Your choice of motherboard should never be an afterthought. Sure, your graphics card and CPU are easier to get excited about, since they're the components that are most closely associated with all the in-game settings you'll get to dial up and just how fast you'll be running your games. But, your motherboard choice goes well beyond determining your CPU compatibility, and it has a lot more to do with the all the different capabilities your gaming PC will ultimately have.
Most mainstream motherboards will let you go with your choice of graphics cards, but your choice of motherboard will figure out just what other expansion cards you can get. Especially as PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 slots become the norm. Plus, the ability to get plenty of bandwidth through numerous PCIe lanes will come down to your motherboard and its chipset. It also plays into how much overclocking you can do, what RAM speeds you can enable, and how many different storage devices you can attach – just because a motherboard has eight SATA ports and two M.2 slots doesn't mean you can populate all of those with drives.
With these things in mind, it's worth considering your motherboard carefully before getting too excited about all the impressive abilities your PC will have based on just its CPU and GPU. To help you through this selection process, we've rounded up a bunch of quality motherboards for both Intel and AMD systems, so you can find one that checks all your boxes. If you're building a more compact system, then you should also check out the best Micro ATX motherboards – and click here to find them in the UK.
TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Motherboards:
- MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi
- Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme
- Asus TUF Gaming H670-PRO WIFI D4
- Asus Prime H670-Plus D4
- Asus ROG X570 Crosshair Hero VIII (Wi-Fi)
- ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme
- ASRock X570 PG Velocita
- Gigabyte B550 Gaming X V2
1. MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi
Best Intel Motherboard
Intel has released their 12th Gen Core processors with an all-new socket, the LGA 1700, and the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi welcomes this major update. Priced under $400 and loaded with quality, it’s hard to beat this standout motherboard. The new Z690 chipset offers PCIe 5.0 support, so you'll be future-ready for the latest graphics cards. And, with DDR5 memory support, power consumption is reduced while bandwidth increases–what more could you want?
With the two PCIe 5.0 x 16 slots, you can run full bandwidth on one or split its lanes to share between the two. There’s even a third PCIe 3.0 x 16 slot with four lanes perfect for adding in additionals. Plus, the five M.2 slots (four of which are PCIe 4.0) make the storage support on this motherboard another big advantage. If this isn’t enough to sell you, there is a powerful CPU overclocking feature, great connectivity with WI-Fi 6E, and an awesome midrange price point.
2. Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme
Best High-End Intel Motherboard
If you like our first option but are looking for something more powerful, that you can max out to the extreme, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme is the perfect place to start. This gaming motherboard is ready for the latest Intel 12th Generation processors. And, the commanding 20+1+2 Phases VRM Design will let you pair it with the best high-performance parts. The 4 DIMM slots support DDR5 memory to significantly increase your usual bandwidth and decrease power consumption, which in turn will increase overall performance. You can even overclock higher with its exclusive tuning capabilities.
If you like what you’re hearing so far, there are more awesome features to get you gaming at the highest level. You can take advantage of a high-speed storage capacity with PCIe 4.0 SSD support. And, with three expansion PCIe slots, two of which are PCIe 5.0, this motherboard is ready to take on the latest graphics cards and more. Plus, it's loaded with ports including a USB 3.2, USB- Type C, and Thunderbolt 4 support. It even offers two Ethernet ports, one that supports 10Gb and another that supports 2.5Gb. And, conveniently Wi-Fi 6E is built-in as well. This high-end motherboard loaded with all the latest tech might have to be your next gaming investment.
3. Asus TUF Gaming H670-PRO WIFI D4
Best Mid-Range Intel Motherboard
The Asus TUF Gaming H670-PRO WIFI D4 is a modestly priced motherboard that gets your system up to speed. It features the LGA1700 socket and H670 chipset, so you get support for the latest 12th Gen Intel Core processors. Plus, it offers a PCIe 5.0 slot, which doubles the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, so it'll be great for taking on the latest GPUs. NVMe SSD support is on board as well thanks to the four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, which offer up incredible performance potential and speedy transfers. There are also four memory slots, though still limited to DDR4, but your processor should still have no trouble cruising along.
For networking, you’ll find a 2.5Gb LAN port as well as a Wi-Fi 6 chip, making the Asus TUF Gaming H670-PRO WIFI D4 perfect for online gaming. You'll also find loads of USB ports and other connections to ensure your other peripherals are able to take advantage of all that potential bandwidth. With all that connectivity at a price that won’t break the bank, this motherboard is an excellent option to get your gaming PC up and running with the latest technology.
4. Asus Prime H670-Plus D4
Best Budget Intel Motherboard
Want an affordable way to get the latest performance upgrades for your Intel machine? The Asus Prime H670-Plus D4 is your best option. It costs just a fraction of some of the higher-end Intel motherboards, and it doesn't sacrifice much in terms of performance potential. Most importantly, this board supports the 12th Gen Intel CPUs. You might not be getting PCIe 5.0 speeds, but this budget-friendly pick still offers you a graphics-card-ready slot with solid PCIe 4.0 x16 speeds. And, there are two of them, plus an additional PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and two PCIe 3.0 x1 for all your other add-in cards.
The Asus Prime H670-Plus D4 provides ample amounts of other connections for extra add-in devices too. It's loaded up with USB ports and even a Thunderbolt 4 connector that increases connectivity to 40Gbs. There is also an ultrafast 2.5Gb ethernet, but unfortunately, it isn’t equipped with its own Wi-Fi module. Though, you can easily slot one into the dedicated M.2 Key E port. Plus, there are three additional NVME M.2 slots to increase storage. Though this might not be the highest-end motherboard on the market, it has still has all the bells and whistles for a solid gaming setup at a super budget-friendly price.
5. Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero (Wi-Fi)
Best AMD Motherboard
The Ryzen rig of your dreams is just around the corner with the Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero. This ATX motherboard is geared toward high-performance builds without going over the top and thereby breaking the bank — see the insane MSI MEG X570 Godlike for that. What you do get is support for fast RAM running at up to 4,800MHz. That provides plenty of headroom for overclocking your CPU and RAM and syncing up clocks between the memory and the Infinity Fabric.
This board is also ready for all your high-speed add-ins. It offers two PCIe x16 slots that can split sixteen lanes at PCIe 4.0 speeds or you can just use one at the full PCIe 4.0 x16 bandwidth, which is perfect for a high-performing graphics card. There’s even a third PCIe 4.0 x16 slot with four lanes for full-length cards that don’t need as much bandwidth. Your storage can cruise as well with two PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD slots. It’s all topped off with a smattering of high-speed USB ports and fast networking capabilities through Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5Gb LAN.
6. ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme
Best High-End AMD Motherboard
If you’re searching for a motherboard that's ready for just about anything you throw at it, then you'll want the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme. This E-ATX motherboard takes full advantage of the extended room and is ready to house your most powerful systems, including the latest AMD Ryzen 5000 processors. It can handle some serious power delivery to the CPU for overclocking. That’s thanks to dual 8-pin connectors providing loads of juice to an 18+2 phase power delivery system with an advanced VRM design to keep things cool. All the CPU overclocking potential pairs nicely with the RAM overclocking.
ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme is great for expansions. It totes two PCIe 4.0 x16 slots. Both feature ASUS’s Safeslot for reinforcement and are perfect for slotting in a high-end graphics card that requires a good deal of bandwidth. You also get one PCIe 3.0 x 1 to add in less demanding expansion cards like a sound card or network adapter. With up to five M.2 drives running at full PCIe 4.0 x4 speeds, you'll be looking at some monstrously fast storage potential. It's no wonder this motherboard is quite pricey.
7. ASRock X570 PG Velocita
Best Mid-Range AMD Motherboard
It may seem like all the most impressive X570 motherboards come in at shockingly high prices, but the ASRock X570 PG Velocita brings plenty to the table for under $250. On top of support for the latest AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs, the motherboard also supports memory speeds up to an impressive 5,000MHz. You also get plenty of system storage potential with dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots in addition to eight SATA ports. And, it's ready to take on all your additionals with two PCIe 4.0 x16 slots and three PCIe 4.0 x 1 slots.
The board has plenty in the way of connectivity options too. In addition to a plethora of USB ports (and even a Thunderbolt option), the board boasts Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and 2.5Gb networking. It should handle all of your online gaming with ease. Throw in a splash of RGB lighting on the IO shroud and chipset cooler as well as support for RGB peripherals, and you've got a stylish and capable board at a mid-range price.
8. Gigabyte B550 Gaming X V2
Best Budget AMD Motherboard
You can still get up to speed on a budget with Gigabyte’s B550 Gaming X motherboard. This ATX motherboard won’t make you sacrifice all the latest features. The Gigabyte B550 Gaming X supports Ryzen 3000 and Ryzen 5000 Series processors, giving you the choice of a fantastic host of CPUs and APUs to build your system around. Plus, with DDR4 memory support at 4,733MHz, you still have some overclocking potential.
A big part of the promise of the B550 chipset is when paired with a Ryzen 5000 Series processor you get an upgrade to PCIe 4.0. This motherboard is no exception, as you can enjoy a full PCIe 4.0 x16 connection for your graphics card or other add-in card. You even get a PCIe 4.0 x4 connection for a high-speed NVMe storage card. That pairing can get you gaming with the best of them, especially where games start to take advantage of the direct link between graphics cards and storage.
Where to Get the Best Motherboard in the UK
ASUSROG STRIX Z590-E Best Intel Motherboard£365.49ASUSH470 Prime H470M-Plus Best Budget Intel Motherboard£111.98ASUSROG Crosshair VIII Hero Best AMD Motherboard£421.52MSIMEG X570 GODLIKE Best High-End AMD Motherboard£689.99ASRock X570 PG Velocita Best Mid-Range AMD Motherboard£331.00ASRockB550 Phantom Gaming 4 Best Budget AMD Motherboard£105.92
What's Next For Gaming Motherboards
The announcement of Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation processors came with the introduction of TRX40 motherboards. Although it might seem like these motherboards have the same socket AMD has used since introducing its first Zen-based HEDT chips, this new platform utilizes a new sTRX4 socket that makes buying a new motherboard essential to any Threadripper 3rd Generation system.
While this will be an inconvenience to those hoping to continue using their X399 motherboards into the next generation, you at least get PCI-Express 4.0 support. In fact, you get 48 PCIe 4.0 lanes straight off the processor itself then another 24 from the TRX40 chipset—just be prepared to pay for some pricey motherboards
What to Look for in a Gaming Motherboard
Below we've broken down the various chipsets that Intel and AMD processors support along with what specifications and features you should look for in a motherboard.
When it comes down to choosing a gaming motherboard, you’ll want to find one that can do everything you want, whether that be overclocking your processor, having multiple M.2 slots for the fastest solid-state drives or loads of expansion slots for add-in cards.
But let’s quickly go back to the most basic thing you should look for when buying a motherboard: chipsets. Intel and AMD processors are designed to work with a variety of tiered chipsets. The highest-end Intel motherboards will feature a Z690 chipset that supports the latest Intel 12th Generation processors with native 802.11ac Wi-Fi and USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity and up to 24 PCIe lanes. Additionally, these high-end motherboards will be made of better materials and components to consistently deliver the power necessary for overclocking components attached to them.
Just below that, you’ll find a Z370 chipset that is nearly identical to the Z390 chipset, except it lacks the native 802.11ac Wi-Fi and USB 3.1 Gen 2 support. With an H370 motherboard, Intel CPUs will only have access to 20 PCIe lanes while losing the ability to overclock. Next up is the Intel B360 chipset, which drops the number of PCIe lanes to 12. Lastly, the Intel H310 chipset only supports six PCIe lanes.
AMD motherboards mostly follow the same tiered system, except you’ll be able to overclock your CPU on almost any motherboard. The highest-end chipset on this platform is X570 and it complicates things a bit by having PCIe 4.0 lanes that support twice the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 lanes. X570 comes with 16 PCIe 4.0 lanes and a Ryzen 3rd Generation CPU itself adds another 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes.
Older AMD AM4 platforms like X470 support 28 PCIe 3.0 lanes, meanwhile, B450 motherboards only have access to 24 PCIe PCIe 3.0 lanes. The A320 chipset is the only one that doesn’t support overclocking Ryzen CPUs, but honestly, you’d be better off spending a little more on a B450 or B350 motherboard instead.
We mentioned PCIe lanes before and these are important because they dictate how many high-speed components you can install into your PC. For example, a single graphics card can use up 16 PCIe lanes and each NVMe SSD needs four PCIe lanes to operate at its maximum speed.
You’ll also want to look for a motherboard with all the physical PCIe slots you need to plug in your components. The good news is that most ATX boards come with at least two to three PCIe slots. M.2 PCIe slots will also be crucial for plugging in the fastest NVMe solid-state drives, should they be part of your build as well.
And those are pretty much the basics you need to know about buying yourself a quality motherboard. Be aware that we’ve primarily chosen only the best full-sized ATX motherboards in this guide, but there are also microATX and Mini-ITX motherboards to consider if you’re building a smaller PC.
Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.
Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.