As a PC’s backbone or foundation, the best motherboard ensures that your PC and all its components are running at their optimal performance. A motherboard not only allows your internals to interact with one another, but also ensures that they’re running and even overclocking better. That means that your choice of motherboard will either make or break your PC.
Whether you’re building a PC or need a new one for that best graphics card or processor you just spent a lot of money on, you’ll be wise to invest in the best motherboard. Otherwise, you’re risking your PC components failing or worse, having to rebuild your PC from scratch.
So, if you’re setting out to build a PC to rival the best PCs – or simply upgrading your existing one, make sure to budget properly for a quality board. We rounded up the best motherboards on the market, alongside our price comparison tool so you can save money along the way.
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.
Best motherboards of 2021 at a glance
- Asus ROG Maximus XII HERO - best Intel motherboard
- MSI MEG Z490 Godlike - best high-end Intel motherboard
- GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X - best budget Intel motherboard
- MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC - best Intel micro-ATX motherboard
- Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming - best Intel mini-ITX motherboard
- ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X - best AMD motherboard
- Aorus X570 Master - best high performance AMD motherboard
- Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming - best budget AMD motherboard
- Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS - best AMD micro-ATX motherboard
- NZXT N7 B550 - best for the AMD B550 chipset with Wi-Fi 6E
- ASRock X299 Taichi - best Intel Core X-series motherboard
- MSI Creator TRX40 - best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard
For the best motherboard for the latest Intel chips, you need one that brings plenty of power to the table, as well as intelligent cooling and support for faster memory. That’s why the Asus ROG Maximus XII HERO gets our vote as the best Intel motherboard for 2021. If you’re thinking of upgrading to a 10th-generation Intel Core processor, invest in this motherboard as well. With it, you’re also getting AI overclocking, AI networking with Wi-Fi 6 support and Asus’ Aura Sync illumination.
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 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.
If you’re looking to get an edge on the competition, but you don’t have a lot of extra space on your desk, you’re going to need a Micro-ATX motherboard – more specifically, the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC. What you’re getting here is a Micro-ATX motherboard with all the features a full-sized ATX one offers, but at a fraction of the price. Despite its smaller size, you still get dual M.2 slots, SLI and Crossfire support, and all the fiery performance that Intel Coffee Lake Refresh has to offer. If you’re looking for a smaller motherboard, you can’t afford to pass on the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge MC.
If you need the smallest possible motherboard available without compromising on key features of your CPU, you should look into the Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming. With this motherboard, you don’t need to compromise on features or power. You don’t even need to settle for a measly 32GB of RAM. Thanks to Asus’ double capacity memory compatibility – you can have up to 64GB of memory in the most miniscule motherboard you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, like most Z390 boards, its price tag is not for the faint of heart, so prepare yourself to shell out some serious dough if you want the smallest of the best motherboards.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.