The Best Motherboards for Gaming in 2018
If you’re setting up your gaming rig for the first time, it is quite possible that you will focus more on the graphics card and other components while ignoring the motherboards completely. This can have an impact on your gaming experience as the motherboard is quite an essential part of your gaming rig, as it houses various components such as the graphics card, cpu processors, RAM, etc.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll get a significant impact on your gaming experience just by changing the board. The kind of board you go for will decide what kind of gaming rig you’ll be able to build around it. It will determine how big your gaming setup will be, including how the big the RAM will be, which processor you can use for your rig and so forth.
Therefore, picking the right motherboard for your gaming setup is crucial because the ultimate gaming rig will depend on your choice of board. There are numerous motherboards on offer and depending on the processor you are planning to use; you can go for one accordingly. We’ve reviewed some of the best gaming motherboards that are known for offering top-quality gameplay results.
Best Gaming Motherboard for 2018
- 1. Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 ATX Motherboard
- 2. GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9 Gaming Motherboard
- 3. Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel ATX DDR4 Motherboards GA-Z170X-GAMING 6
- 4. ASRock Motherboard Micro ATX
- 5. MSI Pro Series Intel Z270 DDR4 HDMI USB 3 SLI ATX Motherboard
- 6. GIGABYTE GA-Z270X-UD3 LGA1151 Intel Z270 2-Way SLI ATX DDR4 Motherboard
- 7. MSI Intel Skylake H170 LGA 1151 DDR4 USB 3.1 Mini ITX Motherboard
- 8. ASUS ROG STRIX Z270E GAMING LGA1151 DDR4 DP HDMI DVI M.2 ATX Motherboard
- 9. ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero LGA1151 DDR4 DP ATX Motherboard
Buyers Guide Questions
What is the difference between a regular motherboard and a gaming motherboard?
A regular motherboard is a motherboard that lets all the components of the computer run at factory settings. It is perfect for normal functions, such as watching videos, browsing the internet and performing the functions the computer is built to do.
However, gamers do not have the same requirements as other people who require the computer and thus have created the gaming motherboard, which has certain features that suit the temperament and preferences of a gamer.
The CPU and components of a computer are built to run at factory settings, but these are not the only settings that are present in their hardware. They can be made to run at higher settings using the gaming motherboard. This is called overclocking and generally, results in overheating of the components and the reduction of the lifespan of the CPU and components.
However, if done right, overclocking can result in much higher and faster performance of the computer and is best for gamers, who need peak conditions in order to achieve full immersion into the game.
Only gaming motherboards can overclock the components of the computer, as regular motherboards generally only run at factory settings.
Gaming motherboards are also built to withstand high stress for long periods of time. Regular motherboards are not stressed on a regular basis because their function is merely to run the computer at factory settings and get their rather simple jobs done. However, gaming motherboards are made to undergo stress for the entirety of the game, which may take several hours. This may destroy or significantly reduce the lifespan of a regular motherboard, but a gaming motherboard is made to withstand this.
Gaming motherboards also tend to have better quality audio chips and are designed to isolate the input and output audio data in order to ensure a lack of cross-talk. This increases the quality of audio, which is required when participating professional gaming and the like.
They also often support multiple GPU’s, a provision the regular motherboard does not have, as well as integrated graphic cards in order to improve the video and graphic output of the computer. Other additions and provisions specific to gaming are provided on gaming motherboards as well, though their specifications are dependent on the manufacturer.
Thus, the main difference between a gaming and regular motherboard is that a gaming motherboard is built to withstand the stresses and additions that hardcore gamers require in order to play their games at optimum settings.
What is the best gaming motherboard for a beginner gamer?
For a beginner gamer, the price of the motherboard, as well as the quality of its output would be the main concern.
A few motherboards that would be of interest to a beginner gamer are:
- The ASRock Motherboard Micro ATX, one of the top-notch motherboards sold at a reasonable price. It has all the requirements a beginner gamer would need, a space for Ethernet cables and USB’s, it has a decent ability to overclock but does not go too far with it. Hence, hard-core gamers would be disappointed, but beginner gamers would be satisfied with its value for its affordable pricing. It performs everything a gaming motherboard would have to and has an easy setup such that it would not confuse beginner gamers. It provides a new perspective on the gaming world and allows beginner gamers to play their games at great settings.
- The ASRock Motherboard Z270, rated one of the best budget motherboards of 2018, with features that would impress any gamer, all at a relatively cheap pricing. A high-quality board with several connectors and simple design, beginner gamers can easily play their games without spending too much time fiddling with the motherboard’s controls. It also has an attractive appearance and is certain to cope with any game the beginner gamer chooses to play.
- The ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F Gaming ATX Motherboard, another of the best budget motherboards of 2018, it has a simple design and high-quality features, such as a memory speed of 2133 MHz and good lighting, with good bios and the capacity to tweak as required. It has a simple design that can be understood by beginner gamers and also has an easy overclocking ability.
These are the three best motherboards for beginner gamers, out of which the ASRock Motherboard Z270 is the most stylish and best suited for beginner gamers who want a clean design and easy controls.
How do you select the best gaming motherboards?
There are six features to look for when choosing the ideal motherboard for your computer:
- CPU Compatibility
- RAM Compatibility
- Form Factor
- Expansion Slots
- Networking Connection
Motherboards come in two kinds: Intel-compatible motherboards and AMD-compatible motherboards. Intel compatible motherboards are only compatible with Intel CPU’s, and AMD compatible motherboards are only compatible with AMD CPU’s.
Therefore, if you have an Intel CPU, you will have to buy an Intel-compatible motherboard, and vice versa if you have an AMD CPU.
The socket type of the CPU will also have to match the motherboard. Certain CPUs have certain socket types, and the motherboard will have to be compatible with or have the same socket type as the purchased CPU, else they will not be compatible.
There are four factors to look into when figuring out the RAM compatibility of your chosen motherboard:
- The RAM type: There are two kinds of RAMs, the older DDR3 or, the newer and faster DDR4. Motherboards can only be compatible with one of these types of RAMs, so if you have a DDR3 RAM, you cannot buy a DDR4 motherboard. Hence, RAM type will have to be kept in mind.
- The RAM speed: Certain motherboards may not support certain memory speeds. Hence, when choosing the ideal motherboard for your computer, you must check that the speed of your RAM is backed by the motherboard.
- The RAM capacity: The capacity of the RAM is generally high, but it is better to know its capacity in case you are building a high-performance gaming computer and need to pick a motherboard which is able to support RAMs of this capacity. This is not a relevant field, as pretty much all motherboards support RAMs sold on the market.
- The RAM slots: The number of RAM slots is a small factor in deciding which motherboard to choose. Motherboards generally have two slots to insert the RAM in, but if you want more memory for your computer, or know that you will want to upgrade your memory in the future, you will have to look for a motherboard with more slots, or for RAMs of a higher memory.
Motherboards come in several different sizes, the common ones being (in ascending order):
- Mini ITX
- Flex ATX
- Extended ATX
The Extended ATX has more depth than the ATX. However, it adds no additional slots to the ATX, unlike the others as they progress from smallest to largest. As the motherboard gets larger, more slots are added to the board.
Thus, if you are looking to add additional graphics cards, professional sound cards, display adapters, wireless NIC’s and tuner cards, you will have to get a larger motherboard. However, if you’re looking to work with the basics and have only a limited space within which to keep the motherboard, you will be better off with a smaller motherboard like the Mini-ITX.
The Extended ATX, as it adds no additional slots to the ATX, can be opted for a classier look and only if the user has a Full Tower computer case to insert it in. Else, if these provisions are not available, an ATX motherboard will do just fine.
As covered before, larger motherboards have more expansion slots within which sound cards, graphics cards, and so on are inserted. However, depending on the brand, the number of expansion slots may increase or decrease, and so if you are looking for a motherboard with several slots, or a compact motherboard that can fit easily into a Mini Tower computer case, you will have to buy it accordingly.
All motherboards come with USB port support, but it is better to make sure that the motherboards come with USB 3.0 support, as well as other ports for microphone ports, FireWire, etc. depending on the requirement.
Most motherboards come with LAN connection support. However very few expensive motherboards come with wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) support, so if you want your computer to have WiFi support, you will either have to buy one of these expensive, exclusive motherboards or buy an add-on wireless adapter.
Wireless adapters come in PCI, PCI-E or USB dongle adapters. These can be inserted into special slots on the motherboard, and so a gamer who wants fast WiFi would have to check if the motherboard has these special slots.
There are four major brands that sell a majority of motherboards in the market:
Motherboards sold by these four brands tend to have a certain quality and standard to uphold, though motherboards sold by even these brands must be inspected, as a good name is no guarantee of the quality of the individual product. However, if you find a good motherboard from these brands, it is a safe chance to take.
Thus, taking into consideration all of these conditions, the perfect gaming motherboard can be found on your personal computer.
Which are the best motherboards?
Some of the best motherboards as of the year 2018 are, by customer and gamer reviews, split into four groups:
- Best Budget Motherboards
- Best Affordable Motherboards
- Best High-End Motherboards
- Best X99 Motherboards
Best Budget Motherboards
The best motherboards sold for an incredibly cheap pricing are:
- The MSI B250M Mortar
- The Asus H110-A/M.2
- The Gigabyte GA H270-HD3
Best Affordable Motherboards
The best motherboards sold for a mid-range pricing are:
- The Asus Z270F Strix Gaming Motherboard
- The Gigabyte Z270 Gaming Motherboard
- The MSI Z270 Motherboard
- The AsRock Z270 Gaming Motherboard
Best High-End Motherboards
The best expensive and luxurious mainstream motherboards in the market are:
- The Asus ROG Maximus IX Formula
- The MSI Z270 XPower Titanium
- The Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 9
Best X99 Motherboards
X99 motherboards are exclusive and extremely complicated motherboards not sold as mainstream motherboards. They support the Broadwell-E line of processors and are extremely expensive. They are the most luxurious motherboards, with all the features money can buy. The best X99 motherboards are:
- The MSI X99A Godlike Gaming
- The Asus ROG Rampage V Edition 10
Buying any of these motherboards will give you the best experience possible from each of these four fields.
Which one to go for?
A good gaming motherboard goes a long way in improving the gameplay experience. The Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 ATX Motherboard can be a good choice if you’re looking to set up a new gaming rig or upgrade an existing one. This is the latest motherboard from Gigabyte that is compatible with the most recent 7th and 6th generation Intel Core processors. It also supports USB 3.1 with Type C, for seamless connectivity. It also has 2 SATA Express connectors that offer transfer speeds up to 16 GB/s, making it one of the best motherboards for your gaming requirements. To aid your gaming performance, it also has cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator software that comes in really handy during gameplay. This Gigabyte motherboard also features high-quality audio capacitors along with audio noise guard and really cool, ambient LED Trace path lighting for a superior gaming experience. Truly a top pick!
Another premium choice motherboard from Gigabyte, the GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9 Gaming Motherboard LGA1151 I is latest in line and supports 7th and 6th generation Intel Core processors. It has a wide range of gamer-centric features which includes the Smart Fan 5 and RGB Fusion to name a few. Smart 5 fans ensure that your system offers excellent performance while staying cool. The RGB Fusion features RGB+W/UV LED strips that provide bright illumination for impressive aesthetics and enhanced gameplay experience. You can also customise the various light effects for a great gameplay experience. For instance, you can also set the lights to display the system temperature, time and anything you want to. Overall, the GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X is truly a premium choice that offers everything a gamer looks for. Go for it!
The Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel GA-Z170X-GAMING 6 can be a good motherboard if you’re looking to upgrade your gaming rig to run on latest 7th generation Intel Core processors. It also supports 6th generation Intel Core processors. It is compatible with dual channel DDR4 ram so that you can connect top quality RAM and enjoy a seamless gaming experience. It also has Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connectors that offer data transfer speeds up to 32 Gb/s. Another great feature of this Gigabyte motherboard is that it offers three-way graphics support for a great gaming experience. Also, it features extra durable metal shielding over the PCIe slots for proper protection. The 3 SATA Express Connectors are also quite good and offer data transfer speeds up to 16 Gb/s/ Overall, this Gigabyte motherboard offers a great value for money.