Best Motherboard 2018: AMD and Intel boards for all budgets

2018 is in full swing and we’ve seen all manner of great innovations hit the PC market. Highlights include the arrival of AMD’s stellar second gen Ryzen 7 2700X and AMD Ryzen 7 2700 CPUs, plus a wealth of new PSUs, RAM and SSDs from the likes of Asus and Gigabyte. But with the Intel 9th gen range of CPUs rumoured to be arriving later this year, you may need to rethink what your dream gaming PC rig needs.

But before you go rushing off to buy the shiny new tech, you’ll need to pick which motherboard you want. They may not be the most alluring part of a PC, but a motherboard can make or break any build. Here to help make sure you don’t accidentally pickup a lemon, we’ve tested all the big name motherboards on the market. Scroll down to see our pick of the best.

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

Score:

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

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

Asus Z370-A Prime

4 of 10

Score:

Key features:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • CPU Socket: 1151
  • Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z370
  • SLI/Crossfire Support
  • 6x SATA ports
  • 2x M.2
  • Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN
  • Realtek Audio
  • Price: £160 inc VAT

A great mid-range Z370 board

If you’re on a budget, but invested in using one of Intel’s 8th Gen CPUs, then the Asus Z370-A Prime is the best-value motherboard available at the moment. It’s slightly more expensive than Gigabyte’s cheapest Z370 motherboard, the K3, but for very little extra cash you get a much greater feature set and better performance.

For your money you’ll get all the connectivity and features you’d expect from a board in the Prime’s price point, including Intel Ethernet, a trio of PCI-Express x16 slots, four PCI-Express x1 sockets and six SATA ports.

If you want to run multiple GPUs in SLI or Crossfire, the Prime can also can handle three AMD GPUs and two Nvidia cards. Although we don’t recommend that for anyone but hardcore builders.

Performance is also solid, with the Prime performing admirably in both our Geekbench and Cinebench application tests, making it a great choice for people building a general-use PC.

The only serious compromises are the lack of a POST display, Clear CMOS button, dual Ethernet or wireless internet, as well as a slightly limited port offering. The Prime only has three USB 3.1 ports and a USB 3.1 Type-C socket. But at this price, those luxuries aren’t to be expected.

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

Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7

10 of 10

Score:

Key features

  • Form Factor: ATXCPU
  • Socket: 1151
  • Motherboard: Chipset: Intel Z370
  • SLI/Crossfire Support
  • 6x SATA ports
  • 3x M.2
  • Intel I219-V & Rivet Networks Killer
  • E2500 Gigabit LAN
  • Realtek Audio
  • Price: £250 inc VAT

Best Intel Z370 board for gaming

If you’re planning to build a top-end gaming rig using one of Intel’s latest 8th Gen CPUs then the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 is a perfect choice. It may cost £250, but its high-end features, impressively easy-to-use design and speedy performance more than justify the price tag.

For your money you’ll get PCI-Express x16 slots, quad-GPU support for AMD and Nvidia cards, on-board Sound Blaster X-Fi tech, Killer Ethernet. Six SATA ports and three M.2 connectors – one with a heatsink – mean storage is top-notch. Throw in luxurious extras like power and reset buttons, on-board overclocking features and a POST display, and you’ve got a great choice for gamers.

Performance with gaming really is excellent. Our minimum and average results in Dirt Rally and Deus Ex were the best we’ve tested – around a full frame quicker than rivals – as were its 3DMark: Fire Strike and Time Spy scores.

Privacy Settings