The motherboard is a fundamental component of every computer. A motherboard’s quality and capability directly impact a computer’s performance. A good one will serve you for a long time without causing any issues, and choosing a sound motherboard for a PC build is imperative. The choice of the motherboard depends on the user preference, and a few factors are the highlights.
Many companies and brands, namely ASRock, MSI, Gigabyte, etc., are in the game of motherboard manufacturing. While their offerings can sometimes be similar, they each offer unique features and capabilities that define their performance and justify their presence. Selecting a motherboard for yourself can overwhelm an average user, as is valid for all components in the PC building world. Motherboards boast various tech, features, and generations like other PC components. They can have an endless list of capabilities that can be hard to list. However, some specific attributes can be used to compare their value and efficiency, which can help users differentiate and decide among the ocean of choices.
Today’s processor market is highly competitive because of brands like Intel and AMD, which keep pushing out more efficient and capable processors, trying to one-up each other. Hence, we will celebrate the best offerings of motherboards and create a tier list based on their most sought-after attributes. As each company’s processor sockets differ, we will list these motherboards separately for both types of processors.
Factors to Consider
Motherboard selection is much easier if you consider a few factors before buying one. Aside from socket and chipset compatibility, AMD and Intel processors can be paired with outstanding motherboards. They all deliver a complete experience as long as it falls into your desired category.
The generation of a motherboard is dependent on what generation of processors it can accommodate. For example, a motherboard made for Intel’s LGA 1700 socket can accommodate Intel’s 12th and 13th-generation processors. Similarly, motherboards with AM4 and AM5 socket compatibility suit the latest Ryzen processors.
The generational advantage is also true for motherboards because newer ones have improved and newly added features that enhance and complement the system’s overall performance. Faster connectivity options such as PCIe 5.0 and USB 3.2 type-c ports are some of the features only present in the latest boards. Also, they will be compatible with new memory types, such as DDR5 RAM, which can reach higher frequencies and put out better performance in gaming and other tasks.
Motherboards do not have similar or identical sizes. They come in different sizes and dimensions that are useful for different types of computers and scenarios. Four standard sizes of motherboards are mainstream and easily accessible to everyone.
Our website has a guide on various motherboard sizes, elaborating on each size’s advantages and different aspects and variations. The form factor is essential and mainly based on the user’s requirements.
A large motherboard will have more features packed in its area than a small motherboard, but it requires an equally big PC case to fit. On the other hand, a small motherboard will compromise on some ports and connectivity options but can handsomely fit in decently sized cases.
However, the size of the motherboard is entirely your choice. You can still get powerful specs in a small motherboard if you want to build a compact computer, but you will have to compromise on its mediocre thermals, limited connectivity, and VRMs. But if you plan to build a robust, high-end gaming computer with many ports, drive bays, and top-notch features, your best bet is the ATX and EATX motherboards.
Socket Compatibility and Chipsets
Sockets for both Intel and AMD processors are different, and so are their Chipsets. Chipsets and sockets are generational and only support a handful of processors from a single manufacturer. There aren’t any motherboards that are cross-compatible with both Ryzen and Intel processors. Hence, you should know beforehand which chipsets support which processor.
Motherboards for both processors are usually designated with Capital letters followed by a series of three numbers. Some Intel-compatible motherboards are Z690, Z790, H310, B460, etc. The AMD-compatible motherboards are X570, X690, B460, etc. The letters indicate the tier of the motherboard from low-end to high-end, while the numbers define the generational compatibility of that motherboard with a processor. For example, the Z790 motherboard is a high-end board (Indicated by Z), and the Z790 chipset is only compatible with the LGA 1700 socket, meaning it only supports Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen processors.
Motherboards with newer chipsets sometimes have more features and can cost much more than some older ones. They can have better overclocking support, PCIe connectivity, and ports suitable for future-proofing.
Thermal Capabilities and Power Delivery
A motherboard houses and delivers specific amounts of power to every computer component. Its responsibility and stake in any computer build are much higher than any other component. It must also provide enough room for airflow and should have good-quality heat sinks to dissipate as much heat as possible.
The thermal solutions are usually reasonable on big motherboards such as ATX and EATX. In contrast, smaller motherboards only have fairly decent temperature control and good enough power delivery to support nominal functionality. High-end ATX motherboards will have heatsinks for memory drives and VRMs. Moreover, they will readily support overclocking of different components, and they can easily handle the excess heat from overclocking because they have better thermal solutions, such as fans, heatsinks, and airflow room, at their disposal. They are also fitted with more capable VRMs, which don’t fail to deliver the required power to every other component and can also meet the higher power demands during overclocking operations.
However, it doesn’t mean that all smaller motherboards have only bearable qualities. Some MicroATX and Mini-ITX motherboards mitigate thermal problems by offering fans many 3-pin and 4-pin ports, which can help considerably keep the temperatures under check.
A future-proof component will serve you for a more extended period without necessitating any upgrade. This aspect is vital regarding motherboards and power supplies because these components are meant to survive many years. The future-proofing of a motherboard is dependent on its attributes and compatibility. Good motherboards can cost nearly around a processor, but their cost-to-value ratios are much higher than other components.
Almost every other component is compatible with a generation or two older motherboards. But upgrading a processor also requires a motherboard upgrade in most cases. Suppose you have the resources to buy a motherboard compatible with the next generation of processors. In that case, you should always buy that one because it will probably require a simple BIOS update, and it will be able to accommodate the new processor without any problems. However, this is only true if the new processor also has the same socket. Newly introduced sockets, such as the AM5 and LGA 1700, have new tech and require a new chipset for installation.
One thing to keep in mind is that a new or latest motherboard, despite being expensive, will always have additional options and enhanced solutions for previous problems, and it will perform overall a lot better than before. Moreover, it will be based on the newest chipset and will contain more features to complement it. It will have better thermal solutions, sound cards, PCIe connection, and more options for memory expansion.
Now that the essential selection criteria of a motherboard are out of the way let’s look at the list of motherboards depending on their features and price-to-performance ratio. This list will have motherboards of various tiers, and each tier will have a board for both Intel and AMD processors. Higher tiers will mostly have high-end to mid-end motherboards because of their obvious superiority and plethora of features, while lower tiers will be filled with entry-level motherboards.
An S-tier motherboard will include almost every sought-after feature that a mainstream motherboard should include. Both Intel and AMD processors have equally robust motherboards for their CPUs; an S-tier motherboard is the most expensive motherboard that you can buy.
This tier of motherboards will have excellent power delivery systems and more than enough ports and slots for both conventional and faster memory storage and RAM. It will compensate for overclocking components like CPU, RAM, GPU, etc. Also, they have multi-GPU support systems, such as Nvidia’s SLI or AMD’s crossfire, embedded in their architecture and will provide features like High-speed Wi-Fi adapters, outstanding Audio Codecs, and the Newest generation of USB connectivity. Their thermal performance and temperature control over its other components are outstanding, to say the least.
Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Xtreme
Starting with motherboards compatible with Intel’s high-end processors, our first S-tier pick is the Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Xtreme. This motherboard is the definition of uber power as it contains almost every wanted feature that a motherboard should have. Gigabyte is known to deliver premium-quality components, and its motherboards have a class of their own. Priced heavily, around 250 US dollars, this motherboard is laced with extraordinary specifications.
This motherboard performs well for gaming and creative tasking without leaving any margin for criticism or exceptions. It has the latest RAM support with DDR5 memory slots and supports Intel’s 13th-generation processor, as it supports LGA 1700-based sockets. They have the option of hefty memory storage as they provide high-speed SATA ports, with M.2 NVMe slots capable of holding ultra-capacity storage devices.
With 10 Gbps Ethernet, 40 Gbps Thunderbolt ports, and a premium Audio codec, the Z790 is excellent for a high-end gaming rig build. However, it is essential to note that this motherboard has an EATX form factor, which is a larger size than usual motherboards, so you will have to buy an equally large case to fit it in.
- Ultimate Power Delivery
- 10 Gbps Ethernet port
- Overkill amount of ports
- High-speed and newer-generation USB ports
- Bigger Size limits PC case options
- Very Expensive
ASRock X670E Taichi
Our first pick for the S-tier AMD motherboards is the ASRock X670E Taichi. This is also an exceptionally built motherboard that houses higher-end AMD processors based on the AM5 or LGA 1718 sockets. ASRock is another high-quality brand that has made for itself amidst the market dominated by ASUS and Gigabyte. Despite being a bit cheaper than other high-tier brands, its products have been hailed for their performance and quality.
This is also an EATX form factor motherboard, which will require consideration while buying a PC case. Besides that, this motherboard has all the essential features that make it an S-tier motherboard. With plenty of SATA and USB ports, this motherboard features high-quality onboard audio codecs, NVMe Slots with heatsinks, and overall excellent thermal performance with heatsinks for multiple components.
It includes high-speed 40 Gbps Thunderbolt USB ports. It delivers optimal power and voltage with its 27-phase VRM power delivery system, ensuring each component’s smooth operation throughout its lifetime.
- M.2 heatsinks
- 40 Gbps USB ports
- Aesthetic and futuristic design
- No quick release on M.2
A-tier motherboards lack a little bit when compared to an S-tier motherboard. But they make up for it with highly affordable price tags. This doesn’t mean that an A-tier motherboard will have some lengthy compromises. A-tier motherboards are a better option for most PC builders because of their added advantage of a regular form factor and the fact that these motherboards usually have all the features that are needed to deliver a great gaming experience most of the time. S-tier motherboards are the best and overkill for most matters because they are made for extreme performance and give you a higher ceiling for pushing your computer hardware to its limits.
A-tier motherboards almost have all the features that a hardcore creative tasker or gamer would need most of the time. They boast excellent features like zero thermal throttling and have every generation of technology that has been tested and put to good use by many brands without the margin for error or malfunction. Their casual offerings are in ATX form factor, while some brands deliver high-quality motherboards in Micro-ATX form factor.
ASRock Z690 Extreme WiFi 6E
ASRock Z690 Extreme WiFi 6E is an A-tier motherboard with excellent and commendable features that raise its status among other brands' offerings. It is very decently priced, around 200$, and features a high-speed WiFi adapter with dual Ethernet ports of varying speeds that do not come with a motherboard of Gigabyte and ASUS at this price point.
This motherboard is a perfect A-tier pick for Intel processors, and it is well-equipped with some high-quality hardware components and has an ATX form factor. It features RGB lighting and includes a header for further installation of RGB lights on your case. Moreover, it also has multiple M.2 sockets with more than six SATA ports that enable you to install more storage memory. However, its overclocking potential is average at best because of its limited voltage regulators, but still, tests have shown that this motherboard can withstand mild to high overclocking ventures.
- Reasonable pricing
- Eight SATA ports
- WiFi and Dual Ethernet ports
- RGB lights
- Only five USB ports on the Rear IO
- Performance is not as good as ASUS or Gigabyte
Gigabyte B650E Aorus Master
The Gigabyte B650E Aorus Master is our A-tier pick for high-end AMD processors. Although this motherboard nearly matches the X670E chipsets and blurs the line between S-tier and A-tier, we put it in A-tier because it lacks a few features to be the best motherboard for AMD AM5 processors. This motherboard is a competent board that can comfortably house a Ryzen 7000 chip without making you feel incomplete or lacking.
It costs around 350$ on most platforms and doesn’t have much different performance and specs from the X670E chipset. But its fewer USB ports and a lighter audio codec make it the best offering as an A-tier AMD motherboard. It can accommodate four M.2 drives, with many SATA and USB ports. Its VRM can also deliver smooth power and support mild overclocking but features fewer phases than an X670E chipset motherboard. Nevertheless, if you want to build a high-end Ryzen 7000 computer system, this motherboard will serve you just fine and at a considerably lower price.
- High M.2 ports
- A hefty number of USB ports on the rear panel
- Easy latches for M.2 and PCIe slots
- No 40 Gbps Thunderbolt slots
- Previous generation of audio codec
B-tier motherboards are the ones that will have a huge difference in features and performance when compared with higher tiers. These motherboards usually have a lot of cutbacks to make their price points more plausible. This tier is where many mid-end motherboards lie. Most of these motherboards come in Micro ATX form factors, limiting their potential. In another article on our website, we have covered how a smaller motherboard size can introduce some drawbacks, as insufficient space can accommodate certain valiant features.
B-tier motherboards will have only adequate cooling options, but they are not as great as the higher-tier ones. You would probably need to buy a powerful cooler to keep your PC thermals in check. Moreover, they also include plenty of USB ports and storage options. Still, their offerings are usually a generation older, or their iteration is not nearly good enough to consider them a defining feature. Their VRMs are weaker, and their power delivery is suitable for normal computer usage. Combined with mediocre audio codecs and probably no WiFi adapter, these motherboards are great for building a budget PC.
MSI MAG B760M Mortar WiFi
On the Intel side, We have the MSI MAG B760M Mortar WiFi motherboard as our B-tier pick. MSI is another premium brand that deals in the manufacturing and selling of high-quality computer components, and its motherboards are one of the best offerings in the market. Based on the B760M chipset, the MSI MAG has many attractive features that cement it as one of the best B-tier motherboards in today’s market.
It can accommodate Intel’s LGA 1700 socket-based processors, like the ones from their 12th and 13th generation, but isn’t capable enough to support a mighty processor like the i9 13900K. Tests with the 13900K on this motherboard have shown thermal throttling of the processor, which severely limits its productivity and performance. As for other specifications, this board has a mATX form factor with only 14 14-phase voltage regulators, PCIe 5.0 slots for graphics cards, two M.2 slots, and Type-C and Type-A 3.2 USB ports. It is priced around 190$, making it a worthy pick for budget, mid-end gaming PC builds.
- PCI Express 5.0 slots
- 20 Gbps USB Type-C port
- Two M.2 Ports (SATA based)
- Limited Type-A ports
- Mediocre Audio Codec
Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra
The Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra is yet another pick from Gigabyte’s lineup of motherboards. This motherboard is our pick for the B-tier AMD motherboard. It is based on the X570 chipset, and it supports AM4 sockets. It has a form factor of standard ATX and boasts enough features to birth a capable mid-end gaming PC.
This board has a built-in 2.4 Gbps WiFi adapter and features multiple heatsinks for its M.2 slots and other essential components. Its power delivery system is decent, with 14-phases of Voltage regulators and three PCIe 4.0 slots. As a Gigabyte motherboard, it costs around 300$, which is a lot for a B-tier motherboard, but justifies its pricing with premium additions. It also has many USB 3.2 ports and has enough storage options with M.2 slots and SATA ports.
- 3x high-speed M.2 Slots with heatsinks
- Debug LEDs
- Plenty of USB ports and Front/Back USB headers
- On/Off buttons plug into a USB header
C-tier motherboards are what you would expect. Their pricing is very affordable, and their capability is minimal. A C-tier motherboard is only suitable for entry-level to mid-end computer builds and comes cheaply. Their form factors are usually smaller, like the Mini-ITX or mATX, because they are made for light to moderate computer usage rather than handling heavier tasks like rendering.
Their VRMs are highly limited as they can only provide the required power for an ordinarily operating processor rather than a juiced-up, overclocked processor. Also, their cooling is a bit compromised as they only feature essential components and auxiliary, such as heatsinks, to meet their affordable price tags.
Overall, C-tier motherboards are only helpful for light gaming and tasking and are not meant to be tampered with because you will only see diminishing returns.
ASUS ROG STRIX B660-I Gaming WiFi
The ASUS ROG STRIX B660-I Gaming WiFi is a perfect C-tier motherboard. ASUS is also a premium brand that delivers outstanding quality and product performance. Most of its products are very sought-after and priced highly compared to other brands because they provide excellent components and build quality, ensuring longevity and robustness. Despite being a C-lister, this motherboard has an excellent audio codec and WiFi 6.
Its VRM has only 9-phase voltage regulators, which are a bit low for its 200$ price tag. Its temperature ranges are suitable only for light tasking and gaming because its VRM runs hotter than usual when pushed above its limits. It is a Mini-ITX motherboard with a PCIe 5.0 slot and two M.2 NVMe slots.
ASUS ROG STRIX B550F Gaming WiFi
The ASUS ROG STRIX B550F Gaming WiFi is our C-tier pick for AMD motherboards. This motherboard is very similar in functionality, thermal performance, and pricing compared to the ASUS B660-I. However, a handful of differences make it stand out on its own despite being a copy for the AMD processors.
It has around 14-phase voltage regulators, a 2.5 GbE LAN port, and an ATX form factor. Other specifications are very similar to the B660-I but come in a non-WiFi version, which costs around 30$ less than this model.
Suppose you are in the market to build a high-end gaming or content creation machine that can handle most of the tasks without breaking a sweat and provide enough room for overclocking without warranting an upgrade. In that case, your best pick is an S-tier and A-tier motherboard. Intel and AMD have a great lineup of highly capable of delivering excellent performance and raw power. Knowing which motherboard you will have to pair them with is also necessary.
However, if you aren’t trying to build an ultimate machine and want a lighter and decent computer for daily tasking and everyday gaming, in that case, B-tier motherboards are always a suitable option. The purpose of this tier list is to help you decide for yourself. With so many options, a novice computer enthusiast can easily be overwhelmed with an ocean of choices. Nevertheless, if you keep the stated factors in mind and make your selection according to these factors, then you will pick an excellent motherboard for yourself.