The 10 Best Gaming Motherboards
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in March of 2018. The motherboard is the backbone of any PC, and it sets the framework for the total potential of your computer. But with so many different, new architectures to deal with, it can be tough to decide which is the right one for your new gaming rig. We've selected the best leading-edge options, as well as affordable choices for budget machines, whether you prefer to work with Intel or AMD chipsets. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 15, 2020:
It's another year, and another set of competing desktop processors from AMD and Intel, the only two gaming CPU manufacturers still standing. With such new technology always comes a confusing and seemingly arbitrary naming scheme, and this is still as true as ever. As far as current-gen chipsets go, AMD makes Ryzen CPUs built on the Zen 3 architecture, as well as the A520, B550, and X570 motherboard chipsets. Intel, on the other hand, makes the Core line of processors (among others) built on ever-changing architecture, and the H410, B460, and Z490 motherboards. Got that straight?
Notably, this is the first round of hardware in a long time where AMD has actually bested Intel, and that victory for Team Red comes at hands of their top-of-the-line Zen 3 CPUs, the Ryzen 5000 series. The drawback to this emotional win is that AMD has lost much of the advantage it once (and, really, always) had in terms of cost. For example, it is possible to build around the X570-based Gigabyte Aorus Elite something that will beat an Intel-centric rig with the MSI MEG Z490 Unify. You'll end up spending a lot either way, but if benchmarks are to be believed, the AMD rig would come out ahead, all other variables the same. Similarly, anyone willing to invest should consider the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero and Gigabyte X570 Aorus. We dug deep to make sure that these all utilize the finest capacitors and transistors, and can withstand high voltages and temperatures without missing a beat.
The MSI MAG B550M Bazooka is much more balanced on the AMD side, and it doesn't really lack any major features as compared to its more high-end relatives. The Gigabyte A520 S2H, on the other hand, does disable overclocking and is about as barebones as consumer-forward mainboards come. The MSI MAG B460 Tomahawk and Gigabyte H410M fill the affordable spaces well for Intel.
Finally, we want to point out that while the two top spots represent great value and premium performance for AMD and Intel, respectively, all of the boards on this list are fully modern and will deliver plenty of bang for your buck. You don't necessarily have to spend a fortune, and many patient gamers will be easily satisfied with the Asus Prime X570-P, which is good, because there are plenty of other components to invest in.
June 04, 2019:
There's one odd thing about building PCs today that stands out. You'd think that older hardware becomes less expensive as it falls behind newer releases, right? Strangely, that's not usually the case with modern high-performance components. So if you're building a PC and concerned about getting the fastest parts, you'll also find that the newest ones call for about the same budget as the older ones. So you'll find a large selection of pretty recently released mainboards on our list.
As usual for the past decade or so, Intel chipsets generally lead to better gaming performance. Nowhere is this more evident than with high-end options such as Maximus Code and the MSI MEG, the latter of which is built for the workstation-level X series of CPUs. Slightly less expensive is the Designaire, which looks every bit as good as it performs. On the other side of the price spectrum, it's hard to go wrong with the Gigabyte UD, although it isn't very flashy -- but a lot of of us are still more concerned with how the experience looks on screen rather than in the case. If you're really on a budget, check out the MSI H310 Plus, which lacks a couple features that some find important, but will absolutely do the trick, no matter how expensive your new graphics card is. And if you're putting together an ultra-compact desktop, the ASRock Mini-ITX is almost certainly the one for you.
As far as AMD, well, they're finally picking up some slack and starting to approach Intel's performance after years as the vast underdog. Most people don't need it, but if you're rocking a Threadripper and doing work such as video encoding or anything else that takes serious firepower, the ASRock X399 Professional is the way to go. The Asus Prime Pro really embodies the Red Team's generally affordable nature, and the MSI X470 Gaming Plus pretty much hits the sweet spot of price and performance as far as AMD boards go.
And always remember when putting together a custom PC or upgrading your current one that components aren't perfectly interchangeable. It's of prime importance that you research your selections thoroughly to make sure they all work together.