Best gaming motherboard – the top motherboard for games in 2021

The best gaming motherboard is a vital part of your gaming PC, so make sure your CPU has the perfect chipset companion

Best gaming motherboard

Looking for the best gaming motherboard for your rig? With the recent arrival of the AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPUs and Intel’s 11th gen CPUs, there are lots of new motherboards on the market and you may not know what you’re looking for anymore. Last generation chipsets from AMD and Intel still pack a punch for gaming, however, so if you don’t need the latest and greatest we’ve got options for you here, too.

Pairing the best gaming CPU with a motherboard that lets it do its business as intended is vital for your gaming setup. So we’ve taken the best Intel motherboards from the Z490 down to more mainstream chipsets, and the best AMD motherboards from the latest X570 down to budget B450 chipsets, and tested and compared them. Whether you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful that doesn’t hinder performance, or something top-of-the-line if money isn’t an issue, we’ve got you covered.

If you have an Intel CPU you need an Intel motherboard (and make sure it’s one with the right socket!), and if you have an AMD CPU you need an AMD motherboard. To keep things simple we’ve split this guide up into two parts, with Intel motherboards first and AMD motherboards second.

It might not have the same performance impact as choosing the best graphics card or CPU, but your motherboard will dictate which of either you can jam into your gaming build. And it doesn’t stop there as your motherboard will decide what sort of storage drives you can plug in and what memory you can use as well. A decent motherboard should not be overlooked as the features can help or hinder the best gaming PC, not to mention make the job of building a PC a whole lot easier.

Here are the best gaming motherboards:

Intel Comet Lake S

The best Intel motherboards

When it comes to Intel’s latest 10th gen processors and the new Z490 chipset, you’ll be needing a new motherboard if you want to upgrade. However Intel’s previous 8th and 9th gen processors still have great performance, so if you’re looking for something a little cheaper then we’ve got recommendations for motherboards on last-generation chipsets.

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Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming

The best Intel motherboard is the Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming.

This full-size ATX Z490 LGA 1200 socket motherboard from Asus falls into its mid-range – after the ROG Maximus boards – but with AI overclocking, support for up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM at 4600MHz, and two M.2 ports primed to slot in the best SSDs for gaming, this gives you everything you need for a top-end build for gaming. In addition, you get all the latest connectivity – a USB Type-C port for transfer speeds up to 20Gbps, 2.5G Ethernet, built-in Wi-fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and a 7.1 surround sound card.

ASUS’s AI overclocking makes it easy to overclock even if you have no idea what you’re doing, analysing your CPU and cooler ability and adjusting the clock, fan speed, and voltages accordingly – alternatively, we can help you with our guide on how to overclock your CPU and GPU. It’s a flashy looking thing too, with black-coloured VRM shrouding that also has customisable RGB lighting. Also included is a VRM cooling fan, useful if you are looking at overclocking.

What we like…
Tick Z490 chipset
Tick Easy overclocking
Tick Latest connectivity

Asus ROG Strix Z490-E GAMING specs
Chipset Z490
Socket LGA 1200
Form factor ATX
Multi GPU 2x Nvidia SLI, 3x AMD CrossFire
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MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge

The best value motherboard for Intel is the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge.

Another Z490-based motherboard here, but at a more affordable price. It’s a full-size ATX layout, and like the ROG Strix you get the latest connectivity – built-in Wi-fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and a 7.1 sound card. There is some RGB backlighting under the aluminium heatsinks, which is totally unnecessary, but kind of neat.

One feature we like here is the M.2 heatsink, reducing SSD temperatures and preventing throttling, ensuring read and write speeds remain high.

What we like…
Tick Value for money
Tick M.2 heatsink
Tick Z490 chipset

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Gaming specs
Chipset Z490
Socket LGA 1200
Form factor ATX
Multi GPU 2x AMD CrossFire
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ASUS Tuf B365M-Plus

The best cheap motherboard for Intel is the Asus TUF B365M-Plus.

This LGA 1151 Micro ATX motherboard from Asus is a few generations behind with its B365 chipset, but with support for 8th and 9th gen Intel Coffee Lake processors, this is still a solid choice for a budget or mid-range gaming build, and still comes with two M.2 slots for NVMe SSDs and a USB Type-C port. It supports up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM across 2 DIMM slots at a maximum frequency of 2666MHz.

You will miss out on any overclocking potential of the K-series Intel processors, but with the mighty Core i5 8400 and its non-K ilk still offering serious gaming performance at stock speeds, that’s not too big an issue. The ASUS PRIME B365M-A is also a nicely proportioned Micro ATX board too, allowing you to drop it into a more svelte chassis than the larger ATX board standard.

What we like…
Tick Low price
Tick Micro ATX form factor
Tick M.2 expansion slots

ASUS PRIME B365M-A specs
Chipset B365
Socket LGA 1151
Form factor Micro ATX
Multi GPU N/A
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The best mini-ITX motherboard for Intel is the GIGABYTE Z490I AORUS Ultra.

Mini-ITX motherboards are tiny little things, but Gigabyte’s Z490I AORUS Ultra doesn’t lack when it comes to functionality. With the LGA 1200 socket and the latest chipset supporting 10th gen Intel processors, not to mention support for their upcoming 11th generation, this is the perfect futureproof motherboard for a mini PC for gaming.

It’s not lacking in connectivity, with a 2.5G Ethernet port, Intel Wi-fi 6, and a Gen2 USB Type-C port for lightning-fast transfer speeds. There are two DDR4 DIMM slots for up to 64GB RAM, supporting clock speeds up to an impressive 5000MHz, and two M.2 slots. Like many of the motherboards here, built-in RGB lighting is the order of the day.

What we like…
Tick Packs all the features you need into Mini-ITX form
Tick RGB ambient lighting
Tick Z490 chipset

GIGABYTE Z490I AORUS Ultra specs
Chipset Z490
Socket LGA 1200
Form factor Mini-ITX
Multi GPU N/A

AMD Ryzen Slab

THE BEST AMD motherboards

The latest Zen 3 Ryzen processors are supported out of the box by motherboards with the B550 or X570 chipsets, but if you go for the older B450 or X470 chipsets then support for them is still available, provided your manufacturer has released a BIOS update.

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Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero

The best AMD motherboard is the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero.

The X570 chipset saw the arrival of PCIe 4 on the AMD platform, offering double the bandwidth of the previous PCIe 3. Asus’s board is the best choice here, not only is it packed with features, but it’s a lookertoo, with its RGB backlighting and sleek black heatsinks. With the AM4 socket, you also have support for the latest Ryzen 5000 series CPUs.

When it comes to functionality the Asus is top class, with dual M.2 slots (with heatsinks for cooling), support for 128GB of DDR4 RAM at a maximum of 4600MHz, and support of both two-way SLI and three- and two-way CrossFire. In terms of connectivity, you get a Gen2 USB Type-C port, Gigabit LAN, and a DisplayPort and HDMI – useful if you need to troubleshoot a faulty graphics card.

What we like…
Tick PCIe 4.0 support
Tick RGB backlighting
Tick Support for Ryzen 5000 series CPUs

Asus ROG Strix X570-F Gaming specs
Chipset X570
Socket AM4
Form factor ATX
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MSI MPG B550 Gaming Edge

The best value motherboard for AMD is the MSI MPG B550 Gaming Edge.

MSI’s MPG B550 Gaming Edge motherboard makes our list with the great value it offers. It runs a B550 chipset as opposed to an X570, with just a single PCIe 4 slot – the rest are generation 3. You still have support for the latest Ryzen 5000 series processors. An increasingly common feature in gaming motherboards now, you get RGB backlighting for added style.

Onboard, you get Wi-fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, two M.2 slots and a Gen2 USB Type-C port for transfer speeds up to 20Gbps and a 2.5G Ethernet port. The pre-installed IO shield also helps fit everything easily and looks tidy at the back of your rig.

What we like…
Tick Up to date, while staying cheap
Tick Onboard Wi-fi and Bluetooth
Tick Out of the box support for Ryzen 5000 series CPUs

MSI MPG B550 Gaming Edge specs
Chipset B550
Socket AM4
Form factor ATX
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Gigabyte B450M DS3H

The best cheap motherboard for AMD is the Gigabyte B450M DS3H.

Gigabyte’s B450M DS3H is one generation chipset behind the B550, but a BIOS update will still let you use the latest Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 CPUs. Depending on when your motherboard was manufactured, it may arrive with the new firmware giving you out of the box Zen 3 compatibility. The micro-ATX form factor means you can fit this into a compact case, or simply leave you with some spare space if you’re too attached to your monolithic tower. .

As a cheap motherboard it is lacking when it comes to connectivity, but it’s still got everything you’ll need for a solid budget build with an M.2 slot for your SSD, support for up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM at 3600MHz, and two-way AMD CrossFire should you want to run two graphics cards.

What we like…
Tick Low price tag
Tick AMD CrossFire support
Tick Latest CPU support with BIOS update

Gigabyte B450M DS3H specs
Chipset B450
Socket AM4
Form factor Micro-ATX
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The best mini-ITX motherboard for AMD is the Asus ROG Strix X570-I Gaming.

This tiny Mini-ITX AM4 socket motherboard from ASUS is, in our opinion, the best mini ITX motherboard for gaming you can buy, supporting the latest Zen 3 CPUs and still packing many features in its diminutive size. The VRM heatsink also has a built-in fan, giving you more stability and headroom when overclocking.

Connectivity is the same as what you’ll find on any premium ATX form factor motherboard, with the latest Wi-fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, a single Gen2 USB Type-C port, dual M.2 slots, and a 16x PCIe 4 slot. You can have up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM at 3600MHz across its two DIMM slots. Despite the size, you still get four 6Gbps SATA ports, and seven USB 3.2 Type-A connections on the rear – meaning you shouldn’t be short when plugging in the best gaming headset, best gaming keyboard, or best gaming mouse.

What we like…
Tick Packed with features in a small form factor
Tick Stylish design with RGB lighting
Tick Zen 3 CPU support

Asus ROG Strix X570-I Gaming specs
Chipset X570
Socket AM4
Form factor Mini-ITX
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The best future-proof gaming motherboard for AMD is the Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi).

X570 and B550 boards are your best bet for running AMD Zen 3 CPUs, but even a ‘budget’ X570 is a considerable investment. After all, the chipset has been made almost exclusively for high-end, enthusiast boards. Yet the cheaper motherboards in the range today offer the best blend of performance, functionality, and affordability if you absolutely must have today’s top tech.

The Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) is the cheapest X570 motherboard we’ve tested, and as such that makes it the most cost-effective entry point into the PCIe 4.0 ecosystem. It will still set you back far more cash than what is required by previous AM4 TUF Gaming motherboards, but if you’re planning on getting your hands on an AMD Ryzen 4000-series CPU then the more than capable TUF board should see you through.

Tick PCIe 4.0
Tick Supports Ryzen 4000 CPUs
Tick Feature rich

Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) specs
Chipset X570
Socket AM4
Form factor ATX
3rd Gen support Yes
4th Gen support Yes

Read the PCGamesN Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) review for our full verdict and score.

How to install a motherboard

Here’s our handy video guide on how to replace your motherboard.

YouTube Thumbnail

motherboard buying guide

Picking the perfect motherboard for your rig can feel like walking a tightrope with all the I/O you want on one side and cost on the other. However, with a little critical thinking, and planning out your build around your board, the process can be rather painless.

After all, unless you are a super hardcore 1337 overclocking pro, it really all comes down to good quality, a form factor that works for your case or preference, and a healthy handful of ports. Performance between motherboards is totally negligible at this point – everything that used to make a difference to PC performance has long since been shifted aboard the CPU itself.

After all, the motherboard is the vessel for all your other, frankly, more interesting components that really make your gaming PC tick. It’s an important part of the puzzle, but one that needn’t keep you up at night either.

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