If you take your computer games seriously then you want the best experience you can get from whatever games you are currently obsessed with. This requires the best gaming motherboard. If your graphics aren’t as sharp as they should be, the sound quality a little disappointing or the action doesn’t flow as smoothly as you would like then it may be time to upgrade to the best gaming motherboard that you can get your hands on.
It doesn’t matter if your computer is fitted with the best central processing unit, a top of the line graphics card or has RAM to burn, unless you have the best gaming motherboard, the results can leave a lot to be desired or even be downright disappointing.
Choosing the Best Gaming Motherboard
The motherboard is the heart of your computer system and the better shape the heart is in the better the system will work. For that reason, selecting the best gaming motherboard is an important, if not crucial, matter. Be prepared to pay a little more for the best gaming motherboard that will last for more than just a couple of months before the same old problems you are now experiencing reappear.
Things to Consider for the Best Gaming Motherboard
- Compatibility. Obvious I know but basic mistakes do happen. The best gaming motherboard will generally support Intel or AMD processors and sometimes only certain kinds. Check and be sure the CPU and new gaming motherboard have the same processor interface.
- Memory. The latest computer games use huge amounts of memory so your gaming motherboard will need at least DDR3 Ram and 4GB memory for the best results. Fortunately, most of the better gaming motherboards already have this capacity but it is worth double checking.
- Ports and Slots. Additional PCI ports may be required, and possibly extra USB ports, so be sure these are available on the gaming motherboard. PCI-Express slots must also be considered if you are thinking of installing one or two video cards as well as an extra slot if you want a dedicated sound card on your system. The best gaming motherboard should also have a built-in sound card. This would probably only be required if you want to use top quality headphones or speakers to add to the gaming experience.
Top 10 Best Gaming Motherboard Comparison Guide
When searching for the best gaming motherboard to meet your needs, there are some terms you will come across and need to understand. The following is just a brief description of the most common.
- CPU. The Central Processing Unit is the brains of the computer where calculations and commands are processed and executed.
- GPU. A Graphics Processing Unit (sometimes Visual Processing Unit or VPU) is specifically designed to manipulate graphics and visual displays. More effective than the CPU for handling large amounts of visual data, GPU’s can be found on a video card, built into the motherboard or on a graphics card.
- Overclocking. The computer’s CPU and GPU’s are pre-set to run at a fixed maximum speed. Experienced users can increase this speed to make the processor and games run faster by manipulating the computer’s BIOS. This can lead to problems with overheating and computer crashes but, as modern computers, CPU’s and GPU’s can handle the speeds required, overclocking is best avoided.
- ATX Motherboard. Short for Advanced Technology EXtended motherboard, this is by far the most common layout for today’s motherboards. All connections are fitted directly onto the board which is in turn connected to the CPU. Variations include Micro, Mini, Flex and Extended ATX.
- Nvidia SLI. The Scalable Link Interface (SLI) is a system developed by Nvidia corporation to link multiple video or graphics cards. This is designed to increase processing power allotted for graphics giving faster and better images in games and videos.
- AMD Crossfire. Pretty much the same concept as Nvidia’s SLI, CrossFire is the alternative version from competitors AM.
- SLI/CF. This abbreviation will often appear on new games or on motherboards for gaming. As most games are designed with either SLI or Crossfire in mind, games will run better if the appropriate system is selected. If there is no noticeable improvement, or indeed deterioration, in the games performance simply disengage the SLI or CF option or both.
Top 5 Best Gaming Motherboard Reviews
For quality, speed and value for money, it is hard to match the Z97-K motherboard from ASUS. Using an Intel Z97 chipset this is an ATX motherboard featuring an LGA1150 Socket. Although LGA1151 motherboards are now on the market, these can be expensive and the 1150 version is more than powerful enough for the most serious game playing but, if cost is not a concern, you can always splash out on the later 1151 model.
As you would expect with the best gaming motherboard, the ASUS Z97-K supports both the Nvidia SLI and AMD Crossfire systems. The Z97-K is designed with gaming specifically in mind and the clarity of graphics is truly amazing. Clear and sharp, the Express Z97 chipset delivers smooth action with no time lags. The ASUS Z97 also comes with Crystal Sound 2 which gives flawless and crystal clear sound and sound effects which add significantly to the gaming experience.
Some motherboards are allegedly designed primarily for gaming but the ASUS Z97-K truly is. After many hours (days) of experimenting with different games, the motherboard performed perfectly. Images and sound were always perfectly in synch and both were crystal clear, sharp and smooth. There may be better motherboards available but I haven’t come across them yet and certainly not in this price range.
The GAZ97X-UD5H from Gigabyte is another motherboard which supports an Intel processor and LGA1150 Socket. As with the ASUS Z97-K, the motherboard also employs a Z97 chipset which delivers fast, smooth graphics making the need for overclocking redundant although the GAZ97X will take overclocking in its stride.
Running at normal speeds, the GAZ97X performs superbly. Graphics run smoothly without any glitches or pauses ensuring a thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience, even it doesn’t increase your scores. In essence, there is very little discernible difference between the ASUS and Gigabyte Z97 motherboards but, for me personally, the sound on the ASUS Z97-K is superior to that supplied by the Realtek Audio card that comes with the GAZ97X-UD5H.
Still one of the best gaming motherboards available is the ASUS Z97I-Plus. Using the ever-popular Z97 chipset, the Z97I is a very affordable option for those who enjoy their gaming but don’t want to overspend on a motherboard.
Data transfer speeds of up to 10 Gb/sec ensure a smooth running game with no time lags or screen breakup. For those on a limited budget but still seeking a great gaming experience, the Z97I-Plus is a great motherboard which delivers everything you need and then some.
The best thing about the MSI Z97M is that it was designed specifically for gaming and it shows. Another Intel Z97 chipset motherboard, the Z97M supports both Scalable Link Interface (SLI) and Crossfire (CF) based games.
Using its own Sound Blast Cinema 2 system, the sound delivered is truly top class and crystal clear even at full blast. As the Micro Z97M supports SLI/CF, it can handle any game you load and is one of the best gaming motherboards for networking.
Relative newcomers to the motherboard supply business, AS Rock have grown in popularity in recent years thanks, in no small part, to the release of the Z77 Extreme4. The board is based on an Intel Z77 Express chipset and has everything required for the game enthusiast.
The Extreme4 supports both SLI and CF and the on board DDR3 Ram is more than adequate for even the most memory hungry games. The Extreme4 is solid, dependable and an excellent starting point for somebody who wants high quality but at a reasonable price.