Best Motherboard 2017: Intel and AMD boards for all budgets

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.

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.

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX form factor
  • Intel B250 chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 2400MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 2 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1, 1 x PCI
  • 3 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3 Type-C, 1 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 2 x antenna, 1 x D-SUB, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 3 x audio
  • 2 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £88

Best Budget Intel Motherboard

The cheapest Intel board we’ve seen recently has a mid-range Intel chipset, which means it’s only really suitable for rigs with single GPUs and one M.2 SSD – that’s fine, though, as the vast majority of gaming, office and home builds fall into this category.

The ASRock still delivers all of the basics, including six SATA ports, four memory slots and an M.2 socket, and it has a good selection of PCI slots.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a little subdued physically, with tiny heatsinks, and it doesn’t have high-end features like buttons and on-board displays. It’s middling in benchmarks, too: its gaming score was decent, but it’s entirely ordinary in other tests.

It’s never truly slow, though, and it has every feature needed to build a solid rig for all sorts of tasks. Its fine features and £88/$113 price make it a great budget offering.

Read the full ASRock B250 Pro4 review

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Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • AMD B350 Chipset
  • AMD AM4
  • 4 x 3200MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 2 x PCI-E x16, 2 x PCI-E x1, 2 x PCI
  • 6 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x D-SUB, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 3 x audio
  • 1 x M.2, 4 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £91

Best budget AMD Motherboard

This is one of the most affordable boards available for AMD Ryzen processors. It’s a full-size ATX slate, and it has the mid-range B350 chipset, which cuts back on multi-GPU compatibility and storage connections.

Despite the reduced number of SATA connections and USB ports, it’s still got the chops to build and run solid home, office and gaming machines as long as you stick to a single-GPU setup.

The black PCB and red accents are eye-catching, and they’re paired with red LEDs.

The modest specification is paired with mid-range performance, but that’s fine – we don’t expect a board that costs just £91/$117 to break speed records. If you’re after an AMD board without spending a lot of cash, this is a good option.

Read the full Asus Prime B350-PLUS review

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Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 Chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 4133MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x PS/2, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 5 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF
  • 1 x U.2, 2 x M.2, 3 x SATA Express, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £163

 Best Intel motherboard for gaming

This £163/$209 Aorus-branded board is laser-targeted for gamers, which means it’s got some familiar features: RGB LEDs line its heatsinks, memory slots and PCI sockets, and there are eye-catching heatsinks and support for four Nvidia and AMD GPUs.

Elsewhere, there’s Sound Blaster audio and Killer Ethernet alongside the usual loadout of fast memory support and M.2 and U.2 sockets. Impressively, this board also has a U.2 connector and three SATA Express ports. It’s a little cramped, but there’s no denying its wealth of features.

It’s one of the quickest Intel boards we’ve seen in gaming benchmarks, although it’s more ordinary in other tests and its power efficiency benchmarks were a little disappointing.

If you’re building a rig that’s just going to be used for gaming, though, this is great – it’s fast and fully-featured now, and it’s very future-proofed too.

Read the full Gigabyte Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming 5 review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • AMD X370 Chipset
  • AMD AM4 socket
  • 4 x 3200MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x PS/2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 5 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF
  • 2 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £172

Best AMD Gaming Motherboard

This flagship board pairs AMD’s impressive Ryzen technology with a bevy of gaming features.

It costs £172/$220, but it certainly looks the part – it’s got dramatic black heatsinks, RGB LEDs and steel-coated slots, and there’s a header for hooking up a synchronised light-strip.

The X370 chipset means ample USB and storage support, and the MSI serves up plenty of PCI potential and two M.2 connectors. There’s even a tiny heat-shield for hot NVMe SSDs.

The board has plenty of fan headers and improved audio and Ethernet, but other boards offer more here – and tweakers won’t be happy to miss out on buttons and on-board displays. It’s a mixed bag in benchmarks, too, with a stunning gaming result and mediocre pace in application tests.

If you’re building a rig just for gaming, though, that’s fine – and this board remains an excellent prospect. I’d only look elsewhere if your PC needs to be a bit more versatile.

Read the full MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 3866MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 4 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 5 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF
  • 2 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £119

Best mainstream Intel motherboard

The Prime Z270-A is an excellent motherboard. This ATX slab costs £141/$181 and ticks almost every box for mainstream and high-end builds, from top-notch memory support to a full complement of PCI slots and multi-GPU options.

It has modest RGB LEDs and solid, good-looking heatsinks in varying shades of gray, and it has two M.2 slots and six SATA connectors – a fine selection for storage.

The board is well-designed, with a good spread of fan connectors, and it’s got beefed-up audio and networking options. It even supports Asus’ own 3D printing technology, which is a niche feature but handy for customisation.

This classy, fully-featured board delivered in benchmarks, too – it offers superb speed in applications and SSD tests, and it’s solid in gaming too. Its power consumption is also surprisingly low.

The Prime’s price plants it firmly in the mid-range, and Asus delivers with a huge range of features and impressive performance. It’s only missing high-end additions, and few people will care about those – so buy this board if you want a capable and well-rounded base for an Intel build.

Read the full Asus Prime Z270-A review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 Chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 3866MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 4 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 6 x audio
  • 1 x M.2, 2 x SATA Express, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £125

A great mid-range Intel gaming board

Gaming boards are usually expensive, so we were pleased with the Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3 turned up with a price of just £125/$160. That makes it more affordable than most of its rivals – and it still has plenty to offer.

It’s got smart black design with LEDs along its right edge and around some of its sockets, and it supports fast memory and plenty of storage formats, including M.2 and SATA Express. It’s got top-quality audio and Killer Ethernet, and a row of LEDs to identify problems with the major components.

It’s fast where it counts, too: its 3D Mark pace is one of the best scores we’ve recorded from an Intel board, and its application and storage benchmarks are fine.

The lower price does mean some compromises: the LEDs aren’t RGB, there’s no real support for dual-graphics, and there are no on-board buttons or displays. Despite that, though, we’re  impressed – this board is great for gaming on a budget.

Read the full Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3 review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • AMD X370 Chipset
  • AMD AM4 socket
  • 4 x 3200MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x PS/2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 6 x audio
  • 1 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £130

A great mid-range AMD board

This £130/$167 board tries to tick every box with a keen balance of gaming features and work-friendly reliability, and we’re hard-pressed to argue.

It looks the part thanks to black heatsinks and bright metal, and it has solid support for fast memory alongside trios of PCI-Express x16 and x1 sockets – so it’s fully ready to support AMD and Nvidia’s multi-GPU systems.

The MSI has an M.2 connector and six fan headers, and its layout is solid throughout – not flashy, but easy to use when building and upgrading. It’s got a well-specified backplate, too, and it delivered consistent benchmark results – not table-topping, but never sluggish.

It’s affordable, with a good range of features and full support for AMD’s fast new Ryzen chips, so it makes the MSI a sound bet for building mid-range rigs for all kinds of tasks.

Read the full MSI X370 SLI Plus review

Score

Key Features:

  • Micro-ATX Form Factor
  • AMD B350 Chipset
  • AMD AM4 socket
  • 4 x 3200MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 2 x PCI-E x16, 2 x PCI-E x1
  • 3 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 5 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF
  • 1 x M.2, 4 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £85

Best Micro-ATX AMD motherboard

The micro-ATX form factor is increasingly popular thanks to a keen balance between modest size and good features, and the MSI B350M Mortar is the first such slate that supports AMD’s new Ryzen processors. It costs just £85/$109, too, which makes it even more tempting.

The B350 chipset is a mid-range part that still offers every feature needed for building a solid home, office or gaming rig, including ample storage connectivity and support for AMD-based dual graphics. It supports 3200MHz memory, too, and its audio and internet are both improved from standard.

Its black PCB is decorated with LEDs that aren’t RGB, and the micro-ATX size does mean that ATX boards will still offer more in most departments.

Its benchmark results aren’t going to blow anyone away, either – they’re strictly in the mid-range. That’s fine, though, as this is a smaller board with a low price. It’s the cheap price and solid set of features that make this my favourite AMD-based micro-ATX product.

Read the full MSI B350M Mortar review

Score

Key Features:

  • Micro-ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 3866MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 2 x PCI-E x16, 2 x PCI-E x1
  • 2 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 2 x PS/2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x D-SUB, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 3 x audio
  • 2 x M.2, 4 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £119

Best Micro-ATX Intel motherboard

There’s a lot to like about this micro-ATX board. Its form factor means it’ll fit inside a huge range of smaller cases, and its £119/$152 price is temptingly low.

The Z270 chipset means you get fast memory, two M.2 connectors and a full-speed PCI-Express x16 slot for a single fast graphics card, and the heatsinks around the board are tiny. That’s no good for standing out, but it’s great for manoeuvring around this smaller PCB.

The standard audio and networking gear do a reasonable job for mainstream rigs, and the board has big claims when it comes to reliability – Asus claims that its Prime products go through 8,000 hours of testing.

It’s middling in benchmarks, too, but this isn’t a board designed for speed. Instead, its good range of features, smaller form factor and solid price means it’s a great option for affordable, smaller machines.

Read the full Asus Prime Z270M-Plus review

Score

Key Features:

  • Mini-ITX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 Chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 2 x 4266MHz DDR4, maximum 32GB
  • 1 x PCI-E x16
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 3 x audio, 2 x antenna
  • 1 x M.2, 4 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £161

Best Mini-ITX Intel motherboard

Technological improvements mean that mini-ITX boards are better than ever, and the Gigabyte GA-Z270N-Gaming 5 is one of the finest examples we’ve seen – few tiny boards have more features, and the price of £161/$206 isn’t bad either.

The two memory slots are fast, there’s a full-speed PCI-Express x16 socket, and there’s on-board Wi-Fi and gaming audio. Gigabyte has also found room for four SATA ports and an M.2 connector, which is hidden on the back of its tiny PCB. There’s even room for RGB LEDs.

The Gigabyte has a packed backplate, and it was fine in benchmarks – never the fastest board, but never slow enough to hold back your gaming or productivity tools.

There are compromises, of course, because micro-ATX and full-size ATX boards will have more memory slots, additional PCI sockets and added features – but anyone buying a mini-ITX board will be aware of these design elements. This board still has plenty to offer, which makes it’s our favourite for building a tiny gaming rig.

Read the full Gigabyte GA-Z270N-Gaming 5 review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX form factor
  • AMD X370 chipset
  • AMD AM4 CPU socket
  • 4 x 3200MHz DDR4, 64GB maximum
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 2 x PCI-E x1
  • 6 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 6 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 2 x antenna
  • 2 x M.2, 10 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £259

Best Money-No-Object AMD Motherboard

This £259/$332 beast is one of the beefiest boards we’ve seen for AMD’s new Ryzen processors. It’s got the top-tier X370 chipset with full multi-GPU support, and it’s got buttons, on-board displays and a mammoth ten SATA ports alongside two M.2 connectors.

It has PCI slots surrounded by steel and fast DDR4 support, and RGB LEDs across the board – in heatsinks and in the audio circuitry. Those circuits hold Creative Sound Blaster technology, and the board is littered with fan headers and connectors. It’s got Wi-Fi, too.

It looks great thanks to deep, metallic red heatsinks, and it delivered good speed in every benchmark – so its pace isn’t just restricted to games.

This good-looking board is excessive, sure, but it’s the top option if you want to invest in a Ryzen processor and build a machine with every bell and whistle.

Read the full ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 4133MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 4 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 5 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 2 x antenna
  • 2 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3
  • Review price: £319

Best Money-No-Object Intel Motherboard

This board is a beast. Its £319/$409 marks it out as the priciest PCB we’ve reviewed for months, and its entire surface is covered with metal armour that Asus reckons improved heat distribution and makes the board sturdier.

The heatsinks rise up around the CPU socket to allow for water-cooling compatibility, and that’s not the only enthusiast feature here: there are on-board buttons and displays, more switches for overclocking, a packed backplate and beefed-up audio and Ethernet. It’s got Wi-Fi, runs super-fast memory, and works with multiple GPUs and M.2 SSDs.

It’s the fastest Intel board we’ve recently tested in gaming benchmarks, and it’s fast in application and storage tests too – so it won’t hold back any components either.

The sky-high price will put off plenty of people, but the Asus is the fastest Intel-based gaming motherboard and it’s packed with features. If you’re a serious gamer or overclocker and have serious money to spend, this is the best option.

Read the full Asus ROG Maximus IX Formula review

Score

Key Features:

  • ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 Chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 3800MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 3 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x PS/2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 6 x audio
  • 2 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3

A great mainstream Intel board

This MSI board aims to tick every box, with dual-graphics support for gamers and enough features and reliability elsewhere to sate those building PCs for the home or the office.

It looks the part. It eschews flashy RGB LEDs and instead goes for smart heatsinks that mix black metal with bright, angular slashes, and it’s well-laid out with fan headers and other connectors – including a smart row of diagnostic LEDs. It’s only missing on-board buttons and a POST display, but they’re only found on high-end gaming boards.

It ticks all of the expected boxes for memory and storage support, with two M.2  sockets on-board, and it can handle two graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia. The Z270 chipset helps here, too, with ample PCI lanes providing loads of bandwidth.

The MSI is bolstered by great application and SSD speeds, although its gaming and power efficiency results are a little more ordinary. That’s fine, though – it’s still quick enough to handle almost all tasks, and its £136/$174 price is solidly mid-range. This board is an excellent choice for a versatile Intel-based machine.

Read the full MSI Z270 SLI Plus review

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