Note: For AMD's AM4 X570, B550, B450 and Threadripper motherboards, see page two or our Best AMD X570 Motherboards page. This first page focuses on Intel, after laying out some basics.
Choosing the best gaming motherboard or best motherboard for another type of build is in many ways an integral part of your PC build, despite the fact that choosing the best CPU or the best graphics card often gets more attention. Nearly every part of your PC plugs into your motherboard. Its form factor dictates the size of your computer, and its chipset and socket limit what kind of processor you can install.
If you’re not sure which chipset you’re after when choosing the best gaming motherboard for you, 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 buying options.
The picks below include the best gaming motherboards designed for Intel's 10th Gen "Comet Lake," as well as 9th Generation "Coffee Lake Refresh," followed by the lower-cost H370 alternative. Below our mainstream picks, you’ll find our recommendations for the best motherboards with 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 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 current Intel 8th Gen and 9th Gen Core CPUs require LGA 1151v2 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 a wired connection. You can future proof your PC by getting USB 3.1 Gen 2 and / or Thunderbolt 3 support.
The Best Intel Gaming Motherboards: Z490, Z390, H370, and X299
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.
The Z390 Designare beats its closest rival on features for the price, has similar overclocking limits to its closest rival but beats it in overclocked DRAM performance, and has at least enough extra value to justify its premium over cheaper boards. We have to consider whether the “workstation replacement” PC market will tolerate a board with mediocre CPU overclocking. But given that there’s so little to gain from overclocking the Core i9-9900K, we feel that more often than not the answer is yes.
Even if you never use its Thunderbolt 3 port, it’s hard to deny the supremacy of a board that does everything else better than the competition, while costing less. The Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is even cheaper than the non-Wi-Fi version of MSI’s ATX MGP Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon, though that won’t matter to anyone who needs the extra DIMM and PCIe slots afforded by the larger form factor. But for those looking for a Mini ITX board to support Intel’s Core i9-9900K, the Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is easily our first choice, making it one of the best gaming motherboards you can buy.
An alternative to its award-winning Gaming SLI, Gigabyte's Z390 Gaming X offers similar overclocking capability on substantially similar layout, at a noticeably lower price that garnered it the same value award. It's the best gaming motherboard for Z390 if you're on a budget. After Gigabyte stopped distributing the SLI model in USA, the Gaming X became our only option for budget overclocking of Intel's K-series unlocked LGA-1151 processors.
Priced around $80 (£78) and at times dipping below $70 (£70), the ASRock H370M Pro4 brings Intel’s more-advanced H370 feature set to buyers who thought they could only afford a lesser B360 model. If you have less than $100 to spend, it's one of the best gaming motherboards for Intel's pared-down platform. ASRock splits the H370’s extra HSIO (high-speed input/output) pathways across two rear-panel USB 3.0 ports and two internal SATA headers. Buyers who don’t need RGB or a 10Gb/s USB 3.1 Gen2 front-panel header will be pleased to find that the H370M Pro4 offers more of nearly every other port than its closest competitor, for a lower price.
Read: ASRock H370M Pro4 Review
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.
By being the only LGA 2066 motherboard available to Mini-ITX builders, the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac automatically becomes the best choice for these builds. Despite its lack of competition, the price is reasonable and the performance level is spot-on for the Core i9-7900X, even with the board’s lower-than-average default power ceiling. It’s not perfect, but if you’re looking to build a compact high-power Intel X299 desktop, this board should serve you well.