Best Gaming Motherboard 2019 – The Complete Motherboard Buying Guide

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

Of course, if you skimp on the motherboard, you might regret it later on, although finding one that fits your budget and your requirements is oftentimes an easy task.

However, since there are many to choose from, we have compiled a list of the best gaming motherboards of 2019 in order to help you find the right foundation for your future gaming rig more easily!

The 11 Best Gaming Motherboards For 2019

Best Mini ITX Motherboards

In the first category, we’ll be taking a look at small form factor motherboards, that is, Mini ITX boards that can fit inside even the smallest computer cases, making them ideal if you’re looking to build a compact gaming PC.

Now, you’d be tempted to think that these are also great budget choices since a small motherboard means less material is being used, so they should be cheaper, right?

Well, that’s actually not the case, and Mini ITX motherboards actually tend to be quite pricey, mainly because packing all the features of a full-sized motherboard into a compact PCB is not a simple task. As such, Mini ITX motherboards will appeal mainly to those who truly aim to take advantage of the portability that they offer.

Gigabyte B360N

The first motherboard on this list is the Gigabyte B360N, a highly compact and inconspicuous motherboard with Intel’s budget-oriented B360 chipset. Being a budget Mini ITX motherboard, there are no striking visuals to be found here, though the feature set is quite good, both considering the format and the pricing.

SocketLGA1151
ChipsetB360
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots2
RAM SpeedUp to 2666 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 32 GB
PCIe Slots1x PCIe x16
Storage Connectors1x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports5x USB 3.1 Gen 1

5x USB 2.0

2x HDMI

1x PS/2

2x RJ-45 (LAN)

2x SMA connectors

6x Audio jack

See full specifications here

Overall, the Gigabyte B360N is a good choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly Mini ITX motherboard that includes all the basic features that a proper gaming motherboard should have. Sadly, though, the chipset doesn’t support overclocking, so if you were planning on getting a pricier unlocked CPU, then the next model might be a better choice.

Asus ROG STRIX Z390-I GAMING

Next up, we have a more serious gaming solution from Asus, and it belongs to their famous Republic of Gamers brand. That said, it should be obvious that the Z390-I Gaming is quite a sight to behold, seeing as RoG products are known for their aggressive design and, of course, RGB lighting. But naturally, since it’s a pricey motherboard that comes with Intel’s Z390 chipset, it’s obvious that it’s not all about the aesthetics.

SocketLGA1151
ChipsetZ390
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots2
RAM SpeedUp to 4800 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 64 GB
PCIe Slots1x PCIe x16
Storage Connectors2x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports3x USB 3.1 Gen 2

5x USB 3.1 Gen 1

4x USB 2.0

1x HDMI

1x DisplayPort

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

2x SMA connectors

1x Optical

5x Audio jack

See full specifications here

As can be seen from the specs, the Z390-I Gaming comes with overclocking support, it supports a high amount of RAM, has an extra M.2 slot, and a number of high-speed USB ports, making it a wise investment if you need a compact motherboard with that kind of power. Of course, the main issue is that it’s on the pricey side, especially considering that you can get these features for less money if you go with a larger motherboard.

Nonetheless, if you want to build a serious Mini ITX gaming PC powered by an Intel CPU, then this motherboard is the feature-packed powerhouse that you’re going to need.

MSI B450I Gaming Plus AC

Up next, we move on to AMD Mini ITX solutions, starting with MSI’s B450I Gaming Plus AC. This budget Mini ITX motherboard is roughly on even terms with the Gigabyte B360N, though it does have some extra features. Plus, MSI took a more aggressive design approach with this one, which may be either a good or a bad thing based on how you look at it.

SocketAM4
ChipsetB450
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots2
RAM SpeedUp to 3466 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 32 GB
PCIe Slots1x PCIe x16
Storage Connectors1x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports6x USB 3.1 Gen 1

4x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x HDMI

1x DisplayPort

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

2x SMA connectors

3x Audio jack

See full specifications here

Once again, we’re dealing with a decent Mini ITX gaming motherboard that has all the features that a gamer would likely need, including overclocking support and plenty of ports. Our chief qualm with the MSI B450I is the design, as we’re not big fans of conspicuous red highlights, though this is a matter of taste. In any case, if you’re building a budget Mini ITX gaming PC, chances are you won’t be looking at the motherboard a lot anyway.

Asus ROG STRIX X470-I Gaming

And for the final entry in this category, we have another Asus RoG Strix motherboard, though the X470-I that we’ll be taking a look at here is a tad more limited than the Intel variant in terms of features. Nonetheless, it still has that same design philosophy that RoG products are known for.

SocketAM4
ChipsetX470
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots2
RAM SpeedUp to 3600 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 32 GB
PCIe Slots1x PCIe x16
Storage Connectors2x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports2x USB 3.1 Gen 2

4x USB 3.1 Gen 1

2x USB 2.0

1x HDMI

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

2x SMA connectors

3x Audio jack

See full specifications here

As you can see, the X470-I is very similar to the Z390-I, though it is a bit more limited in terms of RAM capacity and speed. Still, it comes with two M.2 slots and plenty of connectors, all the while looking great, complete with RGB lighting. As before, the price is the main issue, but as far as serious Mini ITX motherboards are concerned, it is well worth the money.

Micro ATX motherboards present a good balance of size, price, and feature set. Size-wise, they fit in between Mini ITX and full-sized ATX motherboards, all the while being generally cheaper than either. Plus, they usually come with most of the features you’d want in a budget gaming motherboard, which makes them a great choice for those looking to cut some corners.

MSI H310M Gaming Plus

For the first entry in this category, we have another MSI Gaming Plus motherboard, but this one is the H310M. Much like the B450I seen above, it boats an aggressive design with conspicuous red highlights, but its primary appeal lies in its low price.

SocketLGA1151
ChipsetH310
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots2
RAM SpeedUp to 2666 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 32 GB
PCIe Slots1x PCIe x16

2x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors1x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports4x USB 3.1 Gen 1

6x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x HDMI

1x DVI-D

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

3x Audio jack

See full specifications here

Ultimately, the H310M will be a great budget choice for Intel users, as it is quite cheap. However, what we’ve said about the B450I holds true here – the design won’t be to everyone’s liking. Furthermore, the chipset doesn’t support overclocking, so this motherboard is a no-go if you planned on squeezing some extra performance out of the CPU this way.

MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC

Now, if you’re looking for something a little more premium, then the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC might be the answer. It comes with Intel’s latest Z390 chipset, some useful extra features, and as is the norm with premium-quality gaming motherboards, the design is angular and aggressive, complete with RGB lighting.

SocketLGA1151
ChipsetZ390
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots4
RAM SpeedUp to 4500 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 128 GB
PCIe Slots2x PCIe x16

2x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors2x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports3x USB Gen 2 (2x Type-C, 1x Type-A)

8x USB Gen 1

4x USB 2.0

2x PS/2

1x HDMI

1x DisplayPort

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

1x Optical

5x Audio jack

See full specifications here

Judging by the features and the design, the Z390M is well worth its considerable price tag – if you actually need to make use of all of its capabilities. The chipset supports overclocking, it has two M.2 slots, there is a number of high-speed USB ports, and it even has two PCIe x16 slots, so it can support dual GPU setups. It goes without saying that the main drawback here is, once again, the price.

MSI B450M PRO-M2

Now, we get to AMD once again, and our pick for the best budget Micro ATX AMD motherboard is the MSI B450M PRO-M2. The design is more low-profile than their Gaming Plus models, as the PCB is predominantly black with some gray highlights. Meanwhile, the feature set is more or less what you’d expect from an mATX motherboard at this price point.

SocketAM4
ChipsetB450
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots2
RAM SpeedUp to 3466 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 32 GB
PCIe Slots1x PCIe x16

2x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors1x M.2

4x SATA III

Ports6x USB Gen 1

6x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x HDMI

1x DVI-D

1x VGA

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

3x Audio jack

See full specifications here

There is not much to say about the B450M PRO-M2 that hasn’t already been said about the other budget motherboards listed so far – it has all the basic features that you’d need in most gaming PCs, it’s affordable, and the inconspicuous design is a definite plus if you don’t care for overly aggressive highlights.

And now, we get to the serious stuff – full-sized ATX gaming motherboards. They are larger than Micro ATX motherboards, come with extra PCIe slots and support higher amounts of RAM, and tend to be the best choice for most gaming PCs.

MSI Z390-A PRO

The first entry in this category is the MSI Z390-A PRO, and design-wise, it is very similar to the previous entry – the PCB is black with some dark gray highlights, making the board appear rather sleek without being overly aggressive and bombastic. But of course, being a full-sized ATX motherboard, it has some features which its Micro ATX counterpart lacks.

SocketLGA1151
ChipsetZ390
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots4
RAM SpeedUp to 4400 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 128 GB
PCIe Slots2x PCIe x16

4x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors1x M.2

6x SATA III

Ports2x USB Gen 2

6x USB Gen 1

6x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x DisplayPort

1x DVI-D

1x VGA

1x RJ-45 (LAN)

6x Audio jack

See full specifications here

Overall, chances are that the Z390-A is precisely what you need for your average mid-range or high-end gaming PC. It comes with Intel’s new Z390 chipset, supports high RAM speeds and more RAM capacity than you’ll need in a 2019 gaming PC. Of course, there’s also the extra PCIe slots which are one of the key appeals of a full-sized ATX motherboard, making multi-GPU setups possible but also allowing you to easily fit some extra PCIe expansion cards, should you need to do so.

MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC

While the above Z390-A PRO may be enough for most gaming PCs, if you’re looking for something a bit more high-end, then the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC might catch your eye. Of course, there’s the unavoidable addition of RGB lighting, but there are also some extra features that might get your attention.

SocketLGA1151
ChipsetZ390
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots4
RAM SpeedUp to 4400 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 128 GB
PCIe Slots3x PCIe x16

3x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors2x M.2

6x SATA III

Ports3x USB Gen 2

6x USB Gen 1

6x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x DisplayPort

1x HDMI

1x Intel I219-V (LAN)

1x Optical

5x Audio jack

See full specifications here

As you can see, this motherboard constitutes a step up from the previous model not only in the aesthetics department but it also has a total of three PCIe x16 slots, as well as two M.2 slots. Other than that, it is more or less the same, seeing as both motherboards use the same chipset. Still, this is undoubtedly the more premium pick.

ASUS ROG Strix B450-F

Moving over to the AMD side of things again, we have the Asus RoG Strix B450-F, and as before, it’s just what you’d expect from an RoG motherboard – gaudy design with high-quality RGB and plenty of high-speed connectors.

SocketAM4
ChipsetB450
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots4
RAM SpeedUp to 3466 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 64 GB
PCIe Slots3x PCIe x16

3x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors2x M.2

6x SATA III

Ports2x USB Gen 2

6x USB Gen 1

6x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x DisplayPort

1x HDMI

1x Intel I211-AT (LAN)

1x Optical

5x Audio jack

See full specifications here

As you can see, the B450-F has pretty much all the same connectors as the above MSI Z390 model has, though it doesn’t support quite as much RAM – not that that is a big issue when it comes to gaming. Sadly, though, the B450 chipset doesn’t support SLI, so if you were planning on getting multiple Nvidia GPUs, then this motherboard is a no-go. It does, however, support CrossFire, so it’s not a problem if you prefer AMD GPUs.

ASUS ROG Strix X470-F

And finally, if the above model doesn’t cut it for Ryzen users, then the X470-F might be the better solution. As can be inferred from the name, it comes with AMD’s high-end X470 chipset which has some extra features that the B450 lacks.

SocketAM4
ChipsetX470
RAM SupportDDR4
RAM Slots4
RAM SpeedUp to 3600 MHz
RAM CapacityUp to 64 GB
PCIe Slots3x PCIe x16

3x PCIe x1

Storage Connectors2x M.2

6x SATA III

Ports3x USB Gen 2

8x USB Gen 1

4x USB 2.0

1x PS/2

1x DisplayPort

1x HDMI

1x Intel I211-AT (LAN)

1x Optical

5x Audio jack

See full specifications here

Sadly, the RAM capacity is still limited to 64 GB despite the motherboard’s premium price tag, but on the bright side, the X470 chipset does support SLI, which is a definite plus if you thought about using two Nvidia GPUs with a Ryzen CPU. All in all, it doesn’t have any indispensable features that the more affordable variants lack, but it is still a worthwhile premium pick.

How to Pick the Best Motherboard for Your Needs

So, we’ve listed quite a few motherboards here, but what are the specifics that you should keep an eye out for?

Frankly, picking the motherboard is nowhere near as difficult as picking some of the other components – especially when it comes to gaming PCs.

So, here are the key factors to keep in mind when deciding on which motherboard to buy.

The Socket

Best Motherboards For Gaming

The first and most important step is to decide which CPU you will be using – or rather, whether you will be on the AMD or the Intel team, since the bulk of their CPUs now use a standardized socket: AM4 for the former and LGA1151 for the latter.

Granted, there are still CPUs out there which use a different socket, such as AMD’s Threadripper (TR4) or some of Intel’s i9 or Xeon CPUs (LGA2066) but all the budget, mid-range, and high-end CPUs that you’d use in a gaming PCs are now designed with the abovementioned two sockets in mind.

Furthermore, neither of these sockets are likely to be replaced in the near future, and the coming generations of Ryzen and Core CPUs are bound to be compatible with them.

The Chipset

Best Pc Motherboard

Now, we get to the chipset, which determines whether you’ll have access to some features such as AMD CrossFire and Nvidia SLI for multi-GPU setups or AMD StoreMI and Intel Optane when it comes to storage.  Furthermore, it affects how many ports/connectors/slots the motherboard can have and whether it will support overclocking.

You can see the features of AMD’s chipsets here and those of Intel’s chipsets here. It goes without saying that motherboards which come with the more advanced chipsets will come with heftier price tags attached.

Furthermore, it should also be noted that AMD is currently doing a better job than Intel when it comes compatibility, as their AM4 socket was designed with future-proofing in mind. This means that any AM4 CPU will be compatible with any AM4 motherboard, regardless of chipset. Meanwhile, Intel has recently revised the LGA1151 socket, re-arranging some of the pins and thus making the new version of the socket incompatible with pre-Coffee Lake CPUs.

The Ports, Slots, and Connectors

Top 10 Motherboards

As you can see, we’ve highlighted the most important connectors that you need to keep an eye out for, but what are these used for, exactly?

  • PCIe – Used for GPUs and miscellaneous expansion cards e.g. sound cards, capture cards, etc.
  • SATA III – Used for HDD and NAND SSD storage
  • M.2 – Used for NAND and NVMe SSD storage
  • HDMI/DisplayPort/DVI-D/VGA – Used for integrated graphics
  • USB 2.0 – Used by peripherals with low bandwidth requirements such as keyboards, mice, or Bluetooth dongles
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 – High-speed USB port used by most peripherals
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 – The newest and fastest iteration of the USB interface, it is much faster than Gen 1 ports but not many peripherals actually make full use of it yet.
  • PS/2 – Analog connector used by older mice and keyboards
  • Analog audio jack – Used by most wired headphones, microphones, and speakers
  • Optical audio – Used by more advanced audio solutions such as surround systems or soundbars

The Form Factor

atx vs micro atx vs mini atx

And finally, as we’ve already established, motherboards come in different formats, the most common ones being Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and ATX. Of course, other formats exist, but when it comes to gaming PCs and mainstream desktop computers in general, the aforementioned three are dominant.

Now, apart from the size, the motherboard format also affects its features, mainly the number of slots, ports, and connectors that are available. Naturally, you cannot fit four PCIe x16 slots and eight RAM slots onto a diminutive Mini ITX motherboard!

That said, smaller motherboards are a good choice if you’re looking to build a more compact gaming PC, but if that’s not the case, a Micro ATX or ATX motherboard would be a better alternative because they would be more cost-effective and would offer more connectors. Plus, larger cases usually have better airflow, which is definitely something that you’ll need to keep in mind when building a gaming PC.

To sum up:

  • The Mini ITX format is good for building compact PCs, but these motherboards have fewer connectors, ports, and slots, plus they tend to be relatively pricey.
  • The Micro ATX motherboards tend to be fairly affordable and offer a good balance between size, price, and feature set, making them ideal for budget gaming PCs.
  • The ATX motherboards have pretty much all the features that you’d need in a high-end gaming PC, though they can also get quite pricey, especially when it comes to the more advanced chipsets.

Conclusion

Fastest Motherboard

In the end, we’d usually choose the winners, but considering the type of product we’re dealing with here, there really can be no definite winner. But if we had to narrow down the selection based on affordability, value, and features, it would look something like this:

AMD

Budget Pick – MSI B450M PRO-M2Best Value – ASUS ROG Strix B450-FPremium Pick – ASUS ROG Strix X470-F

Intel

Budget Pick – MSI H310M Gaming PlusBest Value – MSI Z390-A PROPremium Pick – MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC

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