Everyone loves to talk about the best graphics cards or the best processors, but nobody seems to especially enjoy talking about the motherboards. It’s strange, because if there is one component that can genuinely be called the most important PC component, it’s the motherboard. The best motherboards will not only serve as the backbone of the entire system, but they’ll also be filled to the brim with all the latest features and tech at the forefront of the PC world. This wondrous tech will help you realize the full potential of all of your PC hardware. Some motherboards will even give you more headroom for overclocking your processor.
It’s absolutely essential that you get one of the best motherboards due to the vital importance they carry. Because if you pick up a cheap, unreliable motherboard, it’ll eventually fail – and when that happens, you’ll have to deal with the nightmare of replacing it. To replace a faulty motherboard, you’ll have to completely dismantle your PC and then reassemble it from scratch – it’s not like upgrading to one of the best graphics cards. Long story short, do yourself a favor and get something that lasts – pick up one of the best motherboards you can buy today.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best motherboards available in 2018. Every single motherboard here has been tested by the TechRadar editorial staff and has earned our seal of approval. Not only will the motherboards on this list do everything you need them to do and more, they are built to last. And, considering how many different kinds of motherboards are out there, it’s important to know exactly what to look for.
Where money is no object, the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 from Gigabyte quite literally shines. Decked out in RGB lighting galore, it’s the best way to celebrate Intel’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors in an ATX tower case. Limited not by power, but instead by the restraints of your other components, it’s also a champ when it comes to overclocking. That’s right, you can expect upwards of 5GHz consistently on this Z370 mobo.
You don't need to break the bank to get your computer off on the right footing. This board from MSI is a great, inexpensive solution. It's limited in options for future expansions, so it's ideal for a one-and-done build. Since it's a gaming motherboard it has support for things like "Mystic Light Sync," which lets you synchronize all your RGB lighting with a single click.
This Micro ATX motherboard from ASRock packs a lot of features onto a smaller form factor. You lose out on the possibility of extra PCIe slots, but there are 4 memory slots to upgrade to a maximum 64GB DDR4 RAM. It also has support for on-board graphics, so if you're building a computer piecemeal, you can still use it before buying a dedicated graphics card.
The best Intel Mini-ITX motherboard on our list kicks off our hunt for only the best Z370 mobos on the market. That’s the chipset used by the chip maker’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors, which includes everything from the Core i7-8700K all the way down to the Core i3-8100. This ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming, while lacking support for Nvidia SLI and AMD Crossfire multi-GPU, does ship Wi-Fi ready with an included Asus 2 x 2 Wi-Fi adaptor.
When it comes to AMD motherboards, the Gaming Pro Carbon from MSI does not mess around in the slightest. Not only is it packed with lots of features to make it extra appealing for AMD gaming PC builds, it has awesome Mystic Light RGB settings that can be adjusted via smartphone app. Besides looking great, it has plenty of room for expansion and support for dual graphics cards.
Budget builds are almost always based around AMD hardware. Not because AMD is "budget," but because it's just cheaper than Intel and Nvidia. Start the build off on the right, low-cost foot with this motherboard from ASUS. It has everything you need to pull off a solid computer build, without having to break the bank. It lacks visual bells and whistles, but hey, it's a budget solution.
If you want to get where you need to go, and you don't care about things like fancy RGB lighting or eye-catching, futuristic-looking heat dissipators, the AB350M Pro4 is the motherboard for you. In spite of its plain-Jane looks and no-frills aesthetic, this is a solid motherboard with plenty of room to expand and grow with your computer needs.
Small and powerful, this ASRock motherboard is a beast, supporting overclocked memory speeds up to 3,466MHz for CPUs that support it. If that wasn't enough to get your motor running, it also supports 4K resolutions and full Blu-ray support through its HDMI ports. Yes, ports: it has two, as well as on-board video support.
The X-series processors are here and they're spectacular, so if you want to take advantage of all they have to offer, you need an X-series motherboard. This ASRock X299 is an excellent choice, with support for overclocked memory speeds up to 4400MHz(!!!) and 8 different slots for memory modules. It also supports up to 128GB of RAM, so with an X-series processor and a good graphics card (or 3…) this thing will absolutely tear apart anything you throw at it.
If you're the type of builder with deep pockets and an "everything and the kitchen sink" build mentality, this Ryzen Threadripper board is definitely for you. It supports 4-way SLI or Crossfire configurations, so you can just empty your bank account in the name of PC glory. All that graphical power is supported by as much as 128GB DDR4 memory, and there's even a flashy RBG lighting scheme to really drive home the point.
Coming to terms
If you’re unfamiliar about what makes the best motherboards, well, the best, we would like to include a bit of a primer for anyone who might not know what to look for. Motherboards are available in a range of different form factors, most commonly ATX and micro ATX. However there are plenty of more esoteric form factors including the recent mini ITX. Don’t worry though, because most of the time PC cases will support one or both of these form factors.
Moreover, in our rundown of the best motherboards, we detailed the socket type that each mobo adheres to. For those not in the know, the socket is the part on the motherboard that the CPU locks into. Typically, newer Intel processors use either LGA 1151 or 2066 while the latest AMD Ryzen architecture is designed for the AM4 chipset.
- Next up, these are the best gaming monitors you can buy this year