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Best Motherboards 2021 for Gaming, by Socket and Chipset

Included in this guide:

Gaming Motherboard
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware, Niels Broekhuijsen)

Note: For AMD's AM4 X570(S), B550, B450 and Threadripper motherboards, see page two or our Best AMD X570 Motherboards or Best AMD B550 Motherboards pages. This first page focuses on Intel, after laying out some basics.

Choosing the best gaming motherboard (or best motherboard for another type of desktop) is a key step in your PC build, even though choosing the best CPU for gaming or the best graphics card often gets more attention. Every part of your PC connects to your motherboard. Its form factor will decide the size of your case, and its chipset and socket will limit what type of CPU you can install.

If you’re not sure which chipset you’re after when choosing the best gaming motherboard, or you have more basic questions for a different type of build, you can visit our motherboard basics and motherboard buying guide features to help narrow down your shopping options.

Black Friday Motherboard Deals

With supply-chain issues affecting the price of graphics cards, and Intel's Alder Lake CPUs putting price pressure on AMD's CPUs, now might be a good time to buy a motherboard. We're tracking all the sales on motherboards and other components on our Best Black Friday Tech and PC Hardware deals page. Our favorite motherboard deal right now is below.

Asus Prime B550-Plus:  was $149, now $109 at Newegg

Asus Prime B550-Plus: was $149, now $109 at Newegg
With PCIe 4.0 support (with a compatible Ryzen CPU) for fast SSDs, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and Aura Sync RGB support, the Asus Prime B550-Plus is a great board for a mid-range build, be you a gamer or a creator (or both). And at $109.99, it's the lowest price it's ever been.

The picks below include the best gaming motherboards designed for Intel's 11th Gen "Rocket Lake" and older "Comet Lake" processors. We're busy testing brand-new "Alder Lake" 12th Gen Z690 motherboards, but of the handful we've looked at so far, there's one clear winner, which you'll find at the top of the list below. As we test more models, we'll post reviews on our motherboard review page and add our favorites here.

Below are our mainstream picks for current and recent-generation boards. You’ll find our recommendations for the best motherboards for Z590, as well as Intel's high-end desktop (HEDT) LGA-2066 socket and X299 chipset supporting the X-Series and Extreme line of processors. The second page of this guide covers the best AMD motherboards, including X570 and B550 chipset models, as well as high-end Threadripper picks that compete with Intel's X-Series platform. 

Quick Motherboard Shopping Tips 

When choosing a motherboard, consider the following:

  • Get the right socket for your CPU: You can find great CPUs from either Intel or AMD. But whatever processor you choose, make sure that your board has the correct socket to support it. The latest mainstream AMD chips use AM4 CPU sockets while  Intel's 10th Gen and 11th Gen Core CPUs require LGA 1200 sockets.
  • Smaller boards = fewer slots and features. Motherboards come in three main sizes--for more info see our diagram and explanation of motherboard parts. From largest to smallest, there’s ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX. (Yes, Mini is smaller than Micro). You can use a smaller chassis with the micro or mini boards, but you'll have to settle for fewer card expansion slots, sometimes fewer RAM slots, and other connectors.
  • Pay for built-in Wi-Fi and high-end ports only if you need them. Don't spend extra for wireless if you are using Ethernet. You can future-proof your PC by getting USB 3.1 Gen 2 and / or Thunderbolt support. But Thunderbolt is very rare on AMD motherboards.

The Best Intel Gaming Motherboards: Z690, Z590, Z490 X299

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

1. Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro

Best ATX Z690 Motherboard

Specifications
Socket: LGA 1700
Chipset: Intel Z690
Form Factor: ATX
Voltage Regulator: 19 Phases
PCIe x16: (2) v5.0, (1) v3.0 USB
USB Ports: (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C (10 Gbps), (4) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), (4) USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), (4) USB 2.0
Warranty: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+13 USB ports+90A VRMs+Four M.2 sockets+Reasonable price
Reasons to avoid
-Contrasting heatsinks-No Wi-Fi 6E (only 6)-Lacks integrated RGB

At around $330, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is a mid-range Alder Lake motherboard that covers all the bases very well, with minimal sacrifices. There are ample storage options, including four M.2 sockets, updated audio, and a new appearance. Performance, thermals and overclocking were also well within the range of other Z690 boards we've tested so far. 

Between its 13 USB ports on the rear IO, four M.2 sockets and capable power delivery, all at a price that's well below flagship options, there’s a lot to lovea bout the Z690 Aorus Pro. So long as you don’t require integrated RGB lighting or Wi-Fi 6E out of the box (you still get Wi-Fi 6), the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is an excellent Alder Lake motherboard to build your Z690 system around.

Read: Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro review

(Image credit: Asus)

2. Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero

Best ATX Z590 Motherboard

Specifications
Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset: Intel Z590
Form Factor: ATX
Voltage Regulator: 16 Phases
PCIe x16: (2) v4.0, (1) v3.0
USB Ports: (2) Thunderbolt 4, Type-C , (6) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A, (2) USB 2.0
Warranty: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+High-quality 14-phase 90A VRM+10 USB ports, incl. 2x Thunderbolt 4+Dual 2.5 GbE plus Wi-Fi 6E+Four M.2 sockets+Premium audio
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive

The Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero has the premium parts and attractive looks to stand out, despite its fairly high price. From its clean, high-end appearance to the robust power delivery, four M.2 sockets and a premium audio solution, the Hero is a well-rounded, feature-laden solution in the upper-midrange of the Z590 motherboard space. With more-than-capable 90A power phases and dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, plus the four PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets and premium audio bits, the board justifies its $499 price.

Performance compared to the other Z590 models we’ve tested to this point was spot on, and often negligibly faster in many of our tests. Memory testing went without a hitch, with DDR4 3600 supported at 1:1 and easily handling the DDR4 4000 kit. And overclocking testing proceeded without any issue.

Read: Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero Z590 review 

  (Image credit: Asus)

3. Asus ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial

Best ATX Z590 Motherboard for Custom Cooling

Specifications
Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset: Intel Z590
Form Factor: ATX
Voltage Regulator: 18 Phases
PCIe x16: (2) v4.0
USB Ports: (2) Thunderbolt 4, Type-C , (8) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A
Warranty: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+Includes waterblock+High-quality 18-phase+100A VRM 10 USB ports, including Thunderbolt 4+10 GbE plus Wi-Fi 6E+Five M.2 slots+Premium audio w/DAC
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

The Asus ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial is a full-featured Z590 motherboard that include robust power delivery, premium audio with a DAC, five M.2 sockets, 10 GbE and integrated Wi-Fi 6E and includes a custom waterblock. While pricing is tough to take, the Extreme Glacial ($1499) represents what flagship-class motherboards should be.

Read: Asus ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial review

Best Z590 Overclocking Motherboard: Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Tachyon (Image credit: Gigabyte)

4. Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Tachyon

Best ATX Z590 Motherboard

Specifications
Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset: Intel Z590
Form Factor: E-ATX
Voltage Regulator: 11 Phases
PCIe x16: (1) v4.0 x16, (1) v4.0 x8, (1) v3.0 x4, (1) v3.0 x1
USB Ports: (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, Type-A and Type-C (20 Gbps)
Warranty: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+Costs less than competition+Capable power delivery+Feature-rich
Reasons to avoid
-Standard audio

The Z590 Tachyon is an attractive E-ATX-size board that, outside of the extra buttons, you’d never know was designed to be an extreme overclocker. And while it’s certainly not cheap, it costs less than competing overclocking-focused models from ASRock and Asus. The Tachyon’s 11-phase power delivery may not sound like the most robust option, but it delivers 1100 amps to the CPU. This means the VRMs shouldn’t hold back your clock speeds back, whether you’re taking on ambient or sub-ambient cooling with a flagship CPU. If you’re after a board to deliver the best possible speed while looking good and not breaking your build budget, this is the best option we’ve tested.

Read: Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Tachyon review

ASRock Z490 Taichi (Image credit: ASRock)

5. ASRock Z490 Taichi

Best ATX Z490 Motherboard

Specifications
Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset: Intel Z490
Form Factor: ATX
Voltage Regulator: 15 Phases
PCIe x16: (3) v3.0
USB Ports: 5 USB 3.2 Gen1, 4 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A, One USB-3.2 2x2 Type-C
Warranty: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Solid 12-phase/50A VRM for Vcore+USB 3.2 Gen 2X2 Type-C port+Three M.2 and eight SATA ports
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive compared to Z390 Taichi-Annoying use of star screws on chipset shroud-Tough to press PCIe slot latch for removal

The ASRock Z490 Taichi is a great motherboard in the $350-$400 price bracket for building a Z490 system, comparing favorably to similarly priced competition.It includes eight SATA ports (while others have six), as well as a speedy USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port. It also has a premium appearance and runs cooler than competing boards in the power delivery department.

If you need three M.2 slots and eight SATA ports, this is the only board around this price point with that storage configuration. If your budget allows for an upper mid-range board, ASRock’s Z490 Taichi should be at the top of the list. 

Read: ASRock Z490 Taichi review 

Gigabyte X299X Designare 10G (Image credit: Newegg)

6. Gigabyte X299X Designare 10G

Best ATX X299 Motherboard

Specifications
Socket: LGA 2066
Chipset: Intel X299 PCH
Form Factor: EATX
Voltage Regulator: 12 phases
PCIe x16: (4) v3.0 (@48: x16/x8*/x16/x8), (CPU @44: x16/x4*/x16/x8), (CPU @28: x16/x4*/x8/x0)
USB Ports: 10Gbps: (2) Type-C via Thunderbolt 3
Warranty: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+Dual 10GbE, plus 2.4Gbps Wi-Fi 6+Thunderbolt 3 with dual Type-C outputs and dual DisplayPort inputs+Price premium is lower than the value of its premium components
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Excessive PCIe, M.2 & SATA sharing-10.8-inch depth requires extra case considerations

Fully equipped for the 48 lanes of Intel's 10th generation Core Extreme processors, the X299X Designare 10G comes loaded to the brink with Intel X550 dual 10Gb/s Ethernet and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 headers with dual DisplayPort passthrough on Intel's 40Gb/s controller. A four-drive M.2 expander card and 2.4Gb/s Wi-Fi 6 finish a package of which the added component value far outweighs the price difference over its closest competitor.

Read: Gigabyte X299X Designare 10G Review

Savings on the Best Motherboards

Whether you're buying one of the best motherboards or a different model, you may find some savings by checking our list of coupon codes, especially our list of Newegg promo codes and Micro Center coupons.

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard
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Matt Safford
Matt began piling up computer experience as a child with his Mattel Aquarius. He built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last decade covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper and Digital Trends. When not writing about tech, he’s often walking—through the streets of New York, over the sheep-dotted hills of Scotland, or just at his treadmill desk at home in front of the 50-inch 4K HDR TV that serves as his PC monitor.
  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3753289/motherboards.html
    Reply
  • tomasf
    Is there any mobo with Thunderbolt 3 that you can recommend?
    Reply
  • roy.a.dejesus
    What's considered the best/smallest mini-itx mb and case combo for the Ryzen5 2400G? No discrete vc will be used. I want this to be as transportable as possible.
    Reply
  • rettinger
    The Biostar X370 newegg link says that it's out of stock and may not be restocked. So, I'm not sure that's a helpful suggestion.
    Reply
  • Soaptrail
    Are AMD 470 motherboards not mass produced yet? Not one is on this list.
    Reply
  • tyrii
    Hi Thomas,
    There seems to be mistake on the pricing of the Asus ROG Strix Z370-G Gaming or the $80 price tag is for another motherboard.
    Reply
  • thalian
    1. The above comment is correct. I only WISH the Asus ROG Strix Z370-G Gaming mobo was available for $80!!! That link actually goes to Amazon's listing for the previous board: ASRock H370M PRO4 .
    2. Why no other boards priced under $200? And why only 6 Intel mainstream LGA-1151 boards? There's a ton of them out there and there have to be more than 6 that are good to use.
    Reply
  • tazmo8448
    Yeah I'd like to see the AMD X470 boards reviewed too...as per Soaptrails post.
    Reply
  • dahenger
    AMD X470 please.
    Reply
  • Jungstar
    No full size b450 of b350 nor micro atx boards???
    Reply