The best 10 motherboards in comparison

Which are the best motherboards of 2020?

Best motherboards of 2020 (1 - 5)
motherboard comparison
Comparison winner
motherboard comparison
Comparison winner
ASRock Z87 Extreme9/ac
Comparison winner
Asus Maximus VIII Extreme
Comparison winner
Asus Z10PE-D16 WS
Comparison winner
Asus X99-Deluxe II
Comparison winner
Asus X99-E-10G WS
Comparison winner
Asus ROG Maximus IX Extreme
Comparison winner
MSI X299 XPower Gaming AC
Comparison winner
Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC Force
Comparison winner
Asus X99-Deluxe/U3.1
Comparison winner
Asus Z87-Pro
Image
ASRock Z87 Extreme9/ac
100points
Asus Maximus VIII Extreme
95points
Asus Z10PE-D16 WS
94points
Asus X99-Deluxe II
93points
Asus X99-E-10G WS
92points
Asus ROG Maximus IX Extreme
90points
MSI X299 XPower Gaming AC
90points
Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC Force
90points
Asus X99-Deluxe/U3.1
89points
Asus Z87-Pro
88points
Best price
Best price
Summary
Summary
  • General info (61)
  • Memory (26)
  • Connectors (90)
  • Expansion slots (40)
  • Audio (92)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (93)
  • Memory (33)
  • Connectors (63)
  • Expansion slots (13)
  • Audio (90)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (29)
  • Memory (100)
  • Connectors (56)
  • Expansion slots (86)
  • Audio (77)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (82)
  • Memory (44)
  • Connectors (53)
  • Expansion slots (17)
  • Audio (88)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (32)
  • Memory (65)
  • Connectors (55)
  • Expansion slots (100)
  • Audio (97)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (61)
  • Memory (35)
  • Connectors (64)
  • Expansion slots (21)
  • Audio (89)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (64)
  • Memory (49)
  • Connectors (62)
  • Expansion slots (11)
  • Audio (87)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (71)
  • Memory (26)
  • Connectors (65)
  • Expansion slots (29)
  • Audio (91)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (65)
  • Memory (43)
  • Connectors (41)
  • Expansion slots (73)
  • Audio (88)
  • Storage (80)
  • General info (41)
  • Memory (26)
  • Connectors (100)
  • Expansion slots (14)
  • Audio (92)
  • Storage (80)
Pros
Pros
  • More PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • More USB 3.0 ports
  • More USB 3.0 ports (through expansion)
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • HDMI output
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • More fan headers
  • Higher overclocked RAM speed
  • HDMI output
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Easy to overclock
  • Larger maximum memory size
  • More PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • More memory slots
  • More fan headers
  • Higher ram speed
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • Larger maximum memory size
  • More memory slots
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • Easy to overclock
  • Larger maximum memory size
  • More PCIe 2.0 x16 slots
  • BIOS reset button/switch
  • More PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • More memory slots
  • More USB 3.0 ports
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • Larger maximum memory size
  • More audio jack connectors
  • More fan headers
  • More USB 3.0 ports
  • Higher ram speed
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • Higher overclocked RAM speed
  • HDMI output
  • More memory slots
  • More fan headers
  • Higher ram speed
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • Higher overclocked RAM speed
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • More fan headers
  • More USB 3.0 ports
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • HDMI output
  • Easy to overclock
  • More audio jack connectors
  • More PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • More memory slots
  • More USB 3.0 ports
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • Larger maximum memory size
  • More PCIe 2.0 x16 slots
  • More USB 3.0 ports
  • More SATA 3 connectors
  • HDMI output
  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • More PCIe 2.0 x16 slots
  • More audio jack connectors
Cons
Cons
  • Memory channels
  • Overclocked RAM speed
  • RAM speed
  • PCIe x1 slots
  • Memory channels
  • Audio connectors
  • USB 3.0 ports (through expansion)
  • Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • USB charging boost
  • PCIe x1 slots
  • Fan headers
  • Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)
  • Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)
  • Fan headers
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • Memory channels
  • Multi-GPU
  • USB charging boost
  • Audio channels
  • PCIe x1 slots
  • USB 3.0 ports
  • PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • Memory channels
  • Overclocked RAM speed
  • RAM speed
  • Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)
  • Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)
  • Overclocked RAM speed
  • Multi-GPU
  • Memory channels
  • Overclocked RAM speed
  • RAM speed
  • USB 3.0 ports (through expansion)
  • PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
General info
BIOS reset button/switchThe motherboard has a button or switch on the rear panel to clear the CMOS, which resets the BIOS to factory settings. This is useful if something goes wrong with the BIOS which stops your computer from booting, as you can reset the BIOS without opening the case to access the CMOS jumper.
BIOS reset button/switchThe motherboard has a button or switch on the rear panel to clear the CMOS, which resets the BIOS to factory settings. This is useful if something goes wrong with the BIOS which stops your computer from booting, as you can reset the BIOS without opening the case to access the CMOS jumper.
Easy to overclockOverclocking your system is normally quite a complicated procedure, but some manufacturers provide a button or a program where one click will automatically overclock your computer, giving you increased performance.
Easy to overclockOverclocking your system is normally quite a complicated procedure, but some manufacturers provide a button or a program where one click will automatically overclock your computer, giving you increased performance.
Multi-GPUThe number of GPUs supported when using a multi-GPU configuration. Using more than one GPU in parallel can give increased performance.
Multi-GPUThe number of GPUs supported when using a multi-GPU configuration. Using more than one GPU in parallel can give increased performance.4444434443
USB charging boostThis feature allows you to charge your devices (such as smartphones and tablets) faster than a regular USB port. Some implementations also let you charge through the USB port even when the computer is in sleep mode or off.
USB charging boostThis feature allows you to charge your devices (such as smartphones and tablets) faster than a regular USB port. Some implementations also let you charge through the USB port even when the computer is in sleep mode or off.
Wi-Fi connectivityThe device can connect to Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi connectivityThe device can connect to Wi-Fi.
Total score for "General info"
Total score for "General info"
Memory
Maximum memory sizeThe maximum amount of memory (RAM) supported.
Maximum memory sizeThe maximum amount of memory (RAM) supported.32GB64GB1024GB128GB128GB64GB128GB32GB128GB32GB
Memory channelsMore memory channels increases the speed of data transfer between the memory and the CPU.
Memory channelsMore memory channels increases the speed of data transfer between the memory and the CPU.2244424242
Memory slotsMore memory slots (also known as DIMM slots) allow you to add more RAM to your computer. It is also useful when upgrading, as you can add RAM to an empty slot instead of replacing an existing memory module.
Memory slotsMore memory slots (also known as DIMM slots) allow you to add more RAM to your computer. It is also useful when upgrading, as you can add RAM to an empty slot instead of replacing an existing memory module.44168848484
RAM speedIt can support faster memory, which will give quicker system performance.
RAM speedIt can support faster memory, which will give quicker system performance.1600MHz2133MHz2400MHz2133MHz2133MHz2400MHz2667MHz1600MHz2133MHz1600MHz
Overclocked RAM speedThe motherboard supports overclocking the RAM to a higher speed. By increasing the speed at which the memory runs, you can boost the performance of your computer.
Overclocked RAM speedThe motherboard supports overclocking the RAM to a higher speed. By increasing the speed at which the memory runs, you can boost the performance of your computer.2800MHz3866MHzN.A.3333MHz3333MHz4133MHz4133MHz3000MHz3200MHz3000MHz
Total score for "Memory"
Total score for "Memory"
Connectors
USB 3.0 ports (through expansion)The motherboard has USB 3.0 headers, which are pin connections that you can connect additional USB ports to.
USB 3.0 ports (through expansion)The motherboard has USB 3.0 headers, which are pin connections that you can connect additional USB ports to.6424444442
Fan headersFan headers are connection points on the motherboard that cooling fans can be connected to. Fans can also be connected straight to the power supply, but when connected to the motherboard you gain much finer control over them through software.
Fan headersFan headers are connection points on the motherboard that cooling fans can be connected to. Fans can also be connected straight to the power supply, but when connected to the motherboard you gain much finer control over them through software.6109551291166
HDMI outputDevices with a HDMI or mini HDMI port can transfer high definition video and audio to a display.
HDMI outputDevices with a HDMI or mini HDMI port can transfer high definition video and audio to a display.
USB 3.0 portsMore USB 3.0 ports allow you to connect more devices to your computer that support USB 3.0. USB 3.0 is an improved version of USB 2.0 which offers faster transfer rates.
USB 3.0 portsMore USB 3.0 ports allow you to connect more devices to your computer that support USB 3.0. USB 3.0 is an improved version of USB 2.0 which offers faster transfer rates.644466261014
SATA 3 connectorsSATA is an interface used to connect mass storage devices such as hard drives and Blu-ray drives. SATA 3 has a native transfer rate of 6 Gbit/s, which is twice as fast as SATA 2, the previous revision. This is particularly useful if you use an SSD as it can perform at higher speeds.
SATA 3 connectorsSATA is an interface used to connect mass storage devices such as hard drives and Blu-ray drives. SATA 3 has a native transfer rate of 6 Gbit/s, which is twice as fast as SATA 2, the previous revision. This is particularly useful if you use an SSD as it can perform at higher speeds.104108108101088
Total score for "Connectors"
Total score for "Connectors"
Expansion slots
PCIe 2.0 x16 slotsPCIe slots allow you to connect graphics cards, SSDs, and other components to the motherboard. The number after the 'x' represents the number of lanes, with more lanes supporting higher data transfer rates. PCI Express 2.0 has a transfer rate of 5 GT/s, providing 500 MB/s per lane.
PCIe 2.0 x16 slotsPCIe slots allow you to connect graphics cards, SSDs, and other components to the motherboard. The number after the 'x' represents the number of lanes, with more lanes supporting higher data transfer rates. PCI Express 2.0 has a transfer rate of 5 GT/s, providing 500 MB/s per lane.N.A.0N.A.2N.A.00021
PCIe 3.0 x16 slotsPCIe slots allow you to connect various components to the motherboard, such as graphics cards and sound cards. The number after the 'x' represents the number of lanes, with more lanes supporting higher data transfer rates. PCI Express 3.0 has a bit rate of 8 GT/s, delivering 985 MB/s per lane.
PCIe 3.0 x16 slotsPCIe slots allow you to connect various components to the motherboard, such as graphics cards and sound cards. The number after the 'x' represents the number of lanes, with more lanes supporting higher data transfer rates. PCI Express 3.0 has a bit rate of 8 GT/s, delivering 985 MB/s per lane.5464734382
PCIe x1 slotsUsing PCIe slots, you can connect different components to your motherboard, such as graphics cards and RAID cards. The number after the 'x' represents the number of data-transmission lanes. More lanes result in faster data transfer rates. A PCIe x1 slot has one lane and can move data at one bit per cycle.
PCIe x1 slotsUsing PCIe slots, you can connect different components to your motherboard, such as graphics cards and RAID cards. The number after the 'x' represents the number of data-transmission lanes. More lanes result in faster data transfer rates. A PCIe x1 slot has one lane and can move data at one bit per cycle.12N.A.1N.A.N.A.12N.A.4
PCIe x8 slotsPCIe slots allow you to connect components such as graphics cards and sound cards to the motherboard. The number after the 'x' represents the number of data-transmission lanes. More lanes result in faster data transfer rates. A PCIe x8 slot has 8 lanes and can move data at 8 bit per cycle.
PCIe x8 slotsPCIe slots allow you to connect components such as graphics cards and sound cards to the motherboard. The number after the 'x' represents the number of data-transmission lanes. More lanes result in faster data transfer rates. A PCIe x8 slot has 8 lanes and can move data at 8 bit per cycle.N.A.0N.A.0N.A.N.A.02N.A.0
Total score for "Expansion slots"
Total score for "Expansion slots"
Audio
Audio connectorsMore connectors means that more audio devices such as speakers or microphones can be connected.
Audio connectorsMore connectors means that more audio devices such as speakers or microphones can be connected.6515855656
Audio channelsEach channel is a separate stream of audio information. More channels can provide a more realistic experience, such as providing surround sound.
Audio channelsEach channel is a separate stream of audio information. More channels can provide a more realistic experience, such as providing surround sound.8888887.1888
S/PDIF Out portS/PDIF is an interface used to transmit digital audio with high fidelity.
S/PDIF Out portS/PDIF is an interface used to transmit digital audio with high fidelity.
Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)When a digital signal is converted to an analog one (for example when playing audio through speakers or headphones), a certain amount of noise is carried in the signal. A higher SNR means that there is less noise and the audio quality is better.
Signal-to-Noise ratio (DAC)When a digital signal is converted to an analog one (for example when playing audio through speakers or headphones), a certain amount of noise is carried in the signal. A higher SNR means that there is less noise and the audio quality is better.115dB120dB112dB112dB112dB113dB120dB110dB112dB115dB
Total score for "Audio"
Total score for "Audio"
Storage
RAID 0+1 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 0+1 stripes and mirrors the data across the drives. This gives increased capacity and performance compared to a single disk. It also provides greater data security in case one drive fails, as the data will still be accessible from another.
RAID 0+1 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 0+1 stripes and mirrors the data across the drives. This gives increased capacity and performance compared to a single disk. It also provides greater data security in case one drive fails, as the data will still be accessible from another.
RAID 0 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 0 stripes the data across the drives, giving increased performance and capacity compared to a single drive. The drawback is that if one drive fails, you lose the data on all drives.
RAID 0 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 0 stripes the data across the drives, giving increased performance and capacity compared to a single drive. The drawback is that if one drive fails, you lose the data on all drives.
RAID 1 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 1 mirrors the data across the drives. This gives you greater data security as if one drive fails, the data will still be accessible from another.
RAID 1 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 1 mirrors the data across the drives. This gives you greater data security as if one drive fails, the data will still be accessible from another.
RAID 5 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 5 stripes the data across the drives, giving increased performance compared to a single disk. It also provides greater data security as if one drive fails, the data will still be accessible from another due to the use of parity.
RAID 5 supportRAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 5 stripes the data across the drives, giving increased performance compared to a single disk. It also provides greater data security as if one drive fails, the data will still be accessible from another due to the use of parity.
Supports RAID 10 (1+0)RAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 10 (1+0) stripes and mirrors the data across the drives. It gives increased capacity and performance compared to a single disk. It also provides greater data security as if one drive fails, the data will still be accessible from another.
Supports RAID 10 (1+0)RAID is a storage technology that combines multiple disks into one unit. RAID 10 (1+0) stripes and mirrors the data across the drives. It gives increased capacity and performance compared to a single disk. It also provides greater data security as if one drive fails, the data will still be accessible from another.
Total score for "Storage"
Total score for "Storage"

How to choose the right motherboard for your computer

Computer technology has come a long way since the 1980s. Many things have changed about computers over the years, especially on the inside. If you ever wondered what the backbone of a computer was, it is the motherboard.

A motherboard is a printed circuit board (PCB) that connects all the other parts of a computer. It is sort of like the human central nervous system, but for computers. It distributes power to every other component and coordinates the interfaces between them. From the central processing unit (CPU) and memory sticks to the hard drives and graphics cards, the motherboard is the foundation upon which you connect everything else.

When it comes to motherboards, there are some big players out there. Asus motherboards and Gigabyte motherboards are very popular for most desktop computer brands meant for home use. For more intensive applications (such as gaming, graphics designing, and video editing applications), MSI and Asus gaming motherboards are the ones that most people like to have in their chassis, with their sheer amount of power and capabilities.

When you are looking to buy a new motherboard, you frequently come across terms like form factor, chipset, memory, speed, ports and connectors, and many others; these are the defining features of a motherboard.

Form factor

When looking at motherboards from various manufacturers, the first thing you notice is that they come in a variety of rectangular designs, and the components are organized differently. The layout of a motherboard is known as its form factor. Various form factors exist, including ATX, Micro ATX, Flex ATX, DTX, Mini ITX, and Mini ATX. A form factor specifies the dimensions, the number of slots, type of power supply, and many other things that make them suitable for different chassis sizes.

  ATX Micro ATX Flex ATX DTX Mini ITX
Dimensions

12 x 9.6 inch

305 x 244 mm

9.6 x 9.6 inch

244 x 244 mm

9 x 7.5 inch

229 x 191 mm

8 x 9.6 inch

200 x 244 mm

6.7 x 6.7 inch

170 x 170 mm

Expansion slots (max) 7 4 3 2 2
RAM slots (max) 8 4 4 2 2
Graphics card slots 1 - 4 1 - 3 1 - 3 1 - 2 1
SATA ports 4 - 12 4 - 8 4 - 8 2 - 6 2 - 4

The table above presents the most important features of each form factor. You can decide on the type you want based on the dimensions of your computer case and configuration (memory slots, graphics card, cooling fans). For example, if you are looking to build a gaming computer, you should opt for an ATX motherboard, capable of housing a powerful graphics card. The number of memory card slots and expansion slots may vary depending on how each manufacturer adjusts the layout.

CPU socket and chipset

One of the more challenging parts of finding the right motherboard is determining the corresponding CPU socket to accommodate your CPU of choice. The CPU socket is a receptacle in which you place your central processing unit. If you are looking to buy an Intel microprocessor, then you need to buy a motherboard that supports the Intel Land Grid Array (LGA) socket. Since most Intel CPUs are pinless, these sockets have the pins to securely fasten your CPU when you place it in the socket. If you want to use an AMD microprocessor, you need to buy a motherboard with a Pin Grid Array (PGA) or Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) socket. AMD CPUs have pins that slide into the holes of the socket. Certain types of CPUs need certain types of CPU sockets, so make sure you match your motherboard with the CPU.

In addition to the CPU socket, the chipset of a motherboard is another critical feature. The CPU goes into the socket, and the chipset connects the motherboard to the CPU, enabling the data transfer between the processor, buses, and memory. The chipset usually determines the features and capabilities of a motherboard. Two chips, Northbridge and Southbridge, comprise the chipset of a motherboard. The Northbridge chip connects the CPU to the RAM and graphics card (the high-speed components), whereas the Southbridge chip connects the CPU to the buses and I/O functions (the low-speed components). Again, make sure your chipset supports the CPU you plan on using. In case you need help finding the right CPU for your computer, you can consult our guide for CPUs.

Memory and speed

All motherboards have RAM slots, also known as DIMM slots (Dual Inline Memory Modules), to accommodate RAM sticks. There are various types of DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) supported by motherboards – DDR, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4. Some motherboards support up to 8 GB of RAM, while others support up to 16 GB and even 32 GB of RAM. As we clarify in our detailed explanation of RAM, a higher value translates into better performance. If you want your computer to have plenty of RAM for memory-intensive applications, you should select a motherboard that supports a large amount of RAM and faster memory with multiple DIMM slots. RAM comes in a variety of speeds, as slow as 100 MHz and as fast as 400 MHz. Make sure your motherboard supports your high-speed RAM. Otherwise, your RAM will be limited at the maximum speed your motherboard supports.

A smart technique to enhance performance is attaching multiple RAM modules totaling, say, 8 GB rather than inserting a single 8 GB RAM stick. If you want to take advantage of this feature, then buy a motherboard that supports dual-channel memory. The performance gains are substantial with dual-channel throughput, and in case a RAM module fails, you can always fall back on the rest. A word of advice: use two of the same RAM modules when using dual-channel memory.

If you want to push your RAM speed past its limit, then buy a motherboard capable of overclocking your RAM. In addition to overclocking your CPU, some motherboards allow users to overclock their RAM speed, boosting the read/write performance of your computer. The overclock option can usually be found in the system’s BIOS.

Error Correcting Code Memory (ECC RAM) is something you may want to consider if you are trying to build a server. In such scenarios, you need memory that can detect and correct corruption in data. There are dedicated server motherboards that support this type of memory that standard desktop motherboards might not.

Internal connectors

Two essential types of connectors inside a motherboard determine what you can do with your computer – SATA connectors and the power connector. All motherboards have Serial ATA connectors to hook up your hard drives (HDDs), optical drives, and even solid-state drives (SSDs). Some motherboards have more connectors than others. If you want more hard drive space, then you should buy a motherboard with more SATA ports.

The power connector is necessary to connect your power supply to the motherboard to provide electricity to the rest of the circuitry. If you want your computer to run a high-powered graphics card, processor, and other peripherals, you definitely need a motherboard that supports a large power supply, so check the rating of your power connector before you buy a motherboard.

Rear ports

Motherboards have rear ports that allow you to connect a variety of external components and peripherals to the main computer to complete the system. All motherboards have a VGA, DVI, and/or HDMI ports for connecting a display monitor and USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or Firewire ports for connecting peripherals, such as a mouse, keyboard, external hard drive, and flash drive. Other types of ports are:

  • eSATA ports, mostly used for connecting portable hard drives
  • Thunderbolt ports, typical for MacBooks
  • PS/2 ports for connecting peripherals, which are not USB compatible (in most cases, you have one port for the mouse and one for the keyboard)

A computer is meant to be in a network, and that is made possible with LAN connections, also known as RJ45 or Ethernet ports. Most motherboards have one Ethernet port, but some have two. Motherboards with two LAN connections are useful if you want to build a small network without using a router.

Additional features

You may require some special features from your motherboard, depending on your intended purpose. We have explained some of them below.

Multiple graphics cards

If you want to build a gaming machine, you might need more than one graphics processing unit (GPU). Fortunately, two technologies exist that can help you push your graphical power: SLI (Scalable Link Interface) from Nvidia and Crossfire from AMD (previously ATI). If you want to connect two GeForce cards, then you need a motherboard that supports SLI. If you want to hook up multiple Radeon cards together, then you need a motherboard that supports Crossfire.

Overclocking

We talked about MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte motherboards in this article. There are many reasons why these are the best-selling manufacturers of motherboards, one of them being their native ability to overclock your processing speed. Asus has TurboV, MSI has Genie, and Gigabyte has Easy Boost; all of these technologies let you squeeze out as much processing power as you can. However, overclocking can lead to overheating, so do invest in some extra cooling to mitigate the effects.

Dual BIOS

All motherboards have a binary input-output system (BIOS). Some motherboards now come with two BIOS systems – one acting as the main firmware and the other serving as a backup in case the first one gets corrupted from a virus attack. This feature is known as dual BIOS, and if you want to safeguard your computer, you might want to choose a motherboard with dual BIOS.

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