So you’re putting together a list of components for your desktop gaming behemoth — you know which GPU you want, which processor, how much RAM, and even which case you’re going to buy.
But when it comes time to pick a motherboard, which one do you go with? Do you go with something cheap in order to spend extra on the big-ticket items or do you pick something every bit as colorful and powerful as your LED bedazzled graphics card?
Despite its importance, the motherboard doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. To help you decide and break down just how much you should spend, these are the best motherboards for gaming on your PC.
The X299 Aorus Gaming motherboard from Gigabyte will run you about $500, and it’s worth every penny — especially if you’re already investing in a spendy Intel Core i9 processor. Built to support Intel’s latest Skylake-X or Kaby Lake-X processors with an LGA 2066 socket, it’s a standard-sized ATX motherboard optimized for gaming with a few important tweaks. First up, it features eight RAM sockets, offering support for up to 128GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory. They also support up to 512GB of Registered DDR4 quad-channel memory.
Additionally, it features support for both Nvidia’s and AMD’s multi-GPU setups. That means you can run up to four Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics cards in SLI, or up to four AMD Radeon graphics cards in CrossFire mode. It also sports three M.2 ports, four PCIe expansion slots, and eight SATA 3 connections. Plus, and this is the most important part for a gaming motherboard, it features a robust lighting setup with tons of customization options to match any color scheme.
All right, admittedly $390 for the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 isn’t a huge step down from the $500 monster at the top of our list here, but it’s notable for a few reasons. First off, the X399 features support for AMD’s Threadripper series of CPUs, so you’re not only spending less on a motherboard, you’re also spending less by going with a slightly cheaper processor. AMD’s Threadripper 1920x starts at about $750 to the Intel Core i9’s starting price of $970.
Secondly, you’re getting the same eight RAM sockets as the Aorus Gaming 9, with support for up to 128GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory, or 512GB of Registered DDR4 quad-channel memory. It also features three M.2 ports, eight SATA 3 connections, four PCIe expansion slots, and perhaps most importantly, the same support for four AMD or Nvidia graphics cards to be used in CrossFire or SLI configurations.
Also, it features the same dazzling array of lighting options as its more expensive Intel cousin.
Best budget gaming motherboard
The Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming motherboard supports AMD’s latest Ryzen processors with an AM4 socket, and a standard ATX form factor, it starts at just $120. It’s not the cheapest motherboard you’ll find out there, and it’s not even the cheapest gaming motherboard but it strikes an excellent balance between price and performance.
It’s also worth mentioning that by picking up the Strix B350-F, you’ll not only be saving money because of its relatively low price, but you’ll also be saving money by going with a quick and capable AMD Ryzen processor. Ryzen chips are, in our experience, perfectly suited for gaming on a budget — you get all the performance you need, without having to spend extra.
All right, so what’s it have going on under the hood? It features four RAM slots, and with a Ryzen processor, supports up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM. It also features three-way multi-GPU support with AMD’s CrossFire. For storage, it features one M.2 slot, two SATA ports, and two PCIe expansion ports.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a gaming motherboard without its most important feature: LEDs. LEDs everywhere. It’s not as robust a lighting setup as you’ll see on more expensive motherboards, but there’s enough there to make sure everyone knows your budget rig is still a purpose-built gaming machine.