2018 is a year full of incredible hardware and there is no better time to build a gaming PC! Welcome to our guide to picking one of the most critical components of your PC build. It’s a doozy to pick the Best Gaming Motherboard 2018 but we hope to bring some clarity to the issue. When deciding, there are so many factors and it can be a bit overwhelming. Many offer some unique features and parsing through the sheer glut of items can be a challenge if you are new to the PC world. So we start with some learning!
As a PC Gamer, learning about hardware is the first step on your exciting journey towards building a PC that melts your brain! Read our guide to find the Best Gaming Motherboard 2018 for your brand new gaming rig and start building that dream machine today! At the end we pick our finalist for the best motherboard as well so stay tuned (But here’s a quick cheat sheet if you want a quick run-down)!
Fatal1ty ASRock AB350 Gaming K4
|Multiple M.2 Drives|
Onboard integrated APU
|Some limits on overclocking|
DDR4 can’t hit 3200 Hz
|AM4 (Or older)|
|Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5||SLI 2x and Crossfire 2x capable|
M.2 Slot and U.2 Slot
|M.2 doesn’t work if U.2 is occupied and vice versa|
|AM4 (Or older)|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero||High Quality metal used in the PCIe slots|
AM4 Capable, perfect for Ryzen
Ryzen is newer and still being updated regularly to add developer support
|AM4 (Or older)|
Still being brought to market
Only 2 RAM slots
|AM4 (Or older)|
MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon
|Sleek Black Design|
AM4 Socket Slot
Great for Overclocking
Despite awesome color, could cover the inputs a bit better
|AM4 (Or older)|
ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming
Full-size M.2 slot for a solid SSD
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
|Big price for size|
Only 2 RAM slots
ASRock Z170 Pro4S
|Best Value for Intel LGA1151 socket|
Only the features most people use
Doesn’t support SLI
Doesn’t have several high-end features (Wi-Fi, M.2 Slots)
Asus Maximum IX Hero
|ASUS Aura Sync technology allows a wide range of RGB options for your set-up|
No Wi-fi capability (A modern emerging standard for newer Mobo)
X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon
|Everything, literally everything|
USB C, Studio quality sound
Asus Maximum IX Formula
|Wi-Fi (No more placing the computer by the router) and Ethernet||Price||LGA1151|
What Is A Motherboard?
Before we introduce The Best Gaming Motherboard 2018 ,If you are an advanced member of the PC Race, feel free to skip ahead, but for those new to building a PC, here is a refresher on Motherboards!
Every computer and electronic device remotely related to one has some semblance of a “Motherboard.” Whether it’s a Nintendo Switch or a modern cell-phone using a nano or pico board, the concept and ideas behind a motherboard are used in nearly every modern high level electronic device.
Motherboards are best thought of as the skeleton and nervous system of a computer (Many think the Case to be that, but that’s almost more like the skin of a computer.) A computer needs to connect a large amount of parts together in order to run properly. These parts all need some sort of connective Hardware. The Motherboard isn’t necessarily a component that will make your computer run faster or slower, rather, it is chock full of features and the ability to use and connect components. The major components of a PC plug into the Motherboard, and it keeps them all communicating with each other and monitoring important things such as heat and fan speed.
Why is this important? Motherboards don’t primarily show a large difference in performance, but some features they offer do. For instance a REALLY old motherboard may not have appropriate spots to plug in newer technology. Motherboard type also determines which generation of parts is available for use. For instance, DDR3 memory is no longer the modern standard as DDR4 has replaced it, Ram slots are often designed with physical differences that make a new generation incompatible with an older generation, thus meaning a motherboard needs to be specific to the type of RAM.
What things are dictated by the motherboard?
· DDR3 VS. DDR4
· AMD VS. Intel CPU
· Crossfire or SLI GPU Configurations
· PCIex16 and other PCI configurations
· SATA II VS. SATA III ( 3.0mb/s VS. 6.0mb/s)
· IDE Ports VS. SATA Ports
· How Much RAM (Usually 8-64 GB possible)
· Onboard Network Card, Audio Card, Basic Video Card, and even Wireless Card
· Fan Configuration
· Size of the Mobo (ATX, Mini ATX, or other strange variations)
What Type of Mobo is best for gaming motherboard 2018?
The best motherboards for gaming are those that include killer features and allow for maximum speed. It may sound like the obvious conclusion, after all faster is usually better, but some key features are specifically catering to a crowd that loves high fidelity graphics. Although a fancy looking nice “Gaming” Mobo is often preferred, Motherboards come in all shapes and sizes. Feature rich boards can help push your computer to its limits and remove any hindrances to high-quality play. Some Mobo’s look really unique and make your computer shine. Others are built for tiny, mobile gaming rigs. There is a lot of variation but overall it is all good.
Benefits of LGA1151 Motherboard
The LGA1151 is the most current generation for consumer level Intel CPU’s. It encompasses three generations, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and the upcoming Coffe Lake CPU line. LGA1151 motherboards offer the freedom to buy an older or newer CPU, meaning that those on a budget can buy an older model now until they are able to upgrade without breaking the bank (If you bought a cheap Skylake, you could wait for Coffee Lake to upgrade). Going with the prior generation removes any chance of future proofing as no new CPU lines will come out that are supported by those motherboards.
Benefits of an AM4 Motherboard
AM4 is the latest socket set for consumer level AMD CPU’s. AMD actually has pretty strong backwards compatibility but the chipset is also taken into account, currently the X370 is the best option for those jumping into Ryzen 3, 5, and 7. AMD motherboards have several different chipset combo’s that all run the same CPU but activate different motherboard features. SLI/Crossfire are reserved for X370 and overclocking is allowed at the B350 level and above. AMD has been out of the competitive market for quite awhile but this year they brought a new CPU line to market. Ryzen is the primary line for new AMD processors and while it is still in the infancy of being supported, it is a devastating competitor to Intel. Since AM4 is the largest improvement in recent years, this socket is the baseline for those who love the benefits of the AMD eco-system. Also, unlike Intel, AMD offers it’s own top-tier GPU options. Obviously the best compatibility will be found with an AMD chipset, AMD GPU, AMD Crossfire support, and AMD Freesync monitors. From top to bottom, AMD has a set-up that keeps you engaged with AMD products and usually offers a competitive option for far less money. With the recent release of Vega, AMD is no longer second best, rather it is now an equal competitor that offers different perks and features.
A Computer Case has to have enough room for your Motherboard, DO NOT buy a motherboard that doesn’t fit in your case or a case that won’t fit your motherboard.
Motherboards support SPECIFIC parts, such as a specific RAM generation or a CPU line. Also the slots such as PCI and PCIe dictate what components you can put in a computer. Use a website like pcpartpicker.com to make sure everything is compatible (It does a good job of pointing out incompatible parts!)
Make sure you buy a motherboard for a modern CPU like LGA1151 or the new Ryzen line. Buying from an older generation bottlenecks your build, so an LGA1150 chipset may be cheap but in order to upgrade to a new generation chipset you usually have to upgrade the CPU, Motherboard, and even RAM. So that small amount of money saved is lost later on when you have to buy three new parts for what could have been a minor upgrade.
How We Made This List
There are so many motherboard types, configurations, and more that it’s unbelievable when you really look at how much variety is in Mobo technology. Thus in compiling this list we focused on several defining factors.
- No Mobo were picked with an older generation in mind (DDR3, i7-2600). We focused on AM4 X370 and LGA1151 but did include a B350 chipset for AM4 and an Intel S2011.
- No Mobo were picked that are not recommended for gamers. There are some other exceptional models out there but they aren’t very consumer friendly so we avoided them (Threadripper, the Intel CPU’s that run over $1000)
- Often a deciding factor is not a feature of the mobo itself, but what CPU it uses, this divides Mobo into two main categories, AMD and Intel, so there is a Mobo for each. Size was also a factor in creating categories.
Our Top Ten list: Find the Best Gaming Motherboard 2018 for You!
Thanks for getting this far into our guide for the Best Gaming Motherboard 2018! We hope the following motherboards help make your decision a little bit easier. 2018 is a banner year for the CPU market and as such has a lot of turnover so remember to research these parts a bit as well since Ryzen is making an entrance and it is pushing Intel to compete hard for the first time in fifteen years.
AMD: What Motherboard Takes The Crown?
Fatal1ty ASRock AB350 Gaming K4
-Best Budget AMD AM4 Motherboard
gAMD has an interesting take on chipsets. The B350 doesn’t allow for SLI or Crossfire, and by the time you put enough cash in the K4 to buy an X370 model, you might as well just go with the GA-AX370. Since Ryzen is relatively new technology, cheap high-quality boards aren’t as well honed as the Intel brethren. For a best gaming motherboard 2018 though, this takes the crown on budget vs. features. The Fatal1ty ASRock AB350 Gaming K4 is our best budget AMD AM4 Motherboard because it offers all the necessary features for a killer build while coming in at only $99. This is sure to drop as well over the next few months as Ryzen finds its price point. Out of the gate, the K4 runs excellent, offering overclocking features despite the minimal price. Unfortunately, the B350 chipset doesn’t allow Crossfire set-up but it is fair to say that if you are looking for a budget motherboard, you probably aren’t using a multi-gpu set-up. DDR4 can only be clocked up to 2667 Hz with this mobo, but realistically there is minimal improvement past 2400 hz for most people. Two M.2 ports, an integrated 2GB APU, and some other interesting features (Supports 4K video out the gate) make this a solid choice. Depending on the onboard APU installed, some features may downgrade. This board is basically a great option for those starting out with PC builds or who just don’t have the budget to buy something top-tier but want to get all the frames possible out of Overwatch!
Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5-Best AMD AM4 Motherboard For An Average Budget
Gigabyte has produced an AM4 Motherboard that has a great mix of features for a price that is usually under $200. For the Gamer on a budget, this is one of the best deals possible for a Ryzen ready motherboard. Coming with all the modern features that a high-quality Mobo has (M.2 port, Crossfire and SLI, sleek design), this motherboard is a fantastic option for building a PC without breaking the bank. The use of the U.2 slot is intriguing as the most defining difference between that and M.2 is usually the space taken up within a build. The Dual Ethernet allows for unique builds such as being connected to internet and a personal network without needing a switch or hub to be located next to your network set-up. Really though, where this motherboard shines, is adding all the necessary features for a killer PC Build but keeping the price below $200! That’s why the GA-AX370 Gaming 5 is our best AMD AM4 motherboard for an average budget.
ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero-Best Premium AMD AM4 Motherboard
Be prepared to see ASUS a lot of this list as they have set the bar for quality with motherboards. Being new to the table, Ryzen is making waves in the PC world. AMD offers pretty good support with motherboards between older generations of cards but it’s recommended, pick up a Ryzen CPU if you are getting an AM4 board! The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero is one of the best AMD AM4 Motherboards to come to market so far with a stellar design. One of our favorite features is the use of high-quality metal within the PCIe slots. Newer GPU’s can be HUGE heavy weight parts that put stress on your motherboard. ASUS saw this and designed the PCIe spots to endure the heavy downward force of a large GPU such as the Nvidia Titan X. Custom RGB colors, Front facing USB 3.1, SATA speeds of 32Gb/s and premium audio components that outshine the standard Realtek drivers of most motherboards make this our favorite AM4 so far.
GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI-Best AMD AM4 Mini-ITX Motherboard
Aww, the Corgi of PC builds. Mini-ITX has grown as a format dramatically over the last few years becoming more and more popular. This is a recently announced model from Gigabyte that includes one INCREDIBLE Feature for an ITX build. Wi-Fi. You see Mini-ITX is designed around mobility and one of the most frustrating factors in mobility is being chained to a cord. At a Lan party, around the house, or even at the office, Mini-ITX builds allow you to take a blazing fast computer and move it around. Without Wi-Fi though, you are realistically stuck next to a router. Not anymore! The Gigabyte GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI Mobo has all the versatility of the Mini-ITX format but prioritizes AM4 sockets as well as allowing for a killer GPU. This build isn’t going to allow 64 GB of RAM (Honestly though, who needs that much for gaming?) but it will allow you to feel free with a desktop set-up. Still don’t let the size make you feel like it’s inferior. With high quality Realtek sound, RGB lighting strip connectivity, and the ability to set-up water-cooling, this bare bones Mobo is great for a build that sprints along using a GTX 1080 or Vega card.
MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon-Best Overall AM4 Motherboard of 2018
Let’s be honest, traditionally AMD has been known for two things, overclocking and the best price. Without going off into $500 territory, it’s possible to get a motherboard that does everything needed and still allows 3 WAY Crossfire support. The MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon is our favorite motherboard with an AM4 socket. Why? It offers the features you want and need while prioritizing overclocking (You can overclock 3200 Hz RAM with this puppy!). With a very similar range of feature to the Crosshair VI Hero, this board rocks the price range at $169.99. Also, we have to point out that AMD Red is as iconic in the PC world as Nvidia Green. This board is custom colored to make your AMD system look fire! Sleek black metal with Red highlights make this the perfect compliment to an AMD set-up with a red S340 Case. Instead of spending hundreds on a motherboard that may have a tiny bit of improvement, this is a great balance between budget and quality. That extra $100 could go towards some shiny new Vega GPU for Crossfire support and your build will look stunning with the lighting and color combos of the Pro Carbon.
Intel: What Motherboard is Best?
ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming-Best Intel LGA1151 Mini-ITX Motherboard
Sometimes you want a small build. Something portable that you can take on the road, something that fits in a home office. While small builds are convenient in many ways, they traditionally sacrifice performance for the ability to fit in a tiny space. Small spaces are harder to cool, tight when put together, and can’t be upgraded near as much. In fact, most Mini-ITX can only take two RAM slots, limit PCIe, and aren’t the best at supporting multiple HDD. Still, some balance these sacrifices in such a way that purchasing them is a viable way to build a blazing fast gaming computer and not compromise on performance. The ASUS ROG Strix Z270I is the best Intel LGA1151 Mini-ITX board that you can find. It has enough room to fit a GTX 1080 TI while still fitting 16 GB of Ram and keeping your computer top of the line! Best of yet, this model has some features that are envious even for those who use full size ATX boards such as Wi-FI and Bluetooth Access!
ASRock Z170 Pro4S-Best Budget LGA1151 Intel Motherboard
For the LGA1151 best Gaming Motherboard 2018, we went with the ASRock Z170 Pro4S. It’s hard to pick the best budget motherboard for gaming as one can easily go too cheap and prevent future proofing (Nothing is worse than needing to switch out RAM, the Mobo, and the CPU just to upgrade) or you can add features you will never use that inflate the price. To pick the best budget Motherboard, a couple things are important. Ram speed is one, many cheap motherboards only allow a RAM speed of 2133 Hz or lower. There are performance issues at this rate. A slight bump to 2400 Hz or above normally solves this. Another important factor to consider is whether it is current/up to date, or an older model that is near retirement. A modern processor with some DDR4 RAM helps guarantee this is a better model. Unless you are planning some heavy overclocking or into top-of-the-line features, the Pro4S does a fantastic job at giving most gamers what they want from a Mobo. This is the best Z170 motherboard you can get for under $100 while still offering all the features that a PC gamer with limited funds would want!
Asus Maximum IX Hero-Best LGA1151 Intel Motherboard for an average budget
Occasionally found for extreme budget pricing, this Mobo can be snagged for as little as $120 right now. The Asus Maximum IX Hero is a sturdy, gorgeous motherboard that contains all the features you would want in a modern motherboard while missing one or two premium qualities such as onboard Wi-Fi. Not only is this an incredibly good looking motherboard, it is designed for those who want a top-tier gaming PC but have a bit of a budget in mind. You CANNOT beat this quality for $120 in the LGA1151 socket range.
X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon-Best Premium S2011 Intel Motherboard
Few of us get into the hyper-enthusiast realm of PC-building. These are the machines brought to competitions with liquid cooling and speeds so fast that words like 8K get thrown around. AMD has a line of chips called EPYC and ThreadRipper. Intel has it i7 Extreme and i9 lines. Some options are so expensive though that most of us don’t consider them. For the gamer who has huge pockets and is unwilling to make the slightest compromise on quality, we love the X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon. We picked it as the Best Premium S2011 Intel Motherboard as it allows use of the highest quality Intel CPU’s in the consumer market. Realistically, these CPU’s are used for things beyond gaming such as game creation, Photoshop, Video Editing, and insane multitasking. Still, a motherboard like this is both awe-inspiring and wallet cringing! With Wi-Fi so fast, you might as well not be plugged in, two ethernet ports, M.2 ports that run at 32Gb/s and more, this motherboard honestly has everything. Fitting the niche of the streamer, this mobo comes with free premium streaming software, is compatible with steelseries devices, military class 4 components, studio quality sound, and of course SLI and Crossfire capability. Basically, this is all the features and none of the drawbacks beyond price! It costs around $500 and is not designed for anyone below enthusiast, still for those who can pick this baby up, they are living the dream!
Asus Maximum IX Formula-Best Overall LGA1151 Intel Motherboard
Stylish and sturdy. This Motherboard is probably the pinnacle of the modern Intel Mobo. With a price that is usually above $350, this is for the enthusiast. The one who wants to make PC building an art. One of the primary things to note is the GORGEOUS plated armor on the back. Instead of a bare, exposed backing with a chintzy piece of aluminum keeping the back of your case together, this backplate is EPIC! The Asus Maximum IX Formula is a premier motherboard that will last for the foreseeable future and remove almost all barriers to building a PC designed for playing games at blazing fast speeds, in 4k glory.
Who is the overall winner of the best gaming motherboard 2018?
Best Overall Gaming Motherboard of 2018- MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon
Our pick for the best gaming motherboard 2018 is the MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon! With slick features and a killer design, this Mobo gets the job done. Despite there being some phenomenal competition, few hit all the right strokes. Forward looking, AM4 is an upcoming socket type that is making waves and while it may be a little less competitive compared to Intel, Ryzen is set to be a game changer in the CPU world. As we believe early adopters will benefit from the new CPU as well as AMD’s generous compatibility, this board is guaranteed to work fantastic now and continue to blow minds well into the future. After all, who doesn’t want to be future proof?!?!?
Thanks for joining us on our journey through the best gaming motherboards 2018. Honestly, the motherboard is a complex piece to pick but there are options for everybody. While you may not have the budget for an IX Formula, even the low budget options offer unparalleled quality compared to a computer just a few years ago! The future is bright for PC Gaming and we hope we can help you see just how great it is! As always, check back often to see reviews, hardware breakdowns, and learn more. We hope this guide helped. Be sure to comment, like, and share if you have learned something useful from our guide on the best gaming motherboards 2018!