Choosing the best gaming motherboard (or best motherboard for another type of PC task) is a key step in your system build, even though things like CPUs and graphics cards get more attention. Every part of your PC connects to your motherboard. Its form factor (ATX, E-ATS, ITX, etc.) will dictate the size of your case. And a board’s socket and chipset will limit which processors you can install.
If you’re not sure which chipset you’re after when choosing the best gaming motherboard, or you have more basic questions, you can visit our motherboard basics and motherboard buying guide features to help narrow down your shopping options.
The picks below will start with recent Intel motherboards (with AMD motherboards further down), including the best gaming motherboards designed for Intel’s latest 12th gen “Alder Lake,” 11th Gen “Rocket Lake” and older “Comet Lake” processors. You’ll find our recommendations for the best motherboards for Z690, B660, H610 and Z590, as well as Intel’s high-end desktop (HEDT) LGA-2066 socket and X299 chipset supporting the X-Series and Extreme line of processors.
The best gaming motherboards for AMD CPUs (including Ryzen and Threadripper) follow our Intel picks below. You can also head to our dedicated pages for the best X570 motherboards and best B550 motherboards for more specific recommendations and more tested picks. But if you’re considering an AMD-based build here in the middle of 2022, you may want to wait a bit for the company’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 processors, which will use the new AM5 socket and trio of chipsets, A670E, X670 and B650. These boards and chips aren’t out yet, but with product specifications and board details getting announced with increasing regularity, it won’t likely be long before AMD’s brand-new is fully available.
Last-gen Ryzen 5000 processors and AM4 motherboards are still capable performers and enticingly affordable. But just know that if you opt for an AM4 motherboard now you are buying into a dead platform. New AMD processors will be released on AM5, solely with DDR5 support.
1. Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro
At around $330, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is a mid-range Alder Lake motherboard that covers all the bases very well, with minimal sacrifices. There are ample storage options, including four M.2 sockets, updated audio, and a new appearance. In our extensive testing, performance, thermals and overclocking were also well within the range of other Z690 boards we’ve tested.
Between its 13 USB ports on the rear IO, four M.2 sockets and capable power delivery, all at a price that’s well below flagship options, there’s a lot to lovea bout the Z690 Aorus Pro. So long as you don’t require integrated RGB lighting or Wi-Fi 6E out of the box (you still get Wi-Fi 6), the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is an excellent Alder Lake motherboard to build your Z690 system around.
2. MSI MEG Z690I Unify
MSI’s MEG Z690I Unify comes loaded with features including three M.2 sockets, four SATA ports, the latest-generation flagship audio, Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gbps Type-C) ports and integrated Wi-Fi 6E in this diminutive package. Its only real downside is that you’ll find just six USB-A ports on the back. You get all of the above for $399.99, or about $30 more than the previous-gen version. The compact black motherboard packs a punch both with the hardware that comes with it. And in our testing, performance easily matched larger ATX boards overall.
There’s lots of competition in the Z690 Mini-ITX space, from all the major motherboard makers. But for its price the MSI MEG Z690I Unify has the most features and connectivity users are likely to look for in a small form-factor board, making it the best option for those looking to build a small but powerful 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake rig.
3. Gigabyte Aorus Z690 Tachyon
The Z690 Aorus Tachyon comes with robust power delivery that supports sub-ambient overclocking of any compatible Alder Lake CPU. The 105A SPS MOSFETs, large heatsink, and overclocking tools ensure the board doesn’t get in the way of top achievable clock speeds. And in our testing, it performed above average overall, with some of the fastest results in our new Blender benchmark, Cinebench R23 and Procyon Office, with our game tests also showing results slightly higher than average for the Z690 boards we’ve tested.
The E-ATX Aorus Tachyon has several features that make overclocking easier too, including buttons to raise/lower the CPU ratio, cooldown functionality, limp modes, multiple BIOS capability, Tantalum capacitors around the socket area (better and easier for insulating for sub-zero runs), and more.
Although this board is made for overclocking, it still does most everything else well too. From the four M.2 sockets and six SATA ports to the last-gen flagship Realtek audio solution, it comes packed with features that are useful for most any type of user. Still, those who need more than 64GB of RAM (professionals, content creators, etc), will have to look elsewhere.
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