The Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 DDR4 Motherboard is our best motherboard and this one has a total of 4 DIMM DDR4 memory slots which are also dual channel. As for the connection, the SATA Express can support up to 16 gigabytes per second of data transfer speed. Its built-in audio card is a Realtek ALC1150 with high definition audio codec that uses 7.1 channels. Moreover, it has four main PCI express 3.0 slots, one with 16 slots, one with 8, one with 4 and one with 2. Also, the Realtek audio card has an audio noise guard as well as a gain boost cover. It also has support for SSD drives with a data transfer speed of up to 32 gigabytes per second. The motherboard has a total of 3 slots for SATA express and 6 slots for SATA 3 and also has an LED path lighting for the audio noise guard. It is a great motherboard for exceptional gaming.
Our step-up pick is the ASUS Z170-A ATX DDR4 Motherboard and it highly and greatly supports SATA Express as well as M.2 for SSDs and it accepts DDR4 RAM cards for the highest gaming performance. The crystal clear sound makes this motherboard ideal for both gaming and making music. It has a 5-way optimization with its 5 dual intelligent processors and it uses DTS Studio Sound for unprecedented sound quality. Moreover, the TPU or turbo processing unit helps in overclocking the CPU automatically so it can reach its best potential without straining your gear. It uses Fan Xpert 3 for the most efficient cooling system that is super quiet and super cool, with 4-pin fan headers and it has a ton of 6th generation Intel Core processor features. It reduces gaming lag due to its TurboLAN Ethernet with the help of the Intel I219-V Gigabit.
The budget pick is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard and this one makes the use of the VideoCore IV for its 3D graphics core. It has a full HDMI port for connecting with high definition TVs and has a Wireless LAN at 802.11n with a LAN speed of 10/100 Mbps. It has a clock speed of 1.2 GHz. This motherboard is an efficient budget solution for a computer motherboard and it can support up to 1 GB of RAM. It also has a slot for a Micro SD card and it has a total of 4 USB ports.
Table of Contents
- A Little Background
- How we picked
- Our pick
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Step-up Pick
- Budget Pick
- Best Gaming Motherboard
- Motherboard with User-Friendly BIOS
- Motherboard that Supports Octa Core Processors
- Best Desktop Motherboard
- Motherboard that Works with Python and Linux
- Ideal Motherboard for Dual Core Processors
- Motherboard with NVIDIA Graphics Card
- The Competition
- Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping it up
A Little Background
A motherboard is the part of the CPU that houses everything – from disk drives to graphics cards to sound cards to USB ports and many other ports for the peripherals. It also houses the CPU processor which is like the brain and the heart of your computer.
Depending on the motherboard’s specs, you can add and upgrade your system. The motherboard’s specifications can define how many items you can put in it and expand the capacity of your computer. For instance, the number of slots and the type of memory cards you can put in the motherboard largely depends on the type of motherboard. Also, some motherboards have different sockets for the CPU processor so not all processors might fit every motherboard. For example, most of Intel’s processors can fit in a lot of older motherboards just fine but AMD’s processors might be a little picky.
Choosing the best motherboard may not be a walk in the park because you have to pay attention to your budget and some technical specs that people may not understand. You can check out our How We Picked section below as well as the Frequently Asked Questions further down below if you want to know more about motherboards and how to pick the best one out there for your PC (or Mac or Linux).
How We Picked
On choosing the best motherboard out there, we chose from the following factors:
SATA slots – this refers to the slots of disk drives that you can put in the motherboard. Usually, motherboards have around 4 to 6 depending on its price and capacity.
Onboard processor – most motherboards have onboard processors while others don’t – which is both a good and bad thing. You can buy one with an onboard processor and save dollars or you can be much more meticulous and buy yourself a separate processor with quad core, octa core and the like.
Built-in graphics card – most motherboards have a built-in graphics processing unit, such as NVIDIA and the like. These are usually integrated with the motherboard so if you are not very meticulous as a user, you can just buy one with a built-in graphics card which is not usually very high in its price. But for the hardcore gamers, you can buy a motherboard in which you can upgrade the graphics card.
Sound card – most motherboards also have a built-in sound card such as Realtek so you don’t really have to do anything. Most people can also tolerate their sound card as the audio is usually of high quality, unless you are quire meticulous about the sound quality as a musician or record producer.
USB ports – the number of USB ports also matter when it comes to choosing the best motherboard. The USB ports are usually divided into USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, with the 3.0 ports being faster when it comes to data transfer as compared to USB 2.0 ports.
Memory capacity and slots – this refers to the number of memory cards you can install on the motherboard. Usually, it is just 4 memory card slots but it is also limited to the type of memory card you can install and the maximum capacity of the motherboard. For instance, some motherboards can only support DDR2 or sometimes DDR3 but mostly DDR4 type memory cards. The memory card dictates the amount of RAM or random access memory that your computer can manage.
Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 DDR4 Motherboard
Our best motherboard is the Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 DDR4 Motherboard which has a total of 4 DIMM DDR4 memory slots which are also dual channel. It is also a great motherboard for exceptional gaming. As for the sound, the built-in audio card is a Realtek ALC1150 with high definition audio codec that uses 7.1 channels. As for the slots, it has a total of 3 slots for SATA express and 6 slots for SATA 3. Moreover, it also has four main PCI express 3.0 slots, one with 16 slots, one with 8, one with 4 and one with 2. Adding to those slots, it has 6 USB 2.0 ports and 7 USB 3.0 ports plus a USB 3.1 A+C port.
As for the sound quality, the Realtek audio card has an audio noise guard as well as a gain boost cover. Additionally, the SATA Express can support up to 16 gigabytes per second of data transfer speed. And when it comes to the BIOS, the dual BIOS feature makes this motherboard awesome. Adding to that, the solid caps are durable and can go a long way. What’s more, it also has support for SSD drives with a data transfer speed of up to 32 gigabytes per second and it also has an LED path lighting for the audio noise guard. This motherboard also has a 3-way cross fire support as well as a two-way SLI support.
Like any Z170 motherboard, it can be overclocked at your own risk. The Gigabyte LGA1151 DDR4 Motherboard also has a 4-pin fan header so you can install a water cooling fan and keep your unit cool and comfortable. What’s more, the multiple SATA headers slots as well as the DDR4 RAM slots make this motherboard intended for gaming and system expansion. Furthermore, the motherboard also comes with a ton of audio jacks and even a thunderbolt port.
As a matter of fact, it is rare for built-in audio cards on a motherboard to have high quality sound and this one takes the cake due to being Realtek. The case header plugging is easy due to the plastic adapter that has been included. The motherboard has an ATX form factor of 30 by 23 cm and is backed by a warranty of 3 years.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
Like most computer hardware, the Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 DDR4 Motherboard might have its own flaws, but these are not enough to break the deal and it is still on the very top of our list due to its whopping amount of great features and advantages. For example, there are only 4 fan headers and this can be quite unsatisfying for people who want to push cooling their unit to its greatest potential to avoid overheating. Nonetheless, 4 fan headers are a good standard to start with.
ASUS Z170-A ATX DDR4 Motherboard
For our step-up pick, we chose the ASUS Z170-A ATX DDR4 Motherboard which greatly and widely accepts DDR4 RAM cards for the highest gaming performance. In addition to that, it conveniently supports SATA Express as well as M.2 for SSDs. Moreover, it also has a high quality boost for the USB 3.1 as it uses DTS Studio Sound for unprecedented sound quality. For added protection, it makes the use of 5x protection II technology and it also has a 5-way optimization with its 5 dual intelligent processors.
The ASUS Z170-A Motherboard also has a one-click total optimization for the system. As for the sound quality, crystal clear sound makes this motherboard ideal for both gaming and making music. In addition to that, it has a ton of 6th generation Intel Core processor features. Moreover, the TPU or turbo processing unit helps in overclocking the CPU automatically so it can reach its best potential without straining your gear. This motherboard also uses Fan Xpert 3 for the most efficient cooling system that is super quiet and super cool, with 4-pin fan headers.
What’s more, the EPU or the energy processing unit helps the unit to save up on power when I/O controllers, connectors and graphic cards are not currently used. In addition to that, its DIGI+ power control feature complies with the IMVP8 of Intel so that its overclocking ability is the best that it is. For those who like to take it to the extreme, you can also use the Turbo App to improve your overclocking and cooling system.
As for customization, conveniently, you can also choose audio profiles and set up network prioritizing so you have the best gaming or home theater set up possible. It also greatly reduces gaming lag due to its TurboLAN Ethernet with the help of the Intel I219-V Gigabit. Moreover, it makes the use of the Q Design for a safe build. As for the skill level needed, the UEFI BIOS is user-friendly, even for beginners at setting up computers. Adding to that, the USB 3.1 has a Type A and a Type C port.
You can enjoy rigorous gaming with this motherboard as overclocking is further extended due to the Pro Clock Technology. It also uses T-Topology for its DDR4 memory slots and its Fan Xpert 3 also has a dedicated water pump header for those with meticulous needs for cooling on their gaming environments. The ASUS Z170-A ATX comes with a user’s manual, a CPU installation tool, an M.2 screw packet, 3 SATA cables (6 GB per second), an SLI bridge (2-way), a Q-connector, a Q-shield and a support DVD as part of its package.
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard is our budget pick and this one has a full HDMI port for connecting with high definition TVs. As for the random access memory, it can support up to 1 GB of RAM. It is also an efficient budget solution for a computer motherboard and it greatly supports up to 64-bit quad core systems. As for the specs, it has a clock speed of 1.2 GHz and this motherboard also supports Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth 4.1. As for the connections, it has a Wireless LAN at 802.11n with a LAN speed of 10/100 Mbps. Adding to that, it also has a standard 3.5 mm audio jack that has been combined with the video camera interface and it also has a slot for a Micro SD card. Moreover, it also comes with a DSI or display interface.
As a motherboard, the Raspberry Pi 3 has a total of 4 USB ports and it can support up to 2.5 amps of Micro USB power source. In addition to that, it also has on-board WiFi (BCM43143). Moreover, the 4-pole stereo output makes it great for audio. The motherboard has a total of 40 GPIO pins and it also makes the use of the VideoCore IV for its 3D graphics core.
Best Gaming Motherboard
MSI 970 GAMING DDR3 ATX Motherboard
If you want the best gaming motherboard then you can depend on the MSI 970 GAMING DDR3 ATX Motherboard which is highly compatible with SATA up to 6 GB per second. This one greatly supports AM3+ socket AMD FX, Sempron, Athlon II and Phenom II processors and it also supports USB 3.0 for faster data transfer. As for the sound, it uses Audio Boost 2 technology for true sound quality. As for the RAM cards, it supports any DDR3 SDRAM memory card and it has a total of 4 DDR3 DIMM slots which is also dual channel. Take note that this motherboard has a max memory capacity of 32 GB.
Any lag on gaming will be significantly reduced due to its killer Ethernet feature. A great motherboard for gaming purposes, the MSI 970 GAMING Motherboard has a total of 6 SATA ports as well as 6 PCI slots and it only requires a CR2 battery for the CMOS. Adding to that, it also has 8 USB 2.0 ports and 2 USB 3.0 ports and it has a total of 6 audio out ports. The motherboard is also highly compatible with most AMD processors. Additionally, the AM3+ socket is a 64-bit. The motherboard is very easy to install and it has a solid motherboard construction.
Motherboard with User-Friendly BIOS
ASRock MicroATX DDR4 LGA 1151 Motherboard
For our best motherboard with user-friendly BIOS, we chose the ASRock MicroATX DDR4 LGA 1151 Motherboard. This is an unbuffered motherboard which has a total of 6 SATA3 ports. As for the unique feature, it has user-friendly BIOS that can be updated easily and it can support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. For the slots, it has a PCI express 3.0 slots and 3 PCI express 3.0 slots x 16 and it has a max memory capacity of 64 GB. You get great options on its Intel onboard LAN and it also has great onboard audio quality for the best gaming or media playing experience.
What’s more, the advanced settings of the BIOS seem okay and easy to understand. The ASRock MicroATX Motherboard can take up to 4 DDR4 memory cards on its DIMM slots. Like the name says, it uses the LGA1151 socket like most motherboards and it also uses the Intel Z170 chipset. This motherboard also has a flexible PCIe and it also has M.2 for SSD support.
This motherboard also supports most AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards and it has a total of 2 USB 3.1 ports (a Type A and a Type C). Additionally, it has 2 USB 2.0 ports and 6 USB 3.0 ports and it has one HDMI port, a DVI-D port, a PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse, an optical S/PDIF out, some audio I/O jacks and an RJ45 LAN port. Its max graphics card RAM size is 1 GB and it is a great motherboard for VR and gaming. It also has 1 audio output port and has 3 fan headers. The motherboard can also support overclocking but requires a 6100K CPU.
Motherboard that Supports Octa Core Processors
Supermicro Atom C2758 64GB DDR3 Motherboard
The Supermicro Atom C2758 64GB DDR3 Motherboard is our best octa core motherboard which has Mini ITX for its form factor. It has a total memory card capacity of 64 GB and it greatly supports DDR3 SDRAM memory cards with 4 SODIMM slots. The unbuffered memory is also ECC and the motherboard can support octa core processors due to being able to support a TDP of 20 watts. For the best processing power, it includes the Intel Atom C2758 processor.
As for the connections, it has 2 SATA3 ports and 4 SATA2 ports and it also has 8 slots of PCI Express 2.0. The motherboard is also highly compatible with the ESXi, pfSense as well as freeNAS. As a great feature, it is also highly power efficient as a motherboard and it also includes an IO shield. The Supermicro Atom DDR3 Motherboard is also highly compatible with any Kingston ECC RAM
Best Desktop Motherboard
Intel Desktop Board Media Series LGA1155
For our ideal desktop motherboard, we chose the Intel Desktop Board Media Series LGA1155 which supports memory cards of DDR3. As for the size, the form factor is Micro ATX. The motherboard also uses the Intel H67 chipset and the LGA 1155 for its socket and it greatly supports memory cards up to 32 GB at 1333 or 1066 MHz Moreover, the motherboard supports the Core i7 and i5 by Intel for the processor part. As for the slots, it has 2 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports and is able to take up most 2nd generation Intel processors. The motherboard has a total of 6 SATA ports and it has a total of 4 PCI slots.
Adding to that, the Intel Desktop LGA1155 supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 using its Intel Rapid Storage technology. You can easily get surround sound and streaming advantages due to its high definition 7.1 audio. Moreover, there are 2 SATA 3.0 ports with 6 GB/s of transfer speed. What’s more, network connection makes the use of the Intel PRO 10/100/1000. It is also capable of hyper threading to excel in its performance when it comes to media and gaming. Moreover, it also has backwards compatibility for older machines and it has a memory voltage control from 1.2 to 1.8 volts. In fact, you can have the opportunity of overclocking with this motherboard. It is also backed by a limited warranty of 3 years.
Motherboard that Works with Python and Linux
Intel Edison Kit for Arduino Antenna
The Intel Edison Kit for Arduino Antenna is our best motherboard for Python and Linux which can be integrated easily with cloud platform systems it is great for analytics and evaluation and a 70-pin connector allows support for a variety of I/O interfaces. It uses SoC or system on a chip design and it uses Silver Mont micro-architecture at 22 nm. It also comes with a microcontroller that is single core as well as a dual core CPU and it supports Python, Yocto linux, Node.js and Arduino.
This motherboard comes with the chip and a fast chip from Intel which runs at x86. The small form factor makes it highly versatile and fully operational. It is ideal for software development and enhances the creativity of aspiring developers.
Ideal Motherboard for Dual Core Processors
ECS Elitegroup E1-2100 Mini-ITX DDR3 Motherboard
An ideal motherboard for a dual core processor, the ECS Elitegroup E1-2100 Mini-ITX DDR3 Motherboard has a form factor of a Mini ITX and supports memory cards that are DDR3. It also makes the use of eBLU, eSF and eDLU as part of its intelligent ECS EZ utility and the capacitor design is very solid so it stays durable for a long time. It also has great protection against electrostatic discharge.
Certified for use on Microsoft Windows 8, it has a total of 2 SATA ports and it has a total of 2 memory card DDR3 slots. It supports HD audio at 6 channels and it uses Gigabit Ethernet for faster LAN games. It also has 2 mini-PCIe slots and has room for 2 processors. It can also run Windows 7 and below and has a standard PS/2 port.
An ideal choice for small form factor system, it highly supports Windows 8 and similar OS and it gives you high definition video playback. It has a VGA port and an HDMI port and it has 2 USB 3.0 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports. It also has a serial port and it has protection against ESD or electrostatic discharge so your components are safe. It is also ideal for home web servers.
Motherboard with NVIDIA Graphics Card
Biostar AMD N68S+ AM2/AM2+ DDR2 Motherboard
The Biostar AMD N68S+ AM2/AM2+ DDR2 Motherboard uses NVIDIA 7025 for its graphics card onboard which has a 512 MB shared memory and it can support up to 95 watts on any AM2 or AM2+ processors. It is highly capable of 2 DDR2 memory cards and it has a form factor of Micro ATX. It supports RAID controller 0, 1, 5 and 10 on its SATA RAID and it has many USB ports, including 3 USB headers and 4 USB 2.0 ports. The DDR2 memory slot is dual channel and capable of up to 8 GB of RAM. The motherboard has a total of 4 SATA2 ports and it comes with the I/O shield and SATA cable. It is backed by a warranty of 3 years for parts and 2 years for labor.
Motherboards vary in specs and in the number of slots as well as in the compatibility of old and new gear. This is why we only chose those with the most diverse number of slots and enhanced capabilities for a superior gaming or server experience.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
If you have difficulty or questions regarding the topic of motherboards then you can consult our Q and A section for more information to discover about this topic before you go ahead and buy one.
Q: What is a motherboard and what are its main functions?
A: According to Reference.com , it is the main circuit board which contain all of the computer’s important parts and circuitry as it holds everything that the computer needs, from sound to graphics cards and other peripherals. It also holds the USB ports so you can connect various computer peripherals to the CPU, laptop or notebook. The motherboard also houses the central processing unit or CPU’s main processor and the power source is also on the motherboard. A fan is connected to the motherboard so that the whole system will be kept cool.
The faster the speeds of your motherboard components, especially the processor, the more your unit will heat up, and this is why you need a lot of CPU fans and cooling systems if you want to upgrade or overclock your motherboard components. The disk drives are connected to the motherboard through the SATA wires but older disk drives use PATA or IDE cables.
Q: What are the tips you should know when choosing the best motherboard?
A: According to PC World , you should choose a motherboard that will house your components well and put your CPU to the best of its ability. Make sure the CPU processor that will fit it can be highly compatible, as some processors can be picky when it comes to motherboard sockets. Some motherboards also already include a CPU processor but make sure it is just right for what you need. The chipset of the motherboard must be highly functional. The memory card slot must be compatible with what you intend to use it with.
Memory card slots range from DDR to DDR4 on its latest technology. Consider the integrated graphics hardware or if you have to upgrade the integrated graphics. If you are a budget person then go for integrated graphics. The sound card should also be great and most motherboards have built-in audio cards and the disk drive interface should be highly compatible with today’s demands. Most motherboards have SATA connections while older motherboards still use PATA or IDE. Consider the networking such as the LAN and WiFi (for laptops). The form factor is also a decisive factor when it comes to fitting in the motherboard within yor CPU.
Wrapping It Up
Overall, Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 DDR4 Motherboard is our best motherboard for any occasion as well as for its specs and capabilities.