Best Motherboard For Gaming - Intel & AMD (2018 Updated)

Adrian B Updated on Oct 08, 2018

One of the most important components inside our computers is the motherboard.  In this post, we’re going to learn how to choose the best motherboard for gaming, so that you can make an informed decision when you go to choose your parts for a new build or upgrading your current rig.

Choose A Motherboard Based On Your Needs

What Defines The Motherboard’s Price?

Let’s start explaining what a motherboard is. You may be thinking this is too basic for you, but the reality is that there is a lot of people that don’t really know the impact that the motherboard have on their computers. Why there are different chipsets for the same CPU family? Why there is such a price variation, ranging from 65 to 200+ dollars?

  • The motherboards define whether you can overclock your processor or not
  • Similarly, this is also true for RAM. A basic LGA 1151 motherboard will only support DDR4 at 2400 Mhz. Even if you are mounting modules with higher speed, they will be limited to the motherboard’s max allowed speed
  • Connectivity: better motherboards have more USB/SATA/M.2/PCIe ports
  • Latency: top-tier models have better chipsets that ensure low-latency, something needed for pro gamers
  • Audio chipsets: there is also a wide range of audio chipsets. If you are really into the audio world, you can just buy an audio card
  • Other differences between cheap and expensive motherboards: BIOS interfaces and utilities, customizable LEDs, external design
motherboard-close-look

Different Chipsets For The Same CPU Family?

Motherboards are classified by the chipset they mount, which defines the main features of the motherboard, such as its connectivity ports or its CPU and RAM compatibility.

There are generally three chipsets per CPU socket, covering the major target uses: basic, advanced and overclocking.

The difference between a non-overclocking and an overclocking motherboard is in the components quality (better capacitors, interference protection, adapted for liquid refrigeration) so it can handle stable higher CPU and RAM clock speeds (overclock). Overclocking motherboards prices start at 80 to 90 dollars.

Intel LGA 1151 - Coffee Lake Chipsets
H310
H370
B360
Q370
Z370
Max RAM
64 GB
Overclocking
CPU + GPU
CPU + GPU + RAM
SATA3
4
6
USB 3.0
4
10
6
8
10
USB 3.1
-
4
6
RAID
-
0, 1, 5, 10
-
0, 1, 5, 10
Wifi 802.11 ac
Yes
No
PCIe
0
2
1
3
Additional PCIe
6
20
12
-
24
AMD AM4 - Ryzen Chipsets
A320
B350
X370
Max RAM
64 GB
64 GB
64 GB
Overclocking
GPU
CPU + GPU + RAM
CPU + GPU + RAM
SATA3
4
4
6
USB 2.0
6
6
4
USB 3.0
6
6
10
RAID
0, 1, 10
0, 1, 10
0, 1, 10
M.2
2
2
2
SATA Express
2
2
2

As you can see from the above table, the B350 is the most basic chipset for Intel’s Coffee Lake processors. This chipset is the perfect choice for simple gaming builds, like the $500 build, which mounts a non-overclockable CPU, 2400 or 2666 Mhz DDR4 RAM and a single basic graphics card. For this kind of builds, it is not necessary to have multiple M.2 ports, RAID support or more PCIe slots.

And you can keep using the B350 chipset as long as you don’t upgrade your CPU to an overclockable model, like the i7-8700K, or while you don’t use RAM with speeds higher than 2666 MHz. In any of those cases, you should definitely consider getting a Z370-based motherboard.

In what scenario should you use an H370 motherboard? I’ve personally never had the need to use this chipset in any of the builds I’ve designed unless it’s necessary due to a shortage of B350 models.

motherboard-cpu-socket

Recommendations

Now, before losing your mind searching through the millions of motherboard models, try first to identify your needs answering the following questions:

  • What is your CPU’s socket?
  • How many RAM do you want to install?
  • What kind of storage will you use (standard HDD, SSD, M.2, …)?
  • Are you going to install multiple graphics cards (SLI, CrossFire)?
  • Will you overclock the CPU, GPU and/or RAM?
  • What computer case size do you have/want?

Now you have an idea of what you want, but there is still a few things you should have in mind when choosing your motherboard. Follow the next recommendations in order to get the best motherboard for your needs:

  • Do not spend more than 70 – 80 dollars unless you really need the expansion options that that model offers.
  • Above 80 dollars you will find the overclocking models or models with better audio controllers, less network latency…
  • Be sure that your CPU socket is compatible with the motherboard’s chipset.
  • PCIe 2.0 or PCIe 3.0? You will only perceive a difference if you are using a +$400 graphic card, and the performance difference is less than 5%. However, PCIe 2.0 is almost deprecated as of today.
  • The motherboard’s power consumption is almost in all cases lower than 10W. So, in this component, the TDP is not a critical feature.
  • ATX, Micro ATX (or uATX), Mini ITX (from largest to smallest size): this defines the motherboard’s size. ATX models have more expansion options and are most expensive as well. Think carefully if you really need those extra options. Micro ATX is the most used size and Mini-ITX is usually used in barebones or All-In-One computers.

As a general advice, try to focus on ~$80 Micro ATX motherboards for non-overclocking builds, as these will cover all your needs and will fit in a wide variety of cool cases. It’s really frustrating when you have to re-think the build from the start just because the case you are in love with it’s not big enough to house the motherboard you have based the entire computer.


The Best Motherboard For Gaming

Now that you know exactly what you are looking for, I will show you the best gaming motherboards available on the market for the moment.

Non-overclocking Builds

LGA 1151 – Coffee Lake

Gigabyte B360M DS3H

Gigabyte B360M DS3Hlaunch

chevron_rightMicro ATX
chevron_rightSocket LGA-1151
chevron_rightChipset Intel B Series
chevron_rightRAM DDR4 2666
chevron_rightRealtek ALC887
chevron_right1x M.2, 4x USB 3.1, 2x USB 2.0, 6x SATA3, 3x fan headers
Market Price: $68.99
Available on:
Amazon USA

For builds mounting 8th Intel generation (Coffee Lake), the Gigabyte B360M DS3H provides all you need.

This micro ATX board comes with all the features needed for either entry-level or high-end builds for an unbeatable price and the reliability of a big company as Gigabyte!

The main features of this motherboard are:

  • Intel Optane Memory
  • DDR4 2666 RAM support
  • Tested with the major RAM brands to ensure maximum compatibility
  • Supports RGB light strips, which can be customized using the included the RGB Fusion software

It also includes a pretty handy feature called Dual BIOS: the motherboard has two BIOS, main and backup, protecting users from BIOS failure due to virus, hardware malfunction, improper OC settings or power failure during the update process.

And, of course, it also has latest-generation ports for all your needs: 4x USB 3.1 ports and 1x M.2 port to plug in a super fast SSD.

AM4 – AMD Ryzen

ASUS Prime B350M-E

ASUS Prime B350M-Elaunch

chevron_rightMicro ATX
chevron_rightSocket AM4
chevron_rightChipset AMD B Series
chevron_rightRAM DDR4 3200 (O.C.)
chevron_rightRealtek ALC887
chevron_right1x M.2, 2x USB 3.1, 4x USB 3.0, 4x SATA3, 3x fan headers
Market Price: $71.96
Available on:
Amazon USA

One of the best motherboards you can find on the market at the moment for Ryzen-based builds is the ASUS PRIME B350M-E, from the Asus PRIME Series.

Expect nothing but the best levels of quality and reliability from one of the most renowned motherboard manufacturers.

This micro ATX board comes with all the features needed for either entry-level or high-end builds and it’s available for an unbeatable price!

Presenting a clean design, with all components in black, this board has been designed to get the most out of the latest Ryzen processors, including the 2nd generation:

  • Supports CPU Overclocking
  • Supports DDR4 RAM from 1866 to 2400 and overclockable to up to 3200 MHz
  • Supports both 1st and 2nd Ryzen generations

It also has others quite remarkable that I’m sure you will find interesting:

  • Tested with the major RAM brands to ensure maximum compatibility
  • ASUS’ 5X Protection III: finest components, excellent circuit design, and exacting standards to guarantee the quality and long-term durability of your motherboard
  • Graphical UEFI BIOS to manage all the motherboard’s internals:
    • EZ Flash 3: update the BIOS via the internet, without leaving the BIOS interface
    • Q-Fan Control: customize the fans’ operating speed manually or use pre-configured profiles
    • S.M.A.R.T: analyze your storage devices to gauge the reliability and possibly to determine potential failures

And, of course, it also has latest-generation ports for all your needs: 2x USB 3.1 ports and 1x M.2 port to plug in a super fast SSD.

Overclocking Builds

LGA 1151 – Coffee Lake

MSI Z370-A Pro

MSI Z370-A Prolaunch

chevron_rightATX
chevron_rightSocket LGA-1151
chevron_rightChipset Intel Z Series
chevron_rightRAM DDR4 4000 (O.C.)
chevron_rightRealtek ALC892
chevron_right1x M.2, 4x USB 3.1, 4x USB 2.0, 6x SATA3, 5x fan headers, water pump support, 2-Way AMD CrossFire
Market Price: $104.17
Available on:
Amazon USA

The MSI Z370-A PRO is a perfect choice if you want an overclockable system (CPU, GPU, RAM), designed to fully utilize the latest Intel Coffee Lake processors, ready to deliver a world-class gaming experience.

It includes several fan headers with full control to allow you to cool your system any way you want.

The core features of this motherboard are:

  • Supports 8th Generation Intel Core, Pentium, and Celeron Processors for Socket LGA 1151
  • Supports DDR4 Memory, up to 4000+(OC) MHz
  • DDR4 Boost: give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
  • Turbo M.2: NVMe support, up to 32 Gb/s using PCI-Express Gen3 x4
  • X-Boost: A Great tool to boost your USB & Storage performance
  • Military Class 5, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high-quality components for best protection and efficiency
  • Click BIOS 5: A super easy to use and friendly BIOS interface

MSI PRO Series motherboards are optimized for cryptocurrency mining like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and more.

These motherboards come with more PCI expansion slots, perfectly placed so you can install multiple graphics cards simultaneously with ease.

Optimized Power Design and special BIOS options ensure a rock solid system for long mining sessions to maximize efficiency and coin generation.

AM4 – AMD Ryzen

MSI X370 Gaming PRO Carbon

MSI X370 Gaming PRO Carbonlaunch

chevron_rightATX
chevron_rightSocket AM4
chevron_rightChipset AMD X Series
chevron_rightRAM DDR4 3200 (O.C.)
chevron_rightRealtek ALC1220
chevron_right2x USB 3.1, 4x USB 3.0, 6x SATA3, 2x M.2, SLI & tri-Crossfire
Market Price: $143.93
Available on:
Amazon USA

This top-notch motherboard will take yout build to the next level. The MSI X370 Gaming PRO Carbon mounts the most advanced Ryzen chipset: the X370. It has absolutely all every enthusiastic gamer would ever need (hence the high price):

  • Supports DDR4-3200+(OC) Memory
  • GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel: experience the lowest latency while playing online!
  • Multiple GPU support: both NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire
  • 4x USB 3.1, 2x M.2
  • 6x SATA3

A Note On The AMD’s B350 Chipset

When I thought about adding an AM4 for overclocking purposes, the chipset that first came to my mind was the B350, which stands between the X370 and the A320.

What I found is that all the current motherboards based on the B350 chipset have huge compatibility issues with high-speed RAM modules, as well as other issues when overclocking the CPU. That’s why ended up choosing a higher quality chipset, the X370.

That being said, If you want to use a B350 motherboard for overclocking your Ryzen CPU, make sure to read the product customer’s reviews first. You have been warned!

Final Words

Time to close this post! We certainly have covered a lot of ground in the motherboards field. I hope you learned a thing or two reading these lines. It would be even better if this new knowledge you just acquired helps you to take a better decision in a future buy.

If you are looking for building your own gaming computer, take a look at the budget builds I’ve designed.

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