What Should You Consider Before Buying A Gaming Motherboard?

By Jerry |
A custom Gaming PC offers much-needed flexibility to the user – a feature that’s often missing in pre-built rigs. Whether you want a powerful machine to run the latest games at the highest quality settings or a reliable PC that you can use for competitive games, there’s sure to be a combination of components that will suit your requirements perfectly.

However, before you start building your PC, you need to get your components in order. The plethora of choices out there can make this extremely tricky for first-time PC builders. In this guide, we’ll talk about choosing the best motherboard for your gaming PC.

Not only does the motherboard you choose need to support all your hardware and various components but it should also fit into your PC case.
 

Things You Need to know Before Settling on a Motherboard

Before you decide on the motherboard you're going to buy for your PC, you need to consider a few factors:

Which Chipset is Right for You?

If you own an Intel CPU, or plan to use one, then you have to go for motherboards featuring a compatible Intel chipset. Similarly, you'd use an AMD CPU with a motherboard housing a compatible AMD chipset.

In this guide, we'll talk about Intel motherboards and the various chipsets on offer. Moreover, our recommendations are based on the assumption that you're looking to build a PC with one of Intel's latest 9th generation unlocked CPUs. These CPUs can be identified easily by their product name; all unlocked Intel CPUs end with the letter ‘K.’ This means that the cores on a ‘K’ or unlocked CPU allow overclocking for better performance.

Most power users and gamers will find that a motherboard with an Intel Z390 chipset gives them the features, the quality, as well as the functionality they need to make full use of their hardware.
 

*Note – If you plan on buying a locked Intel CPU, you can also choose from MSI's array of H370, B360, and H310 motherboards. Find them all in Best of the Best Motherboards; set the filters to suit your requirements, and you're good to go!

PC Gaming Case Compatibility: E-ATX, ATX, M-ATX, or Mini-ITX?

There's no point of getting the best motherboard on the market if it won’t fit into the cabinet you have. Like Gaming PC cases, motherboards also come in a variety of sizes to accommodate the needs of all types of users.

The most common motherboard form factors, from largest to smallest, are E-ATX (Extended ATX), ATX, M-ATX (Mini ATX), and Mini-ITX.

If you want to know more about the sizes of PC cabinets and the motherboards that they support, go through How to choose gaming PC case guide, It'll help you decide on both the cabinet and motherboard sizes that are best suited to your requirements.
 

Choosing Your Motherboard: What Type of Gamer Are You?

There are many types of gamers, and just as many types of PC builds. Nonetheless, we can still classify most gamers into 3 broad categories:

Enthusiasts/Extreme

These gamers thrive on pushing to high frame rates, often at high resolutions. Typically, they'll have a various of peripherals and expansion devices to connect, a top-end GPU, and will need the best motherboard out there to meet their requirements. If you've always preferred having the fastest, most powerful hardware available on the market, chances are, you fit right into this category of gamers.

Our Recommendation: The MEG Z390 GODLIKE from MSI comes with everything that you'll need – from gorgeous RGB lighting to multiple M.2 SSD slots plus M.2 Shield Frozr for better preventing throttling and more efficient overclocking. Since enthusiasts will, more often than not, prefer to extract the most out of their CPUs, an MSI Z390 motherboards paired with an Intel Core i9 CPU makes the most sense. This motherboard designed with E-ATX form factor. Please consult your cabinet specifications to confirm compatibility.
 

Professionals/Performance

Gamers who want an immersive gaming experience in the latest gaming titles prefer having access to the latest features. They might not need a motherboard with as many expansion capabilities as Enthusiast gamers do, but they still demand the very best performance as well as uniqueness from their gaming PCs. If you regularly play games, especially using high-refresh rate monitors, and hate to see lag or stutter interrupt your gaming sessions, you’ll fit into this category of gamers.

Our Recommendation: The MEG Z390 ACE offers access to a host of premium capabilities and is a perfect companion for an unlocked 9th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU. It supports more efficient overclocking thanks to improved thermal designs and power delivery. This should ensure that you can extract the performance you need to enjoy the latest games without a hitch. Like the GODLIKE we recommended above, the ACE also boasts compatibility with extra RGB lighting strips as well as various other RGB components.
 

Mainstream/Reliability

Mainstream gamers prefer a gaming experience built on a system that delivers real value for money. Although their budget might limit them, a mainstream gamer wants to grab the best bang-for-buck hardware. An unlocked Intel CPU can offer a bit more performance with some overclocking and tweaking, and is thus, an ideal choice for these gamers too.

If you usually equip your PC with the best mid-range graphics cards (RX 580 and above/GTX 1660 and above) and want to enjoy the most FPS you can get out of value-for-money hardware, then the recommended motherboard and CPU for this category of gamers will be perfect for you.

Our Recommendation: Our MPG Z390 GAMING EDGE AC motherboard is an excellent value buy for those planning to buy an unlocked Intel Core i5 processor. While the Z390 chipset will allow you to overclock to your heart’s content, the motherboard's expansion capabilities and features will make your life easier when connecting other components and using your PC.
 

Other Components: What Else Do You Need to Build Your Gaming PC?

In addition to the motherboard, you'll need a few more parts to complete your custom PC. We've prepared a short checklist for you to gather all your components before you start building your PC. The things you need to keep in mind before buying each specific part are also listed below –
  • Processor/CPU: Socket type, locked/unlocked cores, performance benchmarks
  • Graphics Card: Graphics performance, benchmarks of games you play regularly, graphics card length compatibility with case
  • Memory/RAM: Memory clocks, timings, dual channel DIMMs
  • Motherboard/Mainboard: Socket and chipset compatibility, form-factor, expansion slots, heatshields
  • CPU Cooler: Socket compatibility, cooling performance, cooler height (or clearance) compatibility with the cabinet.
  • Secondary Storage Devices (SSDs and/or HDDs): Speeds. We recommend opting for SSDs instead of HDDs due to faster load times and responsiveness.
  • Power Supply Unit/PSU: Wattage, power efficiency rating.
  • Case/Cabinet: Motherboard form-factor compatibility, graphics card length compatibility, CPU cooler height compatibility, case fan compatibility.
  • Extra Case Fans (if needed): size, case compatibility, RGB (if any) compatibility.
  • Gaming Monitor: Resolution, size, refresh rate, response time, adaptive sync technology support.
  • Other Essential Peripherals (Mouse, Keyboard)
Buying a power supply unit can be tricky as people are often left guessing how much wattage their PC will need. Our Power Supply Calculator will make your life easier by figuring out the minimum wattage your Gaming PC will need.

Do you have more questions about building a PC? We have an in-depth PC-building guide (both video and text format) to help you get started!
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