Do you want to build a machine with an AMD Ryzen processor? Pick the perfect motherboard with our in-depth guide.
AMD’s introduction of the Zen architecture brought Team Red back to the table in a big way. Now AMD has released two generations of successful Ryzen processors using this impressive new design.
If you’ve been tempted away from Intel by AMD’s recent triumphs, then we can hardly blame you. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking some time to pick the right motherboard.
That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve picked out exactly which attributes need attention when you’re putting together a new PC, and we’ve reviewed eight boards to find out which offer the best performance, features and value – no matter your budget.
Note that while the current gen of Ryzen CPUs are still available to buy, AMD seems poised to announce a new line of Ryzen 3000 processors along with AMD Navi GPUs, so it might be that you’ll want to wait for these to be announced before planning your next build.
1. Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi)
The best overall AMD motherboard you can buy right now
- Impressive and consistent performance
- Solid enthusiast features
- Impressive connectivity throughout
- More expensive than rivals
- Not always faster in gaming tests
- Not many on-board RGB LEDs
Review price: £260
The Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi)’s £260 price makes it the most expensive board in this group, but that cost is justified by lashings of enthusiast-level features. You get on-board buttons, a POST display, extra tweaking buttons and lots of RGB LEDs and chunky metal heatsinks.
Memory support is top-notch, there’s room for multiple graphics cards and two M.2 SSDs, and the networking and audio hardware has all been beefed up. Impressively, at the rear, you get nine USB 3.1 ports alongside extra buttons for tweaking, and the box has extra accessories such as a smart wireless dongle and an Nvidia high-bandwidth SLI bridge.
In benchmarks, the Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero traded blows with the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WIFI in gaming tests, and it was able to eke out a slim margin in the other benchmarks.
For its price, that sort of class-leading performance is what I’d expect. 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.
Read our full Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi) review
2. Gigabyte AB350-Gaming
Cheap and cheerful, this AMD motherboard is good value, but not bleeding edge
- Very cheap
- Solid gaming performance
- Enough features for a versatile, basic build
- Poor application performance
- Dual-graphics not realistic
- Older chipset
Review price: £83 inc VAT
The Gigabyte AB350 Gaming is one of the cheapest boards in the entire group, and the Gigabyte’s specification reflects the price. 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.
You get an older chipset, too, which won’t impact in 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. It sat in the middle of our results table, not far behind pricier products and easily beating the MSI B350 PC Mate in the same tests. The Gigabyte wasn’t poorer in application and storage tests, but this remains a solid option if you want to build a basic machine with a gaming focus.
Read our full Gigabyte AB350-Gaming review
3. ASRock Fatal1ty X470 Gaming K4
A great option if you’re only after a board for gaming
- Impressive gaming speed
- Multiple PCI-E x1 slots
- POST display
- Cheaper than rivals
- Underwhelming application speeds
- Sluggish second M.2 slot
- No second PCI-E x16 slot
Review price: £153
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. Happily, you do get a POST display and solid USB connectivity. The ASRock also has Creative Sound Blaster audio.
The Gaming K4 squares up to the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon in terms of features and price – and it was better in gaming tests than the MSI board too. Its benchmarks elsewhere were a little disappointing, but it’s still a good option if you want a mainstream AMD board primarily for playing the latest games.
Read our full ASRock Fatal1ty X470 Gaming K4 review
4. ASRock X470 Taichi
Good overall performance, but doesn’t excel at gaming
- Lots of storage options
- Solid core specification
- Good application, memory and storage performance
- Slower in games
- Pricier than rivals
Review price: £210
The ASRock X470 Taichi is the more expensive of the two ASRock boards in this group and it looks fantastic, with a smart, eye-catching design. 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 – but no other enthusiast-level features.
When it comes to benchmarks, the ASRock is better with applications and general-purpose computing. It outpaced the Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming in Geekbench and in storage tests, but its gaming pace was more ordinary.
Still, it offers plenty of features, 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.
Read our full ASRock X470 Taichi review
5. Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming
A cheaper alternative to the ASRock X470 Taichi
- Solid core features
- Decent performance, especially in games
- Smart, subtle design
- Cheaper than ASRock
- Inconsistent in peripheral benchmarks
- Few enthusiast features
- No audio shielding
Review price: £185 inc VAT
The Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming is the cheaper of two Asus boards in this AMD AM4 group test, but its £185 price is still high. For that money, you at least 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 includes two M.2 slots as well, but only one runs at the unfettered speed of the PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface. Elsewhere, the board has features excellent lighting and cooling connectivity, beefed-up audio and networking – but there’s no POST display, on-board buttons or wireless networking. You’ll need to spend a bit more for that.
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. It’s a good option for high-end, all-round PCs.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming review
6. Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi
Powerful, obnoxious, more lights than a Christmas tree, the X470 is for petrolheads
- Generous lighting options
- Solid, fast performance
- Good slot and port selection
- Not quite as quick as Asus
- Still very expensive
Review price: £240 inc VAT
The Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi is one of the most expensive motherboards in the group, and the design reflects this. 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 good in the more conventional departments, too – it has memory and PCI support to match the pricier Asus ROG Crosshair board.
The Gigabyte has wireless, good audio codecs, and plenty of ports at the rear. There isn’t much of a gap between the Gigabyte and the Asus in benchmarks, 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.
Read our full Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi review
7. MSI B350 PC Mate
One of the cheapest AMD board out there, ideal for single GPU builds on shoestring budgets
- Extremely cheap
- Solid basic specification
- PCI slots and USB Type-C
- Sluggish performance
- Limited specification for high-end builds
Review price: £75 inc VAT
The MSI B350 PC Mate is the cheapest board in this AMD AM4 group, which means a basic specification. You’ve got enough ability here for a solid single-GPU system with one M.2 SSD, but nothing more than that.
This board has just 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. It also has a USB Type-C at the rear. Arguably, this board even looks better, with bigger and smarter heatsinks throughout.
Sadly, the MSI’s budget price shows in the benchmarks. It can’t catch up to cheap Gigabyte board in gaming, and it was regularly sluggish in application, storage and memory tests. It’s frugal, but that’s the only saving grace when it comes to benchmarking.
The MSI’s board isn’t great for performance, then, but the basic specification is fine and connectivity is a little better than the Gigabyte. It’s worth considering if you’re on a very tight budget.
Read our full MSI B350 PC Mate
8. MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon
Good for productivity, but surprisingly sub-par for gaming, the MSI X470 is a wild card option
- Decent number of features considering the price
- Impressive application performance
- Good RGB LED support
- Underwhelming gaming pace
- Only two PCI-E x1 slots
- Pricier than its key rival
Review price: £170 inc VAT
The MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon’s £170 price puts it right in between mainstream and high-end gaming boards, and a solid chunk of the budget has clearly been spent on the aesthetics. The MSI looks superb, with matte metal heatsinks and impressive RGB LEDs, and it has lots of headers for adding your own lights.
Elsewhere, memory and PCI support is fine, and the inclusion of eight SATA ports mean that storage options are decent. However, the second M.2 slot is running at a slower speed, so faster SSDs will be bottlenecked here.
It has the usual beefed-up audio and networking, plenty of USB ports, and more CPU power connectivity. It has steel around its memory slots, which is an extra bit of strength that some rivals don’t include.
Disappointingly, the MSI proved underwhelming in gaming tests. It was one of the poorest in the entire group, and a fair distance behind its pricier rivals. Surprisingly, it was a lot better in non-gaming tests.
If features and aesthetics are your priority in a gaming board, the MSI is a good shout – and we wouldn’t discount it for productivity PCs either.
Read our full MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon review
Best AMD motherboard 2018 – The AMD AM4 platform
The eight boards in this test all use the AMD AM4 socket. It’s the latest consumer platform from AMD, and it supports a variety of processing hardware.
The main products supported by AMD AM4 are the Ryzen range. These chips are superb: the Zen architecture made big strides in performance and efficiency, which allowed AMD to properly compete against Intel for the first time in several years.
AMD’s Ryzen chips have taken the fight to Intel when it comes to core counts and multi-threaded performance, 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 a little better in that department.
We’re now on the second generation of Ryzen units, although both first- and second-generation Ryzen chips work in socket AM4 boards.
The Ryzen range is a broad church. At the bottom of the range are Ryzen 3 chips, which have lesser core counts and clock speeds – but cheaper prices, too. Mainstream parts have the Ryzen 5 moniker, 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, though. 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 compatible motherboards are controlled by a wide variety of chipsets.
The first generation of Ryzen chipsets encompasses anything with a 300-series name: the A320, B350, X370 and a few others. 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. Neither do they 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 ensuring that a chipset on any motherboard offers the features you’ll want from a new PC build. However, note that themajority of 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 lashings of storage to a system.
Best AMD motherboard 2018 – Key considerations
The chipset is worthy of consideration when buying a board, but it isn’t the sole area worthy of your attention. After all, every component in your PC will attach to the motherboard.
It’s important to pay attention to the memory slots. Four is the ideal – handy for upgrading in the future, without having to throw away your existing memory. Also consider the 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.
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.
Elsewhere, a board will 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 now only suitable for fitting extremely old hardware to current systems.
Around the borders of the board sit storage connectors. Every SATA port will now run using the SATA 3 standard, which has ample bandwidth for hard disk and slower SSDs.
Most motherboards also now have at least one M.2 socket. These connectors are used for faster SSDs, and they 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.
You’ll also find numerous jumpers and connectors scattered around a motherboard. Typically, these handle fans, front-mounted USB ports and front-panel connectivity. If you want to add lots of cooling, or a particularly large number of USB ports to your machine, pay attention – not having enough connectors could scupper your plans.
Similarly, take a look at what networking and audio options feature. 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.
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.
Best AMD Motherboard 2018 – 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 Cinebench R15 to test CPU and OpenGL GPU performance. We used CrystalDiskMark to test NVMe and SATA storage speeds, and SiSoft Sandra to evaluate memory performance and processor arithmetic speeds.
We use 3DMark: Fire Strike, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and Rise of the Tomb Raider to evaluate gaming ability. Then we test power efficiency by measuring the board’s power draw when idling and when running Prime95’s CPU stress-testing benchmark.
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.