What’s the best motherboard for Intel and AMD systems? We’ve tried and tested more than a dozen motherboards for every scenario – so you can pick the perfect part for your next PC
There aren’t many components more important than the motherboard – after all, everything else connects to these slabs of circuit board.
There also aren’t many components that are more complicated. These boards come in different sizes and for both Intel and AMD processors, with different chipsets, and they’re littered with ports, sockets and slots. It’s no wonder they can be a bit baffling.
That’s why we’ve rounded up more than a dozen of the best boards for AMD and Intel processors – and for loads of different scenarios and budget. We’ve also covered some of the key areas when it comes to choosing a motherboard.
We start with the cheapest, moving onto gaming options, mid-range boards and compact Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX products. We finish with our favourite money-no-object boards for both AMD Ryzen and Intel Kaby Lake. Scroll down for the full list, or read our buying advice below before delving in.
Related: Best gaming PCs
Motherboards: Key considerations
These tips are pretty universal – they’re applicable whether you’re buying an AMD or Intel processor, and they’re still valid if you’re on a budget or looking for the most expensive products.
For starters, there’s the physical size of the board. Most motherboards use the full-size ATX design, which is the largest mainstream option. Those boards need the biggest cases, but they also have advantages: they have more PCI-Express slots and memory sockets than their smaller counterparts, and they generally have better storage.
Many ATX boards also tend to be a little faster than smaller form-factors, too, perhaps because there’s less pressure on the components to be crammed inside a smaller space. ATX boards also tend to be more receptive to water-cooling.
Micro-ATX motherboards are medium-sized boards that still offer a solid amount of hardware, with multiple PCI slots and good storage and memory options.
Mini-ITX motherboards are the smallest on the market, which means obvious trade-offs. They’re fantastic for building tiny PCs for gaming or media, but they have fewer memory sockets and PCI slots – and fewer high-end features across the board itself. They also tend to cost a little more than equivalent ATX or micro-ATX products.
The physical size of the board isn’t the only consideration. Look at which chipset your potential purchase includes, because better chipsets from AMD and Intel will support more features in every department. AMD and Intel chipsets will also offer different numbers of ports and sockets, so compare the two before you buy.
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Check how many memory sockets are board includes and how fast the memory can go – it’s no good buying rapid DDR4 if it can’t run at full-speed on your chosen board. Similarly, make sure a motherboard has the right storage connections for the SSDs and hard disks you want to install.
Similarly, check the PCI-Express sockets – some motherboards include full-length x16 slots that only run at 4x speed, which is no good if you want to run dual-graphics. And make sure you have enough PCI-Express x1 connectors for expansion cards.
The form factor, chipset, connectivity and price are the key attributes when picking a motherboard. Benchmark speed is another factor, of course, but it’s less important than ever – many benchmarks perform similarly no matter what chipsets or features they have, so the components you pick are far more important when it comes to determining the pace of your PC.
Related: Best CPU coolers
How We Test
The motherboards are put through a demanding suite of benchmark tests. We run Geekbench 4 to test single- and multi-core application speed, and use CrystalDiskMark to test the SATA storage interfaces on these motherboards.
We use 3D Mark Fire Strike to evaluate gaming ability, and then test power efficiency by measuring the board’s power draw when idling and when running Prime95’s CPU stress-testing benchmark.
Both of the test rigs use a Samsung 850 EVO SSD and 16GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 memory alongside an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card. The Intel machine uses a Core i7-7700K processor, while AMD boards are tested with a Ryzen 7 1800X chip.
We’d like to thank Overclockers UK for providing some of the boards included in this test.