Choosing The Best Gaming Motherboard

Updated July 21st, 2018 by Headshot Jacob Tuwiner

If you’re reading this page, you’ve probably decided to build your own budget gaming PC instead of buying a prebuilt gaming computer. Bravo!

Building your own gaming computer is both humbling and educational – however, choosing the right parts for your PC can be difficult.

That’s why I’ve compiled this list of the best gaming motherboards. I’ll be highlighting the best gaming motherboard for Pentium, i5, i7, and Ryzen CPUs.

Keep reading to learn more about the best budget gaming motherboards!

Best Gaming Motherboards

Motherboard Image Benefits Buy
GIGABYTE Z370M ATX Intel Motherboard gigabyte z370m atx intel motherboard
  • Overclocking
  • Full ATX
Best Price on Amazon
ASUS ROG Strix H370-F Intel Gaming Motherboard ASUS ROG Strix H370-F Gaming Motherboard
  • Straightforward config
  • Reliable
Best Price on Amazon
MSI Pro Z270 SLI PLUS ATX Intel Motherboard MSI Pro Z270 SLI PLUS
  • Powerful overclocking
  • X-Boost
Best Price on Amazon
Asus Prime AM4 X370-Pro ATX AMD Motherboard Asus Prime AM4 X370-Pro ATX AMD Motherboard
  • Incredible performance
  • Aura sync RGB lighting
Best Price on Amazon
Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5 ATX AMD Motherboard gigabyte-aorus-ga-ax370
  • X370 chipset
  • Great price
Best Price on Amazon

What Does a Motherboard Do?

All of your PC’s components are connected to your motherboard. To put it simply, your motherboard allows your PC components to communicate with one another.

Without a motherboard, your PC parts wouldn’t be able to do much of anything.

The processor, RAM, graphics card, hard drives, optical drives, case fans, M.2 storage and SSDs, CPU coolers, etc. all connect to your motherboard.

Motherboard Diagram

Different motherboards have different CPU socket types, and different chipsets. The socket type of your motherboard will be either AMD or Intel. Moreover, different Intel CPUs are compatible with certain socket types – the same goes for AMD.

For example, AMD Ryzen CPUs are only compatible with AM4 socket types, and Intel’s newest line of 8th generation CPUs are only compatible with LGA 1151 sockets.

Motherboard chipsets are also important. If you want to overclock your CPU, you’ll have to make sure your motherboard has the right chipset.

Intel Z370 chipsets are the best for overclocking, as they allow you to fully unlock your CPU’s overclocking potential. Other chipsets, such as an Intel H370, for example, are more restrictive when it comes to overclocking.

There are so many things you have to consider when buying your motherboard, including size, number of fan connectors and its power rating, the socket type, chipset, how many PCI slots it has, RAM slots, maximum RAM frequency, maximum RAM capacity, etc.

As you can probably tell, it can quickly become overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the PC gaming community.

That’s why I’ve created this list of the 5 best gaming motherboards. If you choose one of the motherboards on this list, you really can’t go wrong.

So, keep reading to find the right motherboard for you!

GIGABYTE Z370M ATX Intel Motherboard

gigabyte z370m atx intel motherboard

Most Z370 options are high-end motherboards, mostly used by enthusiast builders. Contrary to popular belief, there are entry-level Z370 motherboards out there.

In fact, the GIGABYTE Z370M ATX Intel motherboard is one of them.

Let’s find out what it has to offer:

Since it has a Z370 chipset, this motherboard caters to those interested in overclocking their 8th generation Intel processors.

It has CrossFire Support, Intel USB 3.1 Gen1 with USB Type-C, Intel GbE LAN with 25KV protection, M.2, RGB Fusion, and Smart Fan 5 technology.

According to Gigabyte:

With Smart Fan 5 users can ensure that their gaming PC can maintain its performance while staying cool. Smart Fan 5 allows users to interchange their fan headers to reflect different thermal sensors at different locations on the motherboard. Not only that, with Smart Fan 5 more hybrid fan headers that support both PWM and Voltage mode fans have been introduced to make the motherboard more liquid cooling friendly.

It has four DDR4 DIMM slots up to 4000MHz, Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 slots, and RGB lighting strips in 7 different colors.

You’ll enjoy high-end audio capacitors and an audio noise guard that seperates the motherboard’s sensitive analog audio components from noise pollution at the PCB level.

Overall, you’re getting a high-end motherboard with incredible overclocking potential and loads of features for a low price. This motherboard is great for anyone who wants to build a sweet Intel gaming PC on a budget of around $700. It’s a steal!

Best Motherboard for Overclocking: MSI Pro Z270 SLI PLUS ATX Intel Motherboard

MSI Pro Z270 SLI PLUS

The MSI Pro Z270 SLI PLUS ATX Intel motherboard has an LGA 1151 socket type, which is compatible with Intel’s newest line of processors. It’s also sporting an Intel Z270 chipset, which means you can fully unlock your CPU’s overclocking potential.

Four 3800MHz DDR4 RAM slots can accomodate up to 64GB of memory. The motherboard also has 3 PCI-E x16 slots, and 3 PCI-E x1 slots.

this motherboard is a workhorse, and its SLI branding means it was designed with gaming in mind.

The motherboard’s southbridge and northbridge are both protected by heatsinks. The motherboard doesn’t have any RGB lighting, but that’s okay.

Instead, the motherboard has white lights on the back of the board, and an RGB light header (the header allows you to plug in your own custom RGB lighting, if you choose to do so.)

Although the motherboard doesn’t look flashy, it surely packs a punch.

The motherboard has two M.2 sockets and six Sata 3 ports. It supports two-way SLI and three-way crossfire. Most people don’t need more than two GPUs.

From a performance standpoint, the MSI Z270 SLI Plus is powerful and reliable. The board has good application speeds and great storage read/write speeds as well. Its CrstalDiskMark read and write speeds of 514MB/s and 500MB/s, just behind high end motherboards.

For the price of this board, it’s a steal. It’s not flashy, but it does offer solid performance at a fair price.

ASUS ROG Strix H370-F Intel Gaming Motherboard

ASUS ROG Strix H370-F Gaming Motherboard

H370 chipsets are generally cheaper than Z370 chipsets. However, they don’t offer the same overclocking potential.

They are full-featured motherboards with less of an emphasis on overclocking capabilities. If you want to overclock your CPU with an H370 motherboard, you won’t be able to surpass Intel’s default Turbo boot for the chip.

The maximum turbo frequency of RAM is 2,666 MHz, and you can’t run two graphics cards in SLI format.

On the other hand, they’re perfect for the average Joe looking to build a simple gaming PC. They surely get the job done, and better still, they’re simple, straightforward, and easy to understand.

Despite their lack of overclocking potential, they still offer good performance at a fair price.

H370 chipsets support Intel’s newest line of 8th generation Coffee Lake CPUs. You can also use M.2 drives and USB 3.1 Gen2.

The ASUS ROG Strix H370-F gaming motherboard has two M.2 PCIe slot, USB 3.1, RGB lighting, and high quality audio. For the price, it’s packed with nice features.

The motherboard has six SATA ports that are lined up individually, which is a bit odd (most motherboards have them stacked atop one another.)

Unless you’re serious about overclocking, this motherboard is probably a great fit for your next build. If you do choose an unlocked Intel CPU, however, go for a Z370 chipset instead.

Best Budget Gaming Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5 ATX AMD Motherboard

gigabyte-aorus-ga-ax370

The Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5 comes in at $170 on Amazon. It is a bit more expensive than other AM4 motherboards, but for good reason.

It has a Z370 chipset, which is the best for overclocking. It is the only chipset that allows you to fully unlock your CPU’s overclocking potential, and it is compatible with AMD’s newest Ryzen CPUs.

By the way, Ryzen CPUs are well known for their unrivaled overclocking performance. They’re okay at stock frequencies, but they’re champions when overclocked.

With that being said, you’ll probably want a motherboard with a Z370 chipset, which is designed specifically for overclocking.

The motherboard has two LED headers, modest overclocking potential and a VRM heatsink assembly. It has three M.2 slots (in case you’re not familiar, M.2 is an even faster f orm of storage than SSDs.)

The board has 10-phase CPU power delivery, and memory support up to 4133MHz. Keep in mind, however, that RAM at this speed is both expensive and unnecessary for gaming.

Processor speeds almost surpass 5GHz, which is both impressive and important if you’re interested in overclocking (which you should be).

The motherboard is reliable, great for overclocking, and modestly priced. I’d highly recommend this board if you’re going to include an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPU in your next gaming PC build.

Asus Prime AM4 X370-Pro ATX AMD Motherboard

Asus Prime AM4 X370-Pro ATX AMD Motherboard

If you’re looking for a cheap motherboard that’s still capable of overclocking, the Asus Prime AM4 X370-Pro ATX AMD Motherboard is your best bet. It still has many of the same features that you’d find in a more expensive motherboard, but it won’t break the bank.

The Prime X370-Pro has four DDR4 RAM slots that support up to 64GB of 2666 or 3200MHz OC. It has two PCIe 3.0 126x slots and one PCIe 2.0 slot.

The motherboard has 8 SATA ports and an M.2 slot as well.

It also has great overclocking potential, which is espcially important if you’re going to buy a Ryzen CPU. Don’t get me wrong, Ryzen CPUs are great at stock frequencies, but they perform exceptionally well when overclocked.

That’s why I always recommend overclocking if you’re going to buy a Ryzen CPU. Even if it’s your first time building a gaming computer, overclocking is surprisingly easy, and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube. I’d highly recommend it!

Motherboard Chipsets

The importance of a motherboard’s chipset cannot be overstated. Your motherboard’s chipset has a direct impact on overclocking potential, among other things.

Although the difference between chipsets is nominal these days, choosing the right one for overclocking is crucial.

If you’re going to be overclocking an Intel CPU, for example, you’re going to want an Intel Z270 or Z370 chipset, rather than an H270 or H370 chipset.

You can read more about Intel chipsets here.

Best Motherboard Brand

There is no “best motherboard brand.” There are many brands, and each has their supporters. If I were you, I’d read a bit about each one to decide which is best for you.

Why do You Need a Good Motherboard for Gaming?

What to Look for in a Gaming Motherboard

Before you spend your hard earned money, ensure you consider the following:

Size:

Chipset: As mentioned previously, this is going to have a direct impact on overclocking performance. If you’re purchasing an unlocked K series Intel CPU (meant for overclocking) or a Ryzen CPU, make sure your chipset is overclocker friendly.

Socket Type: You’re also going to have to make sure your motherboard is compatible with your CPU. If you buy a motherboard with the wrong socket type, your CPU won’t fit.

RAM Slots: Most ATX motherboards have four DIMM slots. You’ll want to know how many slots your motherboard has, its maximum supported RAM, and its maximum supported RAM frequency. Most motherboards these days suppport at least 16GB of RAM. I’d recommend at least 2400MHz RAM for gaming, especially if you’re going for a Ryzen CPU.

PCI Slots: If you want to run multiple graphics cards in your computer, or you’re considering an M.2 storage solution, you’ll need a motherboard that supports both of those things.

SLI/Crossfire Support: If your motherboard has multiple PCI slots, odds are it either supports SLI or Crossfire, or even both. Still though, you need to check just to be sure.

Fan Connectors: If you plan on using a lot of case fans in your gaming PC, you’ll need a motherboard with enough sys fan connectors for your build. If your fan doesn’t have enough connectors, you can buy fan splitters (one end plugs into the motherboard, and the other end has two connectors, ultimately allowing you to connect two fans to one fan connector on your motherboard.)

SATA Ports: If you are going to use many hard drives or solid state drives, you’re going to need plenty of SATA connectors. Most motherboards have at least 6 SATA ports, which should be more than enough.

USB 3.0 Compatibility: This one isn’t super important, but it’s always nice to have USB 3.0, especially in 2018. It’d be a good idea to buy a motherboard with USB 3.0 support to future proof your PC.

Integrated Graphics: You might want a motherboard with integrated graphics, but if you’re going to build a gaming PC, this one doesn’t matter. Integrated graphics can’t handle gaming – that’s why you buy a dedicated GPU.

Extra Features: Take note of any extra features you’d like. For example, RGB lighting, fan speed controllers, etc.

Conclusion

Motherboards connect all of your components, so it’s imperative you choose the right one.

I prefer motherboards that support overclocking, but some don’t have any desire to overclock. If that’s you, buy a different chipset and save some money!

Lastly, make sure you don’t buy the cheapest motherboard you can. Remember when I said your motherboard connects all of your components? Well, if it shorts out for some reason, you can damage or destory some or all of your components. Choose wisely!