19 Best Motherboards for Gaming in 2018

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 of how to choose the best gaming motherboard along with a list of some of the best motherboards for 2018.

LGA 1151 Motherboards

AM4 Motherboards

LGA 2066 Motherboards

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 include ATX and microATX. Form factors in a motherboard refer 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 2066, 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.

How to Choose The Best Motherboard For Gaming

Once you’ve picked out an SSD, graphics card and RAM, 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 to 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 2066) 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 things 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

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ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero

The Best Z370 Motherboard for Overclocking

asus rog maximus x hero
The ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero (Wi-Fi AC) offers next-level gaming performance and personalization and supports 8th generation Intel® Core™ processors. Unlock full calibration and customization options with 5-Way Optimization, Addressable AURA Sync RGB lighting and 3D printing mounts. Dual M.2, 802.11AC WiFi and front panel USB 3.1 deliver maximum connectivity speeds.

Specs

  • Intel LGA1151 socket for 8th Gen Intel Core Processors
  • 4 x DDR4 Slots /Up to 64 GB
  • AURA Sync RGB lighting, 2 RGB headers, addressable RGB header, 3D printing mounts
  • Two patent-pending SafeSlots
  • 8-channel HD audio with dual headphone amplifiers and SupremeFX S1220 CODEC
Pros:

  • 5-way optimization with auto-tuning and FanXpert 4
  • Excellent audio
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only one M2 heatsink

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GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 7

A Powerful High-Quality Motherboard

gigabyte z370 aorus gaming 7
The Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 is a well-rounded gaming board. The layout isn’t cluttered and still packs in plenty of features. There are three M.2 connectors for Intel Optane, CrossFire and SLI support, an HB SLI bridge, steel-wrapped slots, and onboard buttons that make overclock troubleshooting easier.

Specs

  • Intel Z370
  • ESS Sabre DAC Audio
  • Triple M.2 with Thermal Guard
  • Smart Fan 5 Cooling
  • RGB Fusion Lighting
Pros:

  • Front USB 3.1 Type C
  • Multi-way graphics support
  • Ultra-durable armor
Cons:

  • Only Support for 8th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3 processors in the LGA1151 package
  • Video card hides a portion of the heatsink LEDs
  • Very expensive

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MSI B250M Gaming Pro

Great Value For Money

msi b250m gaming pro
The MSI B250M Gaming Pro offers the best virtual reality game experience without latency. Enjoy a lightning-fast game experience with Turbo M.2 and Intel Optane memory ready. The B250M houses studio-grade sound quality for the most immersive gaming experience. As well, it has passed 24-hour on- and offline game and motherboard testing by eSports players.

Specs

  • Supports 7th/6th Gen Intel Core/Pentium/Celeron processors
  • DDR4-2400 Memory
  • DS B1 GAMING Mouse Bundle
  • Gaming LAN with LAN Protect
  • Easy Debug LED
Pros:

  • Good price for the available features
  • The two system fans can be easily adjusted
Cons:

  • Might not detect peripherals or graphics cards

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Asus ROG STRIX Z370-E Gaming

Great Choice For 8th Generation Intel

asus rog strix z370-e gaming
The ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-E GAMING is exclusively for 8th generation Intel Core processors. Offering 5-Way Optimization, AURA Sync RGB lighting, addressable RGB headers and 3D-printing mounts, this motherboard delivers maximum connectivity speeds.

Specs

  • Designed exclusively for 8th generation Intel Core processors
  • AURA Sync RGB lighting, two RGB headers, addressable RGB header and 3D-printing mounts
  • Two patent-pending Safe Slots
  • 8-channel HD audio with
Pros:

  • Dual headphone amplifiers and ROG exclusive SupremeFX S1220A CODEC
  • 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4 automatically tailors overclocking profiles to your unique build for maximum OC performance and dynamic system cooling
Cons:

  • Fan headers might not work properly
  • No mounting studs or screws included

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MSI Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC

Reliable Motherboard With Plenty of USB slots

msi z370 gaming pro carbon ac
The MSI Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC motherboard offers a fully isolated, shielded and optimized DDR4 PCB design to give your DDR4 memory a performance boost. Supporting 8th generation Intel Core, Pentium, and Celeron processor, this motherboard gives more option than many others at the same price point.

Specs

  • Supports 8th Generation Intel Core, Pentium, and Celeron Processors for Socket LGA 1151
  • Intel Z370 Express Chipset
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • 4 x DDR4 memory slots supporting up 64GB
  • Supports 2-Way NVIDIA SLI
  • EZ Debug LED to help navigate troubleshooting
Pros:

  • Plenty of USB slots
  • Wireless adapter
Cons:

  • Heat shield on only one of the slots

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ASUS Prime Z370-A

Motherboard With Great Audio

asus prime z370-a
The ASUS Prime Z370-A is designed for 8th generation Intel Core processors and delivers maximum performance with customizable style. 5-Way Optimization provides intelligent auto-tuning and dynamic fan calibration, AURA Sync RGB with addressable headers and 3D printing mounts customize your build, while Dual M.2 and USB 3.1 Gen2 delivers maximum transfer speeds.

Specs

  • Two patent-pending SafeSlots
  • 8th generation Intel Core processors to maximize connectivity and speed with Dual M.2, USB 3.1 Gen2, Intel Thunderbolt 3 support and Intel Optane Memory compatibility
  • AURA Sync RGB lighting, additional RGB header and 3D-printing mounts
Pros:

  • 5-way optimization with auto-tuning and FanXpert 4
  • Excellent audio
Cons:

  • Not backward compatible with older generation of LGA 1151 CPUs

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Gigabyte GA-B250 FinTech LGA 1151

Affordable Motherboard For Cryptocurrency Mining

gigabyte ga-b250-fintech
The Gigabyte GA-B250 FinTech LGA 1151 mines bitcoins and other cryptocurrency, operates 6th and 7th generation Intel Core Processors, and has a 4+2 phase power for CPU with a MOFSET heatsink. While this motherboard is a relative newcomer to the market, it comes packed with features that make it a worthwhile buy and can rival many of the older, better-known gaming motherboards.

Specs

  • LGA 1151 6th & 7th Gen Intel Core Processors
  • DDR4, Dual-Channel, 4 DIMMs
  • 11*PCIe 3.0 x1 (Native), 1*PCIe 3.0 x16
  • 4+2 phase power for CPU with MOSFET heatsink
Pros:

  • Stable
  • Affordable
Cons:

  • Bad online instructions
  • Heavy weight at 3lbs

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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 Z270 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

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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

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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

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Best AM4 Motherboards

Gigabyte X470 Aorus ULTRA GAMING

Great Gaming Motherboard Under $200

gigabyte x470 aorus ultra gaming
AMD has been teasing the gaming community with glimpses of 2nd Gen Ryzen CPUs for months now, and it’s finally here. With the improved processors comes improved motherboards, more specifically X470 motherboards. Thankfully, rig builders have a pleasant number of options to choose from. Among the leaders is Gigabyte’s AORUS ULTRA GAMING, the best gaming motherboard under $200.

After seeing this board in person, the first thing to catch users’ eye is its refined, more rugged look. Last generation motherboards from Gigabyte were heavily criticized for awful, cheap-looking styling. It’s clear that Gigabyte heard the calls for something more tasteful than plastic molding.

As far as capabilities, one of the primary advantages of the X470 chipset as compared to its predecessors is the improved memory capabilities. When it comes to PCB layer count, DDR4-2933 will work with anything over six layers, while single-rank DDR4-2668 is used for four layer chips.

Another noteworthy improvement revolves around the StoreMI multi-drive technology. Essentially, StoreMI enables SSDs to work on data caching operations with older disk drives to improve overall performance.

The back panel furnishes (1) Type-A USB 3.1, (1) Type-C USB 3.1, (6) USB 3.1 Gen1 ports. Many other motherboards trump this one in terms of speed, but overall, the Gigabyte X470 Aorus is one of the best reasonably-priced motherboards.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive compared to other motherboards on the market
  • Sleeker look than previous generations
  • Attractive lights and plenty of fan slots
Cons:

  • Overclocking issues
  • Not a very high-quality BIOS

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MSI X470 GAMING PLUS PRO

Exceptional Budget Friendly Gaming Motherboard

msi x470gplus performance gaming
The MSI X470 GPLUS is another fantastic motherboard for gaming enthusiast, and in our opinion, it’s one of the best budget motherboards on the market. Just like the X470 AORUS from Gigabyte, the MSI’s Gaming Plus motherboard is built to support AMD’s latest generation AM4 processors such as the all-new Ryzen.

As far as hardware specs, the Gaming Plus motherboard has four dual-channel RAM slots which hold up to 64GB. On the storage front, there are six different SATA III inputs as well as two M.2 slots. Some users are disappointed that neither of these is furnished with a heat shield, however, they’ve been engineered to operate at blazing fast speeds of 32Gb/s when used with compatible hardware.

There are quite many PCIe slots. Two slots are PCIe 3.0 x16 which are perfect for state-of-the-art graphics units. There’s also a PCIe 2.0 x16 and three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots.

All in all, considering its low price, the MSI X470 is highly recommended for anyone in the market for a budget motherboard.

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Not a lot of reported overclocking issues
  • Great M.2 heatsink
Cons:

  • Not a very high-quality BIOS
  • Can be slow
  • No USB 3.0 gen 2 header

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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

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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

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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

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Best LGA 2066 Motherboards

ASUS PRIME X299-DELUXE

Most Feature Packed Motherboard

asus prime x299-deluxe
According to the company’s official marketing material, the ASUS Prime has “been expertly engineered for professional content creators and power users who work hard by day and play harder by night.”

These new boards have been designed to take full advantage of Intel’s 7th generation X-Series processors. Unlike previously released motherboards, new boards based on the latest X299 chipset allow users to squeeze every ounce of capability from their devices that connect via U.2, M.2 Thunderbolt EX 3, and USB 3.1.

Unfortunately, many users have reported that this motherboard stopped recognizing the RAM as well as slowed down greatly. Also, some of the pins on the boards headers can get stuck and the audio ports can stop working. Users who do not have these issues, however, report they are extremely satisfied with this motherboard and would buy it again.

The Prime X299 from ASUS has a hefty price tag of $443. Such a price point puts the board out of reach for many beginner/entry level builders, however, when you take a moment to review all of Prime’s capabilities, the price looks justified.

Pros:

  • Ability to connect via U.2, M.2 Thunderbolt EX 3, and USB 3.1.
  • Well-made UEFI BIOS design
  • Strong Wi-Fi
Cons:

  • Not very budget-friendly compared to competing motherboards
  • Poor design of the MOSFET heatsink

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ASRock X299 GAMING K6 Fatal1ty

An Aesthetic, Quality Motherboard

asrock x299 gaming k6 fatal1ty
The ASRock X299 GAMING K6 Fatal1ty runs on low power at a high-performance capability. Running on lower power than some of its fiercer competitors, the ASRock X299 GAMING K6 Fatal1ty supports the Intel Core X-series processor family for the LGA 2066 socket, DDR4 4400+ (OC), and hold 8 SATA 3 ports.

Specs

  • Supports Intel Core X-series processor family for the LGA 2066 socket
  • Supports DDR4 4400+(OC)
  • Slots: 4x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 Slots, 1x PCI-Express 3.0 x1 Slot
  • SATA: 8x SATA3 Ports
Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Runs on low power
Cons:

  • Not all features work well once system arrives
  • Some users have trouble with board booting

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GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Ultra Gaming Pro

A High-End Motherboard Rich in Features

gigabyte x299 aorus ultra gaming pro
Gigabyte, the Taiwanese motherboard giant, recently released a new series of X299 motherboards. Of the several boards to make their lineup, the X299 AORUS Ultra Gaming Pro is one of our favorites.

One of the stand-out, improved features of the latest Ultra Gaming Pro board from Gigabyte is the added networking module. Whereas the original board required additional hardware to connect via Wi-Fi, this latest generation board has Wi-Fi connectivity built right in.

The Gigabyte X299 comes bundled with a driver disc, installation guide, a user manual, SATA cables, IO shield, temperature probes and few other accessories.

At $300, the GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Ultra Gaming Pro isn’t the most affordable motherboard on the market, which is the biggest complaint. However, any builder looking for the latest, bleeding-edge features and capabilities will be happy with this board.

Pros:

  • Dual 8-pin CPU power
  • Three M.2 slots
  • Supports Thunderbolt 3
  • Reasonably priced
Cons:

  • Not a very high-quality BIOS
  • The drivers on the website reportedly don’t always download
  • No USB 3.0 or 3.1 front panel connectivity

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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 2066 are generally better options for high performance gaming.
  • A motherboard with an Z370 (or even X299) or X470 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.

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