By far one of the most powerful processors AMD has produced, the high-scoring Ryzen 9 7950X dropped in 2022 and pushed for sheer performance with a 16-core, 32-thread setup alongside a 170W TDP. It pulls a lot of power and runs hot, but its new AM5 socket style is the most demanding aspect. You'll need a brand new motherboard to build a custom PC around the 7950X, and deciding which features you need now (or might want in the future) is tricky. Here are my top picks of best motherboards for the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU and some tips to help you choose.
It's no surprise to see ASUS hardware take the top spot for covering all the bases since its ROG STRIX line is regularly a premium pick. Besides the cute additions of a quick-release button on PCIe expansion slots, you get an outrageously fast pairing of three M.2 slots with PCIe 5.0 support and an extra at 4.0. Wi-Fi 6E, 2.5G Ethernet, a vast array of USB-A and USB-C ports, and a beautiful RGB aesthetic round up this heatsink-loaded board. It does it all.
This B650 chipset board can't be beaten in sheer performance per dollar. You're covered for high-speed storage with a single PCIe 5.0 M.2 socket covered by a dedicated heat sink and two additional PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets under their own. Six PWM/DC fan headers support the cooling you'll need for the 7950X's high temperatures, and Gigabyte even throws in Wi-Fi 6E for modern wireless networking alongside 2.5GbE Ethernet. What a bargain.
Best for PCIe 4.0
If you're pushing for ultra-fast DDR5 RAM speeds but don't mind sticking with PCIe 4.0 storage and expansion, this B650 chipset alternative from MSI allows for memory speeds up to 7600MHz (with two single-rank modules.) You still get three M.2 sockets for storage, two controlled by the CPU and the last by the chipset, with six SATA ports spare for 2.5" SSDs if needed. Built-in Wi-Fi 6E and chunky heatsinks make it perfect for overclocking.
Best for budget overclocking
A step up in chipset features from the best value pick, this Gigabyte alternative features a 16+2+2 power phase design alongside massive storage options. If you know for a fact you're going to be tweaking your components for the maximum possible performance without overheating, push for the X670 chipset and keep things cool with the advanced thermal design on this board.
Best for compact builds
Mini-ITX fans, this one is for you. The heatsinks might look oversized, but the Ryzen 9 7950X runs hot, so you'll need them. Component options are understandably reduced, but you still get PCIe 5.0 support for expansion and M.2 storage alongside the ROG Hive control unit for quick overclocking and audio I/O access. Built-in Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5G Ethernet come alongside USB4 (Type-C) ports, so modern connectivity wasn't sacrificed at this form factor.
Choosing the best motherboard for an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU
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You won't get far with a custom-built PC without the motherboard. As its name implies, it's where each component comes together to make a working computer. This means you need compatible parts, and the new AM5 socket is part of AMD's latest range of processors, with the Ryzen 9 7950X standing out as one of the most powerful and power-hungry of the lot. No matter your choice, you'll need to ensure that each of your parts is compatible, which means considering a few specifications.
RAM isn't much of an issue since you're locked into DDR5, leaving you to match only the number of memory sticks and the appropriate speeds supported by your motherboard. If you've been holding on to some older DDR4 kits, I'm afraid it's time to upgrade. Your most critical decisions come down to speed, so make sure your chosen motherboard supports the overclocking profiles (like AMD EXPO) you plan to use.
Where it gets trickier comes down to the support PCIe version. If you want to use expansion cards or M.2 solid-state storage drives with the latest PCIe 5.0 speeds, you'll need to pick up a board with proper support, like the well-priced Gigabyte B650 AORUS ELITE AX ATX. If not, you can use cheaper PCIe 4.0 devices with a board like the MSI MAG B650 TOMAHAWK WIFI and save a little cash. At some point, PCIe 5.0 will be considered the mainstream format, so consider the longevity of your devices.
The rest mostly comes down to luxuries like onboard Wi-Fi and the number of USB ports, but many motherboards in this roundup feature chunky heatsinks. Again, the 7950X draws a lot of power and raises the temperatures appropriately, so you must check for clearance when choosing an appropriate 7950X cooler. If you're going with air cooling, check that your RAM won't collide with the fins and that the VRM heatsinks are similarly clear from collision.
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Ben is the channel editor for all things tech-related at Windows Central. That includes PCs, the components inside, and any accessory you can connect to a Windows desktop or Xbox console. Not restricted to one platform, he also has a keen interest in Valve's Steam Deck handheld and the Linux-based operating system inside. Fueling this career with coffee since 2021, you can usually find him behind one screen or another. Find him on Mastodon @firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or share opinions.