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The best motherboards for 2020

Best Motherboards

Building a PC can be a daunting task. A multitude of choices currently flood the component market — just look at Intel’s entire (and overwhelming) CPU list. The same can be said about motherboards, which serve as the backbone of your system. Without one, all you have is an expensive pile of technology. Thankfully, you now have our list of the best motherboards at hand.

If you’re building a PC, chances are you already have a processor in mind — if not, read our guide. You’ll want a good motherboard that complements your chip, but price is understandably a major factor in your decision. Fortunately, there are a number of great motherboards that are affordable and high quality.

We selected six motherboards — three for Intel CPUs and three for AMD — spanning budget, mainstream, and high-end configurations. Whatever team you choose, one of these boards should be the ideal companion to your CPU.

Best budget motherboards

MSI B360 Gaming Plus

You want great features, but you don’t want to break the bank. We get it. If you aren’t planning to do extreme overclocking and don’t need support for large numbers of drives and multiple high-speed graphics cards, a budget motherboard makes a lot of sense. The following two boards fall under the $100 mark without sacrificing features you want, like USB-C connectivity and 7-channel audio.

MSI B360 Gaming Plus ASRock B450M Pro4
CPU support: Intel 8th and 9th generation 1st, 2nd, 3rd Gen Ryzen (with a BIOS update)
Form: ATX Micro ATX
Socket: LGA 1151 AM4
Chipset: B360 B450
Memory support: Up to 64GB
Up to 2,133MHz
Up to 64GB
Up to 3,200MHz
PCI Express slots: 2x PCIe 3.0 x16
4x PCIe 3.0 x1
1x PCIe 3.0 x16
1x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage: 5x SATA 3.0
1x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4)
4x SATA 3.0
1x Ultra M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4)
1x M.2 (SATA 3.0)
USB ports: 1x USB-C
5x USB-A
Additional USB headers
1x USB-C
7x USB-A
Additional USB headers
Audio: Realtek 7.1-channel ALC892 Realtek 7.1-channel ALC892
VRM: 7 phase 9 phase
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet

Supporting Intel’s 8th- and 9th-generation desktop processors, the MSI B360 Gaming Plus targets gamers first and foremost, though it should be great for any build. Its game-centric feature list includes Mystic Light, a single LED strand that runs along the port-side edge you can customize using 16.8 million colors and 10 different effects. It supports two-way AMD CrossfireX configurations as well, meaning two identical Radeon cards can run in parallel — though in-game support for that is limited.

ASRock’s motherboard for AMD’s Ryzen CPUs isn’t quite so gamer themed in appearance, but it does pack plenty of features gamers will love. Like the MSI model, it supports CrossFireX technology, but the specifications list Quad CrossFireX, meaning you can install two identical Radeon graphics cards with dual GPUs, like the Radeon Pro Duo — though you would be limited to PCIe 2.0 speeds.

Both boards provide four slots supporting up to 64GB of system memory in dual-channel configurations. The difference here is that the Intel motherboard supports up to 2,666MHz via XMP while the AMD motherboard can handle up to an overclocked 3,200MHz (Matisse, Pinnacle Ridge, Summit Ridge, Raven Ridge). Meanwhile, the AMD board sacrifices a SATA 3 connector for an additional M.2 slot.

Since this is a last-generation (Ryzen 2000) AMD board, it doesn’t support the latest PCI Express 4.0 of its 500-series motherboards, and you’ll need to perform a BIOS update to add support for Ryzen 3000 chips. Both boards provide USB-C and other connectivity along with 7.1-channel audio and Gigabit Ethernet networking. They don’t include Wi-Fi or Bluetooth support, but they’re both very capable and, most importantly, affordable.

Best mid-range motherboards

Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite Product Shot

This group falls under the $200 mark. They target mainstream PC builds that can afford a little extra cost for better features, like fast system memory up to 128GB and wireless networking. Although they essentially target gamers, there’s no reason why these boards can’t be used in a non-gaming build.

Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro Wi-Fi Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite
CPU support: Intel 8th and 9th generation 1st, 2nd, 3rd gen Ryzen
Socket: LGA 1151 AM4
Chipset: Z390 X570
Memory support: Up to 128GB
Up to 4,266MHz
Up to 128GB
Up to 4,000MHz
PCI Express slots: 3x PCIe 3.0 x16
3x PCIe 3.0 x1
1x PCIe 4.0 x16
1x PCIe 4.0 x4
2x PCIe 4.0 x1
Storage: 6x SATA 3.0
2x M.2 (PCIe x4)
6x SATA 3.0
1x M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
USB ports: 2x USB-C
9x USB-A
Additional USB headers
7x USB-A
1x USB-C
Audio: Realtek 7.1-channel ALC1220-VB Realtek 7.1-channel ALC1200
VRM: 12+1 phase 12+2 phase
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2
Gigabit Ethernet

Moving on up the motherboard ladder are two solutions from Gigabyte. Both models feature integrated lighting in the form of addressable LED light strips while also supporting external light strips through the company’s RGB Fusion 200 application. Even if you’re not a gamer, the light show can add cool ambient lighting to accent your home or office workspace.

Both boards provide four memory slots supporting up to 128GB of system memory. With the Intel board, you can run memory overclocked up to 4,266MHz. Meanwhile, for the AMD board, the maximum memory speed depends on the CPU: Up to 4,000MHz overclocked with Ryzen 3000 and up to 3,200MHz overclocked with Ryzen 2000.

The big difference in their overall feature is thanks to the 500-series chipset in the Ryzen 3000 series board. This family supports PCI Express 4.0, which doubles the bandwidth (speed) over the previous generation. More specifically, each lane supports two gigabytes per second (2GB) in a single direction (2GB send, 2GB receive), thus a card using a 16x slot has a potential two-direction maximum bandwidth of 64GB per second. That’s more than any GPU needs, but it does mean you can use high-speed PCIE 4.0 SSDs, offering the fastest commercial storage available in 2020.

Both solutions are nearly identical regarding audio, port complement, and storage. While the Intel motherboard supplies an extra M.2 slot, the AMD board, again, supports the PCI Express 4.0 standard. That means you can install Gigabyte’s $250 Aorus stick-shaped SSD with a sequential read speed of up to 5,000MB per second and a sequential write speed of up to 4,440MB per second.

Best extreme motherboards

Gigabyte X299X Designare 10G

Want the extreme? You got it. These boards support the top performers for enthusiasts: Intel’s Core X Series and AMD’s 3rd-generation Ryzen Threadripper chips. Here you’ll find support for extreme core counts, memory configurations, boat loads of storage, and premium network connectivity. If money is no object, these two boards are perfect for your powerhouse PC.

Gigabyte X299X Designare 10G ASRock TRX40 Taichi
CPU support: Core X Series 3rd Gen Threadripper
Socket: LGA 2066 sTRX4
Chipset: X299 TRX40
Memory support: Up to 256GB
Up to 4,333MHz
Up to 256GB
Up to 4,666MHz
PCI Express slots: 2x PCIe 3.0 x16
2x PCIe 3.0 x8
3x PCIe 4.0 x16
1x PCIe 4.0 x1
Storage: 6x SATA 3.0
3x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4)
8x SATA 3
2x Hyper M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
USB ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3
4x USB-A
Additional USB headers
1x USB-C
6x USB-A
Additional USB headers
Audio: Realtek 7.1-channel ALC1220-VB Realtek ALC4050H
Realtek ALC1220
VRM: 12 phase 16 phase
Networking: 2x 10Gb Ethernet
Wi-Fi 6
1x 2.5Gb Ethernet
1x Gigabit Ethernet
Wi-Fi 6

Here insanity kicks in with system memory spanning eight slots. For the Intel board, the maximum amount and clock speed depends on the CPU. If you install a Core X chip supporting 48 lanes, you can install the full 256GB amount overclocked to 4,333MHz. If your Core X chip only supports 44 lanes or lower, you’re locked at a 128GB maximum and a 4,200MHz overclock.

The difference with the AMD board is that you can only install AMD’s 3rd-generation Threadripper chips, so you won’t see a similar memory limitation. What you will see is support for PCI Express 4.0, which opens up the option for faster storage and fewer lanes used per add-in device. This is an obvious advantage over Intel-based configurations, especially now that supporting hardware is finally hitting the market.

These boards are overkill for gaming, but if you want to use them for that purpose, or heavy benchmarking and overclocking, there’s plenty to get excited about here. The Intel board supports both Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX configurations (two or four cards). Meanwhile, the AMD board supports Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX (two or three cards) along with Nvidia NVLink via two GeForce RTX cards. AMD’s Radeon RX 5000 series supports the PCI Express 4.0 standard, though it doesn’t do much to leverage its bandwidth at this time.

Finally, while the AMD board offers USB-C connectivity, the Intel-based product includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports (via USB-C). Both offer Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and dual Ethernet ports, though the Intel board boasts up to 10 gigabits per second each while the AMD board offers up to 2.5Gbps on one and 1Gbps on the other.

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