Best Gaming Motherboard

Last Updated on by Nicholas Frost

If you’re looking to create a gaming rig that can handle the most graphic-intensive games with ease, getting the best gaming motherboard is of utmost importance. The motherboard acts as the glue holding all the components of your rig and it ensures that they do their job. It also determines the speed and amount you’re allowed to use for your RAM, how many storage drives you can hold, as well as your GPUs and other important cards. It will also determine the compatibility of your CPU, and if it’s possible to overclock it. Motherboards will also come with different chipsets, form factors, and socket types. If you’re relatively inexperienced when it comes to picking out the right components for your gaming rig, it can quickly get complicated and confusing really fast. To help you with your buying choices and, we’ve reviewed the latest motherboards 2020 has to offer and compiled our top list of the best units.

BEST GAMING MOTHERBOARDS

The Best Gaming Motherboards Of 2020

1. MSI MEG X570 Godlike

  • Chipset: X570
  • Socket: AM4
  • Form factor: E-ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DDR4, 64GB
  • Storage: (6) SATA, (3) M.2
  • PCIe slots: (1) x16, (1) x16 (x4), (1) x16 (x8), (1) x1
  • Network: KillerTM E2600, KillerTM E3000, (2.5 GB/s)
  • USB ports: (5) Internal, (6) Rear

It might be a little bit on the pricier side, but the MEG X570 certainly packs a punch and leaves no room for weakness when overclocking capabilities are concerned. The MEG X570 handled well under stress testing and real-world testing. This model is fully equipped with numerous fans and heatsinks to ensure consistent cooling. Power comes in a 14+4+1 design through a digital VRM, and it’s good to note that it has its own heatsink.

This unit includes a LAN port (2.5 GB/s) and an additional card that gives support for using wired LAN (10 GB/s). It also comes with an ac-compatible Wi-Fi 6 chip. These are good features if you’re a competitive online gamer or simply want your online gaming sessions as stable as possible. The board’s sound is run by Xtreme Audio DAC combined with dual audio processors that offer 32-bit/ 384kHz of sound quality, so you don’t need to spend on a separate sound card for high-quality.

The MEG X570 also gives plenty of room for appearance customization by using the Mystic Light Infinity II that’s exclusive to MSI. You can create your own personal color schemes and effects that come with the software. It also has a built-in OLED display that is customizable.

Key Features:

  • Powerful performance
  • Good heatsink design
  • 3 M.2s
  • Advanced network capability

2. Gigabyte Aorus ULTRA (Z390)

Specifications:

  • Chipset: Z390
  • Socket: LGA 1151
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DIMM, DDR4-4266, up to 64GB
  • Storage: (3) M.2, (6) SATA
  • PCIe slots: (1) x16, (1) x16 (x4), (1) x16 (x8), (3) x1
  • Network: Ethernet, (1733 MB/s)
  • USB ports: (7) internal (10) rear

The Aorus Ultra features 3 M.2 slots all set with pre-installed thermal pads and heatsinks, although it would have been preferable if the thermal pads were separate to enable users to choose which part of the unit to cool. Some might also feel that the number of SATA cables are a bit lacking considering its price, but the triple M.2s more than make up for the deficiency.

In terms of overclocking, this performance of this model is impressive, handling normal overclocking with ease and sporting very low temperatures. It also presented excellent voltage regulation all throughout testing.

For networking capabilities, the Aorus Ultra uses both Ethernet and Intel Wi-Fi Wave2 to ensure optimal internet gaming sessions. AlC1220 audio, and complete RGB treatment that has a number of headers. If you’re going to match these features with an ASUS or MSI model, you’re going to have to look for them in the high-end section. Granted, they offer a bit more polish, but your wallet will definitely take more of a beating.

Key Features:

  • 3 M.2 slots
  • Fantastic RGB combined with dual-LED headers
  • Compatible with Intel CPU
  • Good voltage regulation
  • Handles normal overclocking with ease

3. ASUS ROG Strix Gaming (Z390-I)

  • Chipset: Z390
  • Socket: LGA 1151
  • Form factor: mini-ITX
  • Memory Capacity: (2) DIMM, DDR4-4500, up to 32GB
  • Storage(2) M.2, (4) SATA
  • PCIe slots: only (1) x16
  • Network: Network: Ethernet, 866Mbps
  • USB ports: (4) internal, (1) front, (7) rear

The Strix from ASUS is fantastic for smaller form-factor builds. Despite being on the smaller side with a lack of upgrade options, this model can still provide great value and performance.

It can give a steady overclock at 5GHz where it uses varying memory speeds, and it’s PCIe x16 slot can push higher-end graphics cards to very high speeds, matching and sometimes even exceeding many Z390 boards when tested.

It also includes 2 slots for M.2s, ALC1220A audio codec, and Intel Ethernet v219. Despite having plenty of features, its clean and compact design makes system configuration and assembly much easier. The previous model had a slimmer design, though, which is important to take note if you’re planning on creating a mini-ITX based rig. If you want something slimmer or more affordable, the older Strix model is also a good alternative.

Key Features:

  • 2 M.2 slots, with one being under the unit
  • Great system performance
  • Easily handles regular overclocking

4. ASUS TUF H370-Pro Gaming Wi-Fi

Specifications:

  • Chipset: H370
  • Socket: LGA-1151
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DIMM, DDR4-2666, up to 64GB
  • Storage: (2) M.2, (6) SATA
  • PCIe slots: (1) x16, (1) x16 (x4), (4) x1
  • Network: Ethernet, (1.73 GB/s)
  • USB ports: (6) internal, (7) rear

ASUS has created another top of the line Coffee Lake build through the TUF H370 Pro Gaming Wi-Fi. This unit includes 2 M.2 slots, Gen2 USB 3.1 (10 GB/s), and great network capabilities compared to its similarly-priced competition. It sports an Intel V2.19 Ethernet (1.73 GB/s) as well as an impressive 2×2 Intel 9560 adaptor with the capability to support 160MHz and MU-MIMO channels.

However, it lags behind other similar models in terms of audio, where the model uses a slightly dated ALC887 codec. You can easily remedy this with a good headset, though. It might not be able to support higher memory speeds or overclocking because of its H370 chipset, but this unit holds very well in terms of real-world testing. If you don’t find this adequate, you can just spend a bit more money on a good GPU to improve performance.

In terms of looks, this model is great if you want something sleek and simple with a classy touch of a little RGB lighting. The ASUS TUF H370-Pro Gaming Wi-Fi is a fantastic budget option if you’re looking for a motherboard that has excellent Wi-Fi capabilities and don’t mind a non-overclocking CPU.

Key Features:

  • Top-notch long-term, real-world performance
  • Great network Wi-Fi implementation
  • Affordable

5. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC

  • Chipset: Z390
  • Socket: LGA-1151
  • Form Factor: Micro-ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (2) DIMM up to 32GB
  • Storage: (2) M.2, (4) SATA
  • PCIe slots: (2) x16/x0, x8/x8, (2) x 1
  • Network: Intel 9560 (1.73Gb/s)
  • USB ports: (9) internal, (6) rear

The MSI Gaming Edge is perfect if you don’t have a lot of free space in your rig because it’s so compact. This Micro-ATX board can offer what most fully-sized ATX units have, delivering a good balance in value and features on an Intel chipset that allows overclocking.

This model supports dual-card setups, just make sure that they fit well to ensure sufficient airflow. And despite being smaller than the usual motherboard, the MSI Gaming Edge still gives 2 M.2 slots with Crossfire and SLI support.

One drawback, however, is that its regulator cooling can really only manage a Core i9-9900K or much older processors like the Core i7 and Core i5; otherwise, it might overheat. It’s given slot arrangement can only fit two cards (double-slot) at the most. If your rig falls within these ranges, then this motherboard is a great choice.

Key Features:

  • Can support Crossfire, SLI, and x8 storage cards
  • Good overclocking using 2 DIMMS
  • Comes with good Wi-Fi module

6. MSI X470 Gaming Plus

  • Chipset: X470
  • Socket: AMD AM4
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DDR4 3,466MHz, up to 64GB
  • Storage: (2) M.2, (6) SATA
  • PCIe slots: (1) x16 v2.0, (2) x16 v.3, (3) x1
  • Network: Realtek RTL8111H Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB ports: (8) Internal, (8) Rear

AMD has always been known for budget-friendly builds, and the MSI X470 isn’t any different. This model features 2 M.2 slots and performance tweaking settings that offer convenience for those who like to customization.

Despite its low price, you’ll get plenty of great features like 8-channel audio that comes with optical outputs, adequately-sized heatsinks, RGB headers, and fan headers that can power up six fans, with one solely allocated for liquid-cooler pumps. This ensures an extra level of safety when maintaining a good temperature.

You will see a few cutbacks because of the lower price, though. The audio might have more outputs compared to cheaper boards, but it’s ALC892, which is a little dated. It doesn’t have any support for Type C USB 3.1 on both the internal headers and rear panels, and it only has Type-A ports.

Key Features:

  • Good M.2 heatsink
  • DDR4 Boost
  • Can support DDR4-3466+Memory

7. MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard (X299)

  • Chipset: Intel X299
  • Socket: LGA 2066
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (8) DIMM, DDR4-4000, up to 128GB
  • Storage: (2) M.2, (1) M.2 Key-E, (8) SATA, (1) U.2
  • PCIe slots: (2) x16, x16 (x4), x16 (x8), (2) x1
  • Network: Intel 8265, (867mb/s)
  • USB ports: (9) internal, (9) rear

Much like other boards with a similar price, it features many speedy USB connections and storage capabilities. While there are more expensive units in the market that can pull off much faster speeds like Ethernet controllers sporting 10G or 3 M.2 slots, most users don’t really need them unless when gaming competitively.

This unit’s overclocking capability is top-notch with interchangeable heatsinks that add another level of customization in terms of temperature regulation. We’ve also found that it handles well during regular use with real-world testing.

Because the MSI Gaming Pro doesn’t sport those extra features, this allows for a more affordable price compared to other ATX boards. This unit is perfect if you’re looking to create an elite build without the extra fluff.

Key Features:

  • Modest price
  • Easily handles normal overclocking
  • 2 M.2 slots

8. ASUS Prime Pro (X470)

  • Chipset: X470
  • Socket: AM4
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DIMM, DDR4-3600, up to 64GB
  • Storage: (3) M.2, (6) SATA
  • PCIe slots: (2) x16 (x8 or x16), x16 (x4), x16 (x8), (3) x1
  • Network: Intel I211-AT, (1000 MB/s)
  • USB ports: (6) internal, (8) rear

To begin with, the ASUS Prime Pro’s efficient cooling system and comprehensive array of customization options will make sure that your components are adequately cooled. This includes fan controls using Fan Xpert software provided by ASUS, and a heat sink for M.2s that reduces the heat below room temperature. It also features next gen-connectivity with its dual NVME RAID support, dual M.2 support, and USB Gen 2 3.1 ports.

During overclock testing, where we tested the temperatures by changing the core ratio of the CPUs, it was stable across every core at 4.2 GHz. On idle it was staying on a relatively low temperature at 42C, but when under load it was raised to 79C. We recommend that you change the CPU core voltage between 1.4 and 1.42 volts to better control the temperature.

In terms of aesthetics, this board offers onboard controls for LED lighting for its fantastic RGB system. All in all, this is a great ATX motherboard that combines plenty of great features for a decent price. If you want easy overclocking that maintains a stable temperature range, then this is the perfect motherboard for you.

Key Features:

  • Next-gen connection capability
  • great built-in cooling system
  • 3 M.2 slots

9. MSI Arsenal Z270 Gaming Plus

Specifications:

  • Chipset: Intel Z270
  • Socket: LGA 1151
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DIMM, DDR4-3800, up to 64GB
  • Storage: (1) M.2, (6) SATA
  • PCIe slots: x16, x16 (x4), (4) x1
  • Network: Ethernet, 1733Mbps
  • USB ports: (6) rear, (8) internal

This model gives a lot of bang for your buck, offering great features like an M.2 slot and decent network capabilities. We also found that its BIOS is very to maneuver around (but could be more intuitive), with software that allows you to customize the OS.

In terms of overclocking, it performs similarly to motherboards within its price range and handles well in terms of real-world use. If you’re using regular overclocking, this model has a built-in overclocking protection as an extra measure of safety for your rig.

One drawback that might be a deal-breaker for some audiophiles is that its audio codec is very dated, considering that the Realtek ALC892 that it uses has been in the market for five years. Considering its price, it still packs a decent punch, and you can remedy the lower quality audio with a good headset.

Key Features:

  • Affordable price
  • Easy-to-use BIOS
  • M.2 slot
  • High-speed RAM

10. Gigabyte UD (Z390)

Specifications:

  • Chipset: Intel Z390
  • Socket: LGA-1151
  • Form factor: ATX
  • Memory Capacity: (4) DIMM, up to 64GB
  • Storage: (1) M.2, (6) SATA
  • PCIe slots: (2) x16 (x4), (1) x16, (3) x1
  • Network: Realtek RTL8118 (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • USB ports: (2) internal, (6) rear

High-end motherboards are very expensive, and most gamers won’t even need that much power. The Gigabyte Z390 UD is a fantastic budget option with not much compromise. It skips most features that most people don’t deem necessary, such as RGB lighting, while the components that it does have provides excellent value.

This model uses the newest Thunderbolt 3, has a number of PCIe switches which is great for customizing, and it also has a decent dual Gigabit Ethernet with a 1.73 GB/s Wi-Fi to ensure stable performance during online gaming.

For overclocking, we tested the unit at 9900K and we didn’t notice any throttling for the voltage regulation module (VRM). Considering its price, the VRM of the Gigabyte Z390 UD is exceptional and it has a decent cooling capacity as well. One shortcoming that we’ve discovered is its 50MHz overclocking deficiency. Otherwise, the Gigabyte Z390 UD is a good choice for gamers looking to save a few bucks.

Key Features:

  • Affordable
  • Impressive voltage regulation
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports with 1.73Gb/s Wi-Fi
  • Thunderbolt 3

Ultimate Buying Guide For The Best Gaming Motherboard

Price Range

Before you buy a motherboard suited for gaming, you should have a set budget in mind, because the prices of units can vary wildly. You might have your eye on a specific model, but if it isn’t within your price range, then your search will have been pointless. Here are the three main motherboard categories depending on their price.

High-end motherboard ($200 above): 

High-end motherboards are suited for people who want the best gaming performance or for those looking for an extra edge in terms of content creation.

These models are specifically designed for and professional gaming or hardcore gaming enthusiasts. They feature the latest technologies with maximum overclocking and all the bells and whistles you should expect from a pricey product.

When buying a motherboard, remember to choose one with features that you need or use constantly. Buying an expensive board with components that you won’t even use is simply a waste of money.

Mid-range (Between $140 and $200)

A mid-range board is a great investment for those who don’t need all the added frills of a high-end model but require good overall performance for their build. There are plenty of mid-range boards in the market that offers excellent stability, performance, and many features that will satisfy most gamers.

Budget ($140 below): 

If you are on a tight budget, it’s still possible to find a decent motherboard that will meet most of your needs. You just need to know what features you want out of a unit and the ones that you can go without.

Most budget boards will make compromises in some of their components to stay within the lower price range, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many budget boards that offer quality performance without any added features that most people don’t need, such as RGB lighting or onboard Wi-Fi.

Motherboard Components

This section provides a list of important motherboard components and aspects that you should consider when planning to buy one. It’s always good to get a full list of specs of the model that you want and weigh in each aspect. Here are some of the major points that can help you:

Form Factor (Size: ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX)

Form factor essentially dictates a motherboard’s size and how many components can be attached to it. Bigger sizes will offer more slots and ports for installing SATAs, PCIes, GPUs, and RAMs. Depending on the build you’re going for, each type comes with their own specific advantages and drawbacks:

  • ATX: Has the capacity to have the features that you want for a higher-end gaming computer, but this type offers a big range of prices, so it can fit most price ranges. More advanced chipsets will obviously be pricier.
  • Micro-ATX: Usually more affordable than its larger counterpart, the Micro ATX is a good median between price, size, and amount of features, making it an excellent option for those on a budget.
  • Mini-ITX: Will have fewer ports, slots, and connectors, but a great choice for those looking to build a compact gaming rig. Most Mini-ITXs tend to be on the higher price range, though.

Chipset:

One of the biggest factors when picking the right motherboard is its chipset because this determines most of the features that a motherboard has. These can range from what kind of SATA port or PCIe lanes a model utilizes, as well as the overclocking support that it provides. This is important to consider because say if your processor can enable overclocking, but your chipset can’t support it; then you won’t be able to use it.

Socket:

Much like chipsets, Intel and AMD processors require different socket types. Intel uses LGA1151 sockets while AMD uses AM4 sockets for their motherboards. These sockets are non-compatible with the other, so it’s important that you make sure your hardware components will be compatible with the one you have.

Memory

Most gaming motherboards utilize a minimum of 4 RAM DIMM ports, but there are some units that sport less or more than that depending on the price. Every one of these motherboards is DDR4 RAM compatible. If you’re a normal to hardcore gamer, then you might want a RAM within the 16 and 32 GB range.

There are, however, motherboards that have 64 GBs of RAM, which might be necessary for some. Optimizing your DIMMs entirely depends on how you will use them. For instance, you can use two DIMMS that are 16GBs, swap one with 32 GB or reach the 64 GB limit with two 32 GBs.

Storage

Because of the creation of SSDs, computer storage systems have never been better, offering much more space and faster transfer rates for your data through M.2s, but they are also pricier.

HDDs are a good alternative if you want something cheaper. It’s a good strategy to use both SSDs and HDDs for different applications and OS. These storage systems are connected to the motherboard through these ports:

  • SATA III: For NAND SSD and HDD storage
  • M.2: For NVMe and NAND SSD storage

Expansion Slots (PCIe)

These slots are where you can add GPUs and other important expansion cards such as sound cards and capture cards. Here are the ones that are commonly added:

Graphics Cards

Graphics are one of the most important aspects when building a gaming rig. While most AMD and Intel core processors have an integrated GPU, this isn’t enough for games that are graphically intensive. You will need an additional GPU in order to run heavier games smoothly.

These cards can be installed in the PCIe slots that they’re compatible with, which can be 16x, 8x, 4x, and 1x; the former being the most commonly used. Be sure to keep in mind the PCIe slots that your motherboard has when you buy your GPU to make sure that they’re compatible.

Sound Cards

Most of the latest motherboards have excellent built-in audio, but it’s nice to know that you can replace a bad one with a sound card that you like through expansion slots. While buying a dedicated sound card will cost you more money, you might want to consider investing in a good one if you want the best sound performance.

SSDs

Solid State Drives can be added to your motherboard for extra storage. These are incredibly popular owing to their speedy rates of transfer and lower power consumption when compared with hard disk drives.

Ports And Connectors:  

Apart from the ports and expansion slots mentioned, here are the other ports and connectors that can be useful for gaming or daily use:

  • HDMI/ DVI-D/Display Port /VGA – for integrated graphics
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 – USB port offering high speeds
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 – The most advanced USB interface and also the fastest, but doesn’t have as many peripherals as its older model, so it has little use for now.
  • USB 2.0 – peripherals that have low requirements for bandwidth are connected here, such as Bluetooth dongles, mice, and keyboards.
  • PS/2 – for older mouse and keyboard models
  • Optical audio – for advanced audio systems such as soundbars and surround sound.
  • Analog audio jack – for wired speakers, microphones, headphones, and headsets.

Network Capabilities:

Standard Gigabit Ethernet (LAN) ports usually offer more stability, which is why it’s more commonly seen in motherboards than onboard Wi-Fi, but it’s often best to have both in hand. Wi-Fi can be useful for streaming games online or online gaming because Ethernet connections may not be able to provide their required internet bandwidth for stable performance.

BIOS/UEFI

BIOS for the uninitiated is the basic system of input and output controlling the boot system and other attributes of your system before your OS opens. Some motherboards have removable BIOS chips, which is good if you want to update them for something more advanced. Newer BIOS often offers more control over an array of setting such as fan rotation and overclocking.

RAM

  • Type

You have the option of choosing DDR4 or the older DDR3 for RAM types. The latter is often much cheaper, but you will be sacrificing speed and efficiency. Depending on your needs, these two can both be suitable for gaming.

  • Speed

RAM speed is another consideration you want to consider. Each motherboard can support a certain speed, so be sure to keep that in mind. This can heavily affect your gaming experience, so be sure to weigh the options that you have when choosing a RAM.

  • Capacity

Lastly, RAM capacity is another thing you want to consider. Motherboards can have several slots where you can add more memory as needed. These slots can hold as much as 128 GB, but most consider that overkill. Some games require a higher amount of memory but don’t waste your money on RAM capacity that you won’t be able to utilize fully.

AMD CrossFire and NVIDIA SLI Support

There are gamers who might want to have the option of having dual graphics, meaning that it should be compatible with AMD CrossFire or NVIDIA SLI. This feature is becoming more and more popular for more hardcore gaming enthusiasts because of the boost in performance that it can give.

We Take Our Product Testing Seriously

The motherboards we’re recommending has been researched and evaluated extensively, and this includes enclosure installation, benchmarking their performance, testing for stability, and long-term testing to see how they hold up when using them for entertainment and gaming.

Whenever possible, these tests were done in a controlled setting where other components of the rig are the same, with only the motherboard being the variable.

The extensive benchmark tests done include 3DMark FireStrike, Cinebench 15, PCMark 8/10, DPC Latency Checker, AIDA 64 Extreme, and many others. For long-term testing, we’ve mostly focused on media streaming as well as playing demanding games such as The Witcher 3, Far Cry 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed Odyssey, Forza Horizon 4, and others. We ran these tests at 1080 set at high to medium settings in order to remove any potential bottlenecks caused by the performance of the graphics card.

We’ve also taken the important factors we’ve discussed in the buying guide into account while creating this review, making sure that we have a selection to suit different budgets, each with the best components befitting of their price range. In our motherboard review below, we’ve added the general specifications to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting with the unit as well as their key attributes that we have come across during testing.

Conclusion

Before you go buying a motherboard, you should know what your needs are and what features or components will adequately meet your needs.

Motherboards are basically the foundation of building an excellent gaming rig, so be sure to take your time and consider each aspect with care. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing models in the market, and most top brands offer different price ranges to suit every gamer’s budget.

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