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The best motherboard 2021: the top Intel and AMD motherboards we've seen

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
A couple of motherboards against a blue and red background
The best motherboards will ensure that everything is running optimally but also overclocking better. (Image credit: Future)

Getting the best motherboard out there is just as important as having the best processor or best graphics card you can afford. When you’re building a PC or upgrading your aging one, don’t get too hung up on the sexier components. Remember that a motherboard is your computer’s backbone, and you should spend just as much time and effort securing one that will keep your components running at their peak.

If you don’t, those internals you’ve just spent a lot of money on might crash constantly, fail altogether, or worse, end up in a blazing inferno. On the other hand, if you get the ideal motherboard for your setup, you’ll have a PC running at full efficiency, not to mention that you can probably overclock it much better. That’s how important a motherboard is.

Stop risking the life of your PC and consider one of the best motherboards below, especially if you’re resuscitating an older computer or putting together a new one to stand up to the best PCs.

Coming to terms

If you’re unfamiliar with the best motherboards out there, use this list as a primer for your next build. Motherboards are available in a broad range of different form factors, the most common of which are ATX and Micro ATX. However, there are plenty of less common form factors including mini ITX and E-ATX. Don’t worry though, most of the best PC cases will support more than one form factor. 

Moreover, in our rundown of the best motherboards, we detailed the socket type that each mobo adheres to. The socket, for those not in the know, is the part on the motherboard that the CPU locks into. Typically, newer Intel processors use either LGA 1151 or 2066 while the latest AMD Ryzen architecture is designed for the AM4 chipset.

The Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero comes with plenty of RGB lighting.

(Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero

Best Intel Motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: LGA1200
Chipset: Intel Z590
Memory support: Dual Channel DDR4
Multi-GPU support: NVIDIA 2-Way SLI Technology
Features: ASUS-exclusive software and firmware utilities, enlarged VRM heatsink, onboard WiFi 6E, ROG SupremeFX ALC4082 gaming audio
Reasons to buy
+Several USB ports with two Thunderbolt 4+Excellent quality
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

It might not be cheap, but the Rog Maximus XIII Hero is worth its price tag. Its list of features, which includes Wi-Fi 6, PCIe 4.0, tons of ports (including two thunderbolt), and four M.2 SSD sockets, will satisfy just about anyone looking for a premium Z590 board to build a PC around. It’s not only a great performing board, but it’s easy to overclock as well. And, like any good ASUS motherboard, it comes with plenty of RGB lighting.

The MSI MEG Z490 Godlike guarantees top-notch performance.

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI MEG Z490 Godlike

Best high-end Intel motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: E-ATX
Socket: LGA1200
Chipset: Intel Z490
Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB)
Multi-GPU support: 2-Way NVIDIA SLI Technology, 3-Way AMD CrossFire Technology
Features: M.2 Xpander-Z Gen4 S, 10G Super LAN + 2.5G LAN, Frozn Heatsink, Double Side M.2 Shield Frozn
Reasons to buy
+Superb build quality+Onboard thunderbolt video output+Easy overclocking in BIOS
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Uses two 8-pin cpu power connectors

High-end motherboards may cost a fortune, but if you’ve got something like the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike under the hood, you’re pretty much guaranteed top-notch performance, especially if you’ve got Intel components. As long as you’re willing to pay the price. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that this is the best z490 board out there right now, with an excellent thermal solution, staggering overclocking performance, easy installation and diagnostic solutions for do-it-yourself-ers, and a solid build.

The GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X is a great choice for an Intel fan who needs a new motherboard in the budget sphere.

(Image credit: GIGABYTE)

3. GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X

Best budget Intel motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: LGA1200
Chipset: Intel Z490
Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB)
Multi-GPU support: AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire and 2-Way AMD CrossFire
Features: Support for APP Center, Q-Flash and Q-Flash Plus support, Xpress Install support
Reasons to buy
+Pre-installed I/O shield+Additional optional 4-pin connector
Reasons to avoid
-No USB Type-C connectivity

The GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X may not have any flashy new features to bring to the table, but if you’re an Intel fan who needs a new motherboard in the budget sphere, it’s certainly a great choice. This entry-level motherboard for gamers has a decent feature set for its price tag, including three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, six SATA ports and four memory slots with support for DDR4-4600 and up to 128GB, to start. Most importantly, it performs like the best of them without burning a hole in your pocket.

The MSI MEG Z590 Ace comes with four M.2 sockets, two Thunderbolt USB-C ports and Wi-Fi 6E support.

(Image credit: MSI)

4. MSI MEG Z590 Ace

Best Intel ATX motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: LGA1200
Chipset: Intel Z590
Memory support: Dual Channel DDR4
Multi-GPU support: 2-Way Nvidia SLI and 2-Way AMD Crossfire technologies
Features: 2.5Gbps LAN, Wi-Fi 6E, dual Thunderbolt 4, VRM Heat-pipe, 7W/mK thermal pads
Reasons to buy
+Lots of power+Excellent audio+Nice features
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

If you’re looking for a premium option for your 10th and 11th generation flagship Intel chips, the MEG Z590 Ace from MSI not only delivers a lot of power, but also comes with four M.2 sockets, two Thunderbolt USB-C ports and Wi-Fi 6E support, as well as excellent audio solution with latest premium ALC4082 audio process. There’s a lot to appreciate here, if you can afford that steep $499.

The Asus ROG Strix Z590-I is a small form factor boasts an all-black design and diagonal mesh lines.

(Image credit: Asus)

5. Asus ROG Strix Z590-I

Best mini-ITX motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: LGA1200
Chipset: Intel Z590
Memory support: Dual-channel DDR4-5133
Features: Two-way AI noise cancelation, AI overclocking, AI cooling, SATA and Aura Sync RGB lighting, ALC4080 with Savitech SV3H712 amplifier
Reasons to buy
+Full-featured+Great for 11th-gen chips
Reasons to avoid
- Noisy 

This mid to high-end Mini-ITX motherboard offering from Asus is feature-rich, with two M.2 slots, four SATA 6Gb/s ports and plenty of connectivity. In terms of design, that small form factor boasts an all-black design, diagonal mesh lines and RGB-enabled ROG logo for a fantastic aesthetic. Its performance is on point as well, delivering great network performance, excellent audio and well-balanced thermal.

The ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X comes with a top-notch feature set, great design and effective cooling solution.

(Image credit: ASRock)

6. ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X

Best AMD motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: AMD AM4
Chipset: AMD Premium X570
Memory Support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB)
Multi-GPU support: NVIDIA NVLink, Quad SLI, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX
Features: ASRock Polychrome SYNC, ASRock Super Alloy, ASRock Phantom Gaming 2.5G LAN
Reasons to buy
+Easy to install+Beautiful design+Excellent cooling
Reasons to avoid
-Upgrading storage might be physically tricky

If you’re considering an AMD setup for that PC you’re building, then you cannot go wrong with the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X. This is the best motherboard for AMD fans right now, with a top-notch feature set, great design and a highly-effective cooling solution. It’s certainly a favorite among overclockers out there, and with Wi-Fi 6 support to boot. If you have a penchant for tweak and upgrade your internals, there might be some limitations as to what you can do physically. But, other than that, it’s hard to find fault in this board.

The Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master can handle the latest 3rd gen AMD processors and multiple GPUs.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

7. Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master

Best high performance AMD motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: AMD Socket AM4
Chipset: AMD X570
Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB)
Multi-GPU support: NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI and 2-Way NVIDIA SLI technologies, AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire and 2-Way AMD CrossFire
Features: Support for APP Center, Q-Flash and Q-Flash Plus support, Xpress Install support
Reasons to buy
+Excellent price for performance+Pre-installed I/O Shield+Well thought out design
Reasons to avoid
-Awkward USB3 header placement

The Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master is not only an aesthetically pleasing motherboard, with splashes of silver on a black board meant to complement its RGB lighting. It is also capable of being the centerpiece of a very powerful computer. It can handle up to 128GB of DDR4400 RAM, the latest 3rd gen AMD processors and multiple GPUs for anyone wanting to future proof their gaming needs. The X570 Master is also very astutely designed, with shielding on its I/O ports, WiFi 6 and a number of other placement choices that make this a quality board. Best of all, its price is significantly less than the high end Intel motherboards.

Pair that AMD 3rd gen Ryzen chip you just bought with the Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming motherboard.

(Image credit: Asus)

8. Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming

Best budget AMD motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: AMD AM4
Chipset: AMD B550
Memory Support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB)
Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 2-way GPU SLI, AMD 3-way CrossFire
Features: Aura Sync, ASUS Thermal Solution with M.2 heatsink, ASUS EZ DIY, Rear audio USB Type-C connector
Reasons to buy
+Easy setup+Price is right
Reasons to avoid
-Only one PCIe 4.0-Limited CPU support

If you’re looking to build from scratch, the Asus ROG B550-E Gaming Motherboard is a cost-effective and feature-rich motherboard to pair with that AMD 3rd gen Ryzen chip you just bought. Its I/O ports are shielded, it comes with a PCIe 4.0 slot (and a second PCIe 3.0 one), and it has just about all the ports and port headers you could desire. With this motherboard, you’re getting excellent power delivery, a great feature set and an incredibly effective cooling solution, as well as a cool aesthetic to boot.

The Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS has game-ready features and military-grade components.

(Image credit: Asus)

9. Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS

Best AMD Micro ATX motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: Micro ITX
Socket: AMD AM4
Chipset: AMD B550
Memory Support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB)
Multi-GPU support: AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology
Features: ASUS TUF Protection, ASUS Thermal solution with aluminum M.2 heatsink, ASUS EZ DIY, AURA Sync
Reasons to buy
+PCIe 4.0 support+AI noise-cancelling technology works great
Reasons to avoid
-No heatsink in upper NVMe slot-Still pricey for what it offers

An upgrade from its predecessor, the B450, the Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS boasts not only a much better power solution and a great cooling solution, but also game-ready features and military-grade components. Among those features are the AI Noise-Canceling Microphone software, which supports 3.5 mm, USB or Bluetooth headsets, and full RGB lighting control. All, of course, while still touting that TUF Gaming Alliance promise for easy compatibility and building, as well as aesthetics that complement its trusted partners.

The NZXT N7 B550 is a great choice if you’re upgrading your AMD Ryzen processor.

(Image credit: NZXT)

10. NZXT N7 B550

Best for the AMD B550 chipset with Wi-Fi 6E

Specifications
Form Factor: ATX
Socket: LGA1200
Chipset: AMD B550
Memory Support: 4 x DIMM, Max. 128GB, DDR4
Multi-GPU support: AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology
Features: Built-in digital RGB and fan controls, built-in Wi-Fi 6E connectivity
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Native Wi-Fi 6E capabilities
Reasons to avoid
-No backplate

Looking into an AMD B550 motherboard might be necessary if you’re upgrading your AMD Ryzen processor, and the NZXT N7 B550 is an excellent mid-range option. This gaming motherboard is not only designed around the B550 chipset, but it comes with built-in Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, something that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in rivalling boards. It also comes with more USB ports at the rear, making it more versatile. And, of course, you’ll also appreciate the digital RGB and fan controls through CAM.

The ASRock X299 Taichi is an incredible choice for overclocked memory speeds.

11. ASRock X299 Taichi

Best Intel Core X-Series motherboard

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Gigantic memory support+Slots for 8 RAM modules
Reasons to avoid
-High price

The X-series processors are here, and they are spectacular. But if you want to take advantage of all they have to offer, you need an X-series motherboard. This ASRock X299 is an incredible 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. Add in an X-series processor and a good graphics card or 3, and this thing will absolutely tear apart anything you could possibly throw at it. If you’re seeking one of the best motherboards money can buy, this is it.

The MSI Creator TRX40 is the best motherboard for your professional creative workflows.

(Image credit: MSI)

12. MSI Creator TRX40

Best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard

Specifications
Form Factor: E-ATX
Socket: sTRX4
Chipset: AMD TRX40
Memory Support: 8 x DIMM sockets (up to 256G)
Multi-GPU support: 3-Way NVIDIA SLI and 3-Way AMDA CrossFire
Features: 10G LAN + Intel Gigabit LAN, 7 x Lightning Gen4 M.2 with M.2 XPANDER-AERO GEN4, Full fan control, Frozr Heatsink Design, Mystic Light
Reasons to buy
+Good overclocking+Efficient cooling+Has 10GbE, 1GbE and 2.4Gbps Wi-Fi
Reasons to avoid
-Double-slot cooling limits M.2 adapter card-Expensive

When you’ve got an AMD Threadripper under the hood of your PC, you absolutely need a beast of a motherboard like the MSI Creator TRX40. This is designed and built specifically for creators with the most demanding computing needs, this motherboard also boasts quite a feature set. Among those features are the latest PCIe gen4 slots and M.2 connectors, USB3.2 Gen2x2, Wi-Fi 6 and 10G LAN, as well as MSI’s Frozr Heatsink design and Mystic Light RGB lighting. It’s a little pricey, especially next to the competition, but then again, nothing in the creative sphere isn’t these days. If you want the best motherboard for your professional creative endeavors, it doesn’t get better than this.

Jackie Thomas

Jackie Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's US computing editor. She is fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but she just happens to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop her a line on Twitter or through email.