and plenty of USB slots.

It’s also backward-compatible with Ryzen 1000 series and other AM4-socket processors.

Memory is DDR4 with speeds up to DDR4 4400, with up to 128GB over 4 RAM slots and 6 SATA ports.

There’s plenty of fast USB connectivity with 10 USB ports, including 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one Type-C).

It uses a premium Realtek ALC1220-VB audio codec.

The voltage regulator heatsinks are a bit revolutionary, with a direct-touch heatpipe and a fin design that increases heat dissipation area by 300%.

There are 3 full-length PCIe 4.0 slots, the top 2 of which are reinforced, supporting two-way SLI and up to three-way CrossFire multi-graphics card configuration.

Gaming performance was similar to other more expensive X570 models (Crosshair VIII’s 64W and ASRock Phantom Gaming) when playing Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.

It overclocks well with no issues and no overheating, similar to more expensive X570 boards.

It’s also 12% more efficient than a few other X570 models, and temperatures peaked at just 148W, lower than Crosshair VIII’s 64W and the ASRock Phantom Gaming’s 218W.

RGB lighting is more subtle than some, on the left voltage regulator heatsink and audio section, though it does come with a few headers if you want to add more.

Honorable Mentions: 

ASRock X570 Steel Legend WiFi ax – if you’re on a tight budget but need an X570, try this one instead.

  1. Asus X570 ROG Crosshair VIII Hero Wi-Fi

Tech Specs

Socket: AM4

Chipset: AMD X570

Form Factor: ATX

 

PROS

  • Amazing overclocking
  • Tons of slots and expandability
  • 2.5G ethernet

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Chipset fan in an awkward position

 

This is the best high-end AMD X570 for enthusiast gamers and overclockers who want some extra oomph. It pairs well with the much-lauded Ryzen 9 3900X chip.

It’s packed with features, and is incredibly powerful and reliable.

There is the more expensive Crosshair VIII Formula variation, but we think the extra money just isn’t worth it in terms of overall performance.

It comes with a strong voltage regulator, lots of USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, Wifi 6 and a stellar audio codec in the form of ROG SupremeFX.

Memory is DDR4 RAM supporting up to 128GB over 4 RAM slots and 8 SATA ports.

There’s 3 full-length PCIe slots, 2 of which are reinforced. All support SLI twin or CrossFire twin- or triple-card installations.

Two M.2 slots can also run SATA or PCIe.

The voltage regulator is covered by 2 heatsinks, which are cleverly connected by a heatpipe. The chipset also has a large heatsink and a small fan, which is quiet and can last up to 60,000 hours.

The only issue is the chipset fan might be blocked when using a dual-slot graphics card, which isn’t ideal.

There’s 12 USB ports in total, including an incredible 8 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (seven Type-A, one Type-C).

There’s also quality 2.5G Realtek based LAN.

There’s 16 IR3555 PowIRstages that can handle 60 amps each, perfect for overclocking.

It comes with a power and reset button, as well as very handy voltage read points.

The BIOS is well-organized. It features beginners and advanced modes, as well as a ton of overclocking options.

It’s all-black aside from a grey steel diagonal stripe running across the board.

They go for an understated RGB look on the rear I/O shroud and chipset heatsink, including an ROG logo, but it comes with more headers if you want the full bling effect.

It’s 12 USB ports(much more than most), 2.5G ethernet, 8 SATA ports, and incredible overclocking are stand-out features.

Honorable Mentions: 

ASRock Phantom Gaming X – slightly cheaper if you don’t want to overclock as much.

  1. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC

Tech Specs

Form Factor: Micro-ATX

Socket: LGA-1151 (8th and 9th-gen only)

Chipset: Intel Z390

 

PROS

  • Wi-Fi
  • Realtek ALC1220 HD audio code
  • Good overclocking

CONS

  • Voltage regulator gets hot under heavy loads

 

If you’re Team Blue and want a smaller Micro-ATX, this is our top pick.

It offers higher-end features for gamers at a mid-range price.

This model is the micro-version of the Gaming Edge AC model (mATX).

It’s still got the same Realtek ALC1220 HD audio code and Wi-Fi, but actually with a better adaptor than it’s larger sibling, in the form of an Intel 9560 802.11ac 2T2R.

It comes with 2 full-length PCIe 3.0 slots, and supports two-way SLI and CrossFire multi-GPU configurations. There’s also 2 PCIe 3.0 x 1 slots.

Memory is DDR4-4500 with up to 64GB across 4 RAM slots. There’s 2 M.2 slots and 4 SATA ports.

There’s 2 USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-A and Type-C) and 4 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and the internal headers have an additional 4 USB 3.0 and 4 USB 2.0 ports.

Overclocking is good across 2 RAMs overall, but when testing it to the max with the i9-9900K, the voltage regulator definitely gets hot, and you will need a very effective fan. With a lesser chip, performance should be much better.

Honorable Mentions:

ROG Maximus XI Gene – a more expensive microATX, but better at overclocking.

  1. Gigabyte X570-I Aorus Pro Wi-Fi

Tech Specs

Socket: AM4

Chipset: AMD X570

Form Factor: ITX

 

PROS

  • Two M.2 slots
  • Great gaming performance and overclocking for size

CONS

  • No Thunderbolt 3
  • Other models have more USB ports

 

The Gigabyte X570-I Aorus Pro Wi-Fi is an excellent micro AMD chip, with one of the best layouts you can get, making the most of the small space.

It’s also very powerful, capable enough for the best gaming rigs.

It’s got a premium audio codec, 7.1 channel Realtek ALC1220-VB, as well as Wifi 6.

It unusually includes 2 M.2 slots. There’s 4 SATA ports, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 header, 1 full-length PCIe 4.0 x 16 slot and 2 M.2 slots, though only 1 has a heatsink. The PCIe and RAM slots are reinforced.

There’s a respectable 6 USB ports in total, 2 of which are USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (Type-A red, and Type-C), and four USB 3.0 ports.

The voltage regulator has a large, effective heatsink and the chipset fan was quiet.

Memory is up to DDR4 4400.

Performance-wise, it overclocks the Ryzen 3700X chip easily, and gaming performance was similar to other X570 models.

It was also 7% more efficient than several other X570 models in default mode.

It’s all-black, except for an aluminum finish on some ports and the voltage regulator heatsink.

RGB lighting is again on the subtle side, with 8 LEDs on the right-hand side, but more headers if you need them.

Honorable Mentions: 

ASRock X570 ITX – more expensive, with only 1 M.2 slot, but a Thunderbolt 3 port if you need it.

Which Motherboard for Gaming Should I Buy?

For most Intel gamers, the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro Wifi is your best bet. It can handle the latest 8th or 9th generation Intel chips, with premium features at a mid-range price. 

AMD gamers, on the other hand, will be best-suited to the Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra.

Budgeteers will want to go for the Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X, which is cheap but can still overclock a Core i9-9900K chip to 4.9GHz as well as some of the best on the market.

High-end Intel gamers will find enough power in the Asus ROG Maximus XI Code, whereas the Asus X570 ROG Crosshair VIII Hero Wi-Fi is a great choice for enthusiast AMD gamers.

For those needed smaller form factors, Gigabyte X570-I Aorus Pro Wi-Fi is currently the best mini-ATX motherboard for AMD chips, whilst the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC is a great micro-ATX board for Intel users.