Best gaming motherboard 2018

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

Best gaming motherboard

Picking the best gaming motherboard is a vital part of piecing together your gaming PC, so we’ve tested the best Intel Z370 motherboards and mainstream chipsets to make sure you find the right board for you.

It might not have the same performance impact as your choice of graphics card or CPU, but your motherboard will dictate which of either you can jam in your gaming build. And it doesn’t stop there, your motherboard will decide what sort of storage drives you can plug in and what memory you can use too. We’ve tested the best boards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock to help you choose the right one to build your rig around.

There are myriad options to consider when you’re picking the best motherboard for gaming. The most important choice, however, is whether you’re opting for an Intel or AMD processor as the beating heart of your rig. Last year team red launched the AMD Ryzen CPU platform, along with a whole new line of AM4 motherboards, making the choice a lot tougher.

We’ve covered the best AMD gaming motherboards in another guide to cater for the AMD Ryzen 2 CPUs, but, because Intel can still just about claim the absolute best gaming performance from its platform, we’re focusing on the different Intel options here.

And it’s been a busy ol’ time for the chip giant, with the Z370 chipset for the Intel Coffee Lake CPUs launching last October, mainstream-focused H370 and B360 boards released earlier this year, and the higher-end Z390 motherboards launching before we hit 2019.

The best gaming motherboards are:

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

Best gaming motherboard - Asus ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming

Winner: Best gaming motherboard

Asus ROG STRIX Z370-E Gaming

Approx. $200 £185

Vital stats

If you want to get the full Intel beans from your K-series Coffee Lake CPU then Asus' cheeky board and its excitable BIOS will see you right.

  • ChipsetZ370
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorATX
  • Multi GPU2x Nvidia SLI, 3x AMD CrossFire

Asus has been classically cheeky with its Republic of Gamers STRIX Z370 board, and enabled the ‘all-core enhancement’ feature from the outset. It does only pop up when you enable the XMP for your RAM, but that’s a standard part of setting up a new board, so it’s almost inevitable. What that all means is that out-of-the-box your Coffee Lake CPU will be running at its peak rated single-core Turbo speeds rather than the lower, standard all-core clockspeed.

For the top-end i7 8700K that means you’re getting a heady 4.7GHz straight away rather than the 4.3GHz you’ll find on the Gigabyte and MSI motherboards. It also means that the Asus Z370 is able to offer the highest performance for the Coffee Lake boards we’ve tested so far.

That’s not all the STRIX board has going for it, however, as this Asus option has a quality feature set too. There’s built in Wi-Fi support (the MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC has a separate module you need to drop into a spare PCIe slot), support for SLI and 3-way CrossFire, reinforced graphics card slots, and a pair of M.2 SSD sockets. One of those is even given a little thermal loving via an integrated heatsink, a la MSI.

My only real criticism is the relative paucity of USB ports on the back panel. There are only five standard size USB connections, with a Type-C thrown in for good measure. I’d recommend a good chassis with a host of front panel USB ports to make up for it, as there are a load of internal headers on the board you can use.

Best gaming motherboard runner-up - MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Runner-up: Best gaming motherboard

MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Approx. $195 | £188

Vital stats

Playing by the rules hasn't done MSI any favours with the Asus boards almost automatically overclocking the Coffee Lake K-series CPUs, while you have to put in the work with the MSI.

  • ChipsetZ370
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorATX
  • Multi GPU2x Nvidia SLI, 3x AMD CrossFire

It’s a close-run thing between this mighty MSI Z370 and the quality li’l STRIX board above. The Asus only really gets the win because it doesn’t need any user input to get your CPU running at its best, just you setting the XMP switch in the BIOS. But the MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC is still more than capable of matching the CPU and gaming performance of the Asus Z370 with only a little light tweaking of the clockspeeds, easily hitting the same 5.2GHz overclock with the i7 8700K. And if you’re opting for a K-series CPU then what the hell are you doing not overclocking?

This ‘AC’ version comes with a discrete 802.11ac WiFi card, reinforced PCIe slots and a twin M.2 sockets. One of those has the M.2 thermal shielding to help cool your NVMe drive, but isn’t as rigid as the one on their X299 or the Asus Z370. It also has more readily available USB connections on the rear of the board and more RGB lovin’ than you can shake a hot LED strip at. And it’s often a mite cheaper too.

Read our full MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC review.

Best gaming motherboard runner-up - Asus TUF Z370-Pro Gaming

Runner-up: Best gaming motherboard

Asus TUF Z370-Pro Gaming

Approx. $150 | £137

Vital stats

The TUF line no longer stands for robust design, but does stand for value-conscious boards with almost top-end CPU performance.

  • ChipsetZ370
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorATX
  • Multi GPU2x Nvidia SLI, 2x AMD CrossFire

The lower-priced Asus TUF board delivers Coffee Lake performance for a lot less than either of the ~$200 MSI or Asus STRIX boards. The feature set is a little lighter – there’s only protection on a single PCIe slot, and the PCB feels a touch more flimsy than the others – but it still has the overclocking performance as well as Asus’ all-core enhancement feature which means it ignores the Intel Turbo limitations.

That makes it a speedy little board straight off the bat with any K-series CPU you care to toss its way. That also means it’s got the gaming performance without you having to do any tweaking beyond ensuring your RAM’s running at its XMP settings.

Read our full Asus TUF Z370-Pro Gaming review.

Best cheap gaming motherboard - MSI B360M Mortar

Winner: Best cheap gaming motherboard

MSI B360M Mortar

Approx. $90 | £101

Vital stats

Forget the H370 chipset boards, if you want a bargain Coffee Lake motherboard then the B360 chipset is what you covet - and MSI has nailed it.

  • ChipsetB360
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorMicro ATX
  • Multi GPU2x AMD CrossFire

The Intel H370 motherboards were a long time coming and, for the most part, don’t really offer any significant savings over the budget end of the Z370 range. As they’re newer boards they’re often more expensive. The B360 however, exemplified here by MSI’s excellent B360M Mortar, does represent a good-value alternative to the Z370 option, without sacrificing too much in the way of performance.

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 B360M Mortar is also a nicely proportioned Micro ATX board too, allowing you to drop it into more svelte chassis than the larger ATX board standard.

Read our full MSI B360M Mortar review.

Best cheap gaming motherboard runner-up - Gigabyte Aorus B360 Gaming 3 WiFi

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming motherboard

Gigabyte B360 Aorus Gaming 3 WiFi

Approx. $118 | £96

Vital stats

Gigabyte's full-size B360 is a good alternative to MSI's Mortar, with wireless connectivity and the dubious benefit of multi-GPU support.

  • ChipsetB360
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorATX
  • Multi GPU4x AMD CrossFire, 2x Nvidia SLI

The B360 boards are your best bet for a cheap gaming motherboard now that the mainstream chipsets have been launched. The H370 options are generally too expensive in comparison with the budget Z370 boards, which also offer higher performance.

The MSI B360M Mortar has the better overall performance, is cheaper, and has the smaller form factor for extra versatility, but the Gigabyte has the added bonus of wireless connectivity. Realistically the MSI is the better option, but the Aorus is a decent backup.

Best cheap gaming motherboard runner-up - Gigabyte Aorus Z370 Gaming K3

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming motherboard

Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming K3

Approx. £116

Vital stats

Unfortunately the well priced Z370 K3 is an Aorus that only seems to be available in the UK at the moment, which is a shame as it's a pretty decent board.

  • ChipsetZ370
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorATX
  • Multi GPU2x AMD CrossFire

Gigabyte’s Aorus breed of motherboards is a bit of a strange beast. While this impressively low-priced Z370 is freely available in the UK, it’s not listed at all in the US, with only a couple of other Aoruses (Aori?) available for America. Which is a shame because this isn’t a bad budget Coffee Lake board, especially given that the lower-spec H370 boards arrived with higher price tags and weaker performance.

Like the MSI Z370 it’s stuck to Intel’s Turbo guidelines, but there is Gigabyte’s own multi-core enhancement feature in the BIOS which you do have to activate deliberately. Then it matches the Asus design and ramps your K-series chip up to its peak Turbo clockspeed.

Unfortunately some of the gaming performance is still a little off the mark and, try as we might, we couldn’t get the Aorus to match the 5.2GHz overclock the Asus and MSI boards offer, having to make do with 5.1GHz. Which is still none too bad for a budget board.

Best cheap gaming motherboard runner-up - ASRock Z370 Killer SLI

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming motherboard

ASRock Z370 Killer SLI

Approx. $172 | £118

Vital stats

ASRock's affordable Z370 is a good budget alternative, but MSI and Gigabyte's offerings just shade it.

  • ChipsetZ370
  • SocketLGA 1151 v2
  • Form factorATX
  • Multi GPU2x Nvidia SLI, 2x AMD CrossFire

This ASRock Z370 is another well-priced Z370 looking to corner the budget Coffee Lake chipset market in the face of the unfortunately pricey H370 boards. Unfortunately both Gigabyte and Asus have released similarly priced boards with the same sort of feature set and generally better performance.

The Killer SLI doesn’t do badly, however, and can offer the Nvidia multi-GPU support the Aorus can’t. It’s also got a healthy 10-phase power system which ought to make it a decent overclocker too. Sadly that’s all a bit strange. The out-of-the-box performance looks good initially as our i7 8700K hit 4.7GHz straight away, like the STRIX board, but then throttled single-core performance to 4.3GHz, which makes the gaming performance a little weak. It was also a little less reliable when trying to hit 5.2GHz too.