All the components of the gaming computer are fitted on the motherboard, so it is important to ensure that a quality motherboard is purchased. The CPU and other components of a gaming computer are fairly expensive, and if there is any kind of problem with the motherboard, it is difficult to remove these components. Before shortlisting a motherboard, it is important to finalize the CPU which will be used. The motherboards for Intel and AMD CPUs are different since the CPU socket is different and cannot be interchanged, so the gamer should decide which CPU model number he is planning to use, and shortlist the motherboards accordingly.
There are three different sizes of motherboards available, the ATX which is the standard motherboard, the mATX the smaller version of the motherboard, and the miATX which is the smallest and cheapest size of the motherboard, with the fewest features. Larger motherboards are recommended for high end CPUs and GPUs which generate a lot of heat, and miATX are suitable for entry level gaming computers. Gigabyte, Asus and MSI are top motherboard manufacturers, though there are other companies also selling motherboards. There are more motherboards available designed for the Intel chipsets, compared to the AMD chipsets due to difference in market share.
The main criteria for selecting the motherboard is the socket which should be compatible with the AMD or Intel CPU. The other criteria which should be checked include the number of RAM/DIMM slots, SATA ports for HDD connections, PCIe ports/lanes for SSD connection, built in Audio, Ethernet connectivity and number, type of USB ports. The number of USB ports for the motherboard will vary, and many of the popular motherboards have a combination of USB2.0 and USB3.1 ports. Many of the motherboards do not have built in Wi-Fi and a separate Wi-Fi adapter is required. The motherboards with built-in Wi-Fi are usually more expensive, so it is cheaper to purchase a Wi-Fi adapter if required.
In January 2019, the top selling motherboard for the Intel chipset at a leading online retailer is the ASUS Prime Z390-A Motherboard LGA1151 with ATX form factor, suitable for DDR4, with a HDMI port and compatible with Intel 8th and 9th Gen processors. The motherboard is compatible with the Z390 intel chipset, has USB 3.1 ports, built in Wi-Fi, 4 slots for the memory. The motherboard includes thermal sensors for mapping the temperature so that the fan can be controlled to regulate the temperatures. It also includes full RGB lighting control. The motherboard is reasonably priced at $175.44 with a discount coupon available for online purchases.
Compared to the motherboards designed for the Intel chipsets, the motherboards designed for the AMD chipsets are comparatively inexpensive, with several of the top selling motherboards costing less than $100. The ASUS B450 AMD Ryzen Micro ATX Gaming Motherboard is priced at $85.20. This motherboard supports USB 3.1 for serial port connectivity and has four memory slots. It includes SATA, PCI-e slots and has Gigabit LAN for faster data connectivity. The case has a magnetic design dust filter to reduce the dust in the case and is designed to last for a long period of time. It is compatible with the AMD 2700X CPU.
Among the budget motherboards for the Intel chipsets, MSI Z370-A Pro and Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming Wi-Fi are some of the more popular and affordable motherboards costing less than $150. The MSI Z370-A Pro allows overclocking and supports DDR4 memory. MSI always uses military grade capacitors to ensure that its motherboards can be used for many years without their performance being affected. The Gigabyte Z370 Aorus motherboard is one of the most affordable motherboards with built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Gigabyte is also known for using high quality components in their motherboard. It supports overclocking, has DDR4 memory slots and RGB lighting.
Compared to other components, like the CPU, GPU, SSD, HDD, there is less variation in the prices of the motherboards available. However, it is important to ensure that high quality components are used, so that the motherboard will last for a long duration of time. Detailed instructions for using the motherboard are provided, and the BIOS may have to be upgraded. Hence, based on the CPU selected and budget, a suitable motherboard should be finalized after checking specifications and prices.