Choosing the best gaming motherboard (or best motherboard for another type of PC task) is a key step in your system build, even though things like CPUs and graphics cards get more attention. Every part of your PC connects to your motherboard. Its form factor (ATX, E-ATS, ITX, etc.) will dictate the size of your case. And a board’s socket and chipset will limit which processors you can install.
If you’re not sure which chipset you’re after when choosing the best gaming motherboard, or you have more basic questions, you can visit our motherboard basics and motherboard buying guide features to help narrow down your shopping options.
The picks below will start with recent Intel motherboards (with AMD motherboards further down), including the best gaming motherboards designed for Intel’s latest 12th gen “Alder Lake,” 11th Gen “Rocket Lake” and older “Comet Lake” processors. You’ll find our recommendations for the best motherboards for Z690, B660, H610 and Z590, as well as Intel’s high-end desktop (HEDT) LGA-2066 socket and X299 chipset supporting the X-Series and Extreme line of processors.
The best gaming motherboards for AMD CPUs (including Ryzen and Threadripper) follow our Intel picks below. You can also head to our dedicated pages for the best X570 motherboards and best B550 motherboards for more specific recommendations and more tested picks. But if you’re considering an AMD-based build here in the middle of 2022, you may want to wait a bit for the company’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 processors, which will use the new AM5 socket and trio of chipsets, A670E, X670 and B650. These boards and chips aren’t out yet, but with product specifications and board details getting announced with increasing regularity, it won’t likely be long before AMD’s brand-new is fully available.
Last-gen Ryzen 5000 processors and AM4 motherboards are still capable performers and enticingly affordable. But just know that if you opt for an AM4 motherboard now you are buying into a dead platform. New AMD processors will be released on AM5, solely with DDR5 support.
When choosing a motherboard, consider the following:
- Get the right socket for your CPU: You can find great CPUs from either Intel or AMD. But whatever processor you choose, make sure that your board has the correct socket to support it. The latest mainstream AMD chips use AM4 CPU sockets while Intel’s 10th Gen and 11th Gen Core CPUs require LGA 1200 sockets, while 12th Gen (Alder Lake) uses LGA 1700.
- Smaller boards = fewer slots and features. Motherboards come in three main sizes–for more info see our diagram and explanation of motherboard parts. From largest to smallest, there’s ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX. (Yes, Mini is smaller than Micro). You can use a smaller chassis with the micro or mini boards, but you’ll have to settle for fewer card expansion slots, sometimes fewer RAM slots, and other connectors.
- Pay for built-in Wi-Fi and high-end ports only if you need them. Don’t spend extra for wireless if you are using Ethernet. You can future-proof your PC by getting USB 3.2 Gen 2 and / or Thunderbolt support. But Thunderbolt is very rare on AMD motherboards.
The Best Intel Gaming Motherboards: Z690, Z590, Z490 X299
At around $330, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is a mid-range Alder Lake motherboard that covers all the bases very well, with minimal sacrifices. There are ample storage options, including four M.2 sockets, updated audio, and a new appearance. In our extensive testing, performance, thermals and overclocking were also well within the range of other Z690 boards we’ve tested.
Between its 13 USB ports on the rear IO, four M.2 sockets and capable power delivery, all at a price that’s well below flagship options, there’s a lot to lovea bout the Z690 Aorus Pro. So long as you don’t require integrated RGB lighting or Wi-Fi 6E out of the box (you still get Wi-Fi 6), the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is an excellent Alder Lake motherboard to build your Z690 system around.
MSI’s MEG Z690I Unify comes loaded with features including three M.2 sockets, four SATA ports, the latest-generation flagship audio, Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gbps Type-C) ports and integrated Wi-Fi 6E in this diminutive package. Its only real downside is that you’ll find just six USB-A ports on the back. You get all of the above for $399.99, or about $30 more than the previous-gen version. The compact black motherboard packs a punch both with the hardware that comes with it. And in our testing, performance easily matched larger ATX boards overall.
There’s lots of competition in the Z690 Mini-ITX space, from all the major motherboard makers. But for its price the MSI MEG Z690I Unify has the most features and connectivity users are likely to look for in a small form-factor board, making it the best option for those looking to build a small but powerful 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake rig.
The Z690 Aorus Tachyon comes with robust power delivery that supports sub-ambient overclocking of any compatible Alder Lake CPU. The 105A SPS MOSFETs, large heatsink, and overclocking tools ensure the board doesn’t get in the way of top achievable clock speeds. And in our testing, it performed above average overall, with some of the fastest results in our new Blender benchmark, Cinebench R23 and Procyon Office, with our game tests also showing results slightly higher than average for the Z690 boards we’ve tested.
The E-ATX Aorus Tachyon has several features that make overclocking easier too, including buttons to raise/lower the CPU ratio, cooldown functionality, limp modes, multiple BIOS capability, Tantalum capacitors around the socket area (better and easier for insulating for sub-zero runs), and more.
Although this board is made for overclocking, it still does most everything else well too. From the four M.2 sockets and six SATA ports to the last-gen flagship Realtek audio solution, it comes packed with features that are useful for most any type of user. Still, those who need more than 64GB of RAM (professionals, content creators, etc), will have to look elsewhere.
So long as you don’t plan on overclocking your CPU or want to use PCIe 5.0 devices before your next upgrade, the MSI MAG B660M Mortar WIFI DDR4 and its B660 chipset makes for a great option for those looking to get into Alder Lake without putting a heavy burden on your build budget.
It lacks the fancy looks or RGB lighting of pricier boards, but does come with everything you need to get the most out of a stock-clocked Alder Lake CPU. The Mortar includes two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 sockets, six SATA ports, a premium last-generation audio solution and VRMs that easily manage the flagship Core i9 CPU.
In our testing, performance on our B660M Mortar was similar to those of the Z690-based DDR4 boards we tested previously. In other words, this sub-$200 motherboard was able to utilize our i9-12900K processor to its fullest while costing a third less than most Z690 offerings.
Of the sub-$120 Intel H610-chipset motherboards we’ve tested, Asus Prime H610M-A D4 is the only one that supports two M.2 sockets for storage, and a key-E M.2 socket lets you easily add CNVi-based NICs for speedy and reliable Wi-Fi.
If you’re looking to get into Alder Lake on the cheap and will not overclock, the H610 chipset is the least expensive way in, but it’s not without drawbacks. There are fewer USB ports and what’s available is slower (no 20 Gbps USB or Type-C ports, for example).
While the entire Alder Lake processor stack is technically supported, you’re limited in what processors you can utilize with this chipset, considering the slower performance we saw in heavy multi-threaded loads with our Core i9 on all tested H610 motherboards. And don’t expect loads of external expansion. There are just six USB ports here, none of them faster than the pair of teal 10 Gbps ports. But if you’re not trying to run the best Alder Lake has to offer, this sup-$110 board is a good way to get the latest and greatest Intel has to offer without putting huge a hole in your bank account.
The Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero has the premium parts and attractive looks to stand out, despite its fairly high price. From its clean, high-end appearance to the robust power delivery, four M.2 sockets and a premium audio solution, the Hero is a well-rounded, feature-laden solution in the upper-midrange of the Z590 motherboard space. With more-than-capable 90A power phases and dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, plus the four PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets and premium audio bits, the board justifies its $499 price.
Tested performance compared to the other Z590 models we’ve tested to this point was spot on, and often negligibly faster in many of our tests. Memory testing went without a hitch, with DDR4 3600 supported at 1:1, and it easily handled the DDR4 4000 kit. And overclocking testing proceeded without any issue.
The Asus ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial is a full-featured Z590 motherboard that include robust power delivery, premium audio with a DAC, five M.2 sockets, 10 GbE and integrated Wi-Fi 6E and includes a custom waterblock. While pricing is tough to take, the Extreme Glacial ($1499) represents what flagship-class motherboards should be.
And as you would expect with a high-end board, our testing didn’t reveal any issues in terms of the Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial’s performance. The board delivered average or above average results in the 3DMark tests and actual game tests.
Fully equipped for the 48 lanes of Intel’s 10th generation Core Extreme processors, the X299X Designare 10G comes loaded to the brink with Intel X550 dual 10Gb/s Ethernet and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 headers with dual DisplayPort passthrough on Intel’s 40Gb/s controller. A four-drive M.2 expander card and 2.4Gb/s Wi-Fi 6 finish a package of which the added component value far outweighs the price difference over its closest competitor.
The Best AMD Gaming Motherboards: X570(S), B550, TRX40, X470 and B450
AMD’s current flagship X570/X570S chipset brings with it full support for PCIe 4.0, including devices connected to both its CPU-integrated and chipset-based PCIe controllers, and the transfer rate between the CPU and chipset is likewise doubled. We’ve tested several X570 boards, including many models refreshed for AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs, as well as a few with the updated X570S chipset that does away with the fan. The price premium for X570 models is still a serious consideration, as its X470 predecessors do not support the PCIe 4.0 integrated into the new CPUs.
If you want to save some money, consider a B550 motherboard, which has PCIe 4.0 support, but generally only enough lanes for one fast SSD and graphics card. Note, though, that many higher-end B550 boards approach or exceed the price of X570 alternatives. So shop carefully based on the features you need or are likely to use in the future.
The Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme is the first AMD Extreme board since the X370 days, and it doesn’t disappoint. In addition to its premium appearance, the board comes with one of the most capable VRMs we’ve seen. So its overclocking ability is only limited to your cooling capability and the limitations of your silicon. Other features are also top-notch, including the latest Realtek/Supreme FX audio codec, 10 GbE and Wi-Fi 6E.
The Thunderbolt 4 ports and front-panel USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C ports give you plenty of fast connectivity as well. And if you need a lot of fast storage, you’re well taken care of with up to five M.2 modules that can work simultaneously. If you’ve got $800 to spend on an X570 motherboard, the ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme should be at the top of your list.
Packed with 12 USB ports (eight of which are USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds), a 2.5G LAN port, eight SATA ports, and integrated Wi-Fi 6, he Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero Wi-Fi is a good base for a high-end build.
The Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra focuses on doing basic things very well, such as its twelve 40A core voltage MOSFETs and triple PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 storage slots. With nothing more than a 2.4Gb/s Wi-Fi 6 module to add to its basic Gigabit Ethernet, the paucity of premium add-in features helps Gigabyte to maintain a sub $300 price despite the cost of PCIe 4.0 compliance.
Asus’ ROG Strix B550-F Gaming Wi-Fi delivers premium features including SupremeFX Audio, Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, solid power delivery and more. It’s a good option around the $200 mark, though there are similarly specced boards that cost less. If you don’t need Wi-Fi capability, the non-Wi-Fi version of the same board costs $30 less with the same specifications, making it easy to recommend if you plan on using Ethernet or have your own wireless card.
NZXT’s first foray into AMD motherboards is a success. Coming in late to the game allowed the company to implement feedback from its Intel boards, adding more USB ports to the rear IO. The additional time also allowed NZXT to implement cutting-edge Wi-Fi 6E as well, alongside 2.5GbE. Outside of that, the appearance changed significantly from the company’s previous boards, with shrouds dominating the surface and an absence of on-board RGBs.
With an MSRP of $229, the NZXT N7 B550 costs about $15 more than our primary pick, but delivers a newer Wi-Fi chip, more and faster USB ports, and solid performance in a package that’s visually distinct from all other B550 competition. If you can spend this much and don’t need the extra PCI 4.0 bandwidth that comes with similarly priced older X570 motherboards, the NZXT N7 B550 is well worth considering.
Read: NZXT N7 B550 review
Savings on the Best Motherboards
Whether you’re buying one of the best motherboards or a different model, you may find some savings by checking our list of coupon codes, especially our list of Newegg promo codes and Micro Center coupons.