Looking to build a new computer system?
Thinking about upgrading the one you’ve already got? Then you’re most likely thinking about the motherboard.
Your motherboard is one of the most important parts of your computer. Without it, proper function and performance are impossible.
To help you in your buying decision, we’ve taken a hard look at the current models on the market today.
Before you buy your new board, check out our list of the five best motherboards you can buy.
What Is a Motherboard?
It is crucial that this device be able to provide the proper function for your computer, so it’s important to know what the different types are.
Motherboards are a key component in every electronic device, phones and tablets included. Though in small devices they’re usually called logic boards. In phones and tablets, components are usually soldered onto the logic board to save space.
In a computer, a motherboard includes expansion slots that allow you to make upgrades.
Depending on how you’re using your computer will determine the type of motherboard you need. Before buying, make sure you know what your system needs.
What Are the Different Types of Motherboards?
There are two different types of motherboards: AT and ATX.
Understanding the differences between the two will ensure you’re getting the most up-to-date model for your system.
The “AT” in AT motherboards stands for advanced technology power connectors. AT motherboards feature two mounted power connectors of six pins each.
Available in the early 1980s, these are older motherboards used in earlier 286/386 or 486 computers.
ATX motherboards began popping up in the 1990s, and they are still around today. Used for P2/P3 or P/4 processors, these consist of a single connector. Since that time, these have further branched out to micro-ATX
These are the most common types of motherboards, and they include many expansion slots that allow for upgrades.
How to Keep Your Motherboard Working Properly
Even the greatest computer engineers and builders find motherboards tough to work with. They can be a bit tricky to deal with, and they’re one computer component that most PC users steer clear of.
These pieces are intricate and delicate. Caring for your components will result in a high-performing system that lasts.
Most people choose not to touch their motherboard. It’s sensitive and tough to configure, and most users don’t like to mess with it. But it’s a crucial component, so you need to make sure that it doesn’t malfunction.
How to Test Your Motherboard’s Performance
Here are some simple things to know to make sure that your motherboard is in the best shape possible.
The first thing to do is make sure it is getting enough power. There are two main connectors, so you’ll want to ensure that the second connector, hidden by the processor socket, is properly connected.
If your motherboard seems to be failing, take a moment to check that the power is working.
Make sure the installation of each component is correct. It’s easy to overlook the video card and RAM connections, and the processor can often be a source of trouble.
The processor (including the heatsink) should be firmly attached. Check your connections to ensure that all pins and slots line up the way they should be.
Check to ensure that everything is screwed in tightly and that the motherboard is positioned the right way. The system can short if it isn’t attached in the proper manner. Make sure that all internal wires are protected with rubber or plastic for safety.
It seems obvious, but you’ll want to make sure that your case power button is connected and providing proper function. The power button connects with a small two-pin wire, so it can be a difficult attachment to make.
If this connection is not intact, your computer won’t be able to start.
If you plan to install this yourself, keep these troubleshooting solutions in mind. One simple mistake can cause your entire system to malfunction.
Be patient, take your time, and don’t be afraid to consult a professional if need be.
5 Best Motherboards You Can Buy
NVIDIA, MSI, and AMD motherboards are some of the most well-known motherboards are the market. However, we’ve found that GIGABYTE, ASUS, ECS, and ASRock make some of the best models money can buy.
Keep reading for a full breakdown of our five favorite types on the market.
We’ve included key details you’ll need to know to determine which motherboard is right for you.
GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 5
With Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, the GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 5 offers a supercharged performance for your computer. Loaded with features, this motherboard supports 8th generation Intel Core processors.
It includes USB3.1 Gen2 with USB Type-C, front USB 3.1 Type-C header, and Intel Gigabit LAN + Intel 802.11ac WIFI onboard.
With RGB Fusion and a multi-zone LED light design, this motherboard features a triple ultra-fast M.2 with PCIe Gen3 x 4 & SATA interface. This design includes anti-sulfur resistors, multi-way graphics support, and Smart Fan 5 technology.
The fan technology includes temperature sensors and hybrid fan headers with FAN STOP. It also offers USB DAC-UP 2 with adjustable voltage.
For the serious gamer, this motherboard includes Sound BlasterX 720. It provides a top-of-the-line audio engine solution for gaming and entertainment.
If incredible audio needs to be a key feature of your computer, this motherboard is one for you.
Other notable features include a swappable overlay for accent LED and an all-new heatsink design for long-lasting use. As a whole, this is one of our top recommendations for gaming motherboards.
As of April 2017, AORUS motherboards are now compatible with AMD’s new Ryzen processors.
ASUS ROG Maximum IX Hero
Designed for 7th generation Intel Core processors, the ASUS ROG Maximum IX Hero is excellent.
It maximizes connectivity speed with Dual M.2, Intel Optane Memory compatibility, and front panel USB 3.1.
Loaded with incredible features, it boasts five-way optimization with auto-tuning and FanXpert 4. This makes it easy to tailor overclocking profiles so you can create a unique build and enjoy maximum OC performance.
The dynamic cooling system is essential for high-powered systems with a wide variety of components.
With a 3D-printing friendly mount and exclusive AURA Sync RGB lighting, it allows for great personalization. Two patent-pending Safe Slots feature an injection molding process with integrated metal framing.
This creates a stronger PCI3 slot for heavyweight GPUs.
This model is an industry leader with eight-channel HD audio and ROG exclusive SupremeFX S1220 driven by Japanese capacitors.
It offers incredible lighting control that allows you to create up to nine different lighting schemes to suit your style.
The heatsink allows for maximum heat dissipation, while an innovative water cooling zone lets you keep your system as cool as it needs to be. If you want a motherboard that you can customize with 3D printed parts, this is the model for you.
With an Intel Z270 chipset, the ECS Z270H4-I motherboard features a six-phase power design with Windows 10 workable support. It boasts Intel K Series Unlock CPU Support for Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron (LGA1151) processors.
This model also supports Intel Optane technology. You’ll enjoy M.2 both SSD and Wi-Fi/BT as well as ESD protection that prevents your computer from electrostatic discharge damage.
It’s a gamer-friendly option with an ECS MIB X interface for overclocking, and it includes a dual Gigabit LAN for a flexible network build.
With this ECS model, you’ll experience premium audio and graphics. Additionally, this model is complete with dual-channel DDR4 memory architecture. In our option, this is one of the best budget motherboards on the market.
It has a mini ITX form factor with both mini-ITX case designs and CPU coolers. This model supports Window 10 64-bit with bundled ECS Intelligent EZ Utility software.
With a lightning USB port for gaming, it’s an ideal option for the user looking for an incredible gaming device.
Ready to purchase? You can find this model on Amazon.
ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance
With an ATX form factor, The ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance boasts high performance.
An LGA1151 CPU and Intel C232 chipset support the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 processor and 6th and 7th Generation Intel Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron processors.
For memory, it offers four DDR4-2133 DIMM slots, one of which runs at x4. It also includes three PCI Express 3.0 slots with one slot flexible.
You’ll have plenty of connection points with six SATA3 ports and six USB 3.0 ports. Two of these ports are in the header and four are in the rear.
Other ports include six USB 2.0 ports – one rear, 1 Fatal1ty mouse, and four via headers. There is one PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, one optical S/PDIF Out, one RJ45 LAN port, and audio I/O jacks.
Another unique feature of this model is its XXL aluminum alloy heatsink with I/O Armor and Japanese capacitors. The CPU supports ASRock BCLK full-range overclocking and Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 technology.
The model has a 10 Power Phase design and Digi Power design.
Perfect for gamers who need a high-performance system, it boasts a gaming armor package with a 15u gold contact in VGA PCIe slot and Purity Sound™ 3 audio.
GIGABYTE AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9
Designed for incredible cooling, this is the ultimate motherboard for serious gamers who never stop playing.
The GIGABYTE AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9 is made to provide a long-lasting gaming experience.
This works with the 7th generation Intel Core processors. It maximizes connectivity and speed with Dual M.2, front panel USB 3.1, and Intel Optane memory compatibility. It features five-way optimization with auto-tuning and FanXpert 4.
This model can handle more stable overclocks and push the limits of your CPU.
It adjusts your overclocking profiles to the build of your system. You’ll enjoy maximum OC performance and excellent system cooling through long periods of use.
With AURA Sync RGB lighting and a 3D-printing friendly mount, it’s perfect for building a personalized system.
It includes two Safe Slots with an injection molding process integrated with metal framing. It provides for stronger, anchored PCIe slot, making it perfect for heavyweight GPUs.
Japanese capacitors drive its 8-channel HD audio. With ROG exclusive SupremeFX S1220, it offers industry-leading performance. It is also designed for compatibility with Windows 10 64 bit, Windows 8.1 64 bit, and Windows 7 32 bit and 64 bit.
Every computer, phone, and tablet has a motherboard that works as the brain of its system. The price points vary, so it’s important to know what to expect before you buy.
It’s important to do your research before you buy any computer component. First, figure out what type you need for your system. Think about the level of performance you need. Are you looking to build a gaming PC, or looking for a mid-range motherboard that offers good functionality at an affordable price?
Understand the differences between models and determine what kind of build you’re looking for.
Decide how many expansion slots you need, what kind of cooling system you want, and what kind of lighting you’d prefer.
Once you know what you need, you can make an informed decision on which one to buy.
The GIGABYTE, ASUS, ECS, and ASRock motherboards are excellent options for a high-performance system. Even for hardcore gamers, these versions make it possible to build an amazing computer.
Having a great motherboard won’t make a difference unless it’s properly installed and kept in tip-top shape. If this piece malfunctions, you’re in trouble.
Maybe you’re new to the world of computers.
Maybe you’re just unsure which version to buy. If you can’t make a decision or can’t figure out which one you need, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional.
You can ask a professional to guide you in your buying decision or have them install it for you.
This piece is a crucial part of your computer. If you want to enjoy peak performance, make sure you buy the right one and make sure you have it installed the right way.