Best overall: ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F

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The Strix Z270F motherboard by ASUS ($149.99) isn't the most expensive board out there, but it comes packing some killer features for system builders. And the brand is one that has been trusted by PC builders for many years thanks to its excellent components and solid gaming performance. While features like FanXpert 4 and dual M.2 SSD support is nice, there's also full AURA sync support for connected RGB lighting.

This allows you to hook up additional devices and even a supported PC case to have everything running the same light show. As for more useful specifications, we've got USB 3.1 in both Type-A and Type-C formats. There's also a Z270E variant with built-in Wi-Fi for $169.99.

Bottom line: It's a decent premium motherboard packed full of useful features for overclocking and gaming.

One more thing: Two Patent-pending "Safe Slots" feature metal framing for a stronger, firmly anchored PCIe slot built for today's heavier GPUs.

Why the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F is the best motherboard

The ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F motherboard by ASUS is a mid-range motherboard for gamers and PC owners who require a little more out of their installed components. Coupling some advanced features found on the board itself, the company has paired everything up with its powerful BIOS and accompanying software suite.

Not only does it look the part, there's a lot of functionality here too. ASUS has shielded the audio to better protect channels against interference, there's onboard RGB lighting support that have been tested to conlude an extra 5 frames per second (FPS) in all games, and there's ample room to fit custom water cooling around the chipset shrouds. As for raw specifications, here's what the board packs and supports:

Category Specification
Form factor ATX
CPU 6th-/7th-gen Intel Core i7/i5/i3, Pentium, Celeron (Socket 1151)
RAM 4x DDR4 3866MHz (overclocked)
Maximum: 64GB
PCI 2x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8)
1x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode)
4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1
Storage 2x M.2 Socket 3
6x SATA 6Gb/s ports
LAN Intel I219V Gigabit
Audio SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio (S1220A)
SupremeFX Shielding technology
I/O 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
1x DVI
1x D-Sub
1x DisplayPort
1x HDMI
1x LAN (RJ45)
2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A + USB Type-C
4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (blue)
1x Optical S/PDIF
5x Audio jacks

ASUS packed in all the necessary technologies to allow owners to easily overclock supporting CPUs from Intel, as well as fine-tune their gaming rig to get the most out of the installed components. A stellar BIOS user experience is matched by capable software for Windows called the AI Suite.

Pairing up a Core i5 7600K, comfortably bumped to around 4.6GHz, with a GTX 1070 would result in a very powerful mid-tier gaming PC. Spend a bit more on an i7 and GTX 1080, and you'll be future proofing for stunning 1440p and 4K experiences, not to mention virtual reality gaming. Utilizing all available features of the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F also makes for a PC that doesn't create a similar ambiance to that of a busy runway.

It's a solid board, and one we recommend for new Intel builds.

Best Enthusiast: GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 7

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You'll likely not need the 2066 socket for Intel's X series of processors, especially when considering this motherboard costs $399.99, but if you do then GIGABYTE has you covered with the X299 AORUS Gaming 7. The name is epic because the motherboard is epic. You've got support for up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM, five PCI-Express slots, three M.2 expansion slots for speedy storage, Realtek ALC1220 audio, RGB lighting, and it supports multiple GPUs. Just ignore the price.

Bottom line: It's a decent premium motherboard packed full of useful features for overclocking and gaming.

One more thing: This motherboard has some excellent out-of-the-box overclocking support for beginners.

Best AMD: MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbo

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MSI has taken full advantage of AMD's new line of CPUs and is offering a top of the class platform for those wanting to use Ryzen for computing and gaming. The Gaming Pro Carbon ($155) is a solid board, supporting up to 64GB DDR RAM, the latest AMD processor, and GPUs, as well as being certified as "VR ready." Not bad for $169.99.

Bottom line: It's one of the best AM4 motherboards you can buy without paying extra for not-so-useful features.

One more thing: This motherboard also supports three-way CrossFire technology.

Best Intel: GIGABYTE GA-Z270X-Ultra Gaming

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Highlights of the GA-Z270X ($154.99) include USB 3.1 with USB Type-C, Relate ALC1120 audio, and RGB FUSION with Multi-Zone LED lighting. There are LEDs everywhere, including both the RAM and PCIe slots, making for quite the visual experience.

Bottom line: This is the perfect motherboard for case modders and those who enjoy installing LED lighting.

One more thing: It supports seventh-gen Intel Kaby Lake processors.

Best Mini-ITX: ASUS ROG Strix Z270I

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The ASUS ROG Strix Z270I board ($177.23) combines the latest Intel processor technology with a stable platform that offers expansive connectivity, including USB 3.1, SupremeFX audio, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, DDR4 4266MHz RAM, DisplayPort and HDMI, PCI-E slot, and Bluetooth 4.1. The onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity can prove to be invaluable for mini-ITX builds.

Bottom line: Putting together a slim PC with a mini-ITX board can be a challenge when attempting to balance price with available features, but the Z170I Pro Gaming board from ASUS gets the job done.

One more thing: There's an M.2 slot located on the underside of the motherboard, which can accommodate fast storage for the OS and games.

Best budget Intel: GIGABYTE GA-B250M-DS3H

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Gigabyte's more affordable option ($59.99) is a solid start for those seeking to build a new PC without forking out on expensive components with features they may never take advantage of. You have support for seventh-gen Intel processors, dual-channel DDR4 RAM, audio noise guard and high-quality capacitors, HDMI out and Realtek GbE LAN.

Bottom line: If you have little interest in overclocking and want something affordable, the GA-B250M-DS3H is a great option.

One more thing: Everything is basic here, including the number of available PCI-E and DIMM slots, so bear that in mind when planning a build.

Best budget AMD: ASUS PRIME A320M-K

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AMD processors are generally more affordable options than Intel, but that doesn't mean you should spend more on a solid motherboard to accompany your shiny new CPU. The PRIME A320M-K ($59.99 ) motherboard by ASUS will do everything you need for stable gameplay, offering support for DDR4 (32GB), PCI-E slot, USB 3.1, and an M.2 slot.

Like our budget Intel board, this is an affordable option at $59.99.

Bottom line: Going AMD? The PRIME A320M-K motherboard by ASUS is a great place to start the search.

One more thing: You'll be hard-pressed to find a comparable motherboard in this price bracket that offers M.2, USB 3.1, and support for Ryzen.

Conclusion

Choosing the "best" motherboard is much like selecting from any top list when it comes to PC insides. It can depend on your budget and what you'll need to use the PC for, among other factors. While the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F is top dog in our opinion, we'd absolutely recommend other listings in this roundup for different requirements and segments.

Best overall: ASUS ROG STRIX Z270F

See at Amazon

The Strix Z270F motherboard by ASUS ($149.99) isn't the most expensive board out there, but it comes packing some killer features for system builders. And the brand is one that has been trusted by PC builders for many years thanks to its excellent components and solid gaming performance. While features like FanXpert 4 and dual M.2 SSD support is nice, there's also full AURA sync support for connected RGB lighting.

This allows you to hook up additional devices and even a supported PC case to have everything running the same light show. As for more useful specifications, we've got USB 3.1 in both Type-A and Type-C formats. There's also a Z270E variant with built-in Wi-Fi for $169.99.

Bottom line: It's a decent premium motherboard packed full of useful features for overclocking and gaming.

One more thing: Two Patent-pending "Safe Slots" feature metal framing for a stronger, firmly anchored PCIe slot built for today's heavier GPUs.

Updated July 17, 2017: We checked over the guide to ensure we're only recommending the best motherboards for any PC build.