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 7 3700X Motherboard Picks
Sometimes it’s worth spending the extra money to get your hands on a product that has been insanely well-built and designed. The ASUS Crosshair VIII Hero totally embodies premium quality, partially due to how great it looks, and partially due to how stable, solid, and well-made the board is overall. While the premium price can be off-putting, it’s worth remembering that this option takes the top place on our list for a reason.
The ASUS Crosshair VIII Hero features 3 PCIe 4.0 x16 ports so you can install a decent variety of expansion cards without worrying. In terms of RAM, you get your pretty standard 4 RAM ports, supporting DDR4 of up to 4800Mhz clock speeds. This board is also more than capable of overclocking, so if getting extra power for almost no extra cost appeals to you then you’ll enjoy this mobo immensely.
The connectivity on this board is insane, with a total of 12 different USB ports on the I/O shield alone, 8 3.2 Gen 2 and 4 3.2 Gen 1. You should be aware though that the board doesn’t feature any onboard graphics ports, so running onboard graphics CPUs is a non-starter, and you’ll need a GPU installed before you’re able to change pretty much anything, including the BIOS.
One of the most solid parts of the board is the cooling system installed on it. There are 3 M.2 ports on the board, and all of them are covered by the huge heatsink that also features on a lot of the rest of the board too. There’s even an onboard fan, and several RGB elements to really make the board pop visually, and tying together the premium features that the board also has.
If you’re looking for something that still has a lot of decent aesthetic details without going over the top, then the MSI MPG X580 GAMING EDGE WIFI is a perfect choice for you. It features some nice little design elements that make it look decent, without pouring every last drop into how the board looks without thinking about how that was going to drive up the price a fair bit.
The X570 Gaming Edge features Two M.2 slots for installing powerful SSDs, but unfortunately, only one of the two features a heatsink to help prevent thermal throttling. Just ensure you’re putting your boot drive into the slot that features a heatsink to minimize issues and you should be fine. There are also 2 PCIe 4.0 x16 slots for expanding with GPUs, sound cards, or capture cards, one of which features some extra PCIe armor in case you have an insanely heavy graphics card plugged into it.
A nice little bonus feature is the WiFi 6 installed as standard, so you can get set up straight away without having to worry about being near an ethernet port. If you do fancy using ethernet then the standard gigabit ethernet port on the back should suit you well enough. Other connections include the 8 USB ports on the back of the board and the 8 headers you can use to feed USB ports through to the front of your case.
When it comes to RGB, the MPG X570 has plenty going for it. Not only is there some tasteful RGB across the edge to lighten up your build even without extra LED strips. If you want to install extra, there are a few RGB compatible headers, and you’ll also be able to use MSI’s Mystic Light Gaming RGB software to manage your setup once everything is installed and running smoothly.
Sometimes, you just need a board that’s great for overclocking, and that is one of the main draws of the ASUS ROG Strix B450-F Gaming mobo. It has some great features for a mid-range mobo and will allow you to squeeze extra juice out of your parts, however, these upsides do come with a cost in the form of high power usage even when you’re idling, and a lack of certain other features it would have been nice to have.
The power drain with this mobo, even while you’re idling, is pretty intense, but it’s easy to ignore that if you’re into overclocking as you’ll be used to higher power bills anyway. On the plus side, despite being pretty cheap, the board looks fantastic, so you can at least pretend that you’ve spent a lot of money even though you haven’t.
There are 3 PCIe x16 ports for expansion cards, though you should bear in mind that 2 of these are 3.0 and the other is 2.0, so there’s no support for the most recent edition of PCIe support. You also get 2 M.2 slots also supporting PCIe 3.0, but be aware that neither comes with a heatsink so you should bear that in mind when deciding on your overall cooling system. You should also make sure to add a WiFi card to your basket at checkout because this board does not come with WiFi included.
Despite the drawbacks, this board might sell itself to some hardcore PC gaming enthusiasts because it allows the owner to overclock their rig relatively easily. There’s also enough RGB support and well-done aesthetic design to really make this a mobo strictly for PC gamers and almost no one else. Just make sure you know the negatives before your mind is clouded by the twin sirens of RGB and overclocking support.
When it comes to finding a board that supplies an X570 chipset, a suite of great features, and a very reasonable price tag, the Gigabyte X570 Gaming X mobo is a great choice. It manages to offer the buyer a large number of interesting features and design tweaks, while making enough concessions that the price remains lower enough to make it affordable. Some of the concessions made might put you off, but it’s certainly worth considering for the budget-conscious PC builder.
To get the bad points out of the way, one of the major concessions comes in the form of USB and fan headers. Internally you only have about 3 fan headers to work with, so if you’re hoping for an extreme cooling solution you’ll need to opt for liquid cooling of some kind to make the most of it. There’s 6 USB ports on the back, and the option for 4 more through internal headers, so if you plan on running a lot of peripherals you might want to invest in a powered USB hub or something.
On the plus side, the onboard cooling solution is actually pretty decent, which is good considering the low number of fan headers. There’s an onboard fan, and the I/O shield has a solid heatsink that extends across the top of the board to take some strain off of the CPU. There’s also a heatsink on the primary M.2 port, so your boot SSD shouldn’t have to worry too much about thermal throttling ruining your boot times.
You get 2 PCIe x16 expansion slots, one supporting 4.0 and the other supporting 3.0, so you’ve got some options there. The previously mentioned M.2 slots also both support PCIe 4.0 which is another nice note for future-proofing reasons. The 4 RAM Slots on the board support DDR4 RAM with clock speeds maxing out at 4733Mhz when overclocked, and a maximum total memory capacity of about 128 GB.
The ASRock B450M Pro4 is an interesting choice for this list. Not only is it a great budget mobo, but it also manages to look pretty great while it’s doing it, and offers a smaller form factor than most of the boards on this list, making it great for those hoping to reduce the space their PC takes up. It’s also the only mobo on the list that relies on the B450 chipset other than the ASUS ROG board in third place, so if you were a fan of the chipset but not the board in question, you have more options open to you.
There are a few noticeable absences from the features list that you should be aware of before purchasing this board. First of all, it doesn’t support PCIe 4.0 at all, so it’s not great when it comes to potential future-proofing. On the plus side, it’s well-built, sturdy, and costs a fraction of the price of even the other budget boards on this list. So, if you think you’ll be comfortable with this setup for the foreseeable future or only plan on minor upgrades, then you should be fine.
In terms of what you do get, there’s two M.2 slots, once PCIe 3.0 and the other SATA3 based. There’s also 2 PCIe x16 expansion slots to work with, one supporting 3.0 the other supporting 2.0 You should also bear in mind that there’s no heatsinks for the M.2 slots, so you may want to invest in some third party heatsinks, and make sure you’re putting your SSD into the PCIe 3.0 slot rather than the SATA3 one if you want to see some decent speeds.
In terms of RGB you won’t find too much on the board, with only 1 proper RGB header available to work with. There’s also no onboard RGB, which makes sense with how cheap this thing actually is. Still, there’s a decent level of connectivity with 8 USB ports on the back and 3 headers on board supporting up to a further 6 USB ports on the front of your case. Overall, if you’re looking for the most budget option you can get your hands on, ASRock are decent at making budget boards that don’t feel too budget.
Things to Think About
Whether you’re looking for premium or budget boards, there’s a lot of different things that you need to take into consideration before you actually purchase anything. We’ve tried to make things a bit easier for you by compiling a list of the factors that may have an impact on your purchasing decision.
Form factor is one of the most important elements when it comes to picking your mobo. ATX boards may have the most ports and be easier to upgrade in the future because of that fact, but they’re also huge and can be tough to fit inside a sleeker build if that’s what you’re aiming at.
On the other side of the coin, an ITX board might be great if you’re aiming at a really small build, but when it comes to upgrading and expansions you’re going to struggle to fit anything powerful in there. Another issue with the smaller boards is that you have to plan very carefully around your case, as airflow can be difficult to manage in such a compact PC build.
All but one of the boards on this list follows ATX specifications due to the extra power they deliver to the boards. The final option on the list is the only mATX board we’ve featured, so if you’re looking for a compact build that may be your best option.
Even more important than the form factor fo your board is the socket that it has. Your socket will define which CPUs can fit inside it, and if you buy the wrong one there’s no way to fix this issue without buying a new CPU or new mobo. When you go motherboard shopping you should make a note of your CPU socket so you don’t end up getting disappointed.
For the Ryzen 7 3700X CPU you’ll need a board with an AM4 socket for it to fit. You should bear in mind that AM4 sockets will also work with more powerful and less powerful processors in the Ryzen series so you’ll have plenty of options. Obviously, all of the boards on this list feature an AM4 socket.
The RAM slots on your board are worth considering if you plan on running a lot of memory-intensive applications. For instance, video or image editing applications won’t run very well on a machine without the right memory capacity and speed installed. The slot types on your board will also define what type of memory you can install, which certainly impacts the overall speed.
Most ATX and a lot of the mATX boards on the market will feature 4 slots, and modern boards all support DDR4 RAM as it’s the latest memory standard that is currently in use. You may also want to consider overclocking your memory, so keep your eyes out for a board that supports this feature.
NVMe and SATA
NVMe and SATA ports on your board are important factors mostly when it comes to determining how much storage space you’ll have in your final build. SATA ports can support both SSDs and HDDs, as well as things like optical media drives if you just can’t give up that physical media addiction. You should bear in mind that NVMe-based SSDs will run much faster than SATA ones, so you may want to ensure you’ve got at least one NVMe M.2 port for your boot drive.
That’s All There Is To It
This guide should have prepared you well for the trials and tribulations of finding and purchasing the right mobo to fit your dream PC build. Whether you’re buying a budget board that’s good enough or a top-of-the-range board that will blow your socks off, you’ll find it here on this list.
If you’re still undecided on which CPU or mobo to get, feel free to check out the rest of our site. We’ve written guides to some of the best PC-building components on the market, as well as complete build guides to help you build a PC in your price range from start to finish. All of our build guides also offer some recommendations for suitable pre-built PCs just in case you decide you can’t be bothered with the whole thing.