How We Choose and Test our Motherboards
There’s a lot of different factors that can make a motherboard the right, or wrong, choice for a gaming PC build.
From the most expensive, fully-featured cards on the market to the basic stuff that’ll just get your new machine up and running, we’ve looked into every single factor that might affect how well a new mobo is going to perform. We also try our best to provide you with every possible choice no matter what your needs are, or what budget you happen to be working with.
We ensure that every board we choose will serve you well by testing them all ourselves. Not only do we put these parts through rigorous benchmarking, but we also use them in our own machines on a day-to-day basis. You can be sure that every part we recommend is high-quality and highly reliable.
Our Top Intel Core i9 11900K Motherboard Picks
When it comes to a powerful processor like the 11900K, you’ll want to get your hands on an equally powerful motherboard to go with it. The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero is easily the top choice for anyone who doesn’t care how much money they’re spending, as long as they’re getting the best possible mobo for their rig.
There’s an impressive level of build quality on display here, which you can probably expect thanks to that price. Not only is the board itself well made, but it also features some really high-quality heatsinks and amazing power delivery that should make it clear that overclocking appears to be the primary focus of this board. If you want to push extra power through your parts without them melting then the Hero will keep you running strong.
The board features 3 x16 expansion slots, two of which are future-proofed thanks to their PCIe 4.0 compatibility. You also get 4 memory slots to fit DDR4 RAM into, maxing out at 128GB if you’re into having more RAM than you actually need for anything reasonable. In terms of storage expansion, the board features a whopping 4 M.2 ports all of which are protected by the huge heatsink that makes up a massive portion of this board.
When it comes to extra features it should come as no shock that you get plenty to go on with. This mobo features 4 different RGB headers, as well as software support through ASUS’s Auro Sync 2.0 technology. There are also a few minor RGB elements directly on the board itself to make it stand out a little more visually. Plus you get the option for AI-assisted overclocking and cooling, which is nice if you’d like the extra help when it comes to running your OC properly.
If you’re more into boards that don’t require a remortgage but still have plenty of features then you might be more interested in the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI mobo. Not only does it have a lot of the more advanced features that high-end boards have, but this mid-range mobo also contains enough future-proofing to ensure that you’ll still be able to use it over the next few years even when your other components are considered obsolete.
Despite the lower price, the Strix Z590-E packs enough punch in the right areas to give the more expensive Maximus VIII Hero a run for its money. Much like the high-end option, this board features 4 M.2 slots, 2 with PCIe 4.0 support, and all four of which are supported by a huge and very efficient heatsink. It’s a similar story with the expansion slots, which feature 3 PCIe x16 slots, 2 of which are also PCIe 4.0 compatible.
There are 4 memory slots on the board which can take DDR4 RAM of up to 5133Mhz. The I/O shield on the back features 9 different USB ports of various configurations from 2.0 upwards, along with onboard HDMI And DisplayPort support in case you need to run it without a GPU for some reason.
Extra features include built-in WiFi 6 for a faster wireless networking connection and a super-tough PCB that’s made up of 6 layers for added strength. There are also a couple of quality-of-life features on the board’s I/O port as well. You get a clear CMOS button to help if you end up messing up your BIOS settings and need to do a reset, and there’s a BIOS Flashback key you can use to update your BIOS without even needing memory or a processor installed on the board, assuming that you have your BIOS firmware on a memory stick in the specially marked USB port on the back.
ASUS is dominating the top half of this list with their swathe of great motherboards for the most recent generation of Intel processors. The ASUS TUF GAMING Z590-PLUS is a great option for those looking for a high-end board that’s still not too strenuous on the wallet. Of course, if you want both of those things then certain things will need to be sacrificed, and in this case, it’s mainly about the aesthetics.
The TUF GAMING Z590-PLUS features two pretty huge heatsinks to help dissipate heat, as well as individual heatsinks for the 3 different M.2 slots. One of those slots is PCIe 4.0 compatible, as long as you’re rocking an 11th generation processor to enable it of course. There are also only 2 x16 expansion slots, one 3.0 and one 4.0/3.0 hybrid, so you can at least run dual GPUs if that’s something you like to be able to do.
One thing you can always be sure of with ASUS TUF products is the fact that they’re built solidly. This board uses military-grade parts to ensure they’re hard-wearing, and the various heatsinks dotted around the board are incredibly sturdy. You could probably cause a fair bit of damage with them, which is a good sign that they’re not going to snap off if you’re a bit clumsy during the building stage.
As you can probably imagine from a high-end board that’s aiming for a more bare-bones approach, there’s not much concession here for aesthetics. The board doesn’t feature any built-in RGB elements by default, but at the very least there are 4 different RGB headers if you want to add a little splash of color at a later date. You also have the benefit of built-in WiFi 6 with this board as well.
Sometimes, size actually does matter, especially when it comes to building your dream PC. If you’re trying to build a powerful but compact machine for some reason, then the previously-features ATX boards will probably leave you feeling cold. Luckily, Gigabyte has you covered with the Z590I AORUS ULTRA mobo, a powerful board that manages to pack a lot of power despite being the smallest board on this list by far.
Obviously, being quite a small board, the ULTRA only features a single expansion slot, a PCIe x16 4.0 slot, in particular, so you’ll be able to run an up-to-date card at the very least. There are also only 2 DDR 4 RAM slots as well, which can run memory up to 4600Mhz but maxes out at 64GB maximum memory size due to the reduced number of slots.
The I/O shield is protected by a thick bit of armor that also acts as a heatsink for the board as well, matching the two other heatsinks that protect everything else in both style and performance. You’ll need all those heatsinks too since this board can put out a quite surprising amount of power. You might be able to get away with some light overclocking, depending on your chosen case, but even if you’re not into that you can be sure you’re not going to suffer from thermal throttling.
You don’t get too much in the way of aesthetic considerations, which isn’t much of a shock due to the tiny nature of this board. One thing you do get is a couple of different RGB headers so you can at least add some flash to your build if you want. The I/O shield also features 8 USB ports of various different configurations and ethernet support with an Intel 2.5Gbe LAN port.
When it comes down to getting the most budget-friendly board out there, you won’t find a better choice out there than the ASUS Prime Z590M-PLUS. While it doesn’t carry some of the more advanced features of high-end, high-price boards, it has enough features to make it worth considering and will get the job done when it comes to running your 11900K without the extra bells and whistles.
The Prime Z590M-PLUS features 2 PCIe x16 slots, one of which is compatible with PCIe 4.0 thankfully, so you can run some up-to-date cards despite the budget nature of the board. You also get 3 M.2 slots, 2 with PCIe 3.0 1 with PCIe 4.0, so you can get some super fast SSDs running in your rig without much issue. Bear in mind the fact that none of these M.2 slots come with heatsinks so you might have to account for that when you’re putting your build together.
You also get 4 slots for memory expansion, compatible with up to 4 sticks of DDR4 RAM running at a maximum overclocked clock speed of 5133Mhz. In terms of ports on your I/O shield, you get 8 USB ports, ranging from 2.0 to 3.2, and even featuring a Type-C port in case you need that for certain peripherals. There’s also a DisplayPort and HDMI onboard in case you need to do some tinkering before you install your GPU.
You could probably have guessed but this budget board doesn’t feature any RGB elements on the board itself. You do at least get 4 RGB headers, at least 2 of which support AURA RGB, the software ASUS bundles with a lot of their mobos to help users control their RGB setup. There’s also an Intel 1G Ethernet port for a somewhat speedy wired connection for those high-pressure gaming moments.
Things to Think About
If you’re buying a new mobo, there are a lot of different factors that are probably vying for your attention. It can be sort of confusing, even for veteran builders, so we’ve compiled a list below of some of the factors you need to have in your mind when making your decision.
Form factor refers to the different size standards of mobo that you’ll find on the hunt. ATX is the largest, mATX is a little smaller, and ITX is the smallest. All of these form factors have different advantages and disadvantages that you’ll need to take into account when deciding which one you’re aiming for.
ATX boards are the best for those seeking a high-performance build, but can often run into issues regarding how big the final product ends up being. At the other end of the scale, ITX boards are really compact and fit well into a small footprint case without too much trouble. The issue with these sorts of cards is a reduced number of ports making upgrading a bit tougher, and of course, the more compacted cases can lead to airflow issues that could cause your PC to overheat.
Most of the boards on this list are ATX, primarily to take full advantage of the powerful i9 11900K processor without causing it to melt. Luckily there is a single ITX board included just in case you’re adamant about making a smaller PC.
Arguably even more important than the form factor is the socket on your chosen board. The socket that your motherboard has will define which processors can fit into it. You should make sure you know which socket your processor uses and only look at boards that feature that same socket. There’s no quicker path to disappointment than falling in love with a mobo only to discover it features the incorrect socket for your CPU.
With the 11900K and all 11th Gen Intel CPUs for that matter, you’re looking for a board that features the LGA 1200 socket. Incidentally, the LGA 1200 is also compatible with 10th Gen Intel CPUs as well, so if you fancy a downgrade for some reason you won’t struggle too hard there.
The amount and type of RAM slots on your board are a huge factor when it comes to making your PC run as fast as possible. Fewer total slots mean a lower maximum memory size, and your motherboard will only cope with RAM of a certain clock speed, so you need to bear that in mind when picking up a memory kit.
Another important factor with memory is overclocking. Not all boards are able to overclock memory, so if you’re looking for the ability to overclock every single aspect of your rig then keep an eye out for boards that feature RAM overclocking on the writeup.
NVME and SATA
SATA and NVMe ports are hugely important when it comes to dictating the maximum storage space of your new rig. SATA ports will allow you to plug in HDDs, SSDs, and even optical drives if you ever find yourself missing physical media. NVMe will also allow you to plus in SSDs, but they have much high data transfer rates than the HDDs that work through SATA instead.
That’s All There Is To It
Hopefully, you should now feel all clued up on the best options when it comes to your Intel Core-i9 11900K-compatible motherboards. All of the boards on this list are great choices no matter what your budget or intent is, and we’ve endeavored to give you as many different options as possible.
If you’re still not 100% decided on which mobo or CPU to get your hands on, consider checking out our other articles. We’ve reviewed a wide variety of different PC components from a huge number of different price points as well as intended uses. We’re sure to have covered something you’re interested in, including complete build guides and pre-built PC reviews.