Best Motherboards for Gaming in 2017

Best motherboards for gaming
If you’re a gamer in the process of building your ultimate gaming PC, you’re going to need to start searching for the best motherboards for gaming. A motherboard holds all of the core components of a PC together, but not all motherboards are the same and some will only be compatible with certain components.

Whether you’re looking for the best Intel motherboard or the best AMD motherboard, there are plenty of options available for your needs. With this guide, we’ll show you the basics for how to choose the best gaming motherboard along with a list of some of the best motherboards for 2017.

What is a Motherboard?

A motherboard is a printed circuit board where all the other components of a computer or device are connected or “plugged” into. It’s like the backbone of the computer that holds all the parts together. However, it also plays an important role in distributing power and making connections between the RAM, CPU, hard drives and all the other components. A motherboard may also contain spaces for expansion in case you’d like to make upgrades to futureproof your PC.

PCs, laptops, phones and other devices all have motherboards in various sizes and complexities. When searching for the best motherboard for gaming, here are a few features to look out for:

  • Form Factors. Motherboards can come in a variety of different form factors, but the most common includes ATX and microATX. Form factors in a motherboard refers to various specifications that describe the dimensions, type and position that a given motherboard has. Without having compatible form factors, you won’t be able to properly put together all of your PC’s components onto your motherboard.
  • Chipset. A chipset manages the flow of data between the different components of the PC. It can be nicknamed a “communications hub”. Newer chipsets have the potential to reduce latency and increase the responsiveness of a system, which is a great advantage for PC gamers. The type of chipset in your motherboard also has a major impact on the system’s overclocking capability, with newer series generally more adept at supporting overclocking and heavy gaming.
  • Socket Type. There are four main socket categories for the best motherboards discussed in this guide: LGA 1151, LGA 2011-v3, AM4 and AM3+. The type you choose will fully depend on what type of CPU (“central processing unit”) that you want to use. It all comes down to the size and fit of the sockets where the processor plugs into the motherboard. The size and fit will vary among manufacturers and it’s essential to make sure your motherboard has a compatible socket for the type of CPU you want to use, otherwise all of the components simply won’t function.

What are the Main Features to Look for in a Motherboard?

Once you’ve picked out the best SSD, best graphics card and best RAM for gaming, you’ll need a motherboard that will be able to support all of those things. If you’re searching online for the best motherboards and reading product descriptions, pay close attention to the specifications of the motherboard you’re interested in. Due to the large complexity of motherboards and their wide array of features, the best way to choose one for your needs is start by looking at socket type and narrowing down by specifications and added features.

Motherboard Features to Know

  • CPU and socket type. Pick your CPU first, as this will be the brain of your computer. Once you’ve found the best CPU for your needs, the type of CPU you have will only be compatible with certain types of motherboards. AMD (which includes AM4 and AM3+) and Intel (which includes LGA 1151 and LGA 2011-v3) are the two primary types of CPU, with socket shapes being one of the most important differences to consider when looking for a compatible motherboard.
  • RAM. RAM, your computer’s storage space for temporary data, comes in many types. When thinking about RAM, the best features to look for is the minimum and maximum RAM speeds of your motherboard (normally between 2133 and 4000 MHz). You do not want to get RAM slower than your motherboard’s capabilities as it will cause complications. You also want to make sure your motherboard’s DDR type matches your RAM. The types of RAM channels that the motherboard can hold is also important if you’re looking to get a speed boost when using multiple sticks of RAM in the right slots. The two different types of channels are dual and quad, with quad channels having the potential to better deal with memory bandwidth loads.
  • SATA ports. This is where you’ll be connecting your mass storage devices (such as SSDs) and other optical drives (such as a Blu-ray player). Generally, a mid-range motherboard will have 6 SATA ports, with higher-end motherboards having more room for storage (ideal for hardcore gamers and enthusiasts).
  • USB slots and Ethernet ports. Different motherboards may have varying amounts and types of USB slots and Ethernet ports. The numbers to look for should be based on your personal preference for how much use you think you’ll need out of these components.
  • PCI express (PCIe) slots. This is a section of the motherboard where expansion cards are placed. This not only includes graphics cards, but also sound cards, Ethernet adapters and other cards that can give your PC additional capabilities. If you’re looking for the best possible gaming experience, you should be on the lookout for a motherboard that allows you to have multiple graphics card connections (this is usually called “crossfire” or “SLI”).
  • Overclocking and thermal management. If you plan on pushing your PC to its limits beyond the specifications of the manufacturer, you’re going to need to make sure your motherboard can handle it. Your motherboard should also have water cooling or a very high performance air cooling system to avoid hardware damage while overclocking.
  • Sound and audio. Most motherboards have integrated sound capabilities to reduce the need for buying extra audio components. One of the most important thing to look for in onboard audio is the codec because, the better the codec, the better the sound quality played through your speakers or headphones.
  • Build quality and reliability. Always ensure that you’re buying a motherboard with a long warranty from a reputable manufacturer. Some models are prone to being DOA (“dead on arrival”), so look over product reviews ahead of time and choose newer, well-tested models. Solid capacitors and reinforced slots are other qualities that generally reflect durability and added protection, although too much covering can add bulkiness.
  • Aesthetics. Many motherboards have unique and attractive designs that can take your setup to the next level of superiority. Mystic Light Extension and AURA Sync RGB lighting are some of the most popular lighting features that enable you to add custom lighting to your motherboard in different places and colors for personalized aesthetics.
  • BIOS. BIOS stands for “Basic Input/Output System”. It’s a built-in software that allows you to access and change your computer on a very technical level. This is where you would access overclocking settings. UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) is the newer version of BIOS that you may also come across in newer motherboards.

Best LGA 1151 Motherboards

ASUS PRIME Z270-A

A Simple and Straightforward Motherboard

asus prime z270-a - A Simple and Straightforward Motherboard
With a great BIOS, the Asus Prime Z270-A is a motherboard that makes personalizing your PC very simple. This motherboard is a great choice for someone looking for something affordable and not too flashy without a major sacrifice to performance.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capability: 64GB
Pros:

  • BIOS is user friendly
  • Good performance
  • Inexpensive
Cons:

  • Needs BIOS update immediately out of box
  • Poor manual

Check Prices

 

ASUS Maximus IX Hero

The Best Z270 Motherboard for Overclocking

asus maximus 9 hero - The Best Z270 Motherboard for Overclocking
The Maximus IX Hero is a very stylish motherboard with impressive durability, making it a good option if you’re using heavier graphics cards. This is a top tender for the overall best LGA 1151 motherboard due to its many features and overclocking potential.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capability: 64GB
Pros:

  • Great overclocking features
  • Aesthetically pleasing with AURA Sync RGB lighting
  • USB 3.1 front panel connection
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No Thunderbolt 3 connector

Check Prices

 

Gigabyte Z270X-Ultra Gaming

A Powerful High-Quality Motherboard

gigabyte z270x-ultra gaming - A Powerful High-Quality Motherboard
The Gigabyte Z370X is yet another of the best Z270 motherboard options for gamers and enthusiasts. With its advanced RGB FUSION light show design and durable construction, it’s an all-around quality motherboard with just about everything you’d expect from one of the best 1151 motherboard options (it’s also very affordable for the value).

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capability: 64GB
Pros:

  • RGB FUSION light show design
  • Plenty of storage possibilities through connectors
  • Great audio capability
Cons:

  • Only one M.2 slot
  • Difficult BIOS to navigate
  • Higher than normal voltage

Check Prices

 

MSI Z270 GAMING M7

A Stylish Motherboard with the Basics and More

msi z270 gaming m7 - A Stylish Motherboard with the Basics and More
The MSI Z370 is a tough-built motherboard with a unique, hardcore design. If you’re willing to pay extra, it’s a great option for gamers hoping for something with a surplus of features for aesthetics and performance.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capability: 64GB
Pros:

  • Extra M.2 slot for more SSDs
  • USB Type C front connection
  • Separate audio processors for front and rear
Cons:

  • No AC Wi-Fi
  • Expensive
  • Minimal rear USB 3.0 ports

Check Prices

 

ASRock Fatal1ty B250M Performance

A Great MicroATX Motherboard Option

asrock fatal1ty b250m performance - A Great MicroATX Motherboard Option
The ASRock Fatal1ity is a budget-friendly MicroATX motherboard if you’re looking for a small form factor option. While it has some limitations, this motherboard comes with all the necessities as well as multi-graphic capabilities.

Specs

  • Form Factor: microATX
  • Chipset: B250
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capability: 64GB
Pros:

  • Great network adapter
  • Fits almost any case
  • Inexpensive
Cons:

  • Short on rear I/O (input/output)
  • Limited lighting customization
  • Minimal PCIe ports

Check Prices

 

ASUS ROG Strix Z270i Gaming

A Small Yet Robust Motherboard

asus rog strix z270i gaming - A Small Yet Robust Motherboard
The Asus ROG Strix is a compact, tough-bodied motherboard that comes with all the perks that Asus usually offers, including 5-way optimization and high performance cooling. While it’s meant for small form factor components, it still has plenty of competitive features.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Mini-ITX
  • Chipset: Z270
  • RAM Slots: 2
  • Maximum RAM Capability: 32GB
Pros:

  • Small form factor
  • Great audio performance
  • Two M.2 slots
Cons:

  • Lower amount of RAM slots and capacity
  • Only one PCIe slot
  • Minimal RGB lighting

Check Prices

 

Best AM4 Motherboards

Gigabyte Aorus AX370 Gaming 5

A Decent AM4 Motherboard with Customization Options

gigabyte aorus ax370 gaming 5 - A Decent AM4 Motherboard with Customization Options
The Gigabyte Aorus produces a lightshow with its RGB Fusion design so you can display multiple light effects in different zones for enhanced customizability. It also includes the Smart Fan 5 with multiple temperature sensors and hybrid fan headers for better control to prevent overheating.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X370
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 64GB
Pros:

  • Front and rear Realtek audio
  • Smart Fan with temperature sensors
  • Unique LED light designs
Cons:

  • BIOS difficult to navigate
  • No Wi-Fi adapter
  • Low durability

Check Prices

 

ASUS Prime AM4 X370-Pro

A Good Overclocking AM4 Motherboard

asus prime am4 x370-pro - A Good Overclocking AM4 Motherboard
The Asus Prime comes from a series of prestigious Asus motherboards that support AMD RYZEN for Socket AM4. While this motherboard comes in at a high-end price point, it includes a 5-way optimization component that will allow you the opportunity for overclocking and greater control over system cooling.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X370
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 64GB
Pros:

  • Contains AURA RGB strip header
  • 8 channel HD audio
  • Fairly inexpensive compared with competitors
Cons:

  • No SATAe ports
  • Low reliability

Check Prices

 

MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon

A Great VR-friendly Motherboard

msi x370 gaming pro carbon - A Great VR-friendly Motherboard
The MSI X370 comes with built-in VR features along with a Mystic Light extension for enhanced style. It also has water cooling capabilities, making it a good choice for gamers and overclockers willing to pay a little more for the best AMD motherboard for gaming.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X370
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 64GB
Pros:

  • VR Compatible
  • Water cooling ready
  • Customizable light setup with RGB Mystic Light
Cons:

  • Somewhat Expensive
  • Possible issues with voltage
  • May have BIOS update issues

Check Prices

 

ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero

A Heavy-Duty and High-End Motherboard

asus rog crosshair 6 hero - A Heavy-Duty and High-End Motherboard
The ASUS ROG includes plenty of features such as 3D printing compatible mounts, 5-way optimization and advanced lighting personalization. This is one of the best AMD motherboard options based on its feature-rich qualities, but it’s also one of the most expensive.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X370
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 64GB
Pros:

  • Strong PCIe slots
  • 3D Printing compatible mounts
  • Contains AURA Sync RGB lighting
Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • Frequently reported as buggy
  • Only one USB 2.0 header

Check Prices

 

ASUS Prime B350M-A/CSM

An Affordable mATX Motherboard

asus prime b350m-a csm - An Affordable mATX Motherboard
The ASUS Prime B350M is a microATX motherboard that can work great for someone on a budget. While it’s not the most up-to-date motherboard, it comes with many familiar Asus features, including LED lighting capabilities.

Specs

  • Form Factor: microATX
  • Chipset: B350
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 64GB
Pros:

  • Very inexpensive
  • Fits almost any case
  • Supports multi-colored CPU fan strips
Cons:

  • Limited rear ports
  • Only 2 SATA cables

Check Prices

 

Best LGA 2011-v3 Motherboards

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon

A Powerful Contender for the Best X99 Motherboard for Gamers

msi x99a gaming pro carbon - A Powerful Contender for the Best X99 Motherboard for Gamers
The LGA 2011-v3 is among the best X99 motherboard options based on its aesthetic, tough construction and excess connectivity features. This motherboard is a great high-end option for gamers based on its futureproofing capabilities.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X99
  • RAM Slots: 8
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 128GB
Pros:

  • Aesthetic design with customization
  • Lots of connectivity ports
  • Reinforced construction
Cons:

  • Bulky
  • Expensive

Check Prices

 

ASRock X99 Taichi

An Aesthetic, Quality Motherboard

asrock x99 taichi - An Aesthetic, Quality Motherboard
The ASRock X99 Taichi has a unique clockwork design with a “steampunk” feel. With its extensive storage and Wi-Fi capabilities, it’s a solid motherboard for gamers, although lacking in customization potential.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X99
  • RAM Slots: 8
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 128GB
Pros:

  • Affordable for high end
  • Unique design
  • Wi-Fi capabilities
Cons:

  • Cramped when doing 3-Way SLI or Crossfire
  • No style customization
  • Limited audio features

Check Prices

 

ASUS Rampage V Extreme

A High-End Motherboard Rich in Features

asus rampage 5 extreme - A High-End Motherboard Rich in Features
The Asus Rampage V Extreme is a big competitor among the best X99 motherboard options in the high-end category. While it comes in at one of the highest price points, it has a lot of impressive features, including excellent Wi-Fi capabilities and fast performance.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: X99
  • RAM Slots: 8
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 64GB
Pros:

  • Wi-Fi capabilities
  • Lots of extra features
  • Supports 4 way SLI
Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • Complicated assembly
  • Less RAM capacity than other competitors

Check Prices

 

Best AM3+ Motherboards

ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R3.0

A High-End AM3+ Motherboard

asus sabertooth 990fx r3.0 A High-End AM3+ Motherboard
The ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R3.0 is one of the more expensive yet durable and high performance motherboards from the older generation AM3+ options. If you’re an overclocker or gamer looking for a quality motherboard of this type, the Sabertooth has plenty of the features that you’d expect from the reputable Asus brand.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: 990FX/SB950
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 32GB
Pros:

  • Great heat dissipation
  • Very durable
  • Good overclocking for older model
Cons:

  • Lacks aesthetics and customization
  • Complicated assembly
  • Only DDR3 and 32GB RAM

Check Prices

 

Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3

A Decent Budget microATX Motherboard

gigabyte ga-78lmt-usb3 - A Decent Budget microATX Motherboard
The Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 is a very low-cost motherboard for a AM3+ socket and small form factor needs. While it’s probably not the best option for heavy gaming, you can still get most of the basics if you’re not looking for anything fancy.

Specs

  • Form Factor: microATX
  • Chipset: 760G/SB710
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 32GB
Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Can fit in almost any case
  • Resilient against power surges and humidity
Cons:

  • Old chipset
  • Not many expansion slots
  • No PCIe 3.0 slots

Check Prices

 

MSI 970 Gaming

An Aesthetic AM3+ Motherboard for General Gaming

msi 970 gaming - An Aesthetic AM3+ Motherboard for General Gaming
The MSI 970 is relatively high quality motherboard and one of the best out of the AM3+ options. While it has some limitations for added components, it features a large heatsink and decent audio compared with its competitors.

Specs

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Chipset: 990FX/SB950
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Maximum RAM Capacity: 32GB
Pros:

  • Stylish for AM3+
  • Audio Boost
  • Durable components
Cons:

  • No SLI or Crossfire support
  • No PCIe 3.0 slots
  • DDR3 and 32GB RAM

Check Prices

 

How to Choose the Best Gaming Motherboard for Your Needs

If you don’t mind paying more for the best and most extreme motherboard for gaming, look for:

  • A motherboard that’s compatible with the latest processors, preferably with a LGA 1151 or newer socket type (depending on your CPU). While AM4 is an updated choice from AM3+, the LGA 1151 and LGA 2011-v3 are generally better options for high performance gaming.
  • A motherboard with an X99 (for Intel) or X370 (for AMD) or newer chipset.
  • A motherboard with built-in temperature control, customizable lighting and overclocking capabilities.
  • A motherboard with lots of additional slots and ports for RAM, PCIe, USB and so on.

If you’re searching for a mid-range budget motherboard for gaming, look for:

  • A motherboard with a Z270 (for Intel) or B350 (for AMD) chipset, at the oldest.
  • A relatively new motherboard, at least AM4 or LGA 1151, that fits your budget.
  • An affordable and reliable motherboard suitable for your PSU and RAM needs. If you don’t care about lots of extra features that you don’t need, don’t pay for them.

Whether you’re building your first PC on a budget or you’re searching for the highest quality components to put together a powerful gaming system, finding the best motherboard for gaming is essential.

While a motherboard shouldn’t be the first thing you buy, your motherboard will be the major component that connects everything together. That’s why it’s important to look at specifications and read reviews so you can purchase a motherboard that will work for your personal tastes and plans for upgrading in the future.

Leave a Reply

Brands We Recommend