PC Insides

The motherboard is the heart and soul of a PC, be it a laptop or desktop. You need to ensure you're getting the most out of your purchase when used alongside other components and the ROG Strix Z370-F from ASUS for Intel and MSI X470GPLUS Performance Gaming for AMD are excellent options.

Our pick

ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming

The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming by ASUS 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 owners for many years thanks to its excellent components and solid gaming performance — all for around $178.

Why the ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming is the best motherboard

The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming 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 suites.

Not only does it look the part, there's a lot of functionality here too. ASUS (like most vendors these days) shields the audio to better protect channels against interference, there's onboard RGB lighting support that has been tested to result in 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 8th-Gen Intel Core i7/i5/i3, Pentium, Celeron (Socket 1151)
RAM 4x DDR4 4000MHz (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 DVI
1x DisplayPort
1x HDMI
1x LAN (RJ45)
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (red)
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
2x 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 8600K, comfortably bumped to around 4.6GHz, with a GTX 1080 would result in a very powerful mid-tier gaming PC. Spend a bit more on an i7 and GTX 2080, 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 Z370-F Gaming 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.

Other great motherboards

Runner-up

MSI X470GPLUS Performance Gaming

The X470GPLUS Performance Gaming is a solid board for AMD fans, supporting up to 64GB DDR RAM, the latest AMD processors, as well as the range-topping X470 chipset — not bad for about $140.

This option has all the features you need in a motherboard for 2018. If you're not going to be going down the Intel rabbit hole, you can do much worse than the X470-touting PLUS Performance Gaming board from MSI.

For enthusiasts

GIGABYTE X299 DESIGNARE EX

Motherboards like the X299 DESIGNARE EX from GIGABYTE are for enthusiasts only. You likely won't need this board, but if you have a super-powerful CPU that requires one, this is a solid option — it'll set you back around $430.

For enthusiasts only. Seriously, don't spend upwards of $500 on a board if you absolutely don't require the performance it provides with Intel's Core X family of processors. Still, it does support up to 128GB of RAM, has five PCIe slots, three M.2 slots, and much more on offer.

Small builds

ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming

When you're tight on space, mini-ITX motherboards like this ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming are your best friend — it's also not priced terribly, coming in at around $179.

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. There are two M.2 slots too, which can accommodate fast storage for the OS and games.

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 Z370-F Gaming is top dog in our opinion, we absolutely recommend the other listings in this roundup for different requirements and segments.

Updated August 21, 2018: We checked over the guide to ensure we're only recommending the best motherboards for any PC build.

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