Which is the best motherboard for gaming and the best motherboard brand? In this article we are going to show our best motherboard for gaming and give our reasons. The PC gaming market has changed in recent years. Back in the day the bulk of gaming was done on computers from all different brands. With the rapid improvements of the latest games consoles and the growth of the market PC gaming took a hit. Games consoles were easier to use and you could guarantee the title you purchased would run as expected on your system. PC games required complex installations and varying system requirements meant that the latest game may not run to its full potential on your PC. In order to build a gaming PC you need the best gaming motherboard and in this article we will find this.
Compare Best Motherboard for Gaming Prices
|ASUS H81I-PLUS||Intel||Mini-ITX||i3-i7, DDR3 up to 16GB 1600MHz, 2 SATA, 6 USB|
|Gigabyte Z97P-D3||Intel||ATX||i3-i7, DDR3 up to 32GB 3000MHz, 6 SATA, 8 USB, RAID|
|MSI A88XI-AC Mini-ITX||AMD||Mini-ITX||Socket FM2, DDR3 up to 32GB 2133MHz, 4 SATA, 10 USB, Wifi, Bluetooth|
|ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake ATX||Intel Skylake||ATX||i3-i7 Skylake, DDR4 up to 64GB 3866MHz, 9 SATA, 6 USB|
|MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 ATX||AMD||ATX||AM3+, DDR3 up to 32GB 2133MHz, 6 SATA, 6 USB, Intelligent Networking, Gaming Port|
Which is the Best Motherboard for Gaming?
With the launch of online game purchases with companies like Steam and Origin PC game installations became as easy as their games console rivals. Also the standardisation of drivers and graphics card platforms has meant that more games will run on a standard specification setup. On top gaming motherboards components have now improved to far exceed those of the latest games consoles and now at more affordable prices. One of the key components of a good gaming PC is the motherboard because this has more features than any other component. In this article we will find the best gaming motherboard for your HTPC build. We will provide our 5 top gaming motherboards.
What Makes the Best Gaming Motherboard?
The focus when building gaming PCs or HTPC media centres generally tends to be around performance. Gamers want to build the most powerful gaming PC they can afford and with modern games this is understandably so. There are the two main processor architectures to consider from Intel & AMD and a motherboard must be chosen that will suitably support these. But buying the best gaming motherboard is not just about clock rates and there are other things to look at. The graphics card market is now moving towards dual cards and the ability to run two GPUs on the same motherboard. A good gaming mother board will now come with parallel PCI-E slots that support AMD Crossfire or NVIDIA Quadro dual graphics card technologies.
Looking for the smallest possible case for mini-ITX motherboards? [Read: Top Mini ITX Cases for the Smallest HTPC Build]
A good motherboard for gaming should also take peripherals and external devices into consideration. Many motherboards come with bog standard on-board sound solutions that simply do not compete with a dedicated sound card. The best gaming motherboards will integrate on-board sound devices from the market leaders in PC sound technology. The number of USB ports should be considered in your purchase and the USB technology they use. You may want multiple game controllers, VR headsets or external storage devices which all take up ports.
Which is the Best Motherboard Brand?
The very top gaming motherboards are from manufacturers that look at using advanced technologies to improve the responsiveness of gaming devices and peripherals. They get more out of them when connected to USB ports and mouse sockets. A dedicated gamer will want to use these technologies to gain an advantage over their opponents when online gaming. There are even motherboard technologies that will improve online gaming performance by prioritising gaming traffic over everything else that is using the internet. A top motherboard for gaming is not just about power but all round gaming ability. The below shows our top 5 on our best gaming motherboard list. As Home Media Portal is site dedicated to HTPC media centre builds we have taken size of motherboard and form factor into consideration.
Things to look for if you want the best motherboard for gaming:
- A level of performance that will play the latest titles
- Dual graphics capabilities (for the advanced gamer and fairly new to top gaming motherboards)
- The number of expansion ports and on-board features available
- The advanced gaming technologies the motherboard offers
- An element of future proofing due to a fast moving component market
- The price of the motherboard and value for money
- A board from a “best motherboard brand”
ASUS H81I-PLUS – Best Gaming Motherboard for the Newbie
The first best gaming motherboard we are going to look at is the ASUS H81I-PLUS mini-ITX. ASUS make a range of products and are certainly competing for the best motherboard brand prize. This motherboard has been selected both for its great value for money, gaming capabilities and size. Due to its mini-ITX form factor this is on of the top gaming motherboards for HTPC builds or putting together a gaming PC in a small case. It weighs just 798 grams and so can be used in an extremely portable gaming PC.
The motherboard is of Intel architecture and will take most CPUs from the i3, i5 and i7 ranges. You could say that this motherboard is lacking in the memory department when compared to other devices in this guide but will provide you with ample performance to play the current PC titles. It uses DDR3 1600MHz with a maximum capacity of 16GB.
So what else do you get with the ASUS H81I-PLUS mini-ITX motherboard? Well, you get 2X SATA ports which is standard for a board of this form factor and 6X USB ports allowing a whole host of external device connections. A nice feature of this motherboard is the I-Control software. This allows you to create networking profiles and to set prioritization of network traffic. Here you can give top priority to gaming traffic and really enhance the performance of online games. The ASUS H81I-Plus makes our top gaming motherboards list as it is a solid board for a great price. It does not have the performance capabilities of some of the ATX motherboards in our list but is the perfect cost effective solution for HTPC gaming PCs.
Read the full ASUS H81I-PLUS review
Gigabyte Z97P-D3 – Best Gaming Motherboard for Price
Next we come onto the first gaming motherboard in our top 5 list of ATX form factor. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 is a good motherboard for gaming but won’t fit into some of the smaller HTPC media centre cases. The board supports Intel based CPUs from the i3, i5 and i7 ranges. It comes with both on-board sound and graphics devices and you can dedicate up to 512MB of your system memory to the GPU (for gaming you will always want a dedicated graphics card). With the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 we step it up a gear in the memory department. This board uses DDR3 up to 3000MHz and to a total of 32GB which will deliver great performance for any PC game.
For those of you who want the best graphics performance the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 supports AMD Crossfire technology allowing dual graphics card capabilities. Although this motherboard is of ATX form factor it does make a great HTPC media centre solution if you have a big enough case as it has great features for storing your games and media libraries. You get a total of 6 SATA connections and support for all major RAID types. This combined with 8 USB ports means you won’t require a NAS drive or any form of network storage for your game libraries. This is great considering that this is the lowest priced motherboard in this post. Gigabyte is perhaps the best motherboard brand and they have been around for a long time. With all the features it provides it offers great value for money as one of the top gaming motherboards.
Read the full Gigabyte Z97P-D3 review
MSI A88XI-AC Mini-ITX Motherboard – Best Gaming Motherboard for Mini-ITX
In at number 3 in our top 5 best motherboards for gaming list is the MSI A88XI-AC mini-ITX motherboard. MSI is certainly a best motherboard brand. This is the best motherboard for gaming for HTPC media centre builds and small mini-ITX form factor cases. This motherboard has so many features that will enhance your gaming experience packed into such a small device! The board uses AMD processor architecture and will take CPUs from the AMD Socket FM2+ Athlon family. In terms of memory this board uses DDR3 up to 2133MHz and to a total of 32GB. This far exceeds the majority of mini-ITX form factor motherboards.
The MSI A88XI-AC mini-ITX motherboard has 4 SATA connections (the standard for mini-ITX tends to be 2). It also has a whopping 10 USB connections when case ports are used. You will never be short of connections for your gaming peripherals. Although most gamers will want a dedicated graphics card the on-board card is fairly decent. You can dedicate up to 2GB of your system memory to the on-board GPU which isn’t bad at all. MSI have even managed to cram both Wifi and Bluetooth into this tiny board giving you everything you need to start gaming out of the box. The MSI A88XI-AC mini-ITX motherboard is one of the most feature rich mini-ITX top gaming motherboards and is perfect for a high performance HTPC media centre solution. If you want a PC to sit nicely under your living room TV sets then this is the best motherboard for gaming.
Read the full MSI A88XI-AC Mini-ITX Motherboard Review
ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake ATX Motherboard – Best Gaming Motherboard for Skylake
We are now at number 2 in our best motherboards for gaming list. ASRock is another best motherboard brand. I have to say it was a tough decision not to put this motherboard at number 1. The ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake ATX motherboard is one of the leading boards in terms of performance. If you want the best motherboard in terms of power then this product is for you. It supports the Intel Skylake range of processors and will take the huge i7 6700K 4.0GHz CPU. No other boards in our list will support this. It also beats the field when it comes to memory supported. It uses DDR4 with speeds of up to 3866MHz and to a total of 64GB. This level of CPU and memory will deliver unrivalled performance but you do have to be prepared to pay a premium for these components.
Not only does the ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake motherboard win the award for performance but it also tops the leader board in terms of aesthetics. The motherboard uses black PCB with a razor like feel to it and gold trimmings on some of the components. If you have a case that showcases the inner workings of your system then this board will look great. We have heard about CPU and memory so what can it do for your gaming graphics and sound?
ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake ATX Additional Features
The ASRock Z170 supports both NVIDIA Quadro & AMD FirePro dual graphics card standards. This combined with the Ultra M.2 technology to boost the PCI-E transfer rates provides an unbelievable graphics experience and what you would expect from one of the top gaming motherboards. The on-board sound card is a Purity Sound 3.0 device which will cater for all your gaming sound needs. With this motherboard you get a total of 9 SATA ports and 6 USB ports which will satisfy the more demanding storage and peripheral requirements.
The ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake ATX motherboard is a real winner and the best motherboard for gaming if your focus is performance. The reason for the number 2 spot is the price you will pay for the components. Skylake CPUs are expensive but if you are prepared to foot the bill then this motherboard is for you. Because of this it fell just short of winning our title of “Best Motherboard for Gaming”.
Read the full ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Skylake ATX Motherboard review
MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 ATX Motherboard – The Best Gaming Motherboard
And our winner is… Our best motherboard for gaming is the MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 ATX motherboard. As we have already stated MSI is without doubt a best motherboard brand. As we have seen with the ASRock Z170 there are boards out there offering greater performance but this product is a complete all rounder. It uses AMD architecture and supports CPUs in the AMD AM3+ range. The memory used is DDR3 2133MHz which isn’t the latest memory standard but the sweet spot in terms of price vs performance and towards the top end speed in the DDR3 standard. It will take a total of 32GB which is more than enough for the top PC games of today.
What sets the MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 motherboard aside from the rest of the field is the true care MSI has give to every element of this product. The motherboard is fully optimised for AMD Crossfire dual graphics technology. You will struggle to beat the graphics output this board can produce. The on-board sound card is an Audio Boost 2 powered by Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2. Creative have lead the way for so many years in sound technology and it is hard to believe that so few other motherboard manufacturers have opted for their technologies for their on-board sound devices.
MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 ATX – Additional Features
Unlike our other top gaming motherboards the MSI 970 does not come with an on-board graphics card but lets face it if you want to play the top games then you need a dedicated GPU. An added performance boost can be achieved with the MSI 970s Ultimate RamDisk technology. This allows you to create a system drive out of your RAM giving your gaming files faster performance than launching them from the very best SSD drives.
The on-board network card has also has gaming considerations incorporated into its design. It uses E220 Intelligent Networking which automatically prioritizes gaming traffic over all other types. This gives you the best uninterrupted online gaming experience. On this motherboard even the mouse port has been optimised for gaming. The Gaming Device Port optimises the latest gaming mice giving you a far smoother and responsive experience and an edge over your rivals. In terms of storage and peripherals you get 6 SATA ports and 6 USB. The MSI 970 Gaming motherboard comes close to the ASRock Z170 in terms of looks. It too uses black PCB but has red trimmings on its heat sinks. This is a board you will want to show off in a clear case.
The MSI 970 Gaming motherboard will not quite give you the performance of the ASRock Z170 but its all-round gaming considerations make it our leader. It has strong performance, a great look and every component is built with gaming in mind. For one of the top gaming motherboards it also comes at an extremely competitive price and from a best motherboard brand. For these reasons the MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 ATX motherboard is our best motherboard for gaming. This MSI 970 is our Best Motherboard for Gaming and secures them as a best motherboard brand.
Read the full MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 review
Top Gaming Motherboards- Comparison
The table below compares the features of each of the top gaming motherboards listed above to help you find the best motherboard brand:
Best Motherboard for Gaming – Conclusion
When looking for the best gaming motherboard it is important to consider more than just performance and clock rates. You need to look for the best motherboard brand and consider the features available. An experienced gamer will want a system that gives an edge over their opponents. Ensure that you choose a motherboard designed to do just that. CPU and memory performance is just one element and there are so many other technologies to consider. Also the most expensive motherboard is not always the best for gaming. New technologies may come out to support the gaming experience before you are ready to upgrade.
The MSI 970 Gaming AMD AM3 ATX motherboard is our best motherboard for gaming. It ticks the majority of boxes and will deliver the gaming experience you want for a good price. Not only is the 970 our best gaming motherboard but MSI is also a strong contender for the best motherboard brand.