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Best Motherboard for Gaming: The Top Picks of 2017 | Peek&Co
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With all the options available today, buying the wrong gaming motherboard is easy, but fear not, we'll show you the best motherboard for what you're looking to do.

There are so many factors you need to consider - what size motherboard will fit your case, what CPU you plan on using, etc. Keep in mind that gaming motherboards will also excel at any every day task, so even if you don't game often, getting a high quality motherboards is still important.

Not all motherboards will be right for you, but we're here to help. Our in-depth write up includes anything and everything you need to think about when buying the best motherboard, and to top it off, we picked the top in class gaming motherboards for you to consider as well. 

If you want to find the best motherboard for gaming without paying for any unnecessary features, check out the ones below. 

Motherboard Buyer's Guide

Matching things up

Most PC gaming rigs are built on the ATX form factor and use Intel CPUs - extended ATX motherboards need tall towers, micro/mini cases have cooling issues and AMD has yet to come out with a APU to compete with today's Intel chips.

As a result, all of the motherboards reviewed here are ATX and Intel.

There are a few factors to consider to find the best motherboard for gaming, compatibility with CPUs being the most important. Technology is advancing at breakneck speed so the tick-tock release schedule may change a little, but Intel seems to be happy with Moore's Law.

Things you don't need to worry about

None of the best motherboards reviewed here have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on-board. A competitive gamer should not put up with Wi-Fi unless his ISP is delivering 500/100 Mbps through a fiber optic cable. Ethernet is the way to go for most gamers.

As convenient as Bluetooth is, there are latency issues which can degrade game play when using a mouse or a keyboard. Some of the gaming motherboards reviewed are also Thunderbolt ready, but that only really matters if you're looking to use Apple products.

Lastly, many motherboard makers can't seem to let go of back panel D-Sub and PS/2 connectors. Most gamers have stopped using those connections but it certainly doesn't hurt to have them just in case.

Preparing For The Future

The trick to finding the best motherboard for gaming is to plan not only what you want to connect to the board now but also what you may connect in the future. For gamers, expecting about two years of use from a motherboard is pretty reasonable. After two years, the standards for CPU sockets, GPU connectors, RAM, USB and video ports probably will change and offer enough new performance to justify upgrading.

Graphics cards normally are the first component to evolve. The next version of PCI Express connector is not expected until about June 2017, but the speed will be twice as fast as PCIe 3.0, says Rick Merritt of EE Times.

It looks like the USB standard could be stable since vendors are still catching up to the changes presented in 2015. The current types and generations of USB are confusing, as Michael Crider of Digital Trends explains.

DDR4 RAM investors should be happy the next generation of RAM is not due out until 2020. This is system memory. The GDDR5 on graphics cards is already on the market. The new DDR5 for motherboards will be twice as fast as DDR4, says Phil Iwaniuk of PCGamesN.

If you're buying a motherboard today, you likely won't have to upgrade until 2018, when the price of the latest Intel CPUs with new socket requirements start declining and PCIe 4.0 fully saturates the market. So this is really the perfect time to invest in a a great motherboard for gaming and anything else.

Best Gaming Motherboard Reviews​

ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Professional Gaming I7

best motherboard

The price is steep - about $200, but the Fatal1ty Z170  has just about anything and everything a competitive PC gamer could need.

This makes it a perfect addition to our list of the best motherboards. Though $200 may sound like a lot, the Z170 might be considered a budget motherboard for gaming when you consider the fact that the next tier of gaming motherboards use the extended ATX form factor and cost about $450, which is a serious jump in price. 

The Fatal1ty Z170's black and red theme really stands out, plus it has an I/O shroud and aluminum alloy heat sinks for the MOSFET and chipset as well as Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire support (in case you want to double up on graphics cards - click here for our list of best graphics cards

One drawback of this motherboard is it cannot support all it's ports at once. In other words, there aren't enough lanes on the Z170 chipset. Michael Justin Allen Sexton of Tom's Hardware further explains the HSIO lane conundrum.

On the other hand, if you don't plan on using all the connectors on the Fatal1ty Z170, a less expensive motherboard with fewer connectors may be the best motherboard for you. Just make sure you think about not just your current games, but also your future gaming habits as well . 

At the end of the day, The Fatal1ty Z170 offers a lot of versatility, and the likelihood that you will use more than three internal hard drives in the same system is pretty farfetched, so this is definitely a solid choice for all but the most extreme gamers. 

PROS:
  • 4 DDR4 3866 (O.C.) MHz
  • 4 PCI Express 3.0 slots
  • 3 M.2 sockets for Gen
  • 3 x4 memory cards
  • 1 DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 DVI-D
CONS:
  • No D-Sub
  • Not enough HSIO lanes

ASUS Z170 Pro

Asus Z170 Pro is the best motherboard for gaming

ASUS has a lot of gaming motherboards, all with similar model numbers, so more than likely you can find one to fit your needs.

This one in particular has the Z170 chipset, which gets you two more SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports and more PCI Express port configurations than the H170 chipset.

On the other hand, the advantage of the H170 chipset is it can have more USB 3.0 ports. External USB 3.0 hubs are inexpensive and easy to find, so for a gamer, this is a minor feature.

The Z170-Pro has a black, white and silver theme with a shroud and heat spreaders, adjustable LED lights under the chipset logo, and to be expected at this level, support for Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire.

One more thing to consider is the Z170 Pro versus the deluxe version. Currently, the Z170 Pro costs much less than the Z170 Deluxe and, from what we can tell, has several additional features (although its arguable whether any of them actually add value for a gamer). What isn't debatable, however, is the fact that this motherboard for gaming offers an incredible bang for your buck.

PROS:
  • 4 DDR4 3866 (O.C.) MHz
  • 1 M.2 socket for Gen3 x4
  • 1 DisplayPort
  • 3 PCI Express 3.0 slots
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 DVI-D
CONS:
  • 3 PCI Express 3.0 slots
  • No D-Sub
  • No PS/2

Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 3

best motherboard

The Z170X costs about $20 more than the MSI B150 (another motherboard reviewed in this article), but it had some extra cool features.

The Z170 chipset opens up a ton of options including faster M.2 SSD and RAM; however, the big hang up for some gamers many be the lack of a DisplayPort, which could put a damper on 4K resolution and three-panel monitor setups. Compared to the ASUS Z170 Pro, you do get that extra M.2 socket, opening up the possibility for super fast RAID. 

Aesthetically, the board is solid black with only a few red highlights on the card slot snaps.

Another cool feature the Z170X has that is usually only found on more expensive models is a USB Type-C connector, which allows for compatibility with external devices.

In our opinion, this motherboard hits the sweet spot for mid-level gaming value - making it the the best motherboard for gaming in its mid-range class.

PROS:
  • 4 DDR4 3466 (O.C.) MHz through 2133 MHz
  • Supports Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire
  • 2 M.2 Gen3 x4 SSD sockets
  • 4 PCI Express 3.0 slots for graphics cards
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 DVI-D
CONS:
  • No DisplayPort

ASUS Z97-A/USB 3.1

best motherboard

For gamers still using Haswell or Broadwell Intel CPUs, the ASUS Z97-A is the best choice for a gaming motherboard.

The Z97 chipset came out in early 2014 so the ASUS board will be compatible with older CPUs, however the older chipset lacks the vast support of ports from the Z170 chipset.

The advantage of integrated graphics on the Z170 chipset is a non-issue for gamers because 3-D games need a discrete graphics card. The lack of DDR4 could be a turnoff though, and as a result of being the oldest board on this list, the Z97 is the least futureproof overall of those reviewed.

The ASUS Z97 costs about $140, so it's not dirt cheap, but buyers will be able to save on their CPU though if buying together. 

If you do decide to get this motherboard, make sure to get the version with USB 3.1. The data transfer speeds are twice those of USB 3.0. A good use of this would be for an external SSD. The Z97 is a time-tested motherboard whose quality has kept it relevant. It's a solid motherboard but should only be considered the best motherboard if you're looking for budget PC builds.

PROS:
  • Intel Socket 1150
  • 4 DDR3 3200 (O.C.) MHz
  • 1 M.2 SSD socket
  • Supports Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire
  • 2 PCI Express 3.0 slots
CONS:
  • Fewer PCI Express lanes
  • Fewer USB 3.0 ports
  • No USB Type-C port

MSI B150 Gaming M3

best motherboard

The B150 Gaming M3 is the budget gaming motherboard.

This motherboard is made for gaming since it's primed for optimum LAN performance. Buyers will pay less for the B150 chipset, but they will be giving up some overclocking capabilities and a bunch of PCI Express lanes.

You likely won't get playable 4K resolution with this motherboard, however it does support AMD CrossFire, which justifies the two PCIe 3.0 slots at least.

Some manufacturers have tweaked the BIOS settings on their motherboards to allow non-K Intel Skylake CPUs and non-Z170 chipsets to overclock. This is not the case for the B150 Gaming M3, which may be a turn off for some gamers since overclocking allows you to buy a less expensive CPU.

On the other hand, motherboards that offer overclocking are known for their instability. The B150 is made to be stable - which is why it is on our list as the best motherboard for gaming on an extreme budget. Gamers not interested in benchmarks and tweaking the BIOS will like this motherboard.

PROS:
  • 4 DDR4 2133 MHz
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 slots for graphics cards
  • 1 HDMI up to 2560 x 1600 resolution at 60 Hz
  • 1 DVI-D up to 1920 x 1200 resolution at 60 Hz
  • 1 SATA Express port
CONS:
  • 1 M.2 socket for Gen2 x4
  • AHCI instead of NVM Express SSD interface
  • No DisplayPort
  • No D-Sub
  • No USB Type-C port

Conclusion

​Gaming motherboards are crucial to an awesome - and sustainable - gaming future. The best motherboards will give you the most amount of features for the least amount of cash. Just remember that the more expensive motherboards for gaming will stay relevant for longer - though if you're not an extremely dedicated gamer then they might not be worth this. Hopefully our list helps you find the best motherboard for all of your needs.

About The Author

Matt
Owner/Founder

E-sports fanatic and hardware nerd. Owner of Peekand.co

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