Motherboard For A Computer
Everyone has come across a motherboard if they have been around a Pc at some point. It is the essential component, on which all other components fit onto. Without a motherboard, there is no way the graphics card, the processor or the RAM can function. The motherboard is the “platform” on which all other parts operate.
Additionally, not every Cpu fits on every motherboard. The Socket can be different from generation to generation of motherboards. For example, the latest Kabylake -x and Skylake -x CPUs have to be paired with an X299 motherboard, which features a new socket, LGA 2066. If you want to learn more about Intel’s latest CPUs, check out my other post here: https://johnpchardware.com/new-intel-processors-coming-out/
AMD and Intel, the two Cpu manufacturers on the market, have different motherboards for their CPUs. But, we will get to that in a moment.
The question is: How do I choose a motherboard for a computer? But before answering that, we have to take a look at the two Cpu manufacturers, Intel and AMD.
If you intend to buy an Intel consumer level Cpu, I recommend looking for their Kabylake CPUs or their older counterparts the Skylake CPUs like the I5 7600k, I7 7700k, I5 6600k or the I7 6700k. The Skylake and Kabylake family CPUs are pretty much identical, except for the fact that the Kabylake ones have higher clock speeds and better overclocking capabilities. I’d only recommend going for the I7 6700k, I5 6600k or even the locked Skylake CPUs like the I5 6500 or the I5 6400 if they are at a discount. If you have to choose between them and they are at the same price point, always go for the kabylake line of processors as they give you more performance for the same price.
The -k CPUs (I7 6700 k, I7 7700k, I5 7600k and I5 6600k need a Z170 or Z270 chipset motherboard, which comes with the LGA 1151 Socket. It is important to match the Cpu with the right socket, as these CPUs have 1151 “pins” on the back, which have to match the 1151 pins on the motherboard’s socket.
The Z270 and Z170 motherboards have overclocking capabilities, which allow the user to overclock their Cpu. If you want to know how to overclock your Cpu, check out this guide: The only CPUs that have an unlocked multiplier and therefore CAN overclock are the I5 7600 k and the I7 7700 k, which need a Z170 or Z270 motherboard in order to achieve that.
If you have decided to buy a locked chip like the I5 7400 or the I5 7500, you can go cheaper on the motherboard, by buying an H270 motherboard, which, however, does not allow overclocking. All these motherboards ( H170, H270, Z170, and Z270 )have different chipsets but the same 1151 socket. An I7 7700 k can be paired with an H270 motherboard, but it won’t be able to overclock because the H270 doesn’t have this feature, although the I7 7700k is an unlocked processor.
I know that it can be a bit overwhelming at first when looking for an appropriate motherboard and that is why I’m going to show you what motherboard to buy according to the CPU. Always remember that first, we choose the processor and then we look for the best motherboard for that CPU
With AMD’s latest Cpu architecture, Ryzen, things are much easier. If you want to buy a Ryzen Cpu you have to pair it with an AM4 motherboard. AM4 motherboards have different chipsets, which have more or fewer features:
- X370 Chipset: Supports overclocking as well as multi-GPU configurations like SLI and Crossfire. It also offers more USB connections.
- B 350 Chipset: Supports overclocking but does not support SLI multi GPU configuration. It only supports crossfire and comes with fewer USB ports.
- A 320 Chipset: Neither supports overclocking nor multi GPU configurations.
The X370 chipset is aimed towards enthusiasts who want to maximize performance by going with the best motherboard possible but at a higher cost. If you are an enthusiast overclocker, have 2 GPUs in your system and own a Ryzen CPU, the X370 motherboard is the only way to go.
The B350 chipset is the consumer level motherboard for Ryzen CPUs, which I recommend buying. It comes equipped with all the necessary features which are essential but cuts out the ” premium features” like multi GPU support, which most users would find unnecessary anyway. B350 motherboards are very well priced (100-130$) and therefore affordable for the majority of Pc owners.
A320 motherboards are even cheaper and are aimed at those, who want the cheapest motherboard and are not interested in overclocking. A320 chipset motherboards are intended for basic usage only.
Motherboard buying guide
- I7 7700k/I5 7600k – Gigabyte Z270X Gaming 5, MSI Z270 Pro Carbon, Asus Rog Strix Z270E
- I5 7400/I5 7500- MSI H270 Gaming M3, Gigabyte GA H270, Asus Rog Strix Z270H
- Ryzen 7 1800x/1700 – MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon, Asus Prime X370 Pro, Gigabyte GA-AX370
- Ryzen 5 1600/1500 – Asus Prime B350 Plus, MSI B350 Gaming Plus, Gigabyte AB350 Gaming
There is a lot of misconception and false information when it comes to motherboards, which can lead to buying the wrong motherboard or even throwing great amounts of money out of the window, for no particular reason.
I am going to explain and break down these misconceptions, so you can make the best choice when buying a new board.
- The most expensive motherboard is the best one.
This is a common belief and that’s why people spend 400$ on the best and most expensive motherboard they can find on Amazon, NewEgg or E-bay. Expensive ones have lots of features you don’t actually need. The performance of the board itself, as far as overclocking and stability goes, does not change the higher you go up in price.
- The more features, the better.
This is a common misconception. When choosing a mobo for your system always focus on the features you will actually use instead of the fancy ones, which increase the price of the board itself. You probably don’t need RGB all over the board or 8 ram slots for up to 128 Gb of Ram, do you?
- All manufacturers are equally good.
There is some truth to that, however, I would recommend sticking to the 3 main brands: ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte in that particular order. All 3 are excellent but ASUS has the best reputation for producing top-quality motherboards. However, you can’t go wrong with MSI and Gigabyte, too. AsRock is another brand, which has come a long way and delivers good motherboards but is inferior to the 3 main brands. And whatever you do, stay away from Biostar.
- Buy the cheapest motherboard you can find, it does not matter.
This is the opposite of the first one. When going really cheap on your motherboard, you really go cheap on the production quality as well as the thermals. You want your motherboard to be stable and deliver good performance. With a cheap one (under 60-70$) you miss out on quality and you get a board, which may not last long.
Always remember that the reason some motherboards are really expensive is not the quality of the board itself, but the premium features they come with. In most cases, if you are for example a Pc gamer, you don’t need 8 ram slots or 3 NVMe slots or 128 Gb of Ram. These things should matter to you if you are a content creator, editor or graphics designer. Just remember to focus on the features you need when buying a new board and then look for reviews on Amazon or Newegg to see if it is actually good. An indicative price point is 110-200$. You really don’t need to spend more for a quality board.
I hope that I could be of assistance. If you have any questions or would like me to help you find a specific motherboard, leave a comment below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you out.