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.
Because of the vital importance they carry, it’s absolutely essential to pick up one of the best motherboards you can buy in 2018. If you cheap out and get an unreliable motherboard it may eventually fail, and when that happens you’ll have to deal with the terror of having to replace it. In order to replace a malfunctioning motherboard, you’ll have to tear apart your computer and then reassemble it from scratch – quite unlike upgrading to one of the best graphics cards. Look, just do yourself a favor and get something you can rely on now, so you won’t have to worry about replacing it later – pick up one of the best motherboards available in 2018.
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.
Best Intel motherboard: Z370 Aorus Gaming 7
Find the top of your game
Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (8th-gen only) | Chipset: Intel Z370 | Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 2- and 4-way GPU SLI, AMD 2-, 3- and 4-way CrossFire | Features: 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
No Thunderbolt 3
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.
Best budget Intel motherboard: MSI B250M Gaming Pro
Light things up with this low-cost motherboard from MSI.
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (7th-gen and earlier) | Chipset: Intel B250 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 2400MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (32-110mm), Intel Optane Memory Ready
Micro ATX form factor
Not much room for expansion
Only 2 RAM slots
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.
Best Intel Micro ATX motherboard: ASRock B250M Pro4
A smaller form-factor with some room for you to improve
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (7th-gen and earlier) | Chipset: Intel B250 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 2400MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFire X | Features: 1 x U.2, 1 x M.2 (Key M), Intel Optane Memory Ready
On-board video support
Supports 7.1 channel surround
Limited PCIe expansion
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.
Best Intel Mini-ITX motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming
This small form factor motherboard is lit
Form factor: Mini-ITX | Socket: LGA-1151 (8th-gen only) | Chipset: Intel Z370 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 4,333MHz | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: Aura Sync RGB lighting, onboard M.2 heatsink, 5-way optimization, USB 3.1 Gen 2, Gigabit Ethernet with LANGuard, GameFirst, 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and MU-MIMO support
Wi-Fi antennas included
Lacks SLI/Crossfire support
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.
Best AMD motherboard: MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon
Form Factor: ATX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD X370 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-way SLI, CrossFire | Features: 2 x M.2 (Key M)
Amazing looking motherboard
Built-in waterpump fan connector
No on-board video
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.
Best Budget AMD motherboard: Asus Prime A320M-K
A low-cost AMD motherboard to maximize cost to power.
Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD A320 | Memory Support: Single-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
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.
Best AMD Micro ATX motherboard: ASRock AB350M Pro4
Nothing flashy, but plenty of performance to love
Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD Promontory B350 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFireX | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
Supports RAM overclocked to 3200MHz
Not flashy or exciting
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.
Best AMD Mini-ITX motherboard: ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX
An overclocker’s dream in a small form factor
Form Factor: Mini-ITX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD B350 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,466MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x M.2 (Key M)
Blazing-fast RAM speeds
On-board graphics support
RAM tops out at 32GB
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.
Best Intel Core X-Series motherboard: ASRock X299 Taichi
This one goes up to 11, but more accurately, 4400MHz memory
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
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.
Best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard: ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sTR4
This is the motherboard AMD dreams are made of
Form Factor: ATX | Socket: sTR4 | Chipset: AMD X399 | Memory Support: Dual -Channel 4 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: 4-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFireX | Features: 1 x U.2, 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)
4-way SLI or Crossfire support
Awesome RGB lighting
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.