Toiling through Z390 motherboards, we have also been drawn to a Z370 gaming motherboard or two. But at the same time dominance of MSI and Gigabyte motherboard models was reiterated. Buying the best motherboard is one of the most crucial decisions you will take when setting up the gaming rig. And you will be as confused as anyone if you haven’t done your homework.
Rest assured though, all your questions about the mini ITX and micro ATX form factors will be answered. And by the time we are through, you’ll have your motherboard CPU combo at your fingertips.
Best Gaming Motherboard Reviews with Market Leading Gigabyte and MSI Motherboard Models
A lot depends on the motherboard you buy. For instance, it is your motherboard that dictates what type of storage you can have. It is also the motherboard slots that tell you which graphics card you will use. Same is the case with CPU selection. So only the best motherboard for gaming is, in reality, going to get you the best rig.
More importantly, when deciding the motherboard you will also decide your loyalties towards either AMD (the latest AM4 motherboards are hot!) or Intel with their LGA 1151 sockets?
Moving on, if budget is the issue you could stick with the best Z270 motherboard we can find you. This way, you’ll be saving money on the motherboard and still be able to buy something satisfactory. However, the Z270 motherboards are soon going to shy out of the market thanks to the newer technologies. So there’s also a question of how soon you’ll upgrade next.
Best Motherboard for High End
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi
Great Overclocking, Great Value!
Go no further if you are an overclocking enthusiast with a wallet to take care of. With this beauty, you can get the build quality of a top tier Gigabyte motherboard and the performance potential of similar quality MSI motherboard model.
Top Budget Motherboard
MSI Motherboard B360M Mortar
Go Affordable, But Stay Classy
You won’t be able to show off our overclock speeds, and how you switch to the most demanding game scenes in the blink of an eye. But you will also not break your wallet. And still be able to keep your compact rig thanks to it micro ATX form factor.
Where the popular A320 ASRock motherboard lacks, the B350 MSI motherboard excels: overclocking support. Thanks to four RAM slots supporting up to 64GB, you can overclock to 3200 MHz on this beast. And that too on all sorts of AMD CPU models whether it is a Ryzen 2 or an A Series CPU.
Since we are talking all AMD motherboard stuff, you should know that despite the dual GPU capabilities it will not support Nvidia SLI, only AMD CrossFire X. Since the gaming motherboard is made to hold massive power, there is space for high-end cooling systems using water or air.
So in short, it has a high capacity of speeds and performance thanks to overclocking features. It is worth noting that even entry-level overclocking is considered cheap at the amount you will spend on the MSI motherboard.
If we really had to include a downside, it would be that it lacks in flashiness. True, there is a red LED representing the shades of MSI products, but that is only one color. Nonetheless, no points deducted there if you are more focused on the more meaningful aspects of the product.
- Overclocking on a Budget
- Great RAM Capacity
- Satisfying Quality of Print
- High Cost of Printing
- Bulky in Size
We just can’t get enough of ASUS motherboards. It is true that there are competitors of the ROG Maximus XI Hero in form of the above MSI motherboard, and even the Gigabyte motherboard. However, this beauty manages to pack a punch similar to the high-end products at a somewhat lower price.
Not that the Z390 is the best there is, but among its peers, it takes the lead. When overclocking with Intel Core i7 you will see how it can help the processor leap ahead of the rest. Talking of speed capabilities, it also houses a maximum of 64GB DDR4-4400 RAM to match the MSI and Gigabyte and ASRock rivals.
Even if you decide to compare it with the more expensive ASUS motherboard choices, you will see that there is little more than they can do. And the difference in prices doesn’t justify such minor improvements. Oh and just in case you wish to save even more, you can drop the 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi version for the simpler one.
The trademark Aura Sync technology makes the rig looks pretty stimulating with the large spectrum of RGB lighting. If there could be one improvement in the ASUS motherboard, it would be in the WI-Fi section. The board could do well with a faster solution. Nonetheless, it is still one of the best motherboards for gaming something reiterated by the overclocking potential.
- Great Overclocking Potential
- Full Feature Set
- Great Value for Money
- Faster Wi-Fi Would Be Welcome
- An Extra M.2 Slot Remains A Wish
The list would not have been complete without a compact gaming focused motherboard. And although there were a number of salivating beasts to choose from, we have stuck with the latest of ASUS motherboards, the ROG STRIX Z390 – I. Among the new Z390 motherboards of such compact size, there was hardly any model that could beat it.
What sold us best, however, was the feature set it packs. For starters, there are USB 3.1 slots and dual M.2 slots with a dedicated double-decker heatsink. Moreover, it is possibly the most compact of Mini ITX motherboards that packs such power.
Just to put things in perspective though, its preceding Z370 motherboard was also applauded for its feature set. For the Z390 though, just juice things up with eight cores and you’ll find the motherboard doing you proud.
Some good things come at a higher cost though, and many of the ASUS motherboards are among those things. But if you ask us, we would be fine spending extra for the added functionality that it offers.
- Good Feature Set
- Great Value for Compact Sizes
- Mini ITX Motherboard
- Expensive Model
Made for the AM4 sockets and the lot, the first Gigabyte motherboard we tested literally blew us away. The X470 Aorus Gaming 7 stands true to its predecessors in all forms.
Not only is it stable enough to handle all the power, is fully equipped with a complete feature set. Just like their LGA 1151 motherboard counterparts, this Intel motherboard leaves no stone unturned. The only difference is, this is the best you can get for gaming purposes.
You get not one but two M.2 slots for extra juicing and four slots of dual-channel DDR4 RAM. Which, by the way can get you super fast at up to 64GB of RAM delivering more than 3500 MHz! And then there is the Wi-Fi Wave2 connectivity apart from the standard Ethernet.
Performance wise, the X470 is as good as it gets for AMD based Gigabyte motherboards. It gets even better if you are using a Ryzen 2 processor, but it’s fine even if you aren’t big on spending more everywhere.
This brings us to the next, most important, question. How much do you plan on spending on your gaming motherboard because the Gigabyte motherboard is at the high end of the price ladder? To be honest, the slick multi RGB lighting does look pompous enough to deserve the price.
- Great All Around Performance
- Impressive Design
- Costs More Than Many
- AM4 Motherboard Not for Intel
If none of the Gigabyte motherboard models fit well into your Micro ATX chassis, maybe you could try this compact gaming motherboard by MSI? Agreed it will cut down some of your adventure like overclocking but look at the small price tag.
Now we are not pitching it to you just because we dote all MSI motherboard variants, but because it offers great value. It is an LGA 1151 Micro ATX motherboard which is comparable to the Z370 models in terms of performance and features. Except that the MSI is cheaper.
You will not get any 9th Gen support here, only 8th Gen Intel processors are welcome. And the DDR4 RAM promises a slightly lower 2666MHz. Regardless, there are two M.2 slots if you are going to run the faster NVMe gaming SSD cards. Last but not least, it does support multi GPU and 2-Way AMD Crossfire.
While we would not refer it to serious high-end gaming rig enthusiasts at all, it is something that space and budget conscious gamers could buy. Fit well with at least a massive Core i5 processor, it can give you enough juice to run games without asking you to compromise too much.
- Very Affordable
- Compact Micro ATX Motherboard
- No Overclocking
- Not a High End Performer
We agree that it is quite confusing but more so for the uninitiated. Most of the problems arise when you have bought the gaming motherboard first and then you try to fit in everything else. Doing this mostly results in a bottleneck being created. So the right way to go about selecting the right I/O is to keep the motherboard purchase for last.
The first thing you should select the GPU you want (consider whether you want a multi GPU motherboard or not). Then pick out the CPU that would work well with the chosen GPU (Intel Core or AMD Ryzen), as well as a backward compatible chipset. Top these up with a suitable size of RAM and then find a gaming motherboard that will fit all three perfectly.
What to look for in a gaming motherboard?
The process is fairly simple if you know how to go about it. You need to be certain what type of form factor do you need. Are you looking for an ATX motherboard or a micro ATX motherboard? You might have a mini-ITX form factor chassis, so the decision depends on the size of your rig.
Then move on to the type of CPU that your gaming motherboard is going to hold. IF it is a new one from Intel, you will probably end up with an LGA 1151 motherboard, and in case if AMD, an AM4 motherboard. Anyhow, CPU compatibility is a must. Then move on to answer similar compatibility questions for the RAM. Is it DDR4 or DDR3? What speed can the motherboard support? How many RAM slots are there and what is the total RAM capacity.
There also are a number of connectivity ports, some external and some internal. These expansion and USB slot will allow you to use a variety of cards and other gadgetry through the USB ports. Thereafter, ask yourself will you be content with just a LAN based networking or do you need a WiFi motherboard to get online. The latter will need some inquiring about how good the Wi-Fi quality is.