General information on motherboards
Often overlooked, the motherboard is one of the most important components of a computer. Many buyers focus only on the performance of their machine (processor, graphics card) but are not aware of the role that the motherboard plays, particularly with regard to the stability and scalability of the machine. In this comparison of motherboards, we first give important information for the choice of a motherboard before advising models classified by socket and budget.
The main element of a motherboard is what is called the chipset: its role is to interconnect the different components (processor, memory, graphics card, etc.) via the northbridge and extension cards (sound card, USB …) with the southbridge. The main manufacturers of chipsets are now only INTEL and AMD. When choosing a motherboard, you must first choose the chipset because it is it that determines the choice of processor and memory. Its role is also determining in the performances even if it is not an essential point for the buyer: in fact, the performance gain brought by the best chips does not exceed a few percent. On the other hand, two very important points are often too neglected: the stability and the scalability of the system which are points not taken into account in branded PCs that are found in supermarkets (for cost reasons). However, you should be aware that the quality of the memory also has a big role in the stability of the machine, especially with demanding chipsets which will tend to “crash” (blue screens) if the memory is too poor. The chipset also plays a very important role with regard to the possibilities of overclocking of a PC (read this article).
Equipment. The possibilities of expansion as well as the integrated elements are also to be monitored when buying a motherboard. Recent motherboards in ATX format generally have PCI-Express x1 ports and PCI-Express 16x ports (for graphics cards). The number of USB3 ports, SATA, M.2 ports. are also to be checked, as well as the integrated sound card (of variable quality) and the network card (s). On high-end motherboards, there is sometimes a WiFi chip.
Trademarks. The motherboard market is held by many manufacturers, including Asustek, Asrock, MSI, Gigabyte, DFI, Foxconn, Abit, INTEL, XFX, ECS or even eVGA to name the best known on the retail components market. The motherboards from manufacturers Asustek, MSI, Asrock and Gigabyte are certainly the most famous. Generally it is those of these manufacturers that we will advise you. Remember that the main thing in a motherboard is the quality of its chipset, so Gigabyte or MSI motherboards with the same chipset will ultimately be very close in terms of performance, equipment or even price.
To simplify your task, we have chosen the best models of motherboards classified by budget. We have selected motherboard models for Intel processors and for AMD processors (read this guide for the choice of processor) or read reviews on https://yourselfideal.com/. Our motherboard choices mainly concern ATX format cards, if you need a microATX card (for the smallest boxes), ask for help on our forum.
Buying guide: our selection of motherboards
The best motherboard models in the three main categories defined above are presented below, for each model an image of the card and a link to the store and the cheapest brand on the net is automatically presented. You can also use our motherboard price comparison which references most serious merchants on the net. If you have any doubts about your purchase, ask advice from the specialists in our forum who can advise you on a model suited to your uses.
We often receive letters asking us for the best shops to buy on the Internet. We do not pretend to know them all but we particularly recommend the following four online stores: LDLC , Materiel.net , Topchat and Amazon (for the number of references and the quality of service). The RueduCommerce and Grosbill sites are also highly recommended for buying a motherboard.
Mid-range (less than $100)
In this budget we find motherboards equipped with entry-level and mid-range chipsets. These motherboards are sometimes very slightly less efficient, less well equipped (fewer USB ports, Sata, M2, no Wifi, etc.) and have more limited overclocking capacities. This type of motherboard is however perfectly suited for mounting a PC intended for office automation, multimedia or a low-cost gaming PC .
The Coffee Lake processors (8th and 9th generation Core i3 9100 i5 9400, 9700K …) on socket LGA 1151 are incompatible with the motherboard series 100 and 200 (B250, H270 and Z270 …), it is imperative mother socket map H310, B360 or Z370 (allows overclocking of K processors). We recommend the ASUS PRIME B360M-A and the ASUS PRIME B360M-K which only has 2 memory slots. These motherboards have everything you need for very fair prices.
ASUS PRIME B360M-A (ASUS) motherboard
For AMD Ryzen processors (AM4 socket motherboards) , we recommend the MSI B450M PRO-M2 MAX for its very low price (µATX, 2 memory slots) and the MSI B450-A PRO MAX in ATX format which is perfectly equipped.
In this price category, there are excellent motherboards sold around 100 euros. Exceeding 150 euros for a motherboard is rarely interesting except for very demanding users who need overclocking capacity or specialized equipment (Wifi, many SATA ports, M2, etc.).
For Coffee Lake processors (8th and 9th generation) on LGA 1151 socket , you absolutely need a compatible card with a 300 series chipset. We appreciate the ASUS PRIME Z390M-PLUS . The Z390 chipset is almost identical to the Z370 except that it natively supports USB 3.1. We can cite the following high-end motherboards: the MSI Z390-A PRO and the MSI MPG Z390 GAMING EDGE AC (which is very complete, it allows SLI and has integrated WiFi).
MSI MPG Z390 GAMING EDGE AC (MSI) motherboard
For AMD Ryzen processors (AM4 socket) , we recommend the ASUS TUF B450-PLUS GAMING as well as the Gigabyte X470 AORUS GAMING 5 WIFI . Please note, an update of the bios is necessary to run the Ryzen 3000 processors on B450 or X470 motherboards. X570 motherboards do not have this problem but unfortunately they are sold very expensive (while they do nothing compared to X470 motherboards). These include the ASRock X570M Pro4 and the ASUS PRIME X570-PRO.
-PLUS GAMING (ASUS) motherboard
ASUS PRIME X570-PRO (ASUS) motherboard
Intel socket 2066 motherboards are very expensive, they are suitable for Skylake-X and Kaby-Lake-X processors. The ASRock X299M Steel Legend is sold at a “reasonable” price, we also recommend the MSI X299 PRO .