The motherboard is the central pillar on which any PC is built, a well-deserved title, since on it we will have to connect such important components as the processor, RAM, graphics card and storage unit.

In effect, the motherboard acts as connection link of the different PC components, either totally or partially. For example, fans are not installed directly on the motherboard, but are connected to it to get the power they need, and the same goes for storage drives that use 2.5 and 3.5-inch formats.

We must not forget that, in addition, it is the motherboard that determines what components and what peripherals can we connect to our equipment. We could establish small nuances, since it is true that by adding sound cards or graphics cards we can overcome some of the limitations that a certain motherboard imposes, but in the end it is this that sets the minimum scale in terms of compatibility.

Its importance is beyond doubt. Make a mistake when choosing a motherboard can completely ruin the assembly of a PC, a problem that can come from several fronts, including from a very large motherboard that does not fit into a certain chassis or that does not support a specific CPU, and can also shape a functional but “crippled” mount.

We will understand it better with an example: a computer with an H370 motherboard and a Core i9 9900K processor. it will work without problems, but it will be “disabled” why we will not be able to take advantage of the unlocked multiplier the processor and overclock it. For this we would need a motherboard with a Z370 chipset, whose price is higher than that of the models with the H370 chipset.

As we see there are many things that we must take into account when choosing a motherboard, and that makes it end up being a very complicated decision. That is why we have decided to update our shopping guide dedicated to motherboards, an article that our readers have liked a lot and whose renewal you were asking us for a few months. Here you have it, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I write it.

Which motherboard to choose? First steps

Budget is key when choosing a motherboard, of that there is no doubt. If you have a reduced budget you will have to look for cheaper models. This will imply that you will have to give up a series of certain features, and that you will have to accept less careful aesthetics and inferior construction quality.

However, it is important to be clear that even if your budget is small It should be enough to buy a motherboard that meets the needs of the team you plan to mount, and this involves several things that must be etched in stone. The first is that you must be prepared to take optimal advantage of all the components that you are going to install. For example, if we are going to use Ryzen processors we must look for a AM4 motherboard, and if we are going to use Core 9000 processors we must get a motherboard with LGA1151 socket and 300 series chipset.

Secondly we should pay attention to the size. If we are going to use a chassis that only supports the micro-ATX format and buy an ATX motherboard we will have a problem. On the other hand, if our objective is to mount a very small team, we must get a mini-ITX motherboard. Then I leave you a summary with the formats most used today and their different sizes so that you have an exact reference.

ATX: It is the size that is considered as standard in the general consumer market and remains the most popular. It has measures of 305 x 244 mm.
Micro-ATX: Its popularity has grown substantially, since it allows to assemble compact but powerful equipment. It has measures of 244 x 244 mm.
Mini-ITX: Allows very small teams to be assembled without having to compromise on a good level of performance. It has measures of 170 x 170 mm.

There is no doubt that the motherboard represents a very important investment, and as such we must give it the value it deserves. However, when choosing we must be very clear the budget from which we started and the objectives of the assembly that we are going to carry out, since this will affect our decision.

If you plan to choose a processor with the multiplier unlocked and upload their frequencies you need to choose a motherboard that has the chipset needed to be able to overclock. In the case of AMD the B350, X370, B450, X470 and X570 chipsets allow to overclock without problems, while in the case of Intel only the «Z» series chipsets will allow us to overclock. For example, a Core i9 9900K processor should be accompanied by a Z370 chipset motherboard, while a Core i9 10900K should be mounted on a Z490 motherboard.

No need to buy a motherboard of 300 or 400 euros to enjoy a good experience, although there is also no universal rule that allows us to define the budget that we must allocate to said component in an absolute way. All in all, I like to use a fairly simple and interesting rule that hardly ever fails and that I want to share with you: the most advisable thing is, in most cases, to invest in the motherboard by at least a third, and half, at most, of what the processor we are going to use will cost us.

Imagine, for example, that you are going to ride a Ryzen 7 3700X, whose price is 299.85 euros. As well, you shouldn’t allocate more than 100-150 euros to the motherboard. With a GIGABYTE B450 Aorus Elite we would have more than enough (it costs 101.89 euros), although if we want to ensure full compatibility with the Ryzen 3900X and Ryzen 9 3950X processors, as well as with the future Ryzen 4000, and enjoy the advantages it offers the PCIE Gen4 standard with a reasonable investment we could opt for the GIGABYTE X570 UD, which costs 149.89 euros.

Exactly the same thing happens with inexpensive processors. It makes no sense to buy a processor for 50 to 100 euros and mount it on a 200-euro motherboard, unless you plan to use this configuration provisionally, that is, as a temporary platform until you can mount a processor according to that motherboard. 200 euros. Some users resort to this type of assembly “in phases”, it is not ideal, since we lose money when buying components several times in a relatively short period of time, but it is an option that must be considered.

What things will directly depend on the choice of a motherboard?

Well many, the truth, so many that we can easily understand why we have said that it is so important to take care of the choice of this component.

Below I share with you a simplified but fairly comprehensive breakdown, with all the keys that you must have clear when choosing your new motherboard:

The socket and the processors that we can use. LGA socket motherboards, in their different versions, support Intel CPUs, while AM4 socket motherboards support AMD processors and APUs.
The amount of RAM memory supported, the available slots, the type and the speed of it. A motherboard with four RAM slots is more versatile when planning future expansions.
The connectors for storage units (SATA III, M.2, etc) and for accessories. If we want to mount an M.2 PCIE SSD and choose a motherboard without such a connector we will have a problem.
The number of PCIE slots available, as well as their type and speed. It is not a contentious issue, as all current motherboards mount at least one PCIE 3.0 x16 connector.
Support advanced features, usage and security options. In this section we can find interesting functions, such as the Dual BIOS and the temperature sensors.
The quality of the power system (VRM), cooling and optimal support of certain components. Not all motherboards can optimally power the most powerful processors, nor do they have the same cooling systems applied to such important elements as the VRM or the chipset.
Compatibility with processors that support overclocking. We must bear it in mind, since mounting a processor that supports overclocking on a motherboard that does not allow taking advantage of this feature will be a serious error.
Other important aspectss, such as integrated connectivity, network and sound options. The most advanced motherboards have superior sound solutions and allow you to use advanced optimization and management tools. The same applies to network options.

Please note that not all of these elements are of equal importance. If we have a tight budget we must give priority to the general quality of the plate, and make sure it has the connectors and slots we need. It is useless to buy a very cool motherboard with LEDs if its power system cannot with the processor you are going to mount, for example.

In terms of connectivity, most current motherboards have everything we could possibly need, including connectors USB Type-C and a generous amount of ports USB Type A, so except for very specific cases you will have no problem in this regard.

A look at Intel chipsets

Although some generations of processors associated with certain chipsets have already been discontinued, we can still find a wide variety of motherboards that use versions that we can consider as “old”. For example, processors based on the Skylake architecture (Core 6000) need a motherboard with 100 series or 200 series chipset, and the same goes for the Kaby Lake (Core 7000) processors. You can enlarge the tables by clicking on them.

For their part, the most current processors based on Coffee Lake and Coffee Lake Refresh (Core 8000 and 9000 respectively) use motherboards with 300 series chipset, and the newly released Comet Lake (Core 10000) need motherboards with 400 series chipset. All, with the exception of the Core series 10, which are installed in the new LGA1200 socket, use the LGA1151 socket, but require a different chipset, as we see.

Basic level– H110 and H310 chipsets are located here. They do not support multiGPU configurations and have a low configuration of PCIE (x6) lines, which is also type 2.0 in the H110 series. This may affect the performance of M.2 NVME SSDs. However they are a good option for cheap equipment, since the graphics card will use all 16 processor lines. They do not support Intel Optane technology.
Intermediate level: Here we can locate a large number of chipsets, such as the B250, H170, H270 and H370 series. In general they improve the number of available PCIE lines, as well as the maximum number of available USB ports, the integrated SATA connectors and also introduce the support of advanced functions, such as Intel Optane and also Intel Rapid Storage Technology, among other.
High level– Z170, Z270, Z370, Z390, and Z490 series chipsets are grouped here. They support multiGPU configurations, they also increase the number of PCIE lines, as well as USB ports and SATA connectors, they maintain the presence of advanced technologies and they also have overclock support. Essential to take advantage of processors with overclock.

Remember that together with these consumer platforms we have the Intel HEDT platform, which uses the socket LGA2066 and the X299 chipset. It presents a common base that applies to all the motherboards that currently exist, since they all support overclocking and have common specifications, with the processor being the one that makes important differences on key issues, such as total PCIE lines.

A look at AMD chipsets

The motherboards currently sold by AMD cover a fairly broad set of solutions compatible with almost all of its Ryzen APUs and processors, as long as the latest BIOS available.

Ryzen 1000 processors came alongside 300 series boards with AM4 socket, but B350 and X370 motherboards have been updated to support the new Ryzen 3000, and the same goes for the B450 and X470 motherboards, which accompanied the Ryzen 2000 but work without problems with the Ryzen 3000.

Please note that the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 9 3950X require a pretty solid VRM, and that they do not have to work well on all 300 and 400 series motherboards although they are, in theory, compatible. Be very careful with this.

Basic level: it fits the A320 chipset, used in AMD’s cheapest motherboards with AM4 socket. Does not support overclocking, but it allows to use without problems graphics cards in PCIE x16 configuration and M.2 SSD drives with NVME PCIE x4 interface.
Medium level: Here they position the B350 and B450 chipsets. Both allow overclocking, support multiGPU configurations (albeit to a limited extent), and offer virtually the same key features. The only major differences are that the latter supports advanced features like Precision Boost Overdrive and Store MI. B550 chipset models are coming soon, supporting the PCIE Gen4 standard.
High level: In this position the X370, X470 and X570 chipsets are included. They support overclocking and multiGPU configurations. We found more important differences that are no longer limited to the support of Precision Boost Overdrive and Store MI, present in the X470 and X570 boards, but also extend to the support of the PCIE Gen4 standard, present only in the X570 motherboards, since it was disabled on compatible X470 models.

As in the case of Intel, I remind you that there is an AMD HEDT platform, made up of the Threadripper range of processors, which use the sTR4 and sTRX4 sockets with the X399 chipset and also have a common level of performance. The first socket is used by first and second generation Threadripper processors, and the second by third generation Threadripper processors. They have important differences that affect the PCIE lines, as well as the number of USB ports and connectors.

Which motherboard to choose? Model recommendations that are a good choice

Every guide should include a series of concrete, clear and precise recommendations. We already have a series of important notions that allow us to have clear the most important points when choosing a motherboard, and to finish this article we are going to share with you a series of models that are, for a price-performance ratio, a good buy.

Intel motherboards

MSI H310M PRO-VD Plus for 61.86 euros

LGA1151 socket.
H310 chipset, compatible with Core 8000 and Core 9000 processors.
PCIE slot with metal protection.
Up to 32 GB of 2,666 MHz DDR4 in two slots.
Micro ATX format.

GIGABYTE Z390 UD for 115.91 euros

LGA1151 socket.
Z390 chipset, compatible with Core 8000 and Core 9000 processors.
It allows overclock and SLI-CrossFire.
PCIE slot with metal protection.
Up to 64 GB of DDR4 at 4,266 MHz in four slots.
ATX format.

MSI Mag Z390 Tomahawk for € 164.90

LGA1151 socket.
Z390 chipset, compatible with Core 8000 and Core 9000 processors.
It allows overclock and SLI-CrossFire.
PCIE slot with metal protection.
Up to 64 GB of DDR4 at 4,400 MHz in four slots.
ATX format.

MSI MPG Z490 GAMING PLUS for 189.90 euros

LGA1200 socket.
Z490 chipset, compatible with Core 10000 processors.
It allows overclock and CrossFire.
PCIE slot with metal protection.
Up to 128 GB of DDR4 at 4,800 MHz in four slots.
ATX format.

MSI X299 PRO for 327.99 euros

LGA2066 socket.
X299 chipset, compatible with Core 7000 Extreme, Core 9000 Extreme and Core 10000 Extreme (HEDT) processors.
It allows overclock and SLI-CrossFire.
PCIE slots with metal protection.
Up to 256 GB of 4,200 MHz DDR4 in eight slots.
ATX format.

AMD motherboards

GIGABYTE B450 Aorus Elite for 101.89 euros

Socket AM4, compatible with Ryzen 1000, 2000 and 3000 processors.
B450 chipset, supports overclocking.
Up to 64 GB of 3,600 MHz DDR4 in four slots.
Support of multiGPU configurations in CrossFire.
ATX format.

GIGABYTE X570 UD for 149.89 euros

Socket AM4, compatible with Ryzen 2000 and 3000 processors (Zen + and Zen 2).
X570 chipset, supports overclocking.
Up to 128 GB of DDR4 at 4,000 MHz in four slots.
Support of multiGPU configurations in CrossFire.
PCIE slot with metal protection.
Supports PCIE Gen4.
ATX format.

ASUS Prime X570-P for 196.70 euros

Socket AM4, compatible with Ryzen 2000 and 3000 processors (Zen + and Zen 2), and first generation Ryzen APUs.
X570 chipset, supports overclocking.
Up to 128 GB of 4,400 MHz DDR4 in four slots.
Support of multiGPU configurations in CrossFire.
PCIE slot with metal protection.
Supports PCIE Gen4.
ATX format.

ASUS Rog Strix X399-E Gaming by 381.90 euros

STR4 socket, compatible with Threadripper 1000 and 2000 processors.
X399 chipset, supports overclocking.
Up to 128 GB of 3,600 MHz DDR4 in eight slots.
PCIE slots with metal protection.
MultiGPU configuration support with up to three graphics cards (NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire).
ATX format.

ASUS ROG Strix TRX40-E Gaming (reconditioned) for 412.55 euros

STRX4 socket, compatible with Threadripper 3000 processors.
X399 chipset, supports overclocking.
Up to 256 GB of 4,600 MHz DDR4 in eight slots.
PCIE slots with metal protection.
MultiGPU configuration support with up to two graphics cards (NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire).
Supports PCIE Gen4.
ATX format.


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