The Best Motherboards for Gaming in 2021

In the span of only a few decades, PC gaming has gone from being an obscure hobby reserved for nerds to being the go-to source of entertainment for millions of people worldwide. Oftentimes we’re left with big chunks of time on our hands, whether from a slow work week or bad weather, and are forced to find new ways to kill time. With that in mind, there hasn’t been a better time to get into PC gaming, and the first part of building your first PC is choosing the right motherboard. Let’s talk a bit about the best motherboard for gaming.

If you’re new to the PC master race or you’re only used to buying prebuilt systems, we’re here to educate you on what to look for in the best motherboard that’ll meet your particular needs. The motherboard is the base of each build and will dictate what type of CPU you can use, the type of RAM, expansion options, transfer rates for storage, and much more.

We’ll cover the best AM4 motherboard as well as LGA 1151 motherboard, what features are more important for different applications so that you get a comprehensive view of what the market has to offer as well as how your motherboard will impact your system’s performance.

rog strix z590-e gaming wifi
  • Z590/LGA1200
  • 4 M.2 slots
  • 5333 MHz RAM speed
  • 14+2 power stages

Finding a good motherboard can be quite the challenge sometimes, but there are just certain brands and lines of motherboards you know are overkill for whatever CPU you will put in it, therefore can be bought with complete confidence.

Such a line of motherboards comes from Asus ROG with the Strix components. In this specific case, we are talking about the Strix Z590-E motherboard that is compatible with the latest 11th and 10th gen Intel CPUs.

Besides the compatibility with the newest and greatest one thing that makes this motherboard such a force to be reckoned with is the 14+2 power delivery which means that you can power ANY Intel CPU with this board.

The Strix Z590-E comes with 4 m.2 slots, one of them being a PCIe gen 4 which means you will most likely never have to deal with a SATA drive if you wish so.

This is a six-layer PCB as well which means you can overclock RAM pretty well, and in general, any type of overclocking will be easily achievable.

The motherboard also has Wi-Fi 6E and dual 2.5Gb ethernet connections to give you the best possible internet connection available.

The last thing you need to know about this Strix motherboard is that excellence costs a pretty penny so be ready to spend around 350$ if you are interested in this great quality motherboard!

Pros:
  • Extremely good power delivery and cooling
  • Enough M.2 slots to run a data center
  • Six layer PCB and 5333MHz RAM compatibility is a scary combo
  • Wi-Fi 6E and dual 2.5Gb ethernet is just superb
Cons:
  • The one single drawback of this motherboard is the price

Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Elite AX

A Bit More Reasonable Than a ROG Board

gigabyte z590 aorus elite ax
  • Z590/LGA1200
  • 3 M.2 slots
  • 5400 MHz RAM speed
  • 12+1 power stages

Another brand that you can trust when it comes to competent motherboards is Gigabyte with its Aorus line of products. Unlike ROG Strix motherboards these are a bit more realistic in terms of what they offer and will be suited for most gamers out there.

The Z590 Aorus Elite AX is a Z590/LGA 1200 motherboard which means it is compatible with the newest Intel 11th/10th generation CPUs. To be able to properly power a 10900K for example you need quite a bit of power and the Elite AX motherboard has a solid 12+1 VRM solution that can do that easily.

The power delivery on the motherboard is superb therefore it can do overclocking and every other intense task you throw at it with ease.

The motherboard has 3 M.2 slots one of them being a Gen 4 which ensures that you can use the latest and greatest storage options for your build. The Elite AX also supports RAM up to 5400 MHz which is quite literally an insane speed for anybody.

The Elite AX also has Wi-Fi 6 and fast 2.5 Gb ethernet connections that will keep up with the most demanding networking situations you would have.

Overall this is a great motherboard for any high-end build and it costs only 240$ by comparison to other motherboards (we are looking at you ROG) makes it a superb deal.

Pros:
  • Very good power delivery that can handle anything
  • 3x M.2 slots with a PCIe gen 4 slots in there as well
  • Compatibility with 5400 MHz RAM
  • ALC 1220 Realtek audio
  • A better value to performance proposition
Cons:
  • The 240$ might still be a bit too much for certain people

Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero

Crazier Than the Strix

rog maximus xiii hero z590
  • Z590/LGA1200
  • 2x Gen 4 M.2 and 2x Gen 3 M.2 slots
  • 5333 MHz RAM speed with OptiMem III
  • 14+2 power stages

Remember when we told you that ROG likes to make the craziest motherboards with the most overkill feature sets? Well, we can assure you we weren’t lying and we can prove it by looking at the Z590 Maximus XIII Hero motherboard.

This is the top-of-the-line 500$ Z590/LGA 1200 motherboard compatible with the latest Intel 11th and 10th gen CPUs. The power delivery in this motherboard is an insane 14+2 power stages that are cooled by enlarged VRM heatsinks and covers.

The Maximus has a special memory trace layout that helps with RAM latency and frequency so you can expect overclocking (up to 5333 MHz) to be as stable as it can be. You have 4 M.2 slots at your disposal, 2 of them being Gen 4 for insanely fast speeds.

For connectivity, you will get a Wi-Fi 6E and dual 2.5 GB ethernet. The Maximus Hero also comes with an improved ALC4082 chip that helps you get improved audio quality out of your motherboard.

The biggest advantage of this motherboard in terms of connectivity has to be the 2x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports that allow you a wide variety of connections.

Overall this is the premium motherboard offering that was specifically designed with extremely heavy overclocking and a rich feature set in mind.

Pros:
  • Best power delivery and cooling on a motherboard
  • 2x M.2 Gen 4 slots and 2x Gen 3 slots
  • Six layer PCB and 5333MHz RAM compatibility plus the OptiMem III tracing makes RAM overclocking a breeze
  • Wi-Fi 6E and dual 2.5Gb ethernet is great for professional workloads
Cons:
  • A 500$ motherboard is not something everybody can even dream about

MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Carbon

The MSI Contender for the Z590 Platform

msi mpg z590 gaming carbon
  • Z590/LGA1200
  • 1x Gen 4 M.2 and 2x Gen 3 M.2 slots
  • 5333 MHz OC RAM speed
  • 16+1+1 power stages

Besides Asus ROG and Gigabyte another manufacturer that is well known in the motherboard industry is MSI. Msi is known for creating extremely capable motherboards that are feature-packed while offering great stability and power delivery.

The MSI MPG Z590 motherboard falls directly under this description being a great motherboard that fulfills all the necessary conditions for a recommendation. The MSI MPG Z590 is an LGA 1200 motherboard compatible with Intel 11/10th generation CPUs and is capable of powering them easily with the massive 16+1+1 duet rail power system.

The motherboard of course also has heavy-plated VRM cooling and ensures the PCB is cool as well with a 6-layer printed circuit.

The MPG Z590 has 1x Gen 4 M.2 slot and 2x Gen 3 M.2 slots which give you enough flexibility with your storage configurations. The motherboard also supports 4x 5333 MHz RAM sticks that can be achieved through heavy overclocking.

As per usual with these types of motherboards, you will also get a Wi-Fi 6E connection and a 2.5Gb Ethernet port.

Pros:
  • Insane 16+1+1 power stages for power delivery
  • 1x M.2 Gen 4 slots and 2x Gen 3 slots for storage
  • Six layer PCB and 5333MHz RAM compatibility align it with other top-of-the-line motherboards
  • Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5Gb ethernet as per the latest standards
Cons:
  • No dual ethernet
  • Only 1x Gen 4 PCIe M.2 SSD slot
  • Quite expensive being sold at 300$

ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus

The More Affordable Asus Z590 Motherboard

asus tuf gaming z590-plus
  • Z590/LGA1200
  • 14+2 DrMOS power stages
  • Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5Gb ethernet
  • 3x M.2 slots with 1 of them being Gen 4

Besides ROG, Asus also has another famous line of products called TUF which usually represent the cheaper but still incredibly good offerings. In the case of the Z590 platform, the TUF motherboard line is represented by the Z590 Gaming Plus.

This motherboard is another LGA 1200 board that is ready for 11/10th Gen of the Intel processors and is appropriately fitted with 14+2 power stages to deliver enough power for these high-end CPUs.

This is also another six-layer PCB motherboard which means that it supports 5333 MHz RAM overclocking and offers high-end RAM routing for better frequency and lower latency.

To make sure everything operates at adequate temperatures the TUF board has a big VRM heatsink, PCH heatsink, and M.2 slots heatsinks. Talking about M.2 slots this motherboard has 3 of them, one of them being the newest Gen 4 which means it has insanely fast read/write speeds.

The TUF Z590 motherboard also comes with Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5 Gb LAN ethernet that is perfect for gaming and entertainment. In the audio department, the TUF board is equipped with a Realtek S1200A chip which will ensure that you will enjoy decent audio quality straight from your motherboard.

Pros:
  • Sturdy build quality and power delivery from Asus
  • Has good heatsinks to keep your motherboard and components cool
  • Has all the best features with 5333MHz RAM OC and six-layer PCB
  • Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5Gb ethernet as per the latest standards
Cons:
  • Only 1x Gen 4 PCIe M.2 SSD slot
  • Not the best audio chip from Realtek

MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Edge WiFi

The Second Z590 MSI Option

msi mpg z590 gaming edge wifi
  • Z590/LGA1200
  • 2x Gen 3 M.2 slots and 1x Gen 4 M.2
  • 5333 MHz RAM speed
  • Realtek ALC4080 Codec

Like with most other Z590 motherboards, if you choose to go for the MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Edge you know you will be getting the best possible feature set for the newest Intel CPUs (LGA 1200).

The Gaming Edge comes with 14+1+1 DrMOS power delivery and has a bunch of heatsinks around the VRMs to ensure proper cooling and power delivery. This also applies to the M.2 slots which have heavy heatsinks over them for cooling purposes.

The PCB itself is a 6-layer PCB that allows you to overclock your ram to 5333MHz if your sticks allow for it. You have 3 M.2 slots one of them being Gen 4 like on most other Z590 motherboards. This means that your new Gen 4 SSD finally can be used at full speeds without compromises.

The motherboard also has a high-end ALC4080 audio codec ensuring high fidelity in your audio quality. For networking, you have access to an Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 connection and a 2.5Gb Ethernet connection. Everything is in line with what you would expect from a high-end motherboard.

Pros:
  • Stable OC-ing for CPU and RAM
  • Can make use of a Gen 4 M.2 SSD
  • Has Wi-Fi which gives you a bit of flexibility regarding your connectivity
  • Premium VRM and VRM cooling
Cons:
  • As expected of most Z590 motherboards the downside is the price – around 290$

ASUS ROG Strix B560-A Gaming

The Rog Reliability but Cheaper

asus rog strix b560-a gaming wifi
  • B560/LGA1200
  • 1x Gen 3 M.2 slots and 1x Gen 4 M.2
  • 5000+ MHz RAM speed
  • 1 x BIOS FlashBack button

If you really like what the ROG line of motherboards has but do not want to go to the highest end Z590 then stopping at the Z560 Gaming from ROG might be a good solution for you. This motherboard still has an LGA 1200 socket therefore is compatible with all 11/10th Gen Intel CPUs.

The ROG Strix B560 has a solid 8+2 power delivery with heatsinks for VRMs and M.2 slots. You benefit from having a 6 layer PCB, therefore, being able to OC your RAM to 5000+MHz on this motherboard while using the OptiMem III feature.

The Strix B560-A comes with 2x M.2 slots one of them being a Gen 4 and one being Gen 3 enabling you to use fast storage devices with high capacity. The motherboard obviously has Wi-Fi 6, since it is in the name, and also a 2.5Gb Ethernet port.

Pros:
  • Better pricing
  • Has a Gen 4 M.2 SSD
  • Has Wi-Fi and highspeed Ethernet
  • Has decent power delivery
Cons:
  • No reputable audio codec

MSI B560M ProSeries

Reliable mATX Motherboard

msi b560m pro proseries
  • B560/LGA1200
  • 1x Gen 4 M.2
  • 5200 MHz RAM speed
  • 2.5 Gb Ethernet

If you are really struggling with your budget or simply are planning a smaller-sized Intel build with the newest CPUs, then a motherboard you should look at is the MSI B560M ProSeries. Although smaller in size this is still an LGA 1200 motherboard so it supports anything up to an i9.

The motherboard can OC your RAM to 5200 MHz but only has 2 DIMM slots so you should carefully select your RAM kit. The motherboard has only 1x M.2 SSD slot but it is PCIe Gen 4 compatible therefore you can still make good use of the extra-fast storage devices.

The motherboard sadly has only an ALC897 audio codec which is quite lacking in comparison to the more premium motherboards but it will still do a decent job at offering you good sound quality.

For internet connectivity, you have a single Realtek LAN 2.5Gb port, but in most cases, this should be good enough for productivity and gaming loads. Overall a decent budget motherboard for people looking for a cheaper system build.

Pros:
  • Good budget price
  • Has a Gen 4 M.2 SSD
  • Has decent power delivery
  • Can fit in smaller cases because of the mATX size
Cons:
  • Power delivery and VRM cooling could be better
  • Only 1x M.2 slot
  • Cheaper audio codec

ASUS Prime B560-PLUS

The Prime Z590 Alternative

asus prime b560-plus
  • B560/LGA1200
  • 2x M.2 slots
  • 4600 MHz RAM speed
  • 1Gb Ethernet

If you are planning for more of a budget build but still want out-of-the-box compatibility with Intel 11/10th Gen CPUs then you should look at the Asus Prime B560-Plus motherboard. This is another LGA 1200 motherboard that can support any of the newest Intel CPUs with no issues.

The motherboard has decent power delivery and VRM cooling which is obviously not top of the line but will get the job done with no issues. The Prime Plus motherboard can support up to 4600 MHz OC on your RAM sticks which are once again slower compared to full Z590 motherboards, but capable enough to not be considered an issue considering that RAM running at 4000+ MHz is pretty expensive.

You get 2x M.2 slots on the motherboard, one being a Gen 4 slot giving you those extra read/write speeds if you need them. You also have 1Gb Ethernet and USB Type-C connectivity but no Wi-Fi which is a fair trade on a lower-end motherboard.

Pros:
  • A lot cheaper than the Z590 motherboards
  • 2x M.2 slots are enough for 99% of the people
  • Most PC gamers use a LAN connection anyways, Wi-Fi being redundant
  • Good VRM and VRM cooling to support overclocking your CPU/RAM
Cons:
  • Small VRM heatsinks

ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha

The Best Gaming Motherboard For Threadripper Processors

asus rog zenith ii extreme alpha
  • sTRX4 Socket
  • 16+2 Phase VRM
  • Wi-Fi 6, 10Gb + 1Gb LAN
  • Four SATA III, Three M.2 Slots (You Cad Add More Via Adapter)

The ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha is a premier TRX40 board made for the latest generation of AMD Threadripper CPUs. If you use your PC for heavy work but also for gaming, this board is one of the best choices on the market.

It’s packed with features and ready for anything you throw at it. It comes with 16+2 stage VRM, just what you need for a power-hungry workstation CPU. You also get eight DIMM slots, three M.2 slots, and four SATA III ports. It’s worth noting that you can get additional adapters that turn one DIMM slot into two M.2 ports.

The board also includes four PCIe x16 slots, an excellent audio section, and a design similar to other ROG motherboard models. That means tasteful RGB implementation and attractive design. Connectivity-wise the ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha comes with a dual gigabit (10Gb + 1Gb) LAN, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1.

The rear I/O includes five USB 3.2 gen2 ports, one high-speed 20Gbps USB Type-C port, four USB 3.2 gen1 ports, and BIOS flash and clear CMOS buttons. Extra features include a small, multipurpose OLED screen found on the board, debug LEDs, and power and reset buttons found on the PCB.

Pros:
  • Excellent Design
  • Superb VRM
  • DIMM Slots Can Host Additional M.2 Drives (Adapter Is Needed)
  • 20Gbps USB-C
  • Lots Of Extra Features
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Only Four SATA III Ports

How to Choose the Right Motherboard

motherboard structure

Choosing the perfect motherboard for your build isn’t rocket surgery. PC building is all about finding balance and avoiding bottlenecks. So, depending on the other components you plan on purchasing, you might want a better or a more value-oriented mobo.

Size

For starters, you need to make sure that your motherboard will fit your future case. Cases and motherboards come in standard sizes. You have E-ATX, XL ATX, ATX, Micro ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards. ATX boards and cases are the most popular, and all of the motherboards that we’ve talked about so far are made respecting that standard. Make sure that your case is ATX compatible and you’re golden.

Overclocking

Overclocking is something that all enthusiasts should do. It allows you to squeeze every last drop of performance out of your GPU, CPU, and RAM. For the best overclocking results, you need to make sure that your motherboard comes with a solid VRM (voltage regulator module). This is a combination of chokes, MOSFETs, and capacitors that take the current from the PSU and convert it to something that the other components can use. The more intricate the VRM, the more stable the voltage, hence better overclocks.

Most of the time, the manufacturer will talk about power phases or use terms like DIGI+ VRM. When a board comes with such features, then you’re guaranteed to have an easy time overclocking your components. And hey, overclocking might be coming to mobile platforms soon, so all systems might soon be factory-unlocked.

I/O

Ins and outs. Simple as that. Depending on your peripherals, external drives, or other gadgets that you use in your day-to-day routines, your motherboard must come equipped with ports that will allow you to stay connected.

For example, if you’re using an old-school mechanical keyboard that prevents ghosting, it’s likely using a PS2 port, which is a very old standard. Maybe you want to use integrated graphics for a TV or an older monitor. You get the idea.

Front Header Connectors

Cases come with front header connectors, like USB and audio. If your case has USB 3.1 or 3.2 Gen2, then you need to make sure that the motherboard you’re going to purchase has front header connectors that match your case’s features. It’s easy, just check the motherboard’s specifications and everything you need to find is right there.

About The Author

Catalin Tabacu

Catalin is a long-time PC enthusiast and an avid gamer. His love for overclocking is second only to his love for a well-written RPG. Having taken a swing at competitive DOTA2, he has the know-how to give you the best recommendations that will elevate your in-game performance to the next level.

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