The best PC gaming setups (like these ones we found on Game Tutorials) usually prioritize three things: the processor, the graphics card, and RAM. And while these three are all important to your computer’s performance and speed, there’s one other component you need to tie all of these together: the motherboard or main printed circuit board (PCB). If you’re not familiar with what a PCB is, a post by circuit design platform Altium informs readers about how it’s an electronic circuit commonly found in consumer tech devices like smartphones and laptops. The motherboard is a type of PCB, albeit a more complex one, that’s embedded with more components and pins to run PCs more efficiently. This part of the hardware is essential for your build-up of desired specifications.
But this is also why you can’t buy just any motherboard. You need one with the right ports for your cables and is powerful enough to use your components to their full capacity. Therefore, it is very important to check about available devices that you can apply to a particular motherboard. Besides that, you should pay attention to the stable build of the whole PC, which includes other equipment like power supply, hard drive, and more. That said, here are some of the best motherboards PC gamers need to look for.
Best overall motherboard: GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X
“Z490” is the serial number for Intel’s 10th generation Comet Lake S processors. According to tech experts on Levvvel, any PCB with the Z490 code is compatible with it. The Comet Lake S uses the PCI Express 4.0 interface — the latest version of the features that allows drives, cards, and peripherals to connect instantly.
In addition to Comet Lake S compatibility, the $450 Z490 Gaming X has six SATA ports and four DDR4-4600 memory slots, so it’s the top pick for gamers who want to add more storage and RAM to their setup. It’s arguably the best motherboard you can get, except for the fact that it lacks USB Type-C ports. Fortunately, a few adapters can fix that.
Best premium motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme
Asus’s ROG line has created some of the best gaming accessories and components you can purchase on the market — and the ROG Maximus XII Extreme is no different. The “extreme” in its name is no exaggeration, as this particular $750 board is one of the most feature-packed Intel Comet Lake S devices currently available. And between the DIMM.2 risers, M.2 sockets, chunky heat spreaders, the sheer number of fan connectors, and other features, it’ll grant you the best PC gaming experience possible.
This option is perfect for people who want more than just gaming. You can install the best graphics and processor available on the market today, which will provide you with maximized speed and amazing performances, which can be especially important for video editing software, 3D modeling, and more.
However, the Maximus XII Extreme is only necessary if you have equally powerful components, like the K-series Core i9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics card. Otherwise, all that “extreme” power won’t be tapped into at all. A common mistake is where people decide to invest a lot in one or several components, without realizing that you can have desired features only when the whole build is well-balanced.
Best mid-range motherboard: MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi
MSI specializes in mid-range to higher-low range equipment like the GS75 Stealth laptops and the Optix MAG monitors. The MPG PCBline is much the same. Its prices are lower than $300, but at no expense to its overall performance — provided that your other peripherals are also mid-range to higher-low range like processors below an i9. It also supports Intel up to 10th gen, Wi-Fi 6, and even the latest DIMM memory.
It’s just not a very good motherboard for overclocking because of its limited features and small size. However, since it’s a Z490 build, it’ll be more than enough to run an Intel Comet Lake processor at base performance. In that matter, this option is good enough for most recent games, and some of them you can even play in highest quality, while keeping a proper performances and gameplay in the same time.
Best budget motherboard: ASRock B460 Steel Legend
If you want the most affordable gaming motherboard on the market, your best bet is the ASRock B460 Steel Legend. ASRock products aren’t the prettiest nor the most feature-filled devices available (such as their PCs), but they’re really good for entry-level builds. The B460 Steel Legend is a great example of this. At $150, you already get a front USB Type-C header, a pair of M.2 slots, and an e-key slot if you would like to install a second Wi-Fi card.
It also includes a 9+1 phase VRM. If you didn’t already know, an article on Make Tech Easier highlights how the VRM is what provides consistent voltage to your processor and graphics card. A poor VRM can really diminish a gaming PC’s performance, making the B460 Steel Legend a truly valuable find. Its only downside is that there’s no option to overclock it. When it comes to most recent titles, you shouldn’t have any issues by running any of them. However, you should be aware that it probably will cause some downside if you try to play in highest resolution and details.
Every gaming PC core component is its motherboard. Consider the components that you’ll be using and the kind of gaming experience you want from them because there’s a PCB for every need.
Therefore, you should determine your budget when buying a PC, and consider investing more in a proper motherboard before getting graphics card and processor. They might be crucial for the performances, but you can connect them only with compatible motherboard.
Also, building a PC by yourself is a much better option since you can create much better stability between components then when you choose already packed PC case, which, in most cases, where companies might try to attract customers with several good features, while overall capabilities could be much lower. Besides that, building a PC case on your own is a cheaper solution as well.
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