If you’re getting started with building your own PC, you want to make sure the motherboard that you pick takes advantage of all your carefully-assembled internal components.
You can’t push your CPU or GPU to their full potential unless your motherboard is well-optimized for features like overclocking. Also, your board’s thermal architecture makes a day and night difference. You don’t want your performance to be throttled by heat building up and creating less favorable conditions.
Before continuing make sure to check the best motherboards brand to select your brand.
Those are only a few of the reasons why you shouldn’t take your motherboard purchase decision lightly. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best motherboards on the market to stir you in the right direction, so let’s jump right into our reviews!
Best Motherboard (Our Review)
1. MSI MEG Z490 Godlike – Best Overall
MSI’s Z490 chipset sets to define what a high-end motherboard can do with its efficient heat pipes, plenty of expansion slots for RAM, and storage, in addition to a future-proof selection of onboard ports.
The MEG Z490 stands true to its “Godlike” name as the motherboard is built from the ground up to deliver the smoothest overclocking experience. The user-friendly BIOS puts you in control of your system resources, allowing you to tweak performance to better suit your workflow.
You don’t have to be a computer geek to successfully put all the pieces of your PC together, as the MEG Z490 Godlike comes with comprehensive diagnostics tools that can pinpoint where exactly issues present, in case anything goes south.
It won’t be a serious motherboard without some impressive RGB lights reflecting the horsepower it packs underneath, and MSI doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Pick a transparent PC case to go along your MEG Z490 Godlike, as it makes the perfect showcase with its customizable OLED panel, sitting next to the memory slots. If you’re into those, check out this list of the best RGB motherboards.
Furthermore, the board is built around an LGA1200 socket, which is compatible with all the latest Intel CPUs. Since the motherboard adopts Intel’s new standards, you have room to upgrade down the line whenever newer CPUs hit the market without running into compatibility issues.
Finally, if you’ve been living within Intel’s ecosystem and money isn’t an issue when choosing a motherboard for your new rig, the MEG Z490 is the best way to go.
- The rear panel features dual Thunderbolt 3.0 ports
- Comes with four memory slots that support DDR4-5000 RAMs
- Five PCIe x4 M.2 slots for expandable SSD storage
- Advanced networking features thanks to the AQC-107 10GbE Ethernet controller
- Overclocking-ready architecture
- Futuristic aesthetics with RGB integration across the board
- User-friendly diagnostics tools
- Integrated LGA1200 socket that plays nicely with the latest Intel CPUs
- Supports Wi-Fi 6
- On the pricey side
2. ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490 – Flagship Pick
If you want to push performance even further, we’ve got a motherboard that’s crushing it on all fronts of the spec sheet. ASUS built the ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490 for enthusiasts and professionals looking for a PC that can handle anything they throw its way without even breaking a sweat.
To start with, the substantial heatsinks are essential to ensure thermal throttling doesn’t put a cap on your performance. With a 14+2 phase VRM (voltage regulator module), your motherboard is ready to channel heat away from your CPU and GPU even when they run at high clock speeds for a considerable period.
Another area where the Maximus XII Hero Z490 truly shines is connectivity. The board supports fast internet speeds with its 5Gb LAN module. If a wired connection isn’t your cup of tea, Wi-Fi 6 is here to offer a great wireless experience. In an office space with bandwidth crowding, your PC won’t have any issues sustaining a stable and fast connection.
In terms of memory, you have four slots at your disposal that can house up to 128GB of total RAM. This makes your PC a force to reckon with, ready to handle multitasking-heavy projects.
It’s worth noting that AMD-ready motherboards in the same price range support an even higher maximum RAM up to 256GB! You might not ever need such memory capacity for the foreseeable future, but the AMD front seems not to hold back and offers better value in this space.
- The motherboard is built on a system level to support overclocking
- The LGA1200 socket opens the door for the latest Intel CPUs
- Impressive connectivity options with Wi-Fi 6 and 5Gb LAN
- Superb thermal architecture
- Premium build quality
- Straightforward BIOS menus
- Offers RGB that can be further customized through ASUS Aura
- The VRM provides plenty of heatsinks
- Relatively expensive
3. GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X – Budget Pick
Our next entry is dedicated to all the cost-conscious customers out there looking for a well-rounded package to go along with their Intel gaming CPU. The fact that GIGABYTE uses the same Z490 chipset with its budget offering foreshadows that the motherboard comes with similar, yet of course washed-down, features like the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike. If you want more options for gaming, check out this article on the best gaming motherboards.
For instance, the GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X features three PCIe 3.0 x4 slots instead of five and four memory slots that only support DDR4-4600 memory instead of the faster DDR4-5000 in the case of MSI’s Godlike motherboard.
Aside from the many differences between the two, GIGABYTE’s motherboard features the same LGA1200 socket compatible with Intel’s 10th Gen CPUs. This is good news for gamers who want to spec up their PC without committing to the high price tag that comes with our top pick. Make sure to check other best gaming motherboards and compare them with this one.
It’s worth mentioning that the I/O cover featured here is a bit larger than what we expected, so make sure your PC tower has the right cutouts to avoid any inconveniences.
This is understandable though, as the back panel features plenty of ports, including a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, two USD 3.2 Gen 2 ports, in addition to an HDMI, a DisplayPort, and an optical S/PDIF audio port. This means you can directly plug in all your accessories without having to stumble around for a specific dongle.
- Passive cooling of the VRM through the additional PSU connector
- Features LGA1200 socket that supports the latest Intel chips
- A versatile selection of I/Os
- Expandable memory up to a total of 128GB
- An affordable Z490 chipset
- Suitable for gaming
- Built with overclocking in mind thanks to its solid passive cooling
- Supports multiple GPUs for a higher graphical fidelity
- The motherboard might not fit into mid-sized PC towers
- Doesn’t feature Thunderbolts for video output and power
4. ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming – Best Mini-ITX Motherboard
We’ve got yet another motherboard with the Z490 chipset, and this time around, the ASUS ROG Strix features a Mini-ITX form factor, which is perfect for people looking to build a relatively portable PC. It’s worth noting that your CPU choice is a significant determinant factor here, as the motherboard comes with an AM4 socket that only supports AMD’s chips.
This compact motherboard slips easily into any small case, making the process of moving your PC between your office and home more manageable. By choosing the right components, this motherboard enables you to put together a powerful gaming computer that doubles as a professional workstation. If you’re interested in those, check out the best workstation motherboards.
In terms of performance, the ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming is a true powerhouse. Don’t let the small form factor fool you, as the motherboard has all that it takes to deliver a superb gaming experience.
Its PCIe x16 3.0 slot is a bigger deal than what you might think. You can hook any full-sized GPU of your choice, even on a motherboard of this small form factor.
Furthermore, connectivity is what makes or breaks an online gaming session, and ASUS ensures you have plenty of options at your disposal to maintain a steady connection with no input lag.
Whether you go for a wired 2.5Gb LAN connection or take advantage of the fast Wi-Fi 6 module, your experience on the web will be fast and seamless.
- Double capacity memory for up to 64GB of RAM
- The featured AM4 socket is the standard found on AMD’s latest CPUs
- Comes with two M.2 slots for expandable SSD storage
- Fast connectivity through the 2.5Gb LAN or Wi-Fi 6
- Compact footprint thanks to the Mini-ITX form factor
- Features customizable RGB light system
- 8+2 phase VRM offers decent passive cooling
- Comes with a USD 3.1 Gen 2 front connector for more convenience
- Relatively expensive as a result of all the tech packed in such a compact board
5. GIGABYTE TRX40 AORUS Master – Best AMD Motherboard
If you’ve been eyeing AMD’s latest CPUs for quite some time now and looking for a motherboard that delivers an uncompromising performance to go along with it, GIGABYTE has you covered with its high-end TRX40 AORUS Master.
This motherboard is built to take full advantage of AMD’s Threadripper processors, a lineup dedicated to machine learning, CGI animation, software development, and other CPU-intensive tasks. This is evident in how such motherboards can handle up to 24 physical cores without breaking a sweat.
We were pleased with the four expandable RAM slots offered by the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike until the TRX40 AORUS Master came by with its eight DIMM slots, making what MSI is offering pale in comparison.
This number of memory channels might sound like overkill for the time being, but having the potential to expand down the line is always a welcome addition that adds extra value to your purchase.
The only drawback to this heavy-hitter motherboard has to be the price. The board itself can cost you the price of an entire PC! Such a steep cost makes it a less likely choice for the average consumer; however, professionals who can untap this board’s full potential won’t mind the high price tag.
- Supports up to 256GB of maximum RAM
- The X399 chipset is designed to house the bulky Threadripper CPUs
- Massive heatsinks for an excellent overclocking experience
- A whopping 16+3 VRM for even better cooling
- Built with enthusiasts and professionals in mind
- Supports the simultaneous use of four GPUs
- Handles 24-core CPUs with no issues
- Unmatched build quality with premium components
- Presents with a substantial price barrier
6. Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming – Budget AMD Pick
AMD-ready motherboards don’t have to be expensive, as ASUS offers a cost-effective option with its ROG Strix B550-F Gaming board. The highlight of the show here is the support for AMD’s 3rd gen Ryzen CPUs, in addition to having slots for two GPUs to work hand in hand.
That said, you’re getting much bang for your buck, as you can build a decent gaming rig around this budget-friendly motherboard. You need to keep in mind that overclocking isn’t one of the ROG Strix B550-F’s strengths. When picking your PC’s CPU and GPU, keep an eye on the base clock speeds, as these are the numbers that you’ll be getting in most cases.
One welcome addition is the shielding of the I/O ports. This extra layer of safety ensures the board’s inputs and outputs won’t get damaged when plugging or unplugging different devices.
Furthermore, the B550-F comes with both PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 slots. Even though 4.0 SSDs aren’t widely adopted for the time being, your motherboard has the option there waiting for you whenever you decide to make the jump for the faster SSD new standard.
- Supports Ryzen 5000 series processors
- An 8+2 VRM design for adequate passive cooling
- Fast internet thanks to the 2.5Gb LAN module
- Shielded I/Os to reduce the chance of getting any port damage
- Affordable price for a feature-packed motherboard
- Comes with a built-in PCIe 4.0 slot to connect high-end GPUs and SSDs
- Supports dual GPUs for higher graphical fidelity in your games
- A straightforward setup process with no confusing quirks
- Not ideal for overclocking
7. ASRock X299 Taichi – Best X-Series Motherboard
We’ll wrap up our list with one final entry that’s considered a departure from the conventional AMD and Intel motherboards that we tackled so far. The ASRock X299 Taichi is an X-series board explicitly built to take advantage of unlocked processors for an uncapped overclocking experience.
The same goes for memory speeds, which can reach up to 4400MHz! To appreciate such numbers, let’s track back a bit and understand the significance of memory speed. It determines how fast the processor can access data stored on your hard drive, directly impacting your CPUs performance.
Another advantage that X-series motherboards bring to the table is the support for more memory channels. You have eight different memory modules, leaving more than enough room for expansion down the line.
Check out more X-series motherboards and among them the
Though ASRock X299 Taichi doesn’t beat GIGABYTE TRX40 AORUS Master’s support for four GPUs, it comes pretty close. The X-series board allows three graphics cards to work together and deliver the performance needed to run demanding 3D modeling, video editing, and graphic design apps. For more media-oriented options, check out this article on the best motherboards for video editing.
Finally, the motherboard features an LGA2066 socket, which is unique to Intel’s X processors lineup. With 12 cores or 24 threads, these CPUs can power a high-end rig with their uncapped clock speeds and sizable cache memory.
Do the math, and see whether these CPUs are the right choice for you because this is the main factor influencing your motherboard purchase decision.
- Built around the standard ATX form factor that fits easily in most PC towers
- Comes with quad-memory channels that support fast DDR4 RAM
- Designed to harness the unlocked clock speeds of X-series Intel CPUs
- Features three PCIe M.2 slots for expandable SSDs
- Allows for memory overclocking with speeds up to 4400MHz
- Intel X299 chipset
- Features LGA2066 socket to house an Intel X-series processor
- Well-organized board layout
- High price tag
Best Motherboard (FAQ)
What Does the Motherboard’s Socket Type Mean?
The socket type is one of the key determinants that govern your motherboard’s purchase decision. It’s the socket where the CPU clips, and as you can imagine, different processors require different sockets. For example, Intel’s 10th Gen CPUs go for LGA1200 sockets, while AMD’s latest offerings support AM4 chipsets.
What Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Motherboard?
You have to keep an eye on the form factor, especially if you already have a PC tower lying around. Furthermore, the port selection determines what devices or accessories you can directly connect to your computer, which might be a big deal for specific workflows. Last but not least, memory channels and M.2 slots are key for upgradability.
What Makes a Motherboard Suitable for Overclocking?
An excellent thermal architecture is vital for a smooth overclocking experience. Most motherboards on the market feature VRM units that control the GPU’s and CPU’s maximum voltage in an effort to achieve passive cooling when needed. Heatsinks also play a crucial role as they prevent heat buildup with their aluminum alloy form factor that has high thermal conductivity.