The motherboard is the heart of a PC, it houses all of its components. A weaker motherboard can potentially ruin your device whereas a stronger motherboard can take your machine to its full potential. For this reason, it’s important for avid gamers to get their hands on the best motherboard for gaming in the market.
Although the CPU is hailed as the most important component of a PC, it won’t matter if your cheaper motherboard can’t even support it.
As a result, your motherboard may become a bottleneck to your PC’s full potential. We will be discussing the best motherboards for gaming budget.
So, while the motherboard doesn’t directly affect your gameplay like a graphic card or a powerful CPU, it still provides a very crucial aspect – stability.
The idea of buying the best motherboard for gaming might seem confusing to some people. They might just go for a cheaper option since it doesn’t directly affect your gaming performance. Or, for some average gamers, a cheaper motherboard might just be a good fit since they’re not as interested in testing their machines’ limits as other more serious gamers might be.
If you’re a serious gamer though, a high-end motherboard might be something you would want to invest in.
Requirements of Best Motherboard for Gaming
It all comes down to your requirements and what you think your ultimate gaming experience should be like. The best motherboards for gaming aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones, they are the ones that have all the features you would need for your PC to run smoothly and perfectly.
For example, if you have a really powerful CPU you will need an equally powerful motherboard to support it. Otherwise, you might damage your PC and have to start building your machine from scratch. While a really cheap motherboard will have a higher chance of failure, you can still find others that have better quality and are still not too expensive.
More high-end and expensive motherboards do have their perks though. Some of the best motherboards for gaming come with some features that are absent in the cheaper ones.
Cheaper models usually don’t have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth features, they usually lack extra USB ports or niche ports like USB-C ports and they also have the less overclocking ability.
Speed Metric of Motherboard for Gaming
Another thing to consider while buying a motherboard is the rapid speed at which technology is changing these days. A motherboard that was perfect 4 or 5 years ago probably won’t support modern CPUs popular these days.
So, for this reason, buying a more expensive and modern motherboard is a good idea since it’s going to last you for quite some time in the future. It will let you work with better or newer CPUs in the future without having to buy a new motherboard.
So, the best motherboard for gaming is one that really utilizes every aspect of your PC and lets you have the option of upgrading it in the future if you want.
One more aspect that comes into play here is the graphic card. One graphic card is usually enough to play a game at 60 FPS in 1080 and this is fine for a lot of people.
However, if you want to go a step further and get into VR gaming or bring the FPS to 144 FPS even, then one graphic card just isn’t going to cut it. You will need a more high-end motherboard that supports multiple graphics cards.
A motherboard with NVIDIA SLI, ATI Crossfire support or both would be even better. SLI and Crossfire use a blend of techniques to enhance the PC’s performance.
Such a high-level motherboard also helps extend the life of your PC’s components. For example, it helps split the work between different graphic cards so there’s less workload on each graphic card and they can have a longer life.
Lastly, if you’re thinking of jumping on the 4k gaming world then you definitely have to look for a more expensive motherboard.
Four times the pixels will naturally need four times the power as well so only the best gaming motherboard will let you do that.
If you go through these considerations before buying, it will save you a lot of frustration and regret. Making an informed decision based on your needs and requirements is key.
Common Motherboard Terminology
ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
The ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX are all common form-factors (or sizes) of motherboards. The smallest size is the Mini-ITX whereas the largest and also the most expensive kind of motherboard is the standard ATX form factor.
The size difference doesn’t just mean a difference in dimensions, it also means that there is a difference in features as well. Larger motherboards tend to have extra ports and other bonus features.
While the smaller Micro-ATX motherboards are some of the cheapest gaming motherboards available in the market.
The USB headers are slots or a collection of pins on the motherboard that run the external USB ports of a computer when connected by a special cable.
There are two types of USB headers – USB-2 and USB-3. The USB-2 headers come in a 2×5 grid with 9 pins whereas the USB-3 headers are larger.
BIOS (Basic Output-Input System) and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) are both low-level software that is located in a chip on the motherboard.
Both these software runs all the hardware components of the PC initially before you boot your operating system.
BIOS is an older software and has not really evolved much since its creation decades ago.
The UEFI, on the other hand, is a much modern software. Among other upgrades, it supports larger hard drives, has more security features and has faster boot times.
Recently, Intel announced that it is planning to completely kill BIOS and replace it with UEFI.
The Peripheral Component Interconnect Express slots are expansion slots on the motherboard that let you connect additional highspeed components.
You can connect components like GPUs (graphic cards), SSD, Wi-Fi cards and other add-on cards. The PCIe slots come in different forms – x1, x4, x8, x16, x32.
The number after the x tells you how many lanes that particular PCIe slot has and also how the data will travel through it. For example, an x1 slot has one lane and can only transfer data one bit per cycle, an x2 slot has two lanes and can transfer data at two bits per cycle.
A bus is a collection of wires that helps transfer data from one part of the computer to another, from one component to another. The number of wires determines its size and how much data it can transfer.
Buses come in two major types – serial and parallel buses.
A serial bus doesn’t have multiple channels to transfer data through like parallel buses. They have a single stream of wires which transfer data through.
Since serial buses have fewer wires, they take up lesser space and are also cheaper compared to parallel buses.
Although serial buses might seem deficient because they can’t transfer data through multiple channels, they can usually be clocked to transfer data at a faster rate than parallel buses.
Also read: Best Computers for Graphic design in 2021
Parallel buses transfer multiple streams of data through several different channels at the same time.
They have a comparatively larger number of wires all bundled together so they tend to take up more space. This parallel structure also helps increase throughput.
So, they can transfer data at a faster rate and are also easier to program. They are also more expensive than serial buses.
These parallel buses were really common in older systems however the more recent systems have begun to use serial buses.
The size of a bus is actually the width of a bus which is determined by how many wires a particular bus has. The number of wires also tells you how much data the bus can transfer at a time.
For example, a bus with 32 wires will be able to transfer 32 bits of data simultaneously. So, it will be referred to as a “32-bit wide” bus.
Similarly, a bus with 16 wires will be able to transfer 16 bits of data at a time and will be known as a “16-bit wide” bus.
10 Best Motherboards for Gaming
|ASUS TUF H370-Pro Gaming Wi-Fi|| |
|Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 5 Wi-Fi|
|MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC|
|GIGABYTE Z390 UD|
|ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming|
|Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra|
|ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi|
|Gigabyte Aorus AX370 Gaming 5|
|MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC|
|MSI X470 Gaming Plus|
1. ASUS TUF H370-Pro Gaming Wi-Fi – Best Budget Motherboard for Gaming
This is probably one of the best budget motherboards for gaming available right now. It comes with 10 Gbs Gen2 USB 3.1, dual M2 slots, an amazing 2×2 Intel 9560 802.11 ac adaptor which has MU-MIMO and 160 MHz channel support and Intel v219 Ethernet.
This is also one of the rare budget gaming motherboards that support Wi-Fi.
All these features make it an excellent choice for most gamers.
However, there are some flaws. The H370 chipset doesn’t support overclocking and higher memory speeds. However, this is not a major issue since you can always make up for it by investing in a better, faster GPU and forget about the RAM speed.
There is also the issue of the audio. Since the TUF Pro Gaming is equipped with an older audio codec (ALC887), it doesn’t exactly have very impressive audio. Still, this can also be rectified by using a good quality headset.
Unlike most gaming motherboards these days, this one doesn’t come supporting all the colors of the rainbow. Instead, the design really toned down and gives off a vintage aesthetic with the black and silver coloring.
So, if you are going for a really decent and subtle design for your PC the TUF Pro Gaming might be worth a look. Overall, this motherboard has pretty much earned its place in one of the best motherboards for gaming.
|– excellent performance||– disappointing audio|
|– excellent Wi-Fi implementation||– limited memory speeds|
2. Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 5 Wi-Fi
This is another excellent addition to our list. Although the price might seem high for this motherboard, it is actually almost $100 cheaper than other motherboards supporting the same features.
So, you can invest those almost $100 into other important hardware like a GPU. It is one of the best Motherboards for gaming.
It is equipped with dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 slots, dual BIOS and has enough external and internal USB ports to satisfy most gamers.
On top of that, it supports an excellent audio codec and is probably one of the best motherboards for Ryzen 7 builds. While the x470 is a great motherboard, some serious gamers might find it a bit insufficient.
It doesn’t have a very impressive overclocking ability. It also has fewer advanced hardware features which might disappoint some people.
|– fast Intel Wi-Fi and Bluetooth||– fewer advanced hardware options|
|– dual 32 Gbs M.2 slots||– overclocking is not as fast as other boards|
3. MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
This MSI motherboard comes fully loaded with tonnes of features that would satisfy every gamer.
To start off, the Gaming Pro Carbon consists of four PCIe x16 slots and two PCIe x1 slots so you can easily run multi-GPU setups. It also has two M.2 slots as well as eight SATA 6Gbs ports.
Some users might be disappointed to see that it doesn’t come with built-in Wi-Fi. Don’t worry, MSI has that covered. The Gaming Pro Carbon comes in two different versions. One with built-in Wi-Fi which is slightly more expensive and the other one without the Wi-Fi and a lower price.
The overall look of the motherboard is also very refined and also customizable.
Its box contains some really cool heat sink covers that come in three different colors – gold, silver & carbon black. So, users can customize their look.
Performance-wise, you might have a hard time finding any other motherboard in the same price range that functions this well. The results are really satisfying and this motherboard does not disappoint. It is one of the best motherboards for gaming in the market at this cheap price.
|– great features||– no luxury extras|
|– good overclocking||– not a very fast x299 board|
|– affordable HEDT price|
4. GIGABYTE Z390 UD
The Z390 UD (Ultra Durable) from Gigabyte is another example of a great motherboard with all the essential features and a really affordable price.
Appearance-wise, the company completely ignored the flashy gaming look and went with something much more simple. The black PCB with a grey side sweeping pattern makes the board look really clean and subtle.
Moving on to the features, there are 3 full-length PCIe 3.0 slots with the top slot supporting x16 and the other two slots supporting x4.
Along with this the Z390 UD also has three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. The storage consists of a total of six SATA ports and a single M.2 slot (above the PCIe slots) which has support for SATA drive and PCIe 3.0 x4.
Overall, the Z390 UD has pretty decent performance at a really low price. The motherboard might not satisfy gamers who are looking for a more flashy motherboard with luxury features like Wifi connectivity, but that is probably because it isn’t exactly targetted towards those gamers.
This motherboard is mainly for gamers on a tight budget or for professional users who know better than to spend extra bucks on features that you really don’t need in a motherboard.
|– really affordable price||– just one full PCIe x16 slot|
|– 4 DIMMs for expansion|
5. ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming
With the previous generation, Z370 Asus models are getting harder and harder to find these days, the Z390-I Gaming quickly becomes a good alternative.
The ITX motherboard might come in a smaller size but it definitely has no shortage of amazing features.
It is equipped with Intel v219 Ethernet, dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 slots, the upgraded Intel 9560 2×2 802.11 ac WiFi and also an ALC1220A audio codec. This might seem like a lot of features packed into a tiny space but the design is actually easy and simple to maneuver in.
It has a less bulky design that makes system assembly and configuration really quick and easy.
All in all the Z390-I Gaming gives excellent results and performance. It is also really impressive on the overclocking front where it boasts stable 5GHz overclocks.
|– excellent performance||– new I/O port shield looks good but is bulky|
|– good overclocking||– one M.2 slot is under the motherboard|
|– dual M.2 slot|
6. Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra – Best Gaming Motherboard by GIGABYTE
This motherboard has truly earned its place on this list. While GIGABYTE isn’t exactly a very high-end company, it has surprisingly made quite a few contributions to our list with some amazing budget gaming motherboards.
The Aorus Ultra comes with Intel Wi-Fi Wave2 and Ethernet, complete RGB treatment with multiple headers, triple M.2 slots and to top it off, ALC1220 audio.
These features bring this GIGABYTE addition in direct competition with some other motherboards on our list. Usually, companies like MSI and ASUS have more expensive motherboards with fewer features.
People normally have to look at extremely expensive companies to get their hands on a motherboard with all these features.
However, the Aorus Ultra comes equipped with all of these basic and luxury features while giving you great value for your money. It is one of the best motherboards for gaming with lush features.
Probably the only real criticism we could find with this motherboard is the over-the-top flashy look. This might not be a huge problem for most gamers but others might want a more refined and toned-down look for their build.
|– Intel CPU compatible||– The design might be too flashy|
|– great RGB package with two LED headers|
|– great features including triple M.2 slots|
7. ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi – Best Gaming Motherboard
The Maximus XI HERO is another addition to the company’s high-end Republic of Gamers line.
Even though it might have fewer features than the other motherboards in this line, the HERO is still extremely powerful and impressive. It comes with a pair of PCIe x16 slots that have SLI support in x8/x8 mode.
It also has an impressive overclocking ability which is aided by the voltage regulator refinements and firmware advancements.
Among other additions, the Maximus XI HERO also added 802.11 ac 2×2 MU-MIMO wifi. However, if this isn’t a priority for you, ASUS made another version of this motherboard that is non-wireless.
This version of the motherboard has a slightly lower price so you can save a few extra bucks.
Other than this we have very few complaints with this board. The overclocking and overall performance is top-notch.
However, there is still room for improvement in the wifi department to make it faster. And an extra M.2 slot would also make a huge improvement to an otherwise impressive motherboard.
|– good CPU and memory overclocking||– Wi-Fi could be faster|
|– affordable price|
8. Gigabyte Aorus AX370 Gaming 5
This addition to the gaming world by GIGABYTE is one of the best motherboards for gaming available under $200.
Because it is from the company’s gaming line, it has all the features that are essential for gaming, including overclocking options. It supports a pretty standard PCIe layout. This contains two PCIe 3.0 slots, three PCIe 2.1 x1 slots and an additional single full-length slot at the bottom that functions at PCIe x4.
The motherboard also supports dual graphics cards on either Crossfire or SLI.
What’s even more interesting is the dual audio codecs it is equipped with one for the front panel and one for the back panel.
Performance-wise the Gaming 5 is really similar to other x370 boards. This means that even with the dual audio codecs the audio results still might not be as stunning as some might think.
As mentioned before, the boards have pretty decent overclocking abilities. However, it does lack some features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility. So, this might be a deal-breaker for some people. Still, when you look at the overall package, the Gaming 5 is more than enough for most AM4 gaming builds. It is one of the best Motherboards for gaming.
|– 32 Gbs M.2 and U.2 connectors||– only one M.2 slot|
|– stable BIOS||– no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity|
|– good memory support|
9. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC
This Micro ATX motherboard is very similar to MSI’s Gaming Pro Carbon. Slight differences between these two motherboards come from the change in form factor and also the drop in price.
This new motherboard loses two of the six SATA ports from Pro Carbon’s design. It also doesn’t have the conflicting M.2 slots so users will have fewer upsetting surprises when they try to add additional storage hardware.
Along with this the Gaming Edge AC also has support for both SLI and Crossfire. There is also a Gen2 USB 3.1 header above the top slot so it doesn’t block any of the expansion cards.
Other features include two dual port USB 2.0 headers, an HD Audio header at the bottom and two RGB headers among others.
All in all, Gaming Edge AC is a good choice for most gamers. Since it provides most of the essential features, it takes up less space in the PC build because of the Micro ATX form factor and comes at a very affordable price.
|– great design||– expensive|
|– amazing features|
10. MSI X470 Gaming Plus
This is another great budget motherboard that is packed with amazing features that are essential for any good PC build.
It has been primarily designed and marketed for gaming so naturally, most gamers will find its performance quite satisfactory.
The motherboard comes with multiple GPU support thanks to the 3-Way AMD Crossfire. It also has two PCIe M.2 slots.
Following the gaming aesthetic, the x470 Gaming Plus has flashy RGB lighting that is actually customizable. So you can change the lighting with your smartphone.
Because this is an ATX form factor motherboard, it might take up more space and you would need a larger case. Still, on the whole, this is a great fit for most gamers, especially beginners who are new to the platform.
So, it definitely earns its place in the best motherboards for gaming.
|– affordable price||– needs a larger case|
|– great expansion|
Final Verdict: Best Motherboard For Gaming
Buying and assembling your own PC can be a daunting and confusing journey, especially when you’re just starting out in the gaming world.
Of course, you would want the best of everything; the best CPU, the best GPU and the best motherboard for gaming.
But the best in the market is not always the best for you. The only way to find what suits you best is by prioritizing what features you need the most and what you want out of your PC build.
As this list shows, the best quality doesn’t always come with the most expensive product. Most affordable, budget gaming motherboards give excellent results and will definitely keep most gamers satisfied.