This guide for beginners will explain how to choose the best motherboard for gaming when buying or building a new PC. When deciding which motherboard is best for your needs (and for your budget), there are a few important considerations to take into account.
If you think of the processor as the brain of a gaming computer , then the motherboard could best be described as the heart and / or central nervous system, and is responsible for transmitting information between all internal components and acts as the central system of your machine where your other components such as CPU, RAM, and graphics card all connect.
When choosing the best motherboard for gaming, you’ll need to consider things like compatibility with your other components, quality, reliability, and sturdiness, as well as the list of features you’ll need now and in the future though.
you are planning to upgrade your pc. You also want to make sure you get good results from your purchase.
Let’s take a closer look at these things so that after reading this article, you can easily choose the best motherboard for your needs.
Types of Motherboards
First of all – there are basically two types of motherboards that you can acquire. Intel based motherboards that are only compatible with Intel processors, and then you have AMD cards that you guessed only fit the AMD line of processors.
But it’s not just about choosing any Intel motherboard if you’ve chosen an Intel processor – you have to match what’s called the CPU socket type, also known as the processor interface.
All it means is this. Suppose you have chosen Intel Core i5-6500 processor for your new version. This model has an LGA 1151 type socket, which you will clearly find in the processor specifications.
You just need to choose a motherboard that has exactly the same type of socket as your CPU (in this case LGA 1151). This will also be clearly stated in the motherboard specifications. That’s it that’s all.
Check RAM Compatibility
When choosing the best motherboard for your needs, you should also check the compatibility with your RAM . There are 3 things to consider here:
- RAM Type – You have basically two choices when it comes to RAM currently. Either you go for DDR3 that has been around for a long time, or you go for the newer, slightly faster DDR4. A motherboard only supports one or the other, so if you buy DDR4 RAM, you can only choose a DDR4 motherboard.
- RAM Speed – In addition to making sure that your motherboard supports your type of RAM, you should also verify that it supports the specific speed of your RAM. So if you buy a memory stick with a speed of 2133 Mhz, check in the specifications of the motherboard that it supports 2133 Mhz of RAM memory.
- RAM capacity – It is also good to know the maximum amount of memory your card can take, especially if you are building a high performance system with a bunch of memory. This shouldn’t be a problem for most builders as you will never get close to the maximum capacity (this is usually a huge capacity like 32, 64 or 128 GB etc.).
- Number of RAM slots – This can also be a factor for you. Let’s say for example that your motherboard only has 2 RAM slots and you buy 2 sets of 4GB of RAM to make a total of 8GB (standard capacity). You have now taken both slots, and so if you wanted to upgrade with more RAM later. you don’t have any slots. In this case, you will take a single 8 GB stick instead of 2 × 4 GB if you know that you will want to increase the RAM capacity later.
Motherboard size (form factor)
Motherboards come in different sizes, technically known as form factors. You need to be aware of this to be sure that you are choosing a chassis that is suitable for your motherboard.
The two most common sizes are mATX (short for Micro ATX) and ATX. MATX cards are smaller and generally have fewer features like additional ports and slots.
ATX cards are the most common, but there is nothing wrong with choosing a mATX card if you are building a small and: or economical gaming system.
An ATX motherboard will NOT fit in a mATX case, so if you get a full size ATX card you will need to find an ATX case. However, a mATX motherboard will generally fit in an ATX case.
So, if you get a mATX due to a tight budget or some other reason, you have a choice of either a mATX case or an ATX case. It won’t matter.
Expansion connectors and USB ports
If you are making updates to your build down down the line or adding additional cards out of the box like a sound card, network card, second graphics card, etc., you will need to verify that the motherboard you are using you choose has enough expansion ports such as PCI and / or PCI-E (PCI Express).
Today’s graphics cards, sound cards, and network cards are typically in the PCI-E format.
You should also have the number of USB ports in mind to make sure your card has enough for your needs. Most modern motherboards will have a lot of USB ports so this will rarely be a problem. Also consider choosing a card with USB 3.0 support, although on most modern cards this has become standard.
In addition to USB ports, you may need other ports like FireWire, microphone ports, etc.
Every modern motherboard will come with LAN (Wired Internet by RJ45 Cable) support so you don’t need to worry about it. However, few motherboards, and typically only the more expensive high-end cards, will come with built-in wireless support (i.e. WiFi).
So, if you want wireless support on your new gaming desktop, you have two choices. Choose a WiFi motherboard or just buy an additional wireless adapter.
The WiFi adapters are provided as PCI or PCI-E card that will fit into a PCI / PCI-E replacement on your motherboard, or you can get a USB dongle.
Either will work just fine and that’s the number of gamers who will manage for fast and reliable WiFi.
And if you need bluetooth support for whatever reason – check your motherboard specs here too!
SLI and CrossFire support
If you need to configure a dual graphics card setup with NVidia SLI or AMD CrossFire technology now or in the future, your motherboard will need to support this feature.
Just check the specs to be sure. If you are doing more than 2 lanes SLI / CrossFire, like 3 or 4 lanes, then you will analyze support for that as well as only high end motherboards allow this.
If you’re building a cheap gaming pc and you’ll never need the beastly and expensive power of two graphics cards, then ignore it.
Modern motherboards will come with decent built-in audio capabilities, so there is no need to have a dedicated sound card , unless you need high-quality sound.
To be fair, you won’t notice much of a difference with a dedicated sound card compared to your motherboard’s built-in sound unless you spend a ton of money on high-end speakers / headphones and really wanted to optimize the quality and volume to the maximum.
80% of users will be totally satisfied with the integrated audio capabilities of the motherboard.
Stick to the best brands
When it comes to choosing the best motherboard for gaming, you definitely want to stick with trusted motherboard manufacturers like Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.
Personally, I would recommend any of these top 3 motherboard brands in the PC gaming world.
However, keep in mind that all the different models from these major manufacturers are not necessarily equal to each other.
Best motherboards for gaming
For specific and up-to-date recommendations on the best motherboards, check out online gaming pc build examples and constantly updated premium gaming pc build examples.
Take a look at the specifications of the boards included in each model to get an idea of which motherboard is best for your budget.
Don’t choose blindly though, and be careful about choosing the particular model you want with all the features you want.
So that’s all you need to know to choose a good motherboard. There are other advanced features and specifications, and considerations like design, LED lighting, etc. Nevertheless, the above are the most important things to know as a beginner.
Where can you find a motherboard for your desktop and laptop PC?
If the cards offered at the beginning of this article do not seem suitable for your socket, you will have to change your motherboard and processor.
Obviously, this will have the consequence of exploding your budget. Rest assured, you can easily find a motherboard dedicated to video game parts , like here.
You may discover that micro ATX cards can also be dedicated to video games. On the other hand, let’s be frank, SLI or CrossFire support is much more complex to implement.
However, this is easily explained by the size of the motherboard itself, but they have other advantages. Indeed, the space saving is quite substantial. Moreover today, many gamers use this type of configuration to “hide the tower” behind their screen.
You will be able to use your television set as a PC screen, with the appropriate graphics card.
So it’s up to you to think about what your real needs are. Are you willing to make a few concessions on the graphics of the game itself, or do you want to push all the settings to the limit to fully immerse yourself in your favorite games?