Best Motherboards

This page contains our recommendations for motherboards with Intel's "mainstream" LGA-1151 and LGA-1150 sockets. These include the Skylake (1151), Haswell, and Broadwell (1150) family of processors and the Z170, H170 (1151), Z97, H97, and H81 chipsets (1150). For recommendations for motherboards supporting Intel's high-end LGA-2011v3 socket and X99 chipset, see out recommendations on the next page. Skip to the lat page for all AMD-based boards.

June 2016 Updates

Builders with high enthusiasm, but far less money, may enjoy Joe's previous take on ASRock's H170M Pro4S and H170M-ITX/ac.

Best Intel LGA-1151 & 1150 Motherboards

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Best Intel Z170 Motherboards

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Best Intel H170 Motherboard

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Best Intel Z97 Motherboards

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Best Intel H97 Motherboards

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Best Intel H81 Motherboard

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35 comments
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  • ern88
    How come there is never ASUS boards looked at???
    4
  • 3ogdy
    Anonymous said:
    How come there is never ASUS boards looked at???


    Good question.
    That put together with the wave of negative reviews for ASUS motherboards that I keep on seeing, makes me wonder what's going on over at ASUS, especially with the X99 platform. Not so sure about the Z170 mobos, though.
    To their defense, I have multiple ASUS boards in my computers, both for the Intel and the AMD platform and they work just fine.
    0
  • morairtym
    There are 2 asus boards listed under AMD. But all in all there price kinda puts them out of the best spots with ASRock offering solid boards for less and MSI offering some great feature packed higher end mother boards.
    0
  • Onus
    Asus has yet to send me a board for review.

    Once again, I disagree with the AM1 selections. If that platform meets your performance needs, only the ASRock AM1H-ITX and its bigger brother have four SATA ports, rather than just two. A mere two will make backups and cloning difficult or slow over USB; and make a common drive configuration (optical, O/S, Data) impossible.
    -1
  • logainofhades
    Definitely need more SLI capable boards on this list. I just do not understand the point of getting a Z170 board, that doesn't have SLI capability, unless budget really forces the issue. If that is the case, maybe you shouldn't be spending the money to overclock, and spending it on something more useful. That or maybe if it is really close in price to an H170, and you want to run faster ram.
    -1
  • omegashock
    Where are the Z170 and H170 ITX boards? What's the deal?
    1
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    How come there is never ASUS boards looked at???
    Asus chose not to participate

    Anonymous said:
    There are 2 asus boards listed under AMD. But all in all there price kinda puts them out of the best spots with ASRock offering solid boards for less and MSI offering some great feature packed higher end mother boards.
    Price was hurting them in the middle, which is why they chose not to participate any longer

    Anonymous said:
    Asus has yet to send me a board for review.

    Once again, I disagree with the AM1 selections. If that platform meets your performance needs, only the ASRock AM1H-ITX and its bigger brother have four SATA ports, rather than just two. A mere two will make backups and cloning difficult or slow over USB; and make a common drive configuration (optical, O/S, Data) impossible.
    Those selections are old awards, we drop the motherboard off the list when it's no longer being produced. If you see that we missed a drop, please tell :)

    Anonymous said:
    Where are the Z170 and H170 ITX boards? What's the deal?
    Good question. When we offered to test any form factor or price, motherboard manufacturers decided it wasn't important enough.
    0
  • ScrewySqrl
    for the next motherboard round up, how about B150 boards for the truly budget conscious?
    0
  • turkey3_scratch
    You have the MSI H81M-E34 listed as an H97 board.
    0
  • Onus
    I've reviewed TWO H170 mITX boards, and am using one of them myself in Igor, my lab assistant PC.
    I bought a single H110 board that I'm going to compare for performance vs. H170. I suspect the difference, if any, will be minimal. It should arrive today. Since I made the assertion (in the update to "How to Choose a Motherboard," now published) that even such a lowly board should meet most people's needs, I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and test one.
    0
  • turkey3_scratch
    Anonymous said:
    I've reviewed TWO H170 mITX boards, and am using one of them myself in Igor, my lab assistant PC.
    I bought a single H110 board that I'm going to compare for performance vs. H170. I suspect the difference, if any, will be minimal. It should arrive today. Since I made the assertion (in the update to "How to Choose a Motherboard," now published) that even such a lowly board should meet most people's needs, I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and test one.


    Awesome, can't wait. I run the Gigabyte GA-H170N-WIFI ITX board which works perfectly for my system. I'm guessing one of the ones you got is the Gigabyte GA-H110M-A.
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  • Onus
    The two H170 ITX board reviews were published quite some time ago. The board that arrived today is a MSI H110 Pro-VD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130897
    0
  • turkey3_scratch
    Anonymous said:
    The two H170 ITX board reviews were published quite some time ago. The board that arrived today is a MSI H110 Pro-VD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130897


    ^^I've seen the one before. Looks so weird around the CPU socket.
    0
  • RedJaron
    I'm not sure I'd recommend an H110 board like I did with H81 for custom builds. The H81 was so close to B85 and H87/97 that the differences didn't matter for the tech available at the time. Low-end builds didn't lose anything important on H81 other than RAID, which isn't used much anyway. However H81 didn't gain anything meaningful in the H110 upgrade except going full SATA 6Gbps and getting two more native USB 3.0 ports. Every other chipset moved to DMI 3.0 and PCIe 3.0 through the chipset, as well as seriously beefing the USB port count. You can get a 3.0 x4 M.2 slot on a B150 or H170 board that doesn't strip lanes from the GPU. You can't do that on H110.

    A well-equipped H110 board is so close in price to a normal B150 board that I don't know why you'd get one. If you custom build basic home and office PCs, then H110 is still a decent choice. But at those low prices, it gets hard to beat Dell or HP.
    0
  • Onus
    I'm going to disagree. I think you have it reversed. There's a HOWLING difference between H81 and H110; the former only provided PCIe 2.0 lanes to the x16 slot, and H110 gives you PCIe 3.0.
    Potentially, there were darn good performance reasons to go to B85 over H81, but I'm not sure that's true for H110 to B150 (or even H170, which is what I'll be testing).
    I made an assertion in yesterday's motherboard article that the motherboard you choose really doesn't make a meaning performance difference, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is on this one.
    You're right about the M.2 slot and RAID, but those I think of more as feature differences. Yes, they'll matter to some, but not to gamers building a system on a tight budget.

    Edit: My tests will include SATA throughput, in fact I may add a test or two (e.g. directory copying, not just synthetics) to see how the boards handle multiple busy drives.
    0
  • Luke_Cage
    what about the refresh boards on the x99 socket that were recently released from Evga, Asus, MSI?
    0
  • turkey3_scratch
    I have to agree with Onus on this one. Honestly, I don't have need for that many USB ports any more, and having 4 ports on the motherboard and 2-4 from the case header is perfectly fine for most people. I mean, let's see, they have a keyboard, a mouse, perhaps a USB drive, and maybe an external hard drive. Then maybe an external optical drive like I do, but I bet if you go to the majority of PC owners who have 12 USB ports on their computer, only about 3 are actually used up. With that goes the extra SATA headers and such - not all people have a bunch of hard drives. And since PCIe 2.0 vs 3.0 has shown to have a negligible difference in performance, if you can save $20 getting a cheap motherboard that may be something people can better put into getting a higher quality PSU or CPU.
    0
  • ScrewySqrl
    Anonymous said:
    I have to agree with Onus on this one. Honestly, I don't have need for that many USB ports any more, and having 4 ports on the motherboard and 2-4 from the case header is perfectly fine for most people. I mean, let's see, they have a keyboard, a mouse, perhaps a USB drive, and maybe an external hard drive. Then maybe an external optical drive like I do, but I bet if you go to the majority of PC owners who have 12 USB ports on their computer, only about 3 are actually used up. With that goes the extra SATA headers and such - not all people have a bunch of hard drives. And since PCIe 2.0 vs 3.0 has shown to have a negligible difference in performance, if you can save $20 getting a cheap motherboard that may be something people can better put into getting a higher quality PSU or CPU.



    the real issue is the really bargain basement H110s aren't that much less than a bargain B150.

    On PC Partpicker, the cheapest H110 is the Gigabyte GA-H110M-A or MSI H110M Pro-VD, both $49.99
    the cheapest B150 is the ASRock B150M-HDS at $58.99, so only $9 difference
    0
  • Onus
    Well, if the H110 offers similar performance to the B150, that $9 can be the difference between a GTX750Ti and a GTX950. It just depends on where you want to put the money.
    0
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    I'm going to disagree. I think you have it reversed. There's a HOWLING difference between H81 and H110; the former only provided PCIe 2.0 lanes to the x16 slot, and H110 gives you PCIe 3.0.

    Nope, Intel's own site says H110 is limited to PCIe 2.0. That's the chipset itself, of course. At least H110 let's the CPU operate at 3.0 ( H81 would cut all CPU-based PCIe down to 2.0, so that's at least one improvement ). But I'm not talking H81 vs H110. Every 1151 board will operate the CPU lanes at 3.0 speeds. I'm talking the value difference of H81 against B85/H97 vs the value difference of H110 against B150/H170. The performance jump from H81 to H110 is much smaller than B85 to B150 or H97 to H170, meaning the performance jump from H110 to B150 is much greater than from H81 to B150.

    The $10 difference between an H81 and B85 board usually didn't get you anything extra you may have needed or wanted, so it was a toss up whether it was worth it. That same $10 now will get you much more, thus the H110 loses a lot of value to me. It still has a place for extremely tight budgets where every dollar counts. Perhaps the bottom-budget gamer won't care much because at least his GPU can run at 3.0 speeds ( not that he's using a strong enough GPU that cares about it anyway ) and he's not going to run any cards that care about 2.0 vs 3.0. But I don't think I'd recommend it to any custom builder right now except in the most specific corner cases. I think M.2 is going to become big in the next few years. If spending an extra $10 on your mboard now gets you a 32 Gbps M.2 slot, I think that's a no-brainer. And these aren't only on premium B150 boards. Gigabyte and MSI each have models at $65 for this.

    Turkey, what you fail to recognize in number of USB ports is cost. The mfr has to pay extra for every additional USB controller chip they put on the board. Many boards from last gen that featured eight or more USB ports on the backplate ( plus a few internal headers ) required third party controllers. Expanding the chipset's USB capacity means they can put extra USB ports on the board for less cost than before. And I think cheaper mboards is something everyone can get behind.

    As for how many USB ports you need, that of course is open to debate, and it's one I don't care to get into. Just keep in mind that we're going through a type-A to type-C port changeover, meaning you'll want both port types for now. A lot of people still have printers, scanners, and cameras that connect over USB. And we've also got cell phones, tablets, music players, and wearable tech that all charge over USB cables. I wouldn't be so quick to say most people don't use more than three USB ports.
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