https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx8rS9_vNDo

Many of us focus on GPUs and CPUs, often overlooking the all-important component that binds all the others into a functional whole: the motherboard.

If you invest in high-end processors, graphics cards, and SSDs while skimping on the motherboard, you might very likely regret it later on!

Indeed, the motherboard must always be kept in mind when building a PC that is supposed to last and be future-proof. There are many to choose from, but we have compiled a list of the best gaming motherboards of 2018 in order to help you choose the right foundation for your future gaming rig more easily!

Top 7 Best Motherboards For 2018

Here’s our top picks for the best motherboards today. You can read our motherboard reviews below the table.

MotherboardCPU SocketChipsetFormat Price
MSI H270 GAMING M3 LGA1151Intel H270ATX
ASUS PRIME Z370-A (Editor's Pick)LGA1151Intel Z370ATX
Gigabyte X299 AORUS Ultra GamingLGA2066Intel X299ATX
ASRock A320M-HDVAM4AMD A320Micro ATX
MSI B350 TOMAHAWKAM4AMD B350ATX
ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero (Editor's Pick)AM4AMD X370ATX
ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREMETR4AMD X399E-ATX

MSI H270 GAMING M3

best gaming motherboard

About the Motherboard

The first motherboard on our list comes from MSI, one of the four best-established motherboard manufacturers. The model in question is the MSI H270 Gaming M3, an affordable yet powerful and well-designed motherboard.

It is mostly black, with red highlights and prominent heatsinks, one of which bears the MSI logo. To give it that extra gaming flair, it is also equipped with highly customizable RGB lighting.

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – The motherboard has an LGA1151 socket and the previous-generation H270 chipset, which allows it to fully support the 6th and 7th generation of Intel CPUs. Unfortunately, it is not forward-compatible with the latest 8th
  • GPU – With two PCIe x16 slots, the motherboard can accommodate two full-sized graphics cards. However, it only supports AMD’s CrossFireX but not Nvidia’s SLI, the latter being quite uncommon among the more affordable motherboards.
  • RAM – The H270 Gaming M3 motherboard has four RAM slots and supports dual-channel configurations. Furthermore, it supports DDR4 RAM modules with speeds of up to 2400 MHz and a total RAM capacity of up to 64 GB.

h270 gaming motherboard

Additional Features

  • Mystic Light Sync – As mentioned in the intro, the motherboard comes with highly customizable RGB lighting, which is not often seen in its price range. It can work in a number of regimes, can be controlled remotely and is even extendable via additional RGB strips.
  • Advanced cooling options – A total of six fan headers allows for a number of options when it comes to customizing your computer case’s cooling. Moreover, it even supports water-cooling solutions.
  • Intel Optane Technology Ready – As long as you have a 7th generation Intel CPU, you will be able to take advantage of this feature, which is a great way to boost your HDD’s performance if you can’t afford an SSD.
  • VR Ready – Not all of the last generation’s chipsets supported VR, but the H270 is one that did. As such, you don’t need to worry about any problems if you already own or plan on getting a VR headset in the near future.

Downsides

  • Not very future-proof – The H270 chipset, unfortunately, does not support the latest 8th generation Coffee Lake Intel CPUs. There is still a chance that Intel might make it forward-compatible via a BIOS update, as they did with some of the H1XX chipsets, but that seems highly unlikely.
  • The chipset does not support CPU overclocking – Another shortcoming of the H270 chipset is that it also does not support CPU overclocking. This also ties in with the previous point, as overclocking your 6th or 7th generation CPU might be a good way to keep its performance up to par with the newer and superior processors.

What We Loved

  • Supports dual AMD GPU setups
  • Customizable and extendable RGB
  • Great value for money

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not future-proof
  • No CPU overclocking

ASUS PRIME Z370-A

asus prime z370-a

About the Motherboard

Asus hardly needs any sort of introduction. The Taiwanese tech giant may be one of the most versatile tech companies in existence today. However, it is motherboards that have been their crown products for years.

The Asus Prime Z370-A is a powerful modern motherboard with a non-invasive and sleek design. The main body is black with white highlights, and it has several metallic heatsinks that establish it as a high-quality product. The RGB lighting, however, is somewhat limited since the Prime-series Asus motherboards strive to be more affordable and practical than their flashier RoG counterparts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvp_24Sfp7Y

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – With the latest Z370 chipset, this Asus Prime motherboard fully supports Intel’s 8th generation Coffee Lake CPUs. Moreover, it also supports the Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, which optimizes CPU performance.
  • GPU – Thanks to the three high-speed PCIe 3.0 slots, the motherboard is great for multi-GPU configurations. It supports Nvidia GPUs in dual SLI and AMD GPUs in triple CrossFireX setups.
  • RAM – The Asus Prime Z370-A has four RAM slots and supports dual-channel RAM configurations. More importantly, it allows for extreme RAM overclocking, with maximum speeds going over 4000 MHz.

asus prime z370-a

Additional Features

  • Aura Sync – The lighting technology used with most of Asus’ gaming products is present here as well, although to a much lesser extent than in their RoG motherboards. However, it still allows for additional RGB strips to be added.
  • Optimized cooling – Seeing as it is a motherboard focused on overclocking, it is only natural that it should be designed with optimal cooling in mind. Not only does it support 6 additional fans and a single water-cooling solution, but it also has an array of sensors that prevent the hardware from getting damaged by keeping both the temperature and voltage in check.
  • High-quality sound card – built-in sound cards in most motherboards are average at best, but the one included in the Asus Prime Z370-A is anything but. Not only does it utilize a more advanced codec, but more importantly, it the DTS Headphone:X technology. That said, you won’t have to invest in a dedicated sound card if you want virtual surround sound.

Downsides

  • Limited RGB – As we have already stated, the motherboard is quite limited in this regard and will not provide any impressive lighting without additional RGB strips. As such, if you want that thorough and breathtaking lighting, you’ll have to spend a little more on an Asus RoG motherboard.

What We Loved

  • Excellent overclocking potential
  • Latest Z370 chipset
  • Great value

What We Didn’t Like

  • RGB not quite impressive

Gigabyte X299 AORUS Ultra Gaming

best gaming motherboards

About the Motherboard

And finally, we have a top-notch gaming motherboard from Gigabyte, another high-profile motherboard manufacturer that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Asus and MSI.

The Gigabyte X299 AORUS Ultra Gaming is just as grandiose as its name implies. It is one of the most advanced (and expensive) motherboards currently on the market, and you will soon understand why. In terms of appearance, the main body is mostly black and adorned with dark grey patterns, heatsinks that blend seamlessly with the color scheme, and thorough RGB lighting.

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – With its LGA2066 socket and X299 chipset, the Aorus Ultra Gaming motherboard is designed with the 7th generation of Intel’s X-series CPUs, the most powerful processors currently on the market. What’s more, it supports Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, thus allowing you to get the absolute maximum out of these already powerful CPUs.
  • GPU – The motherboard has a total of 5 PCIe 3.0 slots, and is capable of running two or three GPUs in SLI or CrossFireX, with the PCIe speed and number of supported GPUs depending on the CPU model. You can see the details in the official specifications.
  • RAM – As expected from a high-end motherboard, it has a total of 8 RAM slots, meaning that it supports a maximum RAM capacity of 128 GB. Moreover, it supports speeds of up to 4400 MHz.

Additional Features

  • RGB Fusion – The Aorus Ultra Gaming motherboard comes with some of the more advanced lighting out there. The LED lights can be customized in great detail and in almost any way imaginable, and you can also cycle between a variety of presets. On top of that, additional RGB strips can be added per your preference.
  • Top-quality Sound Card – Apart from using the most advanced Realtek ALC 1220 codec, the sound card also comes with a smart headphone amplifier and the Creative SoundBlaster 720˚ audio engine.
  • Advanced cooling – The motherboard boasts SmartFan 5 technology designed to optimize cooling and optimize your gaming experience with the help of a total of nine temperature sensors. Furthermore, it also has eight additional pin headers that allow up to six fans and two water pumps to be installed.
  • Intel Optane Technology – It is only natural that a motherboard designed to work with some of Intel’s most powerful CPUs would also support the company’s Optane technology. As always, it provides a great alternative to SSDs, although it cannot quite match them in terms of performance.

best atx gaming motherboard

Downsides

  • High price tag – Seeing as we’re talking about one of the best motherboards made to work with Intel i9 processors, in addition to all of its other features, it is quite obvious from the get-go that it is going to cost quite a buck. However, this increase in price shouldn’t prove too much of a problem for users already willing to invest in the aforementioned line of CPUs, which are far more expensive.
  • Dubious forward compatibility – The 8th generation of Intel processors is on the way, and it is unclear if the new i9 CPUs will be compatible with the X299 chipsets or if they will require a newer version instead. There is always a chance that a bios update will make the X299 chipset forward-compatible, especially since they have done it before and we’re talking about a very high-end motherboard.

What We Loved

  • Intel X-series supported
  • Optimized smart cooling for best gaming and overclocking experience
  • 2-way and 3-way SLI/CrossFireX
  • Maximum RAM capacity

What We Didn’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Might not be compatible with 8th generation i9 CPUs

ASRock A320M-HDV

gaming motherboard

About the Motherboard

ASRock is a motherboard manufacturer that used to be known primarily for their affordable low-end solutions, although they have since expanded into the realm of high-end gaming motherboards. However, the motherboard we will be looking at here falls into the former category.

The ASRock A320M-HDV is a surprisingly powerful and reliable solution, despite the low price tag. Granted, it’s not much to look at, as the overall lack of aesthetic elements combined with its small size is nowhere near as impressive as some of the more expensive gaming motherboards. On the other hand, it is unlikely to disappoint when it comes to performance.

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – Using the AM4 socket and the A320 chipset, this motherboard is designed to work with AMD’s new series of Ryzen processors as well as their older A-series
  • GPU – The motherboard only has one PCIe x16 slot, which is understandable given that it is a Micro ATX board.
  • RAM – Once again, the motherboard’s physical size limits it to only two RAM slots, but that is still more than enough for most users. It supports up to 32 GB of RAM in a dual-channel configuration and also supports speeds of up to 3200 MHz.

micro atx gaming motherboard

Additional Features

  • VR Ready – It may be small and deceivingly cheap, but the ASRock A320M-HDV is ready to take on VR as long as your GPU is up to the task.
  • Durable design – Something else you wouldn’t expect from a motherboard in this price range is durability. And although it may not be as durable as the more premium options, the A320M-HDV is made to handle overvoltage and high humidity.

Downsides

  • Limited expansion space – Apart from the single PCIe x16 slot that would be used for the graphics card, the motherboard only has a single additional PCIe x1 slot. This, obviously, limits potential future expansions such as a dedicated sound card, an internal capture card and so on.
  • No overclocking – When you think of an AMD CPU, you think of overclocking. And indeed, each Ryzen CPU can be overclocked out of the box. Unfortunately, the A320 chipset does not support overclocking, so if you want a motherboard that will allow you to push your processor to its limits, you’ll need to turn to a higher-priced alternative.

What We Loved

  • Quality budget motherboard
  • Supports high-speed RAM
  • VR Ready

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only one PCIe x1 expansion slot
  • Does not support overclocking

MSI B350 TOMAHAWK

motherboard for gaming

About the Motherboard

Next, we have another MSI motherboard, the B350 Tomahawk. It adheres to the overall look and feel of MSI’s gaming products, with a black/dark grey body and subtle red highlights, in addition to red LED lighting.

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – The B350 Tomahawk is a notch above the previous ASRock motherboard when it comes to the chipset. This chipset, which also supports all of the Ryzen series and A-series AMD CPUs, also supports overclocking, unlike the abovementioned A320 chipset.
  • GPU – With two PCIe x16 slots, the B350 Tomahawk supports dual-GPU setups. However, it only supports Radeon cards connected via CrossFireX, and Nvidia SLI is not supported.
  • RAM – The motherboard leaves little to be desired in this regard, as it has four RAM slots, with a maximum capacity of 64 GB and overclocked speeds of over 3200 MHz.

atx gaming motherboard

Additional Features

  • Smart and optimized cooling – The B350 Tomahawk’s cooling capabilities are impressive, as it allows for additional fans and water-cooling to be installed. Moreover, it includes a highly accessible and customizable control panel for its smart cooling system.
  • VR Ready – Even though the more affordable motherboards have started implementing it, it should still be noted that the B350 Tomahawk is fully VR Ready

Downsides

  • Limited RGB – The motherboard has RGB lighting, true, although it only has a red LED stripe out of the box. As such, if you want to make it flashier and give it an appearance of a more advanced gaming motherboard, you’ll have to invest in extra RGB strips.

What We Loved

  • Excellent budget overclocking motherboard
  • Supports CrossFireX
  • High RAM capacity and speeds

What We Didn’t Like

  • Highly limited RGB

ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero

top motherboard for gaming

About the Motherboard

It took us long enough to put a Republic of Gamers motherboard on the list, but one is finally here. As you probably know, Republic of Gamers (commonly abbreviated as “RoG”) is an Asus brand which caters specifically to gamers. As such, it is obvious you should expect both style and performance in one well-polished package.

The particular motherboard in question is the Crosshair VI Hero, a product highly impressive on nearly all fronts. As a lot of gaming motherboards out there, it is predominantly black, with dark grey highlights, and has dynamic RGB capabilities.

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – The Crosshair VI Hero swoops in with the latest AMD X370 chipset designed to satisfy even the most enthusiastic gamer and overclocker by allowing them to get the absolute most out of their Ryzen CPU.
  • GPU – With two PCIe x16 slots and full CrossFireX and SLI support, the motherboard allows for dual-GPU setups regardless of whether they are AMD or Nvidia products.
  • RAM – The Crosshair VI Hero doesn’t disappoint in the RAM department either, as its four slots allow for dual channel configurations, with a maximum capacity of 64 GB and a maximum clock speed of 3200 MHz and beyond.

Additional Features

  • Aura Sync – The motherboard is equipped with two highly customizable LED lights, and with the additional possibility of adding extra RGB strips.
  • Highquality sound card – RoG improves upon the regular Realtek ALC1220 codec in such a way as to maximize sound quality and allow the sound card to run a stereo and a 7.1 surround configuration simultaneously.
  • Advanced cooling – The Crosshair VI Hero has four sensors that regulate temperature and allows five additional fans and two water-cooling solutions to be installed.

Downsides

  • Expensive – The only real qualm we have with this motherboard is its high price tag, although it shouldn’t prove to be too much for the avid overclocker who knows what he is spending his money on.

What We Loved

  • Latest AMD X370 chipset
  • Excellent overclocking potential
  • CrossFireX and SLI support
  • Extendable RGB lighting

What We Didn’t Like

  • On the expensive side

ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME

top gaming motherboard

About the Motherboard

Our final entry on this list happens to be yet another RoG-branded motherboard, the RoG Zenith Extreme. And you had better believe that a name like that is well-earned in this case.

Like most gaming motherboards, it is predominantly black in color, with prominent heatsinks and RGB lighting. But the area where this motherboard truly shines is not RGB, but its technical capabilities.

Supported Hardware

  • CPU – The RoG Zenith Extreme comes with AMD’s massive TR4 socket and the X399 chipset, both designed to host the company’s Ryzen Threadripper CPUs, the most powerful processors that AMD had built so far.
  • GPU – The motherboard truly takes its PCIe x16 slot count to an extreme, as it has a total of four of them. Furthermore, it supports both CrossFireX and SLI, thus allowing for 4-way GPU setups for all graphics cards supporting the aforementioned technologies.
  • RAM – The Zenith Extreme has eight RAM slots, utilizes quad-channel memory and is capable of supporting up to 128 GB of RAM. Moreover, the supported clock speeds range up to 3600 MHz.

x399 gaming motherboard

Additional Features

  • Aura Sync – The RoG Zenith Extreme comes with the Aura RGB lighting found in almost every piece of hardware branded by RoG. As always, it provides the user with a high degree of customization and a variety of dynamic effects to breathe life into their gaming rig.
  • RoG Areion – Coming bundled with the motherboard is the Areion, a high-quality Ethernet adapter that plugs into one of the board’s PCIe expansion slots. It is extremely fast, supporting a maximum throughput of up to 10 GbE. That said, people with high demands for their local network will surely appreciate this addition.
  • Advanced cooling – As expected from a motherboard of this caliber, it not only supports smart cooling, additional fans, and water-cooling solutions but even has one fan already built into its upper left heatsink. All of this makes it a great motherboard for overclocking.

Downsides

  • Extremely expensive
    Needless to say, with extreme performance also comes an extreme price. At the moment, the Zenith Extreme sports a price tag becoming that of a mid-high range GPU, but for people who are determined to make full use of this motherboard’s capabilities, this shouldn’t prove too much of an expense.
  • Large
    In order to accommodate all the PCIe slots required in order to support 4-way SLI/CrossFireX, the motherboard had to have an E-ATX design. This means that the Zenith Extreme is quite a bit larger than your average ATX motherboard and will require a Full Tower computer case in order to fit.

What We Loved

  • Ryzen Threadripper supported
  • 4-way SLI/CrossFireX
  • Up to 128 GB of RAM
  • Great overclocking potential
  • RoG Areion

What We Didn’t Like

  • Incredibly high price
  • E-ATX format will require a Full Tower case

How to Pick the Best Gaming Motherboard for your Needs?

The motherboard is the foundation of every gaming rig, but it is far from the first component that you should pick out.

When building a gaming PC, you need to first pick a GPU, then a CPU that you know won’t bottleneck it, then the RAM and storage with a capacity that you deem sufficient for your needs, and finally, a motherboard that can connect it all and a power supply that can keep it all running.

GPU

gtx 1080

There are no compatibility issues to consider, as all modern motherboards have at least one PCIe 3.0 slot that can host a graphics card. What you should consider, however, is multi-GPU compatibility.

Not all motherboards can run more than one GPU at once, which can be either due to a physical lack of an adequate PCIe slot or due to it lacking the necessary technology to keep the two or more GPUs working together.

That said, if you’re planning on installing more than one GPU immediately or at some point further down the road, always pay attention to whether:

  1. The motherboard has two (or more) PCIe x16 slots
  2. The motherboard supports CrossFireX or SLI, depending on which GPUs you intend to use – AMD or Nvidia ones

CPU

There is not much to say in this regard, as you have two equally viable options: Intel Core series or the AMD Ryzen series. The two are relatively evenly matched and any advantages one may have over the other is mostly negligible.

What you should keep in mind, however, is the chipset. Not all chipsets are forward/backward compatible with newer/older generations of CPUs. Moreover, different chipsets will affect what features you will be able to access.

You can find out all about each individual chipset, their compatibilities and features on their respective Wikipedia pages here and here.

RAM

ram

Seeing as DDR4 is the standard today, the only things you need to worry about when it comes to RAM compatibility is:

  1. The speeds supported by the motherboard so that you don’t needlessly overspend on a faster RAM module/kit
  2. Whether the motherboard supports dual-channel/quad-channel configurations

Realistically, you should stick to a dual-channel 16 GB 2133-2600 MHz RAM setup if you will only use the computer for gaming since games won’t require more than that for years to come and higher clock speeds lead to minimal performance improvements.

Conclusion

As you can see, motherboards are hardly components that can be judged objectively, as their capabilities and value vary greatly, mostly depending on the chipset. Ultimately, it is up to each individual user to find the right combination of features that fit their needs.

Therefore, each motherboard listed here can be considered “the best” in its respective category: budget, mid-range, and high-end gaming.

Take your time, consider your requirements and your bank account, and then decide which motherboard offers the best value for you!

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