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The best motherboard 2021: the top Intel and AMD motherboards we've seen

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The best motherboards ensure that the PC you’re building and all its components will reach their full potential. A motherboard is a PC’s backbone or foundation, allowing your internals to interact with one another as well as run and even overclock better. Your choice of motherboard, therefore, will either make or break your PC.

While the best motherboards may not be as sexy as the best graphics cards or processors, they’re more important than other PC components out there. And, unless you want to rebuild your entire PC from scratch or if you’re setting out to build a PC to rival the best PCs, make sure to budget properly for a quality board.

To help you find the perfect board for your next PC, we’ve rounded up the best motherboards on the market. And now’s the perfect time to invest, considering both Asus and MSI recently unveiled their new Intel Z490 motherboards for the newly-released Intel Comet Lake-S.

Coming to terms

If you’re unfamiliar with the best motherboards out there, use this list as a primer for your next build. Motherboards are available in a broad range of different form factors, the most common of which are ATX and Micro ATX. However, there are plenty of less common form factors including mini ITX and E-ATX. Don’t worry though, most of the best PC cases will support more than one form factor. 

Moreover, in our rundown of the best motherboards, we detailed the socket type that each mobo adheres to. The socket, for those not in the know, 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.

Best motherboards of 2021 at a glance

  1. Asus ROG Maximus XII HERO - best Intel motherboard
  2. MSI MEG Z490 Godlike - best high-end Intel motherboard
  3. GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X - best budget Intel motherboard
  4. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC - best Intel micro-ATX motherboard
  5. Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming - best Intel mini-ITX motherboard
  6. ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X - best AMD motherboard
  7. Aorus X570 Master - best high performance AMD motherboard
  8. Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming - best budget AMD motherboard
  9. Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS - best AMD micro-ATX motherboard
  10. ASUS ROG Strix X470-I - best AMD mini-ITX motherboard
  11. ASRock X299 Taichi - best Intel Core X-series motherboard
  12. MSI Creator TRX40 - best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard

Best motherboards: Asus ROG Maximus XII HERO

(Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus ROG Maximus XII HERO

Best Intel Motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA1200 | Chipset: Intel Z490 | Memory support: 4 x DIMM (Max. 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: NVIDIA 2-Way SLI Technology, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX Technology, AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology | Features: Aluminum M.2 heatsink cover, 10K Black Metallic Capacitors, ROG Extreme OC kit

Excellent cooling
Easy overclocking
Gorgeous design
Not cheap

For the best motherboard for the latest Intel chips, you need one that brings plenty of power to the table, as well as intelligent cooling and support for faster memory. That’s why the Asus ROG Maximus XII HERO gets our vote as the best Intel motherboard for 2021. If you’re thinking of upgrading to a 10th-generation Intel Core processor, invest in this motherboard as well. With it, you’re also getting AI overclocking, AI networking with Wi-Fi 6 support and Asus’ Aura Sync illumination.

Best motherboards: MSI MEG Z490 Godlike

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI MEG Z490 Godlike

Best high-end Intel motherboard

Form Factor: E-ATX | Socket: LGA1200 | Chipset: Intel Z490 | Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way NVIDIA SLI Technology, 3-Way AMD CrossFire Technology | Features: M.2 Xpander-Z Gen4 S, 10G Super LAN + 2.5G LAN, Frozn Heatsink, Double Side M.2 Shield Frozn

Superb build quality
Onboard thunderbolt video output
Easy overclocking in BIOS
Uses two 8-pin cpu power connectors

High-end motherboards may cost a fortune, but if you’ve got something like the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike under the hood, you’re pretty much guaranteed top-notch performance, especially if you’ve got Intel components. As long as you’re willing to pay the price. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that this is the best z490 board out there right now, with an excellent thermal solution, staggering overclocking performance, easy installation and diagnostic solutions for do-it-yourself-ers, and a solid build.

Best motherboards: GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X

(Image credit: GIGABYTE)

3. GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X

Best budget Intel motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA1200 | Chipset: Intel Z490 | Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire and 2-Way AMD CrossFire | Features: Support for APP Center, Q-Flash and Q-Flash Plus support, Xpress Install support

Pre-installed I/O shield
Additional optional 4-pin connector
No USB Type-C connectivity

The GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X may not have any flashy new features to bring to the table, but if you’re an Intel fan who needs a new motherboard in the budget sphere, it’s certainly a great choice. This entry-level motherboard for gamers has a decent feature set for its price tag, including three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, six SATA ports and four memory slots with support for DDR4-4600 and up to 128GB, to start. Most importantly, it performs like the best of them without burning a hole in your pocket.

Best motherboards: MSI MPG Z390M

4. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC

Best Intel micro-ATX motherboard

Form Factor: Micro-ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (8th and 9th-gen only) | Chipset: Intel Z390 | Memory support: 2 x DIMM sockets (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: SLI/CrossFire | Features: 2 x PCIe M.2 (Key M), DDR4 boost, PCI-E Steel Armor, Audio Boost 4 with amplifier


If you’re looking to get an edge on the competition, but you don’t have a lot of extra space on your desk, you’re going to need a Micro-ATX motherboard – more specifically, the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC. What you’re getting here is a Micro-ATX motherboard with all the features a full-sized ATX one offers, but at a fraction of the price. Despite its smaller size, you still get dual M.2 slots, SLI and Crossfire support, and all the fiery performance that Intel Coffee Lake Refresh has to offer. If you’re looking for a smaller motherboard, you can’t afford to pass on the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge MC.

Best motherboards: Asus ROG Strix Z390-I

5. Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming

Best Intel mini-ITX motherboard

Form Factor: Mini-ITX | Socket: LGA-1151 (8th and 9th-gen only) | Chipset: Intel Z390 | Memory support: 2 x DIMM sockets (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: N/A | Features: 2 x PCIe M.2 (Key M), Double capacity memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 front connector, Asus Aura Sync

 All the RGB 
 Tons of memory capacity 

If you need the smallest possible motherboard available without compromising on key features of your CPU, you should look into the Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming. With this motherboard, you don’t need to compromise on features or power. You don’t even need to settle for a measly 32GB of RAM. Thanks to Asus’ double capacity memory compatibility – you can have up to 64GB of memory in the most miniscule motherboard you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, like most Z390 boards, its price tag is not for the faint of heart, so prepare yourself to shell out some serious dough if you want the smallest of the best motherboards.

Best motherboards: ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X

(Image credit: ASRock)

6. ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X

Best AMD motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD Premium X570 | Memory Support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: NVIDIA NVLink, Quad SLI, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX | Features: ASRock Polychrome SYNC, ASRock Super Alloy, ASRock Phantom Gaming 2.5G LAN

Easy to install
Beautiful design
Excellent cooling
Upgrading storage might be physically tricky

If you’re considering an AMD setup for that PC you’re building, then you cannot go wrong with the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X. This is the best motherboard for AMD fans right now, with a top-notch feature set, great design and a highly-effective cooling solution. It’s certainly a favorite among overclockers out there, and with Wi-Fi 6 support to boot. If you have a penchant for tweak and upgrade your internals, there might be some limitations as to what you can do physically. But, other than that, it’s hard to find fault in this board.

Best motherboards: Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

7. Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master

Best high performance AMD motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: AMD Socket AM4 | Chipset: AMD X570 | Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI and 2-Way NVIDIA SLI technologies, AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire and 2-Way AMD CrossFire | Features: Support for APP Center, Q-Flash and Q-Flash Plus support, Xpress Install support

Excellent price for performance
Pre-installed I/O Shield
Well thought out design
Awkward USB3 header placement

The Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master is not only an aesthetically pleasing motherboard, with splashes of silver on a black board meant to complement its RGB lighting. It is also capable of being the centerpiece of a very powerful computer. It can handle up to 128GB of DDR4400 RAM, the latest 3rd gen AMD processors and multiple GPUs for anyone wanting to future proof their gaming needs. The X570 Master is also very astutely designed, with shielding on its I/O ports, WiFi 6 and a number of other placement choices that make this a quality board. Best of all, its price is significantly less than the high end Intel motherboards.

Best motherboards: Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming

(Image credit: Asus)

8. Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming

Best budget AMD motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD B550 | Memory Support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 2-way GPU SLI, AMD 3-way CrossFire | Features: Aura Sync, ASUS Thermal Solution with M.2 heatsink, ASUS EZ DIY, Rear audio USB Type-C connector

Easy setup
Price is right
Only one PCIe 4.0
Limited CPU support

If you’re looking to build from scratch, the Asus ROG B550-E Gaming Motherboard is a cost-effective and feature-rich motherboard to pair with that AMD 3rd gen Ryzen chip you just bought. Its I/O ports are shielded, it comes with a PCIe 4.0 slot (and a second PCIe 3.0 one), and it has just about all the ports and port headers you could desire. With this motherboard, you’re getting excellent power delivery, a great feature set and an incredibly effective cooling solution, as well as a cool aesthetic to boot.

Best motherboards: Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS

(Image credit: Asus)

9. Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS

Best AMD Micro ATX motherboard

Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD B550 | Memory Support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology | Features: ASUS TUF Protection, ASUS Thermal solution with aluminum M.2 heatsink, ASUS EZ DIY, AURA Sync

PCIe 4.0 support
AI noise-cancelling technology works great
No heatsink in upper NVMe slot
Still pricey for what it offers

An upgrade from its predecessor, the B450, the Asus TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS boasts not only a much better power solution and a great cooling solution, but also game-ready features and military-grade components. Among those features are the AI Noise-Canceling Microphone software, which supports 3.5 mm, USB or Bluetooth headsets, and full RGB lighting control. All, of course, while still touting that TUF Gaming Alliance promise for easy compatibility and building, as well as aesthetics that complement its trusted partners.

Best motherboards: ASUS ROG Strix X470-I

10. ASUS ROG Strix X470-I

Best AMD Mini-ITX motherboard

Form Factor: Mini-ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD X470 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,466MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

Dual-channel RAM support
M.2 compatibility
 RAM tops out at 32GB 

Asus is out to prove that big things can and do come in small packages with the ROG Strix X470-I. Featuring the latest and greatest AMD chipset, everything in this tiny board is designed with excellent performance in mind. That extends down to the BIOS where you can find a stress test for overclocks before you even boot into Windows. This board also elevates beyond the constraints of the Mini-ITX form factor by including an M.2 Audio Combo riser, so that you can install your M.2 NVMe SSD without crowding out other components.

Best motherboards: ASRock X299 Taichi

11. ASRock X299 Taichi

Best Intel Core X-Series motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA-2066 | Chipset: Intel X299 | Memory Support: Quad-Channel 8 x DDR4 4,400MHz (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 3-Way SLI, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX | Features: 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

Gigantic memory support
Slots for 8 RAM modules
High price

The X-series processors are here, and they are spectacular. But if you want to take advantage of all they have to offer, you need an X-series motherboard. This ASRock X299 is an incredible 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. Add in an X-series processor and a good graphics card or 3, and this thing will absolutely tear apart anything you could possibly throw at it. If you’re seeking one of the best motherboards money can buy, this is it.

Best motherboards: MSI Creator TRX40

(Image credit: MSI)

12. MSI Creator TRX40

Best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard

Form Factor: E-ATX | Socket: sTRX4 | Chipset: AMD TRX40 | Memory Support: 8 x DIMM sockets (up to 256G) | Multi-GPU support: 3-Way NVIDIA SLI and 3-Way AMDA CrossFire | Features: 10G LAN + Intel Gigabit LAN, 7 x Lightning Gen4 M.2 with M.2 XPANDER-AERO GEN4, Full fan control, Frozr Heatsink Design, Mystic Light

Good overclocking
Efficient cooling
Has 10GbE, 1GbE and 2.4Gbps Wi-Fi
Double-slot cooling limits M.2 adapter card

When you’ve got an AMD Threadripper under the hood of your PC, you absolutely need a beast of a motherboard like the MSI Creator TRX40. This is designed and built specifically for creators with the most demanding computing needs, this motherboard also boasts quite a feature set. Among those features are the latest PCIe gen4 slots and M.2 connectors, USB3.2 Gen2x2, Wi-Fi 6 and 10G LAN, as well as MSI’s Frozr Heatsink design and Mystic Light RGB lighting. It’s a little pricey, especially next to the competition, but then again, nothing in the creative sphere isn’t these days. If you want the best motherboard for your professional creative endeavors, it doesn’t get better than this.


14 Jan 2021



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