Best AMD gaming motherboard 2018 | PCGamesN

Best AMD gaming motherboard 2018

Best AMD gaming motherboard

What’s the best AMD gaming motherboard? We’ve tested the top AM4 options, from X470 motherboards, to X370 and B350 boards, to help you pick the right one to build your gaming PC around.

Making sure you choose the best AM4 board is vital in getting the most out of your new AMD Ryzen CPU. You don't have to go for the latest X470 motherboard either, because the older 300-series boards from the likes of Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock are still seriously capable, completely compatible, and a lot more affordable. All AM4 boards are compatible with the current second-gen Ryzen processors, as well as the first-gen chips, making it a very stable platform with impressive potential future-proofing on offer.

With the best motherboard you'll need the best AMD processor too.

Team red has also now announced that the AMD Zen 2 architecture update is going to start sampling before the end of the year for a likely launch in 2019 - again with AM4 socket compatibility. With the promise of AMD's subsequent CPUs being compatible with current processor sockets until 2020, that gives AM4 a hell of a long life.

AMD’s second-gen Ryzen 2 processors demonstrate the maturation of the red team's Zen CPU architecture before we even get to the AMD Zen 2 chips arriving next year, and they've regained the top position in our best CPU list. But with a host of different chipsets, features, and manufacturers, which motherboard should you be partnering with them?

To take advantage of the platform's backwards compatibility, you do need to ensure your motherboard is up-to-date with the latest BIOS. Don't worry, all 400-series and most 300-series boards coming fresh out of the factories will feature a new sticker confirming whether they've been updated, just look for the "AMD Ryzen Desktop 2000 Ready' sticker on the box. But, if not, you'll have to update the board yourself, and that requires a compatible Ryzen 1000-series processor to boot the system - so keep that in mind when shopping around.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can buy any ol’ AMD motherboard with a compatible AM4 socket for your Ryzen chip – there are a bunch of other things you’ll need to take into account before finding the forever home for your new CPU. Do you have a PCIe SSD? Do you want / aspire to run a multi-GPU rig? Do you want to build a micro machine PC? These are all questions you’ll want answers to. And that’s why you come to the experts…

The best AMD gaming motherboards are:

Check out the best AMD gaming motherboard prices at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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Best AMD gaming motherboard - Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3

Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3

Winner: Best AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: B350 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire (ish)

Approx. $85 / £82

You might have expected to see an X470 motherboard topping our list of the best AMD gaming motherboards. But, in real terms, there’s precious little to choose between the B350 and either the X470 or X370 boards in our tests. And, considering out of all the Ryzen chips AMD have released it’s the Ryzen 5 2600 we’re recommending as one of our favourite gaming CPUs, spending anything over $100 on a supporting motherboard seems like overkill.

And so Gigabyte’s smartly priced B350 board is the AM4 mobo we’d be lovingly jamming our Ryzen chips into. It’s only around $100 / £82, and yet, at stock settings it’s one of the most capable of any of the AM4 boards we’ve tested so far.

It actually posted the highest multithreaded Cinebench R15 figures, though the delta between the top and bottom of that benchmark list is pretty darned minimal. That’s its only win, but the Gigabyte board is essentially as capable as the rest. It does share bottom spot in the Doom Vulkan test, but again, we’re talking about a range of only 5fps between the best and worst of them.

More concerning though is the power/thermal side of things. It is the toastiest of the boards, running hotter at both peak and idle temperatures, and that’s borne out by the fact it also draws the most juice when running at full chat. It also doesn’t have the friendliest BIOS, nor the most effective overclocking performance – we managed the same 4.05GHz all-core overclock most of the other AM4 boards delivered, but it needed a chunk more voltage to get there. 

And, if you’re chasing a multi-GPU setup, this probably isn’t the board for you. Gigabyte claims CrossFire support, but there is only one full x16 PCIe 3.0 socket – the second one only runs at x4 bandwidth, and shares that with all the x1 sockets on the board too.

But if you’re after a straight gaming board, not one that demands the sort of price premium much more feature-packed mobos do, then the Gigabyte AB350M-Gaming 3 is an excellent, value motherboard to drop a stock chip into and just game away, worry free.

Read our full Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 review.

 

 

Best AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - Asus Strix X470-F Gaming review

Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming

Runner-up: Best AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X470 | Socket: AM4 | Form Factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way SLI, 3-way CF

Approx. $196  / £180

Yes, we’re still recommending the bargain-priced Gigabyte B350 to go with our favourite Ryzen processor, but Asus has still made the most powerful AMD board that we’ve had the chance to test so far. Its CPU performance is ahead of the MSI and Gigabyte motherboards we’ve checked out, and ahead of its X370 forebears too.

It also delivers higher basic overclocking performance than the other X470 boards, though only gets our Ryzen 7 2700X up to the same level as the X370. That is, though, somewhat against the expectation that the new chipset would offer improved overclocking frequencies.

But if you’re after a seriously high-end AM4 motherboard, this is the one we’d recommend right now. It’s not a horrendously pricey offering, and has a really solid feature set. You might want more USB ports on the rear I/O if you use a lot of professional attached storage, but that’s the most minor of niggles. 

Read our full Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming review.

 

 

Best AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon

MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon

Runner-up: Best AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X370 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx. $154 / £111

MSI’s Gaming Pro Carbon is one of the most affordable of the X370 crew, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s light on features. Aside from the Fast and the Furious-inspired RGB LED downlighting, MSI has also ensured it's got all the bases covered on the specs front, as well as the aesthetics.

The memory, GPU, and PCIe SSD slots have all been reinforced to avoid damage when poking components into them, the screw holes are double-protected so you don’t break the PCB when installing, it's added both AMD’s CrossFire and Nvidia’s SLI multi-GPU support, and MSI has also specced-out a pair of VR-ready USB ports too. Like their small-form factor mini-PCs MSI has added a little silicon to the mix which ensures a stable signal across the USB port, something absolutely vital in VR to avoid a full-on barf fest.

There’s nothing particularly exemplary in the Pro Carbon’s benchmarks (something which is true almost across the board), though it’s never less than utterly competitive in the gaming benchmarks, and stands tall in the CPU tests too. So it’s got the performance chops and it’s also an impressively feature-rich board for money – a worthy runner-up.

 

 

Best AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - ASRock X370 Killer SLI

ASRock X370 Killer SLI

Runner-up: Best AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X370 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx. $135 / £101

Don’t let the name mislead you, if you’re planning on jamming multiple AMD GPUs into one rig then the X370 Killer SLI will happily support CrossFire too. Just don’t be too excited about the touted four-way support. This isn’t going to be your quad-GPU gaming behemoth because ASRock is talking about quad-SLI and CrossFire running across the PCIe 2.0 x1 slots – that’s for those crypto-miners who are nabbing all our graphics cards, not us gamers.

In performance terms, the ASRock is absolutely competitive with the big boys, however, it comes behind the MSI Pro Carbon in our gaming tests; though never by a particularly long way, it has to be said. It does run toastier than the others, with only that bargain-priced Gigabyte winner up top running hotter. Under overclocked conditions with our 1800X chip that did seem to become a bit of a stability issue in-game.

 

 

Best AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - Gigabyte Aorus AX370 Gaming 5

Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 

Runner-up: Best AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X370 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx. $136 / £162 

Gigabyte’s Aorus Gaming-5 is perched uncomfortably on the fence between the standard gaming motherboards and the high-end, high-priced boards below. It’s got a beefy feature set, with reinforced slots, Killer network support and discrete front and rear headphone amps. Oh, and it’s got RGB LEDs for that ‘daddy, daddy, look at me!’ aesthetic. Obviously, because gaming.

But that all comes at a high price compared with the very similar, cheaper boards which makes the Aorus a bit of a halfway house board between the value and high-end segments. If you’re looking to save cash, go for the Gaming 3 and if you want to splash the cash it’s the Asus ROG below we recommend.

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Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard - Asus Strix X470-F Gaming review

Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming

Winner: Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X470 | Socket: AM4 | Form Factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way SLI, 3-way CF

Approx. $196  £180

Asus' ROG Crosshair VI was our previous pick as the money-no-object AM4 board, but the Strix just about gets the nod because of its overall performance. Its CPU pace is ahead of the MSI and Gigabyte motherboards we’ve checked out, and ahead of its X370 Crosshair VI forebear too.

It also delivers higher basic overclocking performance than the other X470 boards, though only gets our Ryzen 7 2700X up to the same level as the X370. That is, though, somewhat against the expectation that the new chipset would offer improved overclocking frequencies.

But if you’re after a seriously high-end AM4 motherboard, this is the one we’d recommend right now. It’s not a horrendously pricey offering, and has a really solid feature set. You might want more USB ports on the rear I/O if you use a lot of professional attached storage, and that's where the Crosshair VI has the edge, but that’s the most minor of niggles. 

Read our full Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming review.

 

 

Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero

Runner-up: Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X370 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx. $150 / £190

Asus’ Republic of Gamers brand is always about the high-end and that’s no different with its AMD boards. We haven’t seen one of Asus’ AMD-focused Crosshair boards in a long while (it took them soooo long to bring us Zen) but, thankfully, the AM4 version really delivers. The Strix X470 just about pips the Crosshair VI at the top of the pile because of its extra CPU performance, but it's mighty close.

It’s all down to the build quality and feature-set of the ROG board. It is a tight little battle between this and the MSI XPower Gaming Titanium, however, but thanks to the classically stuffed ROG feature set the Crosshair gets the nod. Both are aimed at the overclockers, with dedicated features like the on-board controls and extra CPU power connections, but the Asus board has extra power phases – 12 vs. the MSI’s 10 – a physical LN2 mode switch, voltage check points, and more USB sockets than there are Beatles ‘greatest hits’ albums.

In terms of a board for the serial tweakers, the ROG is likely to satisfy them more than the MSI below. As well as the packed feature set it’s also cooler and draws less power at full chat too. This Crosshair VI is also a touch cheaper than the top MSI, especially in the UK, making it almost a clean sweep for team ROG. 

But if you want a serious, feature-rich, high-performance, multi-GPU ready AM4 motherboard Asus have got you covered. Haven’t they always?

 

 

Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

Runner-up: Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X370 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX| mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx. $250 / £262 

MSI’s AMD-focused XPower board is a bit of a beast, but it’s also the most expensive of the AM4 mobos we’ve tested. That high price isn’t the reason it’s sitting close to the top of our pick of the money-no-object Ryzen boards, it’s also thankfully right at the top of the performance tree. The XPower is one of the fastest in our CPU tests and also polls higher than nearly all the boards in the graphical tests too, most especially if you look at the 3DMark scores.

It’s also pretty potent when it comes to the overclocking side of things. While we could only hit the same 4.05GHz all-core overclock with our 1800X that most of the other boards managed, the XPower has a whole lot of dedicated overclocking features for the pros, too. There’s an extra four-pin power connection for the CPU and, combined with the ten-phase power setup, on-board power, reset and overclocking buttons, it’s a mobo with a lot to offer the serial frequency tweakers. It also stays relatively cool even when you’re jamming a lot of extra voltage through your processor too.

But the ROG board above has just got it pegged thanks to the extra USB connections, lower price, and even more extensive overclocking features. That said, the attractive titanium-shaded PCB is one for the aesthetes and, if you crave storage performance, the XPower features a pair of M.2 sockets (one with their M.2 Shield cooler) giving you scary levels of RAID performance potential.

 

Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi

Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi

Runner-up: Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X470 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx: $230 / £225

The Gigabyte X470 Aorus is a gorgeous-looking AMD motherboard. There's something almost retro about its nude heatsinks and chunky heatpipes around the power components, but it's got the requisite bling you need to be allowed in the gaming motherboard club these days.

It's also nicely specced, with the twin M.2 SSD sockets, which seem to be the hallmark of X470 boards, and reinforced sockets for all the full-size PCIe and DIMM slots too. The only problem is that it's not as capable a performance board as the likes of the either the Asus X470 or Crosshair boards. It's also rather pricey too...

Read our full Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming WiFi review.

 

Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Gaming Pro

ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming

Runner-up: Best high-end AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: X370 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire/SLI

Approx. $210 / £174

ASRock’s high-end Ryzen board is a great example of how far the company has come from its humble beginnings. Originally a low-end offshoot of Asus, designed to handle the more basic side of board building, ASRock is now capable of competing directly with their one-time parent company.

The Fatal1ty Professional Gaming is another feature-rich AM4 board with a great deal of focus on the overclocking side of the CPU game. It actually generated the highest stable overclock with our Ryzen 7 1800X CPU, hitting 4.075GHz with just some light-touch tweakery. The best-in-test 16 phase power design plays its part here, allowing the processor to hit those frequency heights and post the highest Cinebench score, but it’s also what helps the board as a whole remain cool during heavy use and avoid the excessive peak wattage of some of the other boards.

But it’s not the most stellar gaming board around, hence it sits beneath the Asus and MSI competition. Though, as you can barely squeeze a 4K pixel between the actual frame rate performance of the suite of motherboards we’ve tested, that’s not necessarily a major issue here.

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Best cheap AMD gaming motherboard - MSI B350M Mortar

MSI B350M Mortar

Winner: Best cheap AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: B350 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: Micro ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire

Approx. $85 / £70 

The B350 is AMD’s more budget-focused Ryzen chipset, yet it still retains essentially the same performance and almost all the overclocking potential of the top-end X370 chipset. Officially, it cannot utilise the extended frequency range (XFR) of AMD’s Ryzen CPU’s, but we’ve found that of limited import during our testing of the platform as a whole.

Which all means MSI’s sub-$100 B350M Mortar board is a motherboard capable of delivering the same stock performance as some of the big boys in this test, which cost at least twice as much. The gaming performance is certainly on par with the rest of the AM4 gang and the Mortar is mighty competitive on the CPU side too. And it does all that in a smaller form footprint. It doesn’t have the super-small stature of a mini-ITX board, but the micro ATX form factor will still allow you to create a pleasingly diminutive gaming rig.

Where you are losing out is, inevitably, in the feature-set MSI are providing. The BIOS is the first indicator; it’s a cut-down, basic affair, with little in the way of high-end niceties. There aren’t even any multiplier settings when you’re doing the CPU overclocking dance. That said, I was still able to hit a happy 4.05GHz without setting the board on fire.

You do still get shielded audio, separated on the PCB to avoid electrical interference, and MSI’s Steel Armor reinforcement on the primary PCIe connection. There is a secondary slot, but that only runs at x4 speeds making the CrossFire performance a little under par. It’s also a little light on USB too, with a scant six on the rear I/O panel, though there are a number of expansion headers on the board for front panel connections.

But this is a bargain-priced motherboard which retains the performance of its larger siblings. It may be light on features, but it’ll make a great base for a budget Ryzen gaming rig.

 

 

Best cheap AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3

Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3

Runner-up: Best cheap AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: B350 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire

Approx. $85 / £82

I mean, if it’s our pick as the best overall board, and only a little more expensive than our favourite budget board, Gigabyte’s AB350-Gaming 3 still needs to get an honorable mention in the value sector, right?

The Gaming 3 is a fantastic combination of price and performance, delivering the highest stock-clocked Cinebench score of the lot, and is never less than seriously competitive in the gaming benchmarks too. Our biggest concern is the level of heat it generates at full speed, but if you’ve got decent cooling, and aren’t too concerned with building the most energy efficient machine, then it really is a great value Ryzen mobo.

If you want to save a little more money and don't need the extra PCIe slot, the Micro ATX version of this board is down to $85 at the moment...

 

 Best cheap AMD gaming motherboard runner-up - ASRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4

ASRock AB350 Gaming K4

Runner-up: Best cheap AMD gaming motherboard

Chipset: B350 | Socket: AM4 | Form factor: ATX | mGPU: 2-way CrossFire

Approx. $90 / £86

Yes, it’s a bit of a bargain, but the Gaming K4 is actually the weakest of all the AM4 boards we’ve tested. Aside from the Doom test, it posted the slowest gaming frame rates and was propping up the 3DMark scores too. And, when it came to overclocking, the budget board’s weakness was laid bare, only managing to hit 4.02GHz with our test chip and even struggled nailing 2,667MHz with any of our different DDR4 memory kits.

Like the other ASRock boards, the Gaming K4 is also ambitious enough to claim compatibility with quad-CrossFire, despite only sporting a single x16 PCIe 3.0 connection. Even with a pair of cards you’re limiting your second to x4 bandwidth, so jamming another two into the waiting PCIe 2.0 x1 slots is going to make a mockery of your tertiary and quandary GPUs.

It’s not a bad  Ryzen board, and its performance metrics really aren’t that far behind the rest, but when there are cheaper, quicker mobos out there this ASRock really becomes a bit of a last resort.

GOTW
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Zorpak avatarMashedPotatoes avatarSoulbite avatar
Zorpak Avatar
1
3 Months ago

My room mate just got a B350 gaming and AMD 5 and we found out that the bios that comes with the B350 does not support AMD 5 until after a BIOS update which requires a compatible CPU to update.

1
MashedPotatoes Avatar
1
1 Month ago

There is no 'AMD 5' product, to be precise.

If he bought one of the newer R5 processors, it's very possible that B350 will not recognise it straight away. Research before buying is key :)

1
Soulbite Avatar
14
1 Month ago

There is a program from AMD whereby they will loan you a processor to update the BIOS of your Mobo. Although this is advised only to be thought of after checking with the retailer you purchased from or the MOBO manufacturer for an RMA for a board with updated BIOS.

1