Best Gaming Motherboards - Intel & AMD

A motherboard is usually classified by it's CPU socket type and form factor. When it comes to a gaming motherboard, you need to consider some other features such as maximum RAM supported speed, overclocking performance, Sound quality, LAN speed for online gaming, PCIe type and bandwidth and number of PCIe interfaces for SLI/CrossFire configuration. Now let's find out how these features affect the gaming performance:

LAN Speed:

For online games, a fast internet and LAN speed can be critical. A good LAN can reduce the CPU usage and deliver better throughput by quickly analysing and transferring UDP data packets which are essential to eliminate the game lag and increase your responsiveness at games.

RAM Speed:

Most modern CPUs will operate with the standard DDR3 1600MHz. RAM modules with higher clock rates have better performance. For example a DDR3 2933MHz will perform better than a DDR3 1333MHz, however, the cost for the faster RAM sticks will not worth the extra performance gains.

Overclocking Performance:

For game enthusiast who want to get the most out of their system, having a motherboard with advance CPU and RAM overclocking feature is essential. Some motherboards with identical chipset are more stable in extreme overclocking, this indicates a good design and high quality materials used in that circuit board. You've probably seen the motherboard manufacturers mention the Gold capacitors are used in their board which means that board have better efficiency in charging/discharging the electricity which results in more stability and performance.

Another feature that directly effects the overclocking abilities of a motherboard is sustainability of the power delivered to the CPU and RAM by the motherboard which is labelled by number of "Phase/s". For example the 16+2 power phase means the MOSFET power supply on the motherboard has greater reliability than 4+2 phase motherboards which results in better overclocking stability.

Sound Quality:

Almost all modern motherboards come with onboard sound, some with higher grade audio chipset and better circuit design. A gaming motherboard usually integrates better audio chipset which can deliver crisp and balanced sound at high band width (24/32bit), bit rates (192KHz) and lower channel noise and distortion. A good gaming motherboard should have EMI shield to protect the audio components from interference sources.

PCI Express Interface:

The PCIe interface has maximum of 16 lane (x16) to communicate with CPU or Northbridge chipset. The newer version of the PCIe interface (currently PCIe 3.0) delivers better data transfer rate at 15.75 GB/s (for ×16). Some motherboards have a multiple PCIe interface for SLI/CrossFire configuration. There is another important factor to consider in PCIe interfaces and that is the speed of each interface on the motherboard.

A good gaming motherboard should have at least two PCIe interface running at full x16 speed in SLI/CrossFire configuration. It also depends on the CPU capability to handle the maximum bandwidth (lane) for PCIe interfaces. For example, Intel® Core™ i7-5960X can support maximum of 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes which means (2@ x16 + 1@ x8 speed) whereas, the i7-4790K can only support 16 lane which means your SLI/CrossFire configuration will not run at full x16 speed! However, you won't notice any performance decrease by running in x8 mode because current video cards are not utilized to support the full bandwidth of the new PCIe 3.0 interfaces.

In this article we compiled the top 5 list of mainboards for gaming. Generally, the future proof motherboard is the one with more connectors and expansion slots which also supports the newest technology (e.g. USB 3.0, DDR4 and PCI Express 3.0).Now let's have a look at the our top 5 budget motherboards for gaming.

Before purchasing CPU and RAM always check the motherboard's user manual or manufacturer's website for processor and memory support list.

Gaming Motherboards - November 2015 Round-up


Under $80
$81 - $120
Intel AMD Intel AMD
MSI Z97 PC MATE
GIGABYTE GA-970A-DS3P
ASUS Z97-E/USB 3.1
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 R5
Model
MSI Z97 PC MATE
GIGABYTE GA-970A-DS3P
ASUS Z97-E/USB 3.1
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 R5
Form Factor
ATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
CPU Socket Type
LGA 1150
AM3 / AM3+
LGA 1150
AM3 / AM3+
Chipset
Intel Z97
AMD 970 + SB950
Intel Z97
AMD 990FX + SB950
PCI Express 3.0/2.0 Slots
1x x16/1x x4
1x x16/1x x4
1x x16/1x x8
2x (x16, x8)
Max Memory Supported
32GB
32GB
32GB
32GB
Memory Speed Supported
DDR3 1066/1333/1600
/1866* - 3000* (*OC)
DDR3 1333/1600
/1866*/2000* (*OC)
DDR3 1066/1333/1600
/1866* - 3200* (*OC)
DDR3 1066/1333/1600
/1866*/2000* (*OC)
Audio
Realtek ALC887
Realtek ALC887
Realtek ALC892
Realtek ALC1150
USB 3.0
2+2
2+1
2+1
2+1
USB 3.1
-
-
2
-
M.2
-
-
1
-
SATA Express
-
-
1
-
SATA III 6Gb/s
6
6
4
6
Wireless LAN
-
-
-
-
LAN
Realtek 8111G
Realtekc GbE
Intel I218V
Realtekc GbE
VRM Phase
N/A
N/A
6
8+2
CPU Fan Connector
2x 4-pin
1x 4-pin
1x 4-pin
1x 4-pin
Other Features
- MILITARY CLASS 4,
- OC Genie 4,
- Click BIOS 4,
- Ultra Durable 4 Classic,
- Humidity Protection,
- UEFI DualBIOS
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM,
- 5K-hr solid-state capacitors,
- ESD Guards
- 115dB SNR HD Audio,
- Dedicated Audio Hardware Zone,
- 2x Copper PCB Design,
- Humidity Protection
Price
$80
Amazon.com
$65
Amazon.com
$119
Amazon.com
$110
Amazon.com
Recommended Motherboards
GIGABYTE GA-H97M-HD3

GIGABYTE GA-H97M-HD3

ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0

ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0

MSI Z170M MORTAR

MSI Z170M MORTAR

ASRock 970 EXTREME3 R2.0

ASRock 970 EXTREME3 R2.0





$121 - $150
$151 - $200
Intel AMD Intel AMD

Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 3


Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Model
Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 3
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5 R5
Gigabyte G1 Gaming GA-Z170X-Gaming 7
ASUS SABERTOOTH 990FX R2.0
Form Factor
ATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
CPU Socket Type
LGA1151
AM3 / AM3+
LGA1151
AM3 / AM3+
Chipset
Intel Z170
AMD 990FX + SB950
Intel Z170
AMD 990FX + SB950
PCI Express 3.0/2.0 Slots
3x (x16, x8, x4)
5x (x16, x16, x8, x4, x4)
3x (x16, x8, x4)
3x (x16, x16, x8, x4)
Max Memory Supported
64GB
32GB
64GB
32GB
Memory Speed Supported
DDR4 2133
/2400* - 3466* (*OC)
DDR3 1066/1333/1600
/1866/2000* (*OC)
DDR4 2133
/2400* - 3866* (*OC)
DDR3 1066/1333/1600
/1866/2133* (*OC)
Audio
Realtek ALC1150
Realtek ALC1150
Creative Sound Core 3D
Realtek ALC892
USB 3.0
3+2
2+1
5
4+2
USB 3.1
2
-
2
-
M.2
2
-
2
-
SATA Express
3
-
3
-
SATA III 6Gb/s
6
8
10
8
Wireless LAN
-
-
-
-
LAN Chipset/s
Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201
Realtek 8111F
2x Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2400
Realtek 8111F
VRM Phase
N/A
8+2
12
8+2
CPU Fan Connector
2x 4-pin
1x 4-pin
1 x 4-pin, 1 x 3-pin
2x 4-pin
Other Features
- Upgradable OP-AMP,
- USB DAC-UP,
- Turbo B-Clock
-2x eSATA,
- Ultra Durable technology,
- Audio Noise Guard,
- UEFI DualBIOS
- GIGABYTE AMP-UP Audio,
- Upgradable OP-AMP,
- Turbo B-Clock,
- 15μ Gold Plated CPU Socket,
- 2x eSATA,
- TUF CeraM!X Heatsink Coating,
- TUF Thermal Radar,
- MemOK!,
Price
$150
Amazon.com
$145
Amazon.com
$180
Amazon.com
$165
Amazon.com
Recommended Motherboards
ASUS-Z97-E/USB 3.1

ASUS-Z97-E/USB 3.1

Gigabyte GA-Z97X-GAMING 5

Gigabyte GA-Z97X-GAMING 5

MSI Z170A GAMING M3

MSI Z170A GAMING M3

MSI 990FXA GAMING

MSI 990FXA GAMING

MSI Z170A GAMING M5
MSI Z170A GAMING M5

ASRock Z170 EXTREME4
ASRock Z170 EXTREME4

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 2/USB 3.1
ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 2/USB 3.1




Your Comments