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Best AMD motherboard: best 8 AM4 boards for gaming

Trusted Reviews ranks AMD’s best AM4 motherboards in our in-depth guide – ideal for anyone looking to build a machine with the new AMD Ryzen processor.

Team Red came back to the table in a big way with AMD’s introduction of the Zen architecture. Now AMD has released three generations of successful Ryzen processors using this impressive new design.

We really can’t blame you if AMD’s recent triumphs have tempted you away from Intel, and it’s worth taking some time to pick the right motherboard.

If you’re seeking advice, look no further than our handy guide, which features the expert information you need to make the right choice. Here, we review eight boards, picking out exactly which attributes to focus on when you’re putting together a new PC and covering the models that offer the best value, performance and features, whatever your budget.

The best overall AMD motherboard you can buy right now

Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero

Pros:

  • Solid enthusiast features
  • Impressive connectivity throughout
  • Superb, consistent performance

Cons:

  • Not always faster in gaming tests
  • More expensive than competitors
  • Not many on-board RGB LEDs

Review price: £260

Score: 8/10

Why we liked the Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi)

At £260, the Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi) is the most expensive board in this group, but the price is justified by the sheer amount of enthusiast-level features. You get on-board and extra tweaking buttons, a POST display and lots of RGB LEDs and chunky metal heatsinks.

There is excellent memory support, room for multiple graphics cards and two M.2 SSDs, and augmented networking and audio hardware. At the rear there are an impressive nine USB 3.1 ports alongside extra buttons for tweaking, and the box has extra accessories such as a smart wireless dongle and a Nvidia high-bandwidth SLI bridge.

In gaming test benchmarks, the Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero was on a par with the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi, and nosed ahead in the other benchmarks.

You would expect this kind of class-leading performance from a board at this price. For all of its speed and bluster, however, this board is only worth buying if you intend to use all of its high-end features.

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This cheap and cheerful AMD motherboard is good value, but it’s not at the cutting edge

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming

Pros:

  • Solid gaming performance
  • Very cheap
  • Enough features for a versatile, basic build

Cons:

  • Unrealistic dual-graphics
  • Poor application performance
  • Older chipset

Review price: £83 inc VAT

Score: 6/10

Why we liked the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming

The Gigabyte AB350 Gaming is one of the cheapest boards in the entire group, and its price reflects its specification. It has sufficient memory speed and PCI bandwidth to support a good budget or mainstream single-GPU system specification, but it isn’t capable of handling dual-graphics, more than one M.2 SSD, or the fastest memory on the market.

It also features an older chipset, although this won’t affect your day-to-day use, and the AB350-Gaming has only basic Gigabit Ethernet and audio chipsets. There’s no USB Type-C, only three audio jacks, and four fan connectors.

The AB350-Gaming performed well in gaming tests, with results that placed it in the middle of our results table, not far behind more expensive products. It easily beat the MSI B350 PC Mate in the same tests. The Gigabyte wasn’t poorer in application and storage tests, so it remains a solid option if you want to build a basic machine with a gaming focus.

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A great option if you’re only after a board for gaming

Another close-up of the A close-up view of the ASRock Fatal1ty X470 Gaming K4 motherboard, with the RAM sockets visible top right.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than rivals
  • Impressive gaming speed
  • Multiple PCI-E x1 slots
  • POST display

Cons:

  • Underwhelming application speeds
  • Sluggish second M.2 slot
  • No second PCI-E x16 slot

Review price: £153

Score: 7/10

Why we liked the ASRock Fatal1ty X470 Gaming K4

ASRock’s Fatal1ty-branded gaming board looks the part, with a pre-mounted I/O shield, smart heatsinks and lots of RGB LEDs – and the specification is solid for this mid-range price. The memory speeds are little cut down and you don’t get a third PCI-E x16 slot, but most people won’t miss those omissions.

The ASRock Fatal1ty X470 Gaming K4 has two M.2 connectors, but the second is slower – another area where this board’s specification involves minor compromises. Fortunately, you do get a POST display and solid USB connectivity. The ASRock also has Creative Sound Blaster audio.

The Gaming K4 is comparable to the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon in terms of features and price – and performed better than the MSI board in gaming tests. Its other benchmarks were slightly disappointing, but it’s still a good option if you want a mainstream AMD board primarily for playing the latest games.

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Good overall performance but doesn’t excel at gaming

Another close-up of the ASRock X470 Taichi AMD board with the CPU mount visible top and middle.

Pros:

  • Solid core specification
  • Lots of storage options
  • Good application, memory and storage performance

Cons:

  • Pricier than competitors
  • Slower in games

Review price: £210

Score: 7/10

Why we liked the ASRock X470 Taichi

The superb-looking ASRock X470 Taichi features a smart, very striking design and is the more expensive of the two ASRock boards in this group. It has a solid specification, with good memory support, two full-speed M.2 connectors and a sufficient number of PCI-E x16 slots for full-speed dual-graphics.

Elsewhere, ASRock’s board has plenty of fan connectors, RGB LEDs and solid USB connectivity. You also get a POST display, wireless internet and a Clear CMOS button, although there are no other enthusiast-level features.

When it comes to benchmarks, the ASRock is better with applications and general-purpose computing. It performed better than the Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming in Geekbench and in storage tests, but its gaming pace was more ordinary.

It still offers plenty of features, however, showing good pace in productivity benchmarks and ample room for storage thanks to eight SATA ports. It’s ideal if you want a high-quality board for a work or home system.

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A cheaper alternative to the ASRock X470 Taichi

Asus ROG Strix X470 F Gaming

Pros:

  • Smart, subtle design
  • Decent performance, especially in games
  • Solid core features
  • Cheaper than ASRock

Cons:

  • Few enthusiast features
  • No audio shielding
  • Inconsistent in peripheral benchmarks

Review price: £185 inc VAT

Score: 8/10

Why we liked the Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming

The Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming is the cheapest of the two Asus boards in this AMD AM4 group test but, at £185, it’s still an expensive option. For that money, you do get basically every mainstream feature, from rapid memory support and proper dual-graphics capabilities to three PCI-E x1 slots and ample RGB LED lighting.

It also includes two M.2 slots but only one runs at the unfettered speed of the PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface. The board features excellent lighting and cooling connectivity, as well as enhanced audio and networking, but you’ll need to spend a bit more to get a board with POST display, on-board buttons or wireless networking.

The Asus Strix board returned reasonable speeds in most benchmarks without ever leading the results tables. It couldn’t always beat its main rival, either – the ASRock X470 Taichi.

It isn’t the fastest AM4 board but it’s packed with features and is a little cheaper than the ASRock, making it a good option for high-end, all-round PCs.

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Powerful, extremely fast and with more lights than a Christmas tree, the X470 is for petrolheads

Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi

Pros:

  • Solid, fast performance
  • Generous lighting options
  • Good slot and port selection

Cons:

  • Still very expensive
  • Not quite as quick as Asus

Review price: £240 inc VAT

Score: 8/10

Why we liked the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi

The Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi is one of the most expensive motherboards in the group and this is reflected in its design. It’s covered with huge heatsinks and RGB LEDs, with more lighting options than any other board in this test.

There are plenty of high-end features, including overclocking buttons, a POST display, and switches to flick between two saved BIOSes. The specification is also good in the more conventional departments – it has memory and PCI support to match the more expensive Asus ROG Crosshair board.

The Gigabyte has wireless, good audio codecs, and plenty of ports at the rear. In benchmarks, there isn’t much of a gap between the Gigabyte and the Asus, with the Gigabyte board only falling marginally behind in key gaming and application tests.

The X470 Aorus Gaming 7 can’t quite match the Asus for pure performance, but it remains extremely fast. With features and lighting options galore, it’s a great board if you want a high-end rig full of RGB LEDs.

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One of the cheapest AMD boards available, this is ideal for single GPU builds on shoestring budgets

MSI B350 PC Mate

Pros:

  • Solid basic specification
  • Extremely cheap
  • PCI slots and USB Type-C

Cons:

  • Limited specification for high-end builds
  • Sluggish performance

Review price: £75 inc VAT

Score: 5/10

Why we liked the MSI B350 PC Mate

The MSI B350 PC Mate is the cheapest board in this AMD AM4 group, which means it features a basic specification. You’ve got enough ability here for a solid single-GPU system with one M.2 SSD, but nothing beyond that.

This board only has four SATA ports, which is two fewer than the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming. It does have better audio and more fan connectors than its rival, however, as well as a USB Type-C at the rear. Arguably, this board looks better, too, and features bigger, smarter heatsinks throughout.

Unfortunately, the MSI’s budget price shows in the benchmarks. It can’t catch up to the cheap Gigabyte board in gaming and was regularly sluggish in application, storage and memory tests. It’s frugal, but that’s it’s only saving grace when it comes to benchmarking.

While MSI’s board isn’t great for performance, the basic specification is fine and connectivity is slightly better than the Gigabyte. It’s worth looking at if you’re on a very tight budget.

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Good for productivity but surprisingly lacking when it comes to gaming, the MSI X470 is a wild card

MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon

Pros:

  • Impressive application performance
  • Decent number of features considering the price
  • Good RGB LED support

Cons:

  • More expensive than its key rival
  • Underwhelming gaming pace
  • Only two PCI-E x1 slots

Review price: £170 inc VAT

Score: 7/10

Why we liked the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon

At £170, the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon falls between mainstream and high-end gaming boards, and aesthetics have clearly swallowed up a sizeable part of the budget. With impressive RGB LEDs and matte metal heatsinks, the MSI looks superb and has lots of headers for adding your own lights.

Memory and PCI support is fine, and, with eight SATA ports, there are decent storage options. The second M.2 slot runs at a slower speed, however, meaning that faster SSDs will be bottlenecked here.

It has plenty of USB ports, the usual beefed-up audio and networking, and more CPU power connectivity. The steel-edged memory slots also offer an extra bit of strength not included by some competitors.

Disappointingly, the MSI put in an underwhelming performance in gaming tests. It was one of the poorest in the entire group, and lagged considerably behind its pricier rivals. Surprisingly, it performed a lot better in non-gaming tests.

If your priorities are features and aesthetics, the MSI is a good shout – and we wouldn’t discount it for productivity PCs either.

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  1. Best overall: Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi)
  2. Best value: Gigabyte AB350-Gaming
  3. Best for gaming: ASRock Fatal1ty X470 Gaming K4
  4. Best for hardcore gamers: Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WIFI
  5. Best cheap AMD motherboard: MSI B350 PC Mate
  6. Powerful and full of lights: Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi
  7. Best on a shoestring: MSI B350 PC Mate
  8. Best for productivity: MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon

All eight boards in this test use the AMD AM4 socket. It’s the latest consumer platform from AMD and supports a range of processing hardware.

  • The Ryzen range contains the main products supported by AMD AM4 and these chips are superb. The Zen architecture made major improvements to efficiency and performance, which allowed AMD to properly compete against Intel for the first time in several years.
  • When it comes to core counts and multi-threaded performance, AMD’s Ryzen chips have taken the fight to Intel, which means they’re particularly good for complex work tasks, media applications and general-purpose computing.
  • They’re excellent gaming chips, too, and single-threaded speed is also great – even if Intel is generally still slightly better in that department.
  • Ryzen units are in their second generation, although both first-generation Ryzen chips will also work in socket AM4 boards.

What’s in the Ryzen range?

The Ryzen range is a broad church. Ryzen 3 chips are at the bottom of the range and have lesser core counts and clock speeds, and cost less. Ryzen 5 chips sit at the mainstream mark, while Ryzen 7 chips are more powerful, with eight cores and better core and boost speeds.

The Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 parts correspond to Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 ranges, with similar prices and performance levels. However, AMD’s Ryzen 7 models do tend to have more cores than their Intel counterparts.

The AMD AM4 socket isn’t just used for these conventional Ryzen processors, however. The AM4 hardware also features in its range of APUs – chips that combine processing cores with Vega graphics chips. There are a whole range of Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 APUs that use AM4, along with low-end Athlon parts.

The AM4 socket supports a wide range of CPUs and APUs from two different generations. This means a wide variety of chipsets can control compatible motherboards.

The first generation of Ryzen chipsets encompasses anything with a 300-series name, including the A320, B350 and X370. These older chipsets tend to have poorer multi-GPU support at the low end, with fewer PCI lanes and more restrictions on the number of USB ports and SATA connectors they carry. They also don’t support AMD StoreMI caching technology.

Newer chipsets such as the X470 and B450 do support StoreMI. The B450 adds AMD CrossFire support, too, and the newer chipsets also reduce their power consumption when compared to the 300-series products.

It’s worth making sure that a chipset on any motherboard offers the features you want from a new PC build. And it’s also a good idea to note that most chipsets do support the vast majority of features. You’ll only need to pay extra attention if you want to add multiple graphics cards, carry out lots of overclocking, or add a serious amount of storage to a system.


Chipset:

The chipset is a key consideration when buying a board, but it isn’t the sole focus. After all, every component in your PC will attach to the motherboard.

Memory:

It’s also important to pay attention to the memory slots, with four regarded as ideal – handy for upgrading in the future, without having to throw away your existing memory. You should also consider the memory size – number of gigabytes – and speed that a board supports.

The vast majority of four-slot boards will support 64GB of DDR4 memory, which is ample for all scenarios, and most boards run memory at a peak speed of 3200MHz or higher. Again, this is plenty.

Sockets:

Below the memory slots are PCI sockets. The largest PCI slots are PCI-Express x16 slots, which are usually used to hold graphics cards. The first PCI-Express x16 slot on a motherboard will operate at its maximum speed of x16, which is sufficient bandwidth to run high-end graphics cards.

However, it isn’t unusual – especially on cheaper boards – to find second and third PCI-Express x16 slots that run at restricted speeds. If a second or third slot runs at x8 speed, it will be fine for a second graphics card. If it runs at x4 speed, however, it won’t have the bandwidth to run a high-end graphics card without bottlenecking it.

A board will also have PCI-Express x1 slots. These are smaller versions of the same kind of slot and are used for expansion cards that can add wireless internet, extra USB ports or dedicated sound hardware to a system. Some boards also have older PCI slots, which are rarer and only suitable now for fitting extremely old hardware to current systems.

Storage connectors:

Are positioned around the borders and every SATA port will now run using the SATA 3 standard, which has ample bandwidth for hard disk and slower SSDs.

You’ll find that most motherboards now have at least one M.2 socket. These connectors are used for faster SSDs and use PCI-Express bandwidth. If you want to run a particularly fast M.2 SSD – or two of them – ensure that every M.2 connector uses the full PCI-Express 3.0 x4 protocol. If it doesn’t, the drive’s speed will be bottlenecked.

Connectors:

You’ll also find numerous jumpers and connectors scattered around a motherboard. Typically, these handle front-mounted USB ports, fans and front-panel connectivity. If you want to add lots of cooling, or a particularly large number of USB ports to your machine, take heed – not having enough connectors could scupper your plans.

Similarly, take a look at the networking and audio options. Even the cheapest motherboard will have Gigabit Ethernet and an audio chipset that’s absolutely fine for gaming, music and movies at home. However, if you want better performance from your internet connection or your audio chips, you’ll need to spend a little more cash.

Form factor:

Finally, consider the form factor. All of the boards in this group use the ATX design, which is the largest mainstream option. Micro-ATX boards are smaller, and mini-ITX options are even smaller still.

Those latter two form factors will fit into a variety of compact cases, but it also means they have fewer ports, sockets and slots.


All the motherboards are put through a demanding suite of benchmark tests.

  1. We run Geekbench 4 to test single and multi-core application speed, and Cinebench R15 to test CPU and OpenGL GPU performance.
  2. We use CrystalDiskMark to test NVMe and SATA storage speeds
  3. We Use SiSoft Sandra to evaluate memory performance and processor arithmetic speeds.
  4. We use 3DMark: Fire Strike, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and Rise of the Tomb Raider to evaluate gaming ability.
  5. We test power efficiency by measuring the board’s power draw when idling and when running Prime95’s CPU stress-testing benchmark.
  6. The test rig uses a Samsung 970 Evo M.2 SSD, a Samsung 850 EVO SATA SSD and 16GB of 3,000MHz DDR4 memory, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics card, and a Ryzen 7 2700X processor running at its stock speed.

We’d like to thank Overclockers UK for providing some of the boards included in this test.


 

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