Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central with a primary focus on PC and VR hardware. He is an avid PC gamer and multiplatform user. When he has some spare time, he can usually be found practicing guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say, “Sorry!” it’s just because he’s Canadian.
- Best motherboards 2022: For gaming, AMD Ryzen, and Intel
- Best motherboards in 2022:
- ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II: Best overall motherboard for AMD PCs
- Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming
- MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge
- How Much Should You Spend on a Gaming Motherboard?
- Things to Look for in a Motherboard (For Gaming)
- Form factor
- Motherboard form factors to know
- Motherboard Expansion Options
- Price Range
- Motherboard Sizes Explained (Compatibility With Case)
- ATX (Full/Standard Size)
- Micro ATX (Smaller)
- Mini ITX (Smallest)
- Extended ATX (Extra Large)
- How to Check Motherboard and RAM Compatibility
Best motherboards 2022: For gaming, AMD Ryzen, and Intel
While the CPU, graphics card, and system memory are important to a running computer, the motherboard holds it all together and acts as the backbone. It’s easy to make the wrong choice with a motherboard, which is why we’ve gathered some of the best motherboards here to help you make the right choice.
Opting for AMD or Intel for your CPU (or having one already in the platform you plan to upgrade) significantly narrows your search for a new motherboard. Intel motherboards ship with Intel chipsets that only work with the company’s processors, much like AMD. You cannot physically install an Intel processor on an AMD motherboard and vice versa.
For most people, ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II for AMD or ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi for Intel will provide high stability and performance, allowing the rest of your PC to use their advertised potential. ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS or ASUS TUF Gaming H570-PRO WiFi will help you save some money, while the Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Master or ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula are for people with deep pockets and high expectations.
Best motherboards in 2022:
In addition to the physical socket types, you have specific Intel and AMD chipsets that only work with certain processors. The X570 is best suited for AMD Ryzen 5000 or 3000 series processors. Intel Z690 is good for 12th generation processors. Take a look at our complete list of the best motherboards to see which one best fits your PC building plan.
ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II: Best overall motherboard for AMD PCs
Bottom line: High-quality components, some serious heat sinks for VRM, and the best AMD chipset make the ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II one of the best motherboards available for AMD in terms of value. Granted, it doesn’t offer all the features you’d find in enthusiast motherboards, but it’s about as good as a desktop motherboard.
Socket: AM4 | Maximum RAM: 4x 32 GB (128 GB) | Chipset: AMD X570 | Size: ATX | Features: 2.5Gb LAN, PCIe 4.0, ASUS Aura, M.2 heatsinks, 14 + 2 phase VRM
|ASUS||ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II||$ 360 at Amazon|
|ASUS||ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II||$ 360 at Newegg|
- High-quality components
- Works with Ryzen 5000 processors
- Great PCB design
- Cool Aura RGB effects
- Stable overclocking capabilities
The motherboard is very important, but it’s hard to get confused as long as you buy one that matches the CPU you intend to install. If we go for one that strikes a delicate balance between performance and price for AMD fans, it would be the ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II. The AMD Ryzen generation of processors dominates Intel, and the best ASUS motherboard for us is a perfect match.
It’s not the most powerful AMD motherboard, but you probably won’t need all the extra features that show up on the best motherboards on the market. AMD has been using the AM4 platform since Ryzen’s launch in 2017, and the X570 is the company’s latest high-end chipset. This platform will support not only Ryzen 3000 processors, but also the new 5000 series.
It is possible to install up to 128 GB of RAM using the four supplied DIMM slots, although the probability that you will need more than 32 GB is a stretch as only intensive workstations that handle large files (for example video editing) require such large amounts.
The best part of the ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II is the high-quality components found throughout the device. This is one of the more critical factors in choosing a motherboard and having a solid power configuration. Capacitors and other performance components should be part of the premium series for greater reliability and better overclocking support.
The rear port selection is pretty good for 2022 as well. ASUS includes DisplayPort and HDMI (for Ryzen processors with integrated graphics), optical S / PDIF output, 2.5 Gb LAN, Wi-Fi, seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, as well as additional USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-C Harbor. You can easily connect all your favorite gaming accessories or even a few.
You also have RGB connectors, pump slots for water cooling, two M.2 slots, tons of SATA slots, and enough PCI slots to install all your favorite sound cards. It’s not a cheap motherboard, but you get a lot for the money. And since it uses the latest AMD chipset, you’ll be able to use PCIe 4.0.
One very important thing to watch out for when choosing an AMD motherboard is that chipsets won’t always be compatible with every CPU configuration.
Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming
Intel’s best motherboard is the Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming.
This full-size Asus motherboard with the ATX Z490 LGA 1200 slot is mid-range – after ROG Maximus – but with AI overclocking, support for up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM at 4600MHz, and two M.2 ports prepared for a slot in the best SSDs for gaming provides all you need for a top-of-the-line gaming design. Plus, you get all the latest connectivity options – a USB Type-C port for up to 20Gbps transfer speeds, 2.5G Ethernet, built-in Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound card.
ASUS AI overclocking makes overclocking easy, even if you have no idea what you’re doing by analyzing CPU and cooling performance and adjusting clock, fan speed and voltage accordingly – alternatively, we can help you with our guide on how to overclock your CPU and GPU. It’s also a striking look, with a black VRM cover that also has customizable RGB lighting. Also included is a VRM cooling fan, handy for overclocking.
What do we like…
|Asus ROG Strix Z490-E GAMING specifications|
|Electric socket||LGA 1200|
|Multiple GPUs||2x Nvidia SLI, 3x AMD CrossFire|
MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge
The best-priced motherboard for Intel is the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge.
Another motherboard based on the Z490, but at a more affordable price. It’s a full-size ATX chip, and just like ROG Strix you get the very latest in connectivity – built-in Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and 7.1 sound card. There is RGB lighting underneath the aluminum heat sinks which is completely unnecessary but a bit neat.
One feature we like here is the M.2 heatsink, which lowers the SSD’s temperature and prevents throttling, ensuring that read and write speeds are maintained at high speeds.
What do we like…
Value for money
|Specification of MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Gaming|
|Electric socket||LGA 1200|
|Multiple GPUs||2x AMD CrossFire|
Where are you installing the processor. Different CPUs require different sockets, so you’ll need to pick the right motherboard for your specific CPU (we’ll get to that).
How Much Should You Spend on a Gaming Motherboard?
Most motherboards offer very little difference in gaming performance between them, so it may not always be justified to drop a few hundred dollars on the next board for an extra 4 FPS.
Our suggestion is to always go with mid-range boards, but obviously some people are on a tight budget and others want to make a contest by spending as much money as possible on their gear.
Higher price doesn’t necessarily mean more motherboards.
The price of motherboards is tied to a few things:
High-end motherboards with all the fancy LED lights will always come at a higher price because of these features, but often they are only paired with high-performance motherboards, so maybe you’re in luck.
The feature set will no doubt always raise the price of the motherboard as well. For example, a motherboard with three USB 3.0 ports will cost more than one with three USB 2.0 ports.
The lower overclockable motherboard should only cost around $ 75-90 on the AMD side, depending on whether you choose the B350 or the B450, and on Intel their Z370 and Z390 motherboards cost just over $ 100 for the low end models.
Things to Look for in a Motherboard (For Gaming)
As we mentioned earlier, something you always need to look for in your new motherboard is proficiency in overclocking, as this process makes the CPU run a lot faster.
Chipsets often overclock at different levels. B450 motherboards will most often overclock much better than their B350 counterparts. And the X370 / 470 motherboard is built for overclocking, so it naturally outperforms the B350 and B450.
One very important thing to watch out for when choosing an AMD motherboard is that chipsets won’t always be compatible with every CPU configuration.
Each chipset was made for the generation of CPUs it was released with, and while technically you could use any Ryzen CPU on any AM4 motherboard, there are some holes you can jump through.
Put simply, Ryzen Gen 1 (1200, 1600, 1700) processors can run out-of-the-box on any AM4 motherboard.
Ryzen Gen 2 processors (2400G, 2600, 2700) may run on the B450, X470, and X570 out of the box, but the B350 and X370 boards will need to be updated to the latest BIOS to be compatible (this process requires a compatible processor).
The new 3000 series chips follow the pattern of the 2000s, except that they are currently only compatible with X570 motherboards.
When it comes to Z370 and Z390 motherboards, there is literally no difference in overclocking capability between the two types.
Actually, we explained that the differences between Z370 and Z390 are explained in this article.
Socket: LGA1700 | Maximum RAM: 4x 32 GB (128 GB) | Chipset: Z590 | Size: ATX | Features: 2.5 Gb LAN, ASUS Aura, M.2 heatsinks, 18 + 1 phase VRM
Motherboards come in a variety of sizes which means you have some flexibility in building your PC to suit your environment. If you’ve got plenty of space, you can use a full-size tower case, and if you’re building a home theater PC (HTPC) that’s going to sit under the TV in your family room, you’ll probably want the much smaller case.
That’s why motherboards come in a variety of sizes or forms, and these standards define not only the size of the motherboard, but also the number of components they support. There are differences with the latter, but overall, the larger the physical size of a motherboard, the more components it will support. Not all cases support all case types, so make sure your motherboard and case match.
Motherboard form factors to know
Below are some of the more popular aspect ratios and their most common specifications:
|Size||9.0 x 7.5 inches||9.6 x 9.6 inches||12×9.6 inch|
|RAM slots||2||Up to 4||Up to 8|
|GPU||Up to 1||Up to 3||Up to 4|
|SATA ports||Up to 6||Up to 8||Until 12|
These are general guidelines for some of the most popular motherboard types. There are more of them and they differ in their abilities. The most important thing is to decide what size computer you want to build or buy, how many components you want to configure now and in the future, and then choose the motherboard format that best suits your needs.
Motherboard Expansion Options
Motherboards can combine a variety of components in addition to the CPU, including graphics cards, sound cards, network cards, storage devices and connections, and more. Over the years, there have been many types of expansion ports, but luckily, things got a lot simpler. Today you will mainly deal with Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) ports, and some motherboards also include PCI slots for legacy devices.
PCIe is the most important port and the one you’ll use today to connect most of your components. There are four sizes of PCIe slots, and the latest widely used standard is PCIe 3.0, with PCIe 4.0 being available on the latest Ryzen and Intel Comet Lake compatible boards. These four sizes determine both the bandwidth and size of your connection – make sure you have enough expansion slots and that they are the correct size to meet all your current and future needs.
The four slot sizes are x1, x4, x8, and x16 with the most popular being x4 and x16. Motherboards vary greatly in the number of slots they contain, as well as their placement. You’ll want to make sure you have enough slots and that they have enough space around them to fit all the required components.
Socket: LGA1700 | Maximum RAM: 4x 32 GB (128 GB) | Chipset: Z690 | Size: ATX | Features: Wi-Fi 6, 10Gb LAN, ASUS Aura, 20 + 1 phase VRM
If you’re planning a budget for a computer, you already know that price is a major factor. If you’re getting something cheap, you can’t necessarily count on amazing performance, such as when overclocking.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should buy the most expensive board you can find. With any type of board, you can often find a trade-off between price, quality, and performance, especially if you pay attention to reviews.
The motherboard is the backbone of your computer. Spend enough time looking for something that fits your needs and budget. This way, you will have a solid motherboard that will keep your system running smoothly for many years to come.
- ›12th Gen Intel Core i9 is faster and cheaper than AMD Ryzen
- ›How to check the BIOS version and update it
- ›How to enable Intel VT-x in the computer’s BIOS or UEFI firmware
- ›What is a motherboard?
- ›Stop listening to celebrities’ advice on cryptocurrencies (and everything else)
- ›How to configure dual monitors in Windows 11
- ›How to get more dynamic range from your photos
- ›8 cybersecurity tips to stay protected in 2022
Ian Paul is a freelance writer with over ten years of experience writing about technology. In addition to writing for How-To Geek, he regularly collaborates with PCWorld as a critic, reporter, reporter, deal hunter, and columnist. His work has also appeared online on The Washington Post, ABC News, MSNBC, Reuters, Macworld, Yahoo Tech, Tech.co, TechHive, The Huffington Post, and Lifewire. His articles are regularly distributed to many IDG sites, including CIO, Computerworld, GameStar, Macworld UK, Tech Advisor, and TechConnect.
Read the full biography »
Richard Devine is a review editor at Windows Central. You’ll usually find it deep in hardware, games, or root beer drinking, which openly has a mild addiction.
Motherboard Sizes Explained (Compatibility With Case)
To know if your motherboard will be compatible and will fit into your PC case, you’ll need to check the case specs to make sure it supports the size of your motherboard. Technically speaking, the size of the motherboard is referred to as its aspect ratio, and there are 4 main sizes to choose from when building a desktop computer:
Not perfect to scale, because just like you, I’m human (mostly). If you need specific measurements for any reason, please go here
ATX (Full/Standard Size)
We’ll start with ATX (2 from left in the image above) as this is the most popular motherboard size used in modern gaming PCs (micro ATX probably isn’t that far behind, though). ATX motherboards fit into any mid-tower or full tower case and can offer the full range of features due to their full size.
Micro ATX (Smaller)
Micro-ATX, commonly referred to simply as mATX, are slightly shorter than standard ATX motherboards and are a good choice if you’re building in a smaller form factor and / or if you’re on a tight budget (mATX boards are generally cheaper than ATX ones). The trade-off is that you get a few fewer features, most notably less expansion slots (PCIe), but sometimes fewer RAM slots as well (2 instead of the 4 you’d find on any modern ATX board).
However, there are plenty of mATX motherboards with 4 slots for RAM, and when it comes to expansion slots, for most designs you don’t need them anyway, as most gaming kits only require one PCIe slot (per graphics card) and maybe a maximum of 2 if you throw in a Wi-Fi card (if your motherboard doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi, but you want Wi-Fi). Just make sure your one specifies support for mATX motherboards. Oh, and one more thing about mATX motherboards is that they can sometimes make your build look a bit ‘blank’ if you have a transparent side window in your case (though not a big problem, but it’s worth mentioning).
Mini ITX (Smallest)
Short for Mini ITX, these are the smallest motherboards, but they only fit some cases, which are also in the mITX format. Mini ITX PCs can be a bit more difficult to build, so buying a mITX motherboard is generally not recommended for novice builders (it makes cable management difficult and airflow optimized).
Extended ATX (Extra Large)
Rarely used by mere mortals, Extended-ATX motherboards (commonly referred to as EATX) are the largest consumer desktop motherboards you can buy, used in extreme ‘my CPU costs more than your PC’ setups for otherworldly things like two or four graphics processors. They are the same height as ATX boards but slightly wider. Of course, EATX boards will only fit in big cases where EATX support is explicitly mentioned. For most people, it’s fair to say that you can just completely ignore the ETX.
How to Check Motherboard and RAM Compatibility
When choosing a motherboard for your gaming PC, you also need to make sure that it will be compatible with the RAM modules of your choice. To find out if your motherboard and RAM are compatible, just check the following:
- The motherboard must support the type of RAM (DDR4 or DDR5) – I mean the general type of RAM. The current standard is DDR4, previously it was DDR3, and now DDR5 has just been released on some Intel Z690 motherboards for Intel 12th generation processors (AMD should support it at the next motherboard release in 2022). Motherboards only support one type of RAM (DDR4 or DDR5 – never both).
- MotherboardMustSupportRAM Speed - Also check if your motherboard supports the speed of your RAM. Do you buy 3200MHz modules? Check that 3200 MHz is officially listed in the motherboard RAM Speed Support List. If you see “OC” listed after speed, it just means you need to manually set the speed in your motherboard’s BIOS (software) to run the module at that speed (very easy to do as explained in our BIOS setup guide).
- Your RAM must not exceed your motherboard’s maximum RAM capacity – It’s also a good idea to know the maximum amount of memory your motherboard can hold, especially if you’re building an extreme system with tons of memory or planning to upgrade later. This shouldn’t be a problem with most builds as the upper limits supported by the disc are seldom used (any decent modern disc supports a healthy 32, 64 or 128GB etc).
- Motherboard must have enough RAM slots – full-size ATX motherboards will have 4 RAM slots, but Micro ATX and / or Mini ITX motherboards can only have 2. Of course, if you get a board with only 2 slots, don’t buy 4 memory RAM modules. But you always want 2 modules and never 1 because when you install 2 modules your RAM will run in what is known as “dual channel” which will slightly increase your performance (not much, but it definitely makes a difference).
If you check the above things, it might be a good idea to do 9 times out of 10. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are some cases (if you’re unlucky) where a specific set of RAM will not be compatible with a specific motherboard, even if all of the above specs match. Why? It just happens, unfortunately, and that’s why motherboard manufacturers provide a so-called QVL (Qualified Vendor List) for their motherboards, which lists the RAM modules they have officially tested to work with this motherboard.
But the point is, manufacturers can’t test and list every RAM model for all of their boards, so many modules will still work fine even if they’re not on the QVL list. Modern hardware is so good; it usually just works. Overall, due to the low potential for compatibility issues when it comes to motherboard and RAM (especially if you stick to the more popular brands of RAM), the general consensus in the DIY community is that it’s safe to ignore QVL and just buy whatever RAM you want.