Let’s take a look at the best motherboards for gaming for January 2020. When you’re talking about gaming PCs, most people always point out the best graphics cards they could buy but they often overlook one important component in a gaming PC: the motherboard. The motherboard is an essential part of the PC as it houses your computer’s most important components such as the graphics card, CPU, etc.
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2020 is one hell of a ride if you are shopping for the latest Intel and AMD processors and the motherboards that go with them. The market has never been this competitive in recent times, so its crucial to check and see which board is the best for your valuable CPU.
Now, as with all other gaming components, there are a lot of motherboards out there that cater to the mass consumer market. There are cheap and inexpensive motherboards that are perfect for people who are on a budget. There are also some mid-tier gaming motherboards that sport some nifty features and, of course, there are also some expensive motherboards that are perfect for overclockers.
In this article, I will go over some of the most popular gaming motherboards in 2020. I will separate the gaming motherboards based on the price so that you can instantly look for what’s best for you based on your budget. But before buying motherboards, what do you actually need to look at when you’re going to get one? If you want to know more about choosing a motherboard for your PC, visit this comprehensive guide from Tom’s Hardware.
Now that you know the factors that you need to look at before buying your gaming motherboard, I am now going to suggest some of the most popular ones in the market. I will group them in different price brackets so that you can easily browse through them. The gist here is that there are motherboards for everyone.
Do you want a budget motherboard so you can spend more money on a graphics card? There is a motherboard for you. Do you want a motherboard that bridges the gap between price and performance? There is also one for you. Or how about those high-end gaming motherboards that offer everything on the table? There are high-end gaming motherboards as well. So, without further ado, here are my recommendations for different gaming motherboards based on different price points:
Budget-Friendly Gaming Motherboards
I will start off with some of the best budget-friendly gaming motherboards. These motherboards are ideally suited for people who do not want to spend a lot of money on a gaming motherboard as they will want to spend it on something else, like the graphics card, for example. You’ll notice that our picks differ from those at Linus Tech or Best Review List
Gigabyte Z390 UD
The gigabyte Z390 UD presents excellent value mainly since it has a full Z390 chipset for the price of a B360 variant. Getting this board will let you invest in higher-tiered components such as a more potent GPU or more RAM. It’s practical that way, especially since this board can accommodate more sticks of memory, storage devices, and USB peripherals.
The Gigabyte Z390 UD also has the best power delivery designs in its class thanks to its 10+2 phase VRM. Z390 boards are built for overclocking, so its great that you are getting better voltage control for the price with this model. This characteristic enables this variant to handle the i9 9900K and give it decent overclocking headroom.
Aesthetics, of course, isn’t included in the Gigabyte Z390 UD’s package, unlike its Aorus counterparts. The printed PC looks attractive, but it doesn’t have the usual RGB bling that many are looking for. You also get a single x16 PCIe slot, so multi-GPU configurations are not advisable for this model.
Gigabyte X570 Gaming X
The Gigabyte X570 Gaming X is the Ryzen 3000 equivalent of the option above that has a friendly price that doesn’t compromise too much on performance and features. We recommend getting this model if you want to allocate more cash to your other components since you still get the essential features here. B-chipsets dedicated to the latest AMD chips are not yet available, so going with a reasonably-priced X570 board is your next best step.
What makes the Gigabyte X570 Gaming X special in this price bracket is its true-12-phase VRM which will let you use the most power-hungry CPUs and overclock them to your heart’s content. The model uses the same printed PCB design as the UD series boards, but this model already includes RGB lighting for themed setups.
Another important aspect of going with an X570 board is you get PCI 4.0 support for future proofing. Its the latest trend for considerably faster SSDs, although GPUs still haven’t maximized PCIe 3.0’s capabilities. This model also isn’t ideal for dual GPU setups since its limited to a single PCIe 4.0 x16 slot.
Gigabyte B360 Aorus Gaming 3
The Gigabyte B360 Aorus Gaming 3 is your best bet if overclocking isn’t part of the agenda, but improved aesthetics is necessary. This model is a great entry-level pick if you are new to PC gaming, but want a solid board with all the right features. This model supports both 8th and 9th gen Intel Processors, but you need to make sure that the BIOS is updated to the latest if you are planning on using the latter.
The Gigabyte B360 Aorus Gaming 3 doesn’t offer a lot of tweaking options since the overclocking feature is locked. However, the package includes numerous valuable features such as two slots for NVMe SSDs and Gigabyte’s Fusion 2.0 lighting. But what stands out most is you do get on-board WiFi which is rare on $100 motherboards.
Best Midrange Gaming Motherboards
The Midrange category is where the cutthroat competition happens between the different brands since this is where both enthusiasts and thrifty buyers search for the best gaming motherboards. Typically, the products included here and their many counterparts have a price tag which hovers above a hundred bucks.
All of the models in this category now have the top-end Z390 and X570 chipsets which allow for fantastic features such as multi-GPU support, higher PCIe, and memory bandwidth, plus a whole lot more. This section of the guide is the gateway into the world of enthusiasts and overclocking, but not at the prices of the extreme models.
Furthermore, they are much easier to find since it is currently the most popular motherboard chipset on the market and support for these motherboards is much better compared to any other motherboard chipset.
Asus Prime Z390-A
The Asus Prime Z390-A is a top pick for users who do not want to spend over $200, or when building a white-themed build. This model shows that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get high-end components and a sexy-looking design laced with RGB lighting. The board supports 2-way SLI and improved connectivity features such as USB 3.1 Gen1 along with upgraded audio.
The Asus Prime Z390-A is built for overclocking, even if the brand focuses its advertisement for that kind of use towards its ROG product line. The board has a revamped 5-Way Optimization with AIoverclocking feature which has the intelligence to overclock a CPU safely and efficiently. This board is also laced with safety features such as overvoltage protection and hardware-based safeguards to help with its longevity.
The Asus Prime Z390-A covers almost every requirement of an enthusiast build for a motherboard without the extra price tag. You can also go with the Strix variant which has the same features but a meaner look if the white aesthetics don’t fit your theme.
MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi
The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi Is easily one of the best-looking X570 boards out in the market with its all-black theme with carbon-fiber accents. This model features three RGB zones and headers so you can maximize the brand’s Mystic Light feature that will sync the RGB lighting on MSI’s MPG monitors.
The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi also offers excellent overclocking potential for the top-end Ryzen 3000 CPUs. Its DIMM slots support up to 64GB of 4400MHz which is excellent since Ryzen chips are proven to perform better with faster memory clocks. Connectivity won’t be an issue as well since there are plenty of port types on the board, along with its WiFi 6-ready connectivity.
The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi is an excellent investment if you want a future-proof build thanks to its PCIe 4.0 support. You can do a high-powered dual GPU system with this model, or utilize its dual m.2 slots for the fastest storage devices available. It’s a bit expensive compared to its Z390 counterparts, but each dollar spent translates to excellent value based on the spec sheet
Best High-End Gaming Motherboards
Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi
The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi takes the crown for high-end intel boards thanks to its no-compromise feature set and fantastic overclocking potential. Asus offers several other offerings like the Apex and Formula variants, but we think you don’t need to spend the extra since enthusiast-level performance already comes with this option. The Maximum XI Hero is also more competitively priced which made it a top-selling board in the market.
The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi is your best choice if you want to instantly get 5GHz from your Intel processor or more. The board’s 5-way optimization feature with AI Overclocking almost makes the overclocking process instant with its capabilities based on real-time voltage, thermals, and the condition of your processor. You will also find it pleasing to build a cooling solution around this board due to its dedicated water cooling zones, dedicated fan and pump control, and built-in heatsinks.
There is little reason to spend the extra on the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi’s upper-tier brethren since you do get all the specialized goodies at this level. The board already has upgraded audio, various connectivity options, and hardware-based safety features to ensure reliability.
Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero
Asus also grabs the top high-end spot for the AMD side with its Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero. The board features class-leading expandability and overclocking potential that makes it worthy of AMD’s most coveted Ryzen 3000 chips. Its more expensive than its Intel counterpart, but you have to remember that X570 boards have support for PCIe 4.0 aside from being newer.
The Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero is designed to impress, but the heatsinks populating the PCB are actually functional in boosting its thermal performance. This implementation works well with its high-end design that includes meaty layouts such as a 14+2 power delivery system. Asus’ 5-Way Optimization feature with AI Overclocking is part of the package, so squeezing every ounce of juice from your Ryzen 3000 CPU is as easy as peas.
You also get to enjoy a well-designed RGB implementation with this motherboard, along with other signature add-ons such as Asus MU-MIMO WiFi and other class-leading connectivity standards. The X570 segment is particularly competitive in the high-end bracket, but this board is one of the best you can buy at the moment
Best Elite Gaming Motherboards
Elite gaming motherboards are designed to provide the best performance in every aspect such as overclocking, cooling, and control. Almost every modern feature a brand can include can be found in this category, along with extreme designs and aesthetics. Some boards are aimed at overclocking or benching builds more than gamers, but that can only mean extreme levels of reliability and longevity if you want a future-proof setup.
It’s also worth mentioning that the options listed here are rare and often priced with a premium, so we can only recommend this over the other boards if you are after chart-topping clocks or if you are simply willing to spend on the very best. We decided not to include the extreme chipsets such as X299 and X399 in the interest of focusing on gaming since those are meant more for workstations.
EVGA Z390 Dark
The EVGA Z390 Dark motherboard is a $500 monster designed to push for chart-topping overclocking results with Intel’s 9th Gen processors. This model is unique since it has two, horizontally mounted RAM slots at the top which allows it to better accommodate LN2 pots for extreme overclocking and benching. Every bit of the board down from its angled power connectors to its 10-layer PCB is aimed at extreme benching setups to help ensure that you get the best overclocking results for serious bragging rights.
Another important feature of the EVGA Z390 Dark is its 17-phase digital VRM which is designed to provide the most stable and cleanest power to your CPU. The PCB isn’t laced with RGB lighting, but the intimidating heatsink layout works well with extreme build aesthetics. The board comes in E-ATX format, so it still includes all the necessary features such as various m.2 slots and both internal and external headers for USB and SATA devices.
Other aspects that make the EVGA Z390 Dark very special is it has support for three BIOS profiles and 150% increased gold content in its socket. Again, its all for top-end overclocking potential, but it also translates to better control and reliability for your rig at home.
ASRock X570 Aqua
The ASRock X570 Aqua was the most anticipated X570 board this year thanks to its fantastic and out of this world design. The extreme board features a built-in water cooling block that covers the CPU, power delivery layout, and chipset to keep its running temperatures in control even in extreme circumstances. We also like that the shields on the board are actually made of aluminum instead of the usual painted plastic which doesn’t dissipate heat.
The Asrock X570 Aqua is packed with the latest features to go with its support for PCIe 4.0 and extreme overclocking. The board offers Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, gold-contact DIMM and VGA slots and a 14-phase Dr. Mos delivery system so you can always keep performance and reliability at their peaks. Valuable extras such as various connector options and Wi-Fi 6 are also in tow, so even the secondary functions are covered.
We don’t see any issues with the ASRock X570 Aqua motherboard apart from its above $500 pricing. We know many enthusiasts are willing to spend this much if the specs listed are involved, but this product is so rare since there are only 999 units made and distributed across the globe.
Things to Look for When Buying the Best Gaming Motherboard
1. Form Factor. The first thing to consider when buying a gaming motherboard is its size. There are currently 3 popular motherboard sizes although there is also one that is much bigger but not really something that people would want to buy. The three popular motherboard sizes are the ATX, mATX, and the mITX. The ATX is the standard sized motherboard which contains the usual stuff like complete PCIe slots and a whole lot of other features.
mATX, or microATX, is a much smaller motherboard that sacrifices some things like PCIe slots in favor of a smaller motherboard. They also tend to be much cheaper than the standard ATX. And finally, the mITX, or mini-ITX, is the smallest of the three and typically measures about 170mmx170mm.
They are relatively power-efficient and because of its small form factor, there are plenty of cases you can choose from. Of course, the drawbacks is that it has much fewer features than the previous two motherboard sizes but to each his own. There is also another motherboard size called the eATX which is much larger than the standard ATX motherboard.
Because of its much bigger size than the original, most people veer away from it. But, with bigger size comes more features. Choose which things you are willing to compromise and when you’re buying a motherboard, always look at the case you’re going to put it in.
2. Socket. Have you noticed the word “socket” followed by a number right beside it when you’re shopping for motherboards? Every motherboard has that because it signifies that it only supports this type of processor socket.
In the case of the Coffee Lake and Coffee Lake Refresh processors, for example, they use the Socket 1151. Therefore, you need a motherboard that supports this socket so that you can use the latest processors on the market.
3. DIMM/RAM. The next thing you need to look at is the DIMM or RAM slots. It usually depends on the motherboard size you’re going to buy. For standard ATX motherboards, you will usually get 2-4 RAM slots. For mATX and mITX, it usually has only two DIMM slots although some mATX motherboards come with four.
As much as possible, get a motherboard with at least four RAM slots. Even though you’re going to buy one or two RAM sticks, for now, having additional RAM slots will allow you to add more in the future.
4. SATA and M.2 Ports. Storage like SSDs and HDDs are also important for the computer. Therefore, you need to have enough SATA ports to plug them all in. For every storage device you have, you will need one SATA port.
For example, suppose you have three HDDs and one SSD, you will need a total of 4 SATA ports available. If you really want to have better performance, you will want to get an M.2 SSD. If you’re going to buy one, make sure to check if the motherboard of your choice supports it and if it has the appropriate slots.
5. PCIe Slots. Since we’re talking about gaming motherboards, I know that you want a discrete graphics card to enjoy the superb graphics of modern games. In this case, you will need a motherboard that has enough PCI Express slots.
Typically, you would want a PCIe x16 for the main graphics card and if you want to do multiple GPU setups, you will need more PCI Express slots. You will also find PCI slots that are smaller. They are usually used for other things like sound cards, wifi adapters, etc.
6. USB Ports. We now live in a world where USB ports are highly beneficial. We use external HDDs, USB flash drives; heck, most of the modern gaming peripherals now require USB ports as opposed to the now defunct PS/2 ports. Luckily, modern motherboards offer plenty of USB ports. For most of them, they offer at least 6 USB ports but motherboards like the high-end variants listed above offer 10 or more.
7. Durability. Motherboards are important because it houses the graphics card, CPU, and a host of other things that your computer needs to run. If the motherboard dies, all of the other components in your gaming PC will not function.
Durability is also a thing to consider when buying a gaming motherboard. For the most part, motherboard manufacturers are already using durable parts in the construction of their products, so you need not worry too much about durability anymore. But if you want a motherboard that can last for more than 3 years, better look at the spec sheet to see if it is made of highly sturdy materials.
8. Extra Features. And lastly, you would want to have a gaming motherboard that has a ton of extra features. Usually, gaming motherboards have good onboard audio solutions and there are some motherboards that are perfect for overclockers as well. Although they are completely optional, you will want to have a gaming motherboard that has a lot of welcome features that you want.
Gaming motherboards always complement gaming PCs as they house all of the most important components of your rig. What makes them different from the standard motherboard is that they provide the owners’ features that are not normally present in normal mobos.
I just love the fact that gaming motherboards are affordable now. Before, you can equate gaming motherboards to premium-priced stuff. Now, there are gaming motherboards that cater to the vast consumer market. Whether you’re a heavy overclocker, a rig enthusiast, or if you’re just someone who wants to dish out minimal amounts of cash, there is a gaming motherboard for you.
I hope that this article can help you decide which gaming motherboard you’re going to buy. I know that not all of you will agree with my recommendations in this article. So, if that is the case, feel free to suggest what gaming motherboards people should buy and why in the comments. Now, Go back up to choose the best Motherboards for Gaming for you from our handpicked choices.