The motherboard is the bedrock upon which your computer is built. It's arguably the single most important factor in your build. Everything from processor, to maximum RAM, to total number of drives, all depends on the motherboard to be stable and capable platform.
On top its importance as the foundation of your computer, a motherboard is one component that can't easily be swapped out. For instance, if your graphics card quits or no longer fits your needs, it's not hard to swap it out for a flashy new one. But if your motherboard quits, or you find yourself needing more PCIe slots or RAM, you basically have to rip the whole thing apart.
That's why getting a good motherboard is so important. The sheer number of options, from chipset to form factor to available ports, makes motherboard shopping somewhat daunting. The good news is, it doesn't have to be. We've compiled this list of the best motherboards by chipset and form factor, so you can start building the computer of your dreams right now.
Coming to terms
Before we get into the recommendations, a little bit of a primer for the uninitiated. Motherboards come in several different form factors, the most common of which are ATX and Micro ATX. There are a whole bunch of other form factors, but generally speaking, the case you end up buying will probably support one or both of these sizes.
A socket-type refers to the actual socket where the processor "plugs into” the motherboard itself. Different manufacturers have different sockets for their CPUs, and different CPUs from the same manufacturer might not share a common socket. For example, Intel Core processors come in LGA1151 – but, also LGA1155 – and sometimes LGA1150. AMD processors also have varying socket sizes.
Best Intel motherboard: EVGA Z270 Classified K
Find the top of your game
Form Factor: E-ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 | Chipset: Intel Z270 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 3600MHz+ (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-way SLI, Crossfire | Features: 1 x U.2, 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key E, Key M)
This absolute beast from EVGA is an Intel builder's dream. It has dual Ethernet ports, HDMI and DisplayPort, Thunderbolt and USB Type-C, along with an "enthusiast layout" for easy SLI builds. It's overclockable, with 3 BIOS profiles to support that basic human need to make a computer go way over its limits. It also comes with "enthusiast stickers." Who doesn't love stickers?
Best budget Intel motherboard: MSI B250M Gaming Pro
Light things up with this low-cost motherboard from MSI.
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 | Chipset: Intel B250 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 2400MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (32-110mm), Intel Optane Memory Ready
You don't need to break the bank to get your computer off on the right footing. This board from MSI is a great, inexpensive solution. It's limited in options for future expansions, so it's ideal for a one-and-done build. Since it's a gaming motherboard it has support for things like "Mystic Light Sync," which lets you synchronize all your RGB lighting with a single click.
Best Intel Micro ATX motherboard: ASRock B250M Pro4
A smaller form-factor with some room for you to improve
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 | Chipset: Intel B250 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 2400MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFire X | Features: 1 x U.2, 1 x M.2 (Key M), Intel Optane Memory Ready
This Micro ATX motherboard from ASRock packs a lot of features onto a smaller form factor. You lose out on the possibility of extra PCIe slots, but there are 4 memory slots to upgrade to a maximum 64GB DDR4 RAM. It also has support for on-board graphics, so if you're building a computer piecemeal, you can still use it before buying a dedicated graphics card.
Best Intel Mini ITX motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z270I Gaming
This small motherboard is ready for some heavy lifting
Form Factor: Mini ITX | Socket: LGA-1151 | Chipset: Intel Z270 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 4,600MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M), Intel Optane Memory Ready
This small motherboard packs a punch. Not only does it support Intel HD graphics, it also has a "SafeSlot" PCIe slot that's reinforced to better hold today's positively monstrous graphics cards. On top of that, it's actually really cool looking, with RGB lighting that syncs with other AURA Sync-enabled peripherals and products.
Best AMD motherboard: MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon
Expandable and expansive
Form Factor: ATX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD X370 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-way SLI, CrossFire | Features: 2 x M.2 (Key M)
When it comes to AMD motherboards, the Gaming Pro Carbon from MSI does not mess around in the slightest. Not only is it packed with lots of features to make it extra appealing for AMD gaming PC builds, it has awesome Mystic Light RGB settings that can be adjusted via smartphone app. Besides looking great, it has plenty of room for expansion and support for dual graphics cards.
Best Budget AMD motherboard: Asus Prime A320M-K
A low-cost AMD motherboard to maximize cost to power.
Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD A320 | Memory Support: Single-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
Budget builds are almost always based around AMD hardware. Not because AMD is "budget," but because it's just cheaper than Intel and Nvidia. Start the build off on the right, low-cost foot with this motherboard from ASUS. It has everything you need to pull off a solid computer build, without having to break the bank. It lacks visual bells and whistles, but hey, it's a budget solution.
Best AMD Micro ATX motherboard: ASRock AB350M Pro4
Nothing flashy, but plenty of performance to love
Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD Promontory B350 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFireX | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
If you want to get where you need to go, and you don't care about things like fancy RGB lighting or eye-catching, futuristic-looking heat dissipators, the AB350M Pro4 is the motherboard for you. In spite of its plain-Jane looks and no-frills aesthetic, this is a solid motherboard with plenty of room to expand and grow with your computer needs.
Best AMD Mini ITX motherboard: ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX
An overclocker's dream in a small form factor
Form Factor: Mini ITX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD B350 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,466MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x M.2 (Key M)
Small and powerful, this ASRock motherboard is a beast, supporting overclocked memory speeds up to 3,466MHz for CPUs that support it. If that wasn't enough to get your motor running, it also supports 4K resolutions and full Blu-ray support through its HDMI ports. Yes, ports: it has two, as well as on-board video support.
Best Intel Core X-Series motherboard: ASRock X299 Taichi
This one goes up to 11, but more accurately, 4400MHz memory
Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA-2066 | Chipset: Intel X299 | Memory Support: Quad-Channel 8 x DDR4 4,400MHz (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 3-Way SLI, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX | Features: 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
The X-series processors are here and they're spectacular, so if you want to take advantage of all they have to offer, you need an X-series motherboard. This ASRock X299 is an excellent choice, with support for overclocked memory speeds up to 4400MHz(!!!) and 8 different slots for memory modules. It also supports up to 128GB of RAM, so with an X-series processor and a good graphics card (or 3…) this thing will absolutely tear apart anything you throw at it.
Best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard: ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sTR4
This is the motherboard AMD dreams are made of
Form Factor: ATX | Socket: sTR4 | Chipset: AMD X399 | Memory Support: Dual -Channel 4 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: 4-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFireX | Features: 1 x U.2, 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
If you're the type of builder with deep pockets and an "everything and the kitchen sink" build mentality, this Ryzen Threadripper board is definitely for you. It supports 4-way SLI or Crossfire configurations, so you can just empty your bank account in the name of PC glory. All that graphical power is supported by as much as 128GB DDR4 memory, and there's even a flashy RBG lighting scheme to really drive home the point.