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 Ryzen 5 3600X Motherboard Picks
When it comes to running a mid-range processor like the 3600X, it’s certainly worth considering a mid-range board to go right along with it. Enter the ASUS TUF GAMING X570-PLUS WIFI mobo. It’s a really solid mid-range mobo straight from ASUS’s TUF GAMING line, so you can be sure that it’s not going to fall apart in your hands during setup. You can also be pretty sure that this board is a great choice for those who are looking to build their dream mid-range machine.
The TUF X570-PLUS features a lot of little design touches that mark the TUG GAMING line of products. The PCB has been constructed from 6 separate layers to make it incredibly tough, and that toughness is backed up even further by the heatsinks that make up a chunk of the board. These things are rock-solid, and do an excellent job of dissipating heat from the mobo quickly.
In terms of expansion, you have various different slot options. You get 2 PCIe x16 slots, both supporting PCIe 4.0, so you can be sure they’re at least a little future-proof for now. It’s a similar story with the two M.2 ports on the board, as they both also support PCIe 4.0 and can run the latest SSDs without any issue. Although, it is worth noting that only one of the two M.2 slots actually features a dedicated heatsink to keep it cool.
Honestly, the most impressive feature of the board is easily the overall cooling system. It features a powerful fan on the board itself to really keep your close-to-board components as cool as possible. There’s also support for RGB through ASUS’s Auro Sync software, and even a minor RGB light on the board itself to get you started, just in case you forgot to buy those LED strips you were hoping could bling your build out a bit.
If you’re aiming for a board with a bit more power and room for some higher-end upgrades in the future, then you may want to consider the Gigabyte X570 AORUS master. It is packed with both the performance and extra features that you expect from a premium board, yet still isn’t the most expensive card you’re going to find on the market. As long as your budget can stretch to meet it, this is an excellent choice.
As you can probably expect from a premium board like this, there are 4 RAM slots supporting DDR4 RAM up to clock speeds of 5100 Mhz. There are also 4 PCIe x16 4.0 expansion slots so you’re more than set for a double GPU setup plus another expansion like a capture card. Speaking of future-proofing, you also get 3 M.2 ports all of which feature their own powerful heatsink and support for PCIe 4.0.
Marks of quality are all over this mobo. The back I/O shield comes with one hell of a chunky heatsink, inlaid with some pretty nice RGB elements. A lot of work has gone into making sure this board stays cool thanks to the direct-touch heat pipes and multiple styles of heatsink places strategically all over the board. It probably won’t come as much of a shock that you can easily overclock this board if you’ve got the know-how to do it.
Obviously, we’ve mentioned the onboard RGB, but the mobo also features 4 different headers that will let you add even more RGB to your build. It should also go without saying that Gigabyte has thrown in their RGB control solution, in this case, known as RGB Fusion 2.0, so you should find customizability a pretty simple affair.
If you want to get your hands on something at the other end of the budget spectrum, then the ASUS Prime X570-P is an excellent choice. This board is 100% no-frills, but will get the job done and won’t look half bad doing it. While it’s certainly missing some of the more advanced features that make more expensive cards so attractive, it’s got it where it counts, and should even allow you to upgrade your CPU down the line without bottlenecking.
One of the most impressive parts of the mobo is the cooling solution. Not only are there some slimline heatsinks placed around the board, but the biggest heatsink is actually accompanied by an onboard fan that helps to keep everything nice and cool. The only letdown for the cooling system is the lack of any sort of heatsink for either of the two PCIe 4.0 M.2 ports, so make sure you’re adding some extra cooling if you want to ensure you’re not getting any throttling issues.
Speaking of PCIe 4.0, you’ll get two x16 expansions ports on the board, so you can probably just about manage to run a dual GPU setup here if you can afford to get to graphics cards. There are also 4 RAM stick ports as well, which support DDR4 RAM of up to 4400Mhz clock speeds, which isn’t too bad for a budget board, even if the other more expensive boards can handle something a little speedier.
RGB support can be found on this board, as well as some very minor onboard RGB as well, which is quite surprising coming from a budget card like this one. Either way, you get 2 different RGB headers for installing whatever you like onto the board and can change these effects with ASUS’s Aura Sync 2.0 software.
If you want to go a step further than even the Gigabyte board above, you’ll want to look back towards ASUS to see their other premium options. For a board that comes with absolutely everything you could ever need on a board, and to hell with the cost, then you should look for the ASUS ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero. It might be one of the more expensive boards available on the market, but that extra cost comes with some benefits that might be hard to pass up.
The first feature you’ll probably notice when picking this thing up is the huge heatsink that covers a large portion of the board. This giant heatsink is part of the overall cooling solution, which features a fan, individual heatsinks for all of the M.2 ports on the board, as well as larger heatsinks for the components near the I/O shield. Not only does this system work incredibly well, but it also adds an extra level of quality to the aesthetic presentation.
The M.2 slots mentioned above come as a trio, but only two of them will support PCIe 4.0 which is a bit of a shame considering the high price of the board. Still, at least they’re all covered by that heatsink so there’s little concern about overheating. You also get 3 PCIe 4.0 x16 ports, two of which have little extra reinforcements just in case you plan on putting some insanely heavy expansions into your build.
It should probably be pretty clear to anyone that this board supports RGB in a big way. Not only are there the much-needed headers for you to add strips to your build, but there are also some pretty sizable RGB elements at various places on the board that add to the presentation. The HERO logo and ROG symbols are both across different sections of the heatsink, and both glow with some RGB goodness, and you can control it all with ASUS’s Aura Sync 2.0 as you could probably have guessed.
The final entry on our list is the MSI B550M PRO-VDH WiFi, a really great card that offers some tremendous value to go along with the solid performance. Another important part about this card is the fact that it’s the only MATX card on this list, so if you were hoping to squeeze your build into a slightly smaller case. All-in-all, this board’s low place on the list, shouldn’t be seen as a sign that it’s not worth your money.
This is the first board on our list to use the B550M chipset, rather than the more powerful X570, just in case, the mobo’s name didn’t give it away for you. While it’s not quite as powerful as the other boards, it is definitely the cheapest one you’ll find on this list. Despite being a budget entry, there are a few key features that even some of the more expensive boards on the list are missing.
The board only contains a single PCIe x16 4.0 slot, and the same again with an x1 slot so you’re sort of limited to only a single major expansion card. That shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as if you’re plumbing for this budget of a card, you probably won’t be trying to get two GPUs on that same budget. There’s also a couple of M.2 slots, and at least one of them is covered by one of MSI’s M.2 Shield FROZR heatsinks that should prevent thermal throttling completely, just make sure you install your SSD in the primary slot and you should be golden.
Obviously, the aesthetics of this mobo are somewhat lacking. The ASUS Prime board above might be ‘no-frills’, but that’s nothing compared to this mobo. There are almost no additional pieces to this design, and everything on the board could be generic if it weren’t for the occasional MSI logo that you’ll find printed here or there. As long as the basic look doesn’t put you off, there’s plenty to enjoy here on the card, and you won’t find anything for a comparable price on the market.
Things to Think About
No matter what sort of PC you’re trying to build, there are a lot of different things that might affect your decision to buy a particular component. Those problems can be even harder with a motherboard because of how central it is to your build. We’ve got your back with a list of the factors that you need to have in mind when you’re buying your next mobo.
The form factor is incredibly important when it comes to buying a new mobo, mostly because if you buy the wrong size for your case then it probably won’t fit properly. As well as affecting the size and general shape of your board, the form factor will also limit how many slots you have, as well as dictating how well air can get around your chosen PC case.
There are 3 motherboard standards that you’re likely to come across, although there are a few outliers that are used in various specialized circumstances. The three standards are ATX, mATX, and ITX, going in order from largest to smallest. ATX cards are the most common for powerful PC builds, as they offer the most ports, and therefore the best airflow and potential for upgrading.
ITX boards are much more compact and can end up as PCs with a really small footprint, but you may find they overheat without some excessive cooling installed inside, and they can be a pain to upgrade. Luckily all but one of the boards on this list follow the ATX form factor, and the only other one is mATX which sits between the two in terms of size, upgradability, and the number of ports.
Even more important than the form factor is the type of socket in the motherboard you’re thinking about buying. The socket in your mobo and the socket on your chosen CPU need to match up, or you’re getting yourself set up for disappointment. Find out which socket your CPU needs, and then make sure that you’re only looking for boards that actually feature that socket.
The CPU in question, the Ryzen 5 3600X, requires an AM4 socket to work, so make sure you’re choosing a board with that socket. Obviously, all the boards on this list feature the AM4 socket.
The number of RAM slots only our board will dictate exactly how well your build performs in memory-intensive tasks because it dictates both the number and type of RAM sticks that you can actually put into the board. Most ATX cards will feature 4 memory slots, maxing out your total memory at around 128GB, and the most current form of RAM is DDR4, although faster and more efficient DDR5 RAM has been on the horizon for around 4 years.
It’s also possible to overclock your memory, though if you’re planning on doing this you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a board that has this sort of overclocking in mind. Check the writeup of the boards you’re looking at for information about memory overclocking.
NVMe and SATA
SATA and NVMe ports are incredibly important because they dictate how much storage space you’ll be able to install on your rig by the time it’s finished. SATA ports allow you to install both SSDs and HDDs, as well as running optical media drives if you feel like using some physical media. NVMe can also run SSDs too, but they’re typically much faster than the type that really on SATA connections instead.
That’s All There Is To It
With this guide in hand, you should now have all of the information you’ll need to decide which motherboard is right for you. Whether you’re looking for a budget option that still provides you with the power you need, or you have the cash to burn, this list should contain something that will fit your build ambitions perfectly.
We also offer a huge number of other articles that cover a broad range of subjects. From component reviews all the way to full-on build guides, we’ve done our best to cover everything that a PC-builder will need to get what they need.