While not as exciting as the best processors or graphics cards, the best motherboards arguably carry more weight than any other component in your system. Not only do they serve as the backbone of your PC, but the best motherboards also feature the latest technologies behind all of the best PCs. These features will help your computer reach its full potential by fully utilizing your hardware. They can even give your CPU more overclocking headroom, further expanding your potential performance.
However, because of the vital importance the best motherboards carry, it’s absolutely necessary to ensure you get one that will last. If you try to cut corners and pick up an unreliable motherboard it may eventually fail, and when that happens you’ll have to deal with the literal nightmare of having to replace it. To replace a malfunctioning motherboard, you’ll have to pull your entire PC apart and rebuild it from scratch – it’s not like upgrading to the best graphics card. At the end of the day, you should do yourself a favor and get one of the best motherboards today, so you won’t have to replace it tomorrow.
Luckily, if you pick up a new Coffee Lake CPU you’ll no longer be stuck with the expensive Z370 chipset, as Intel has announced the much cheaper H370, H310, Q370 and B360 chipsets. As such, you won’t have to empty your savings to buy a Coffee-Lake compatible motherboard anymore.
That’s why we created this list to help you find the best motherboard for your needs in 2018. Every single motherboard here has been tested by the TechRadar editorial staff and has earned our seal of approval. Not only will the motherboards on this list do everything you need them to do and more, they are built to last. And, considering how many different kinds of motherboards are out there, it’s important to know exactly what to look for.
If money isn’t an issue, the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 from Gigabyte literally shines. Packed with more RGB lighting than you can shake a stick at, its the best way to celebrate Intel’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake Processors in an ATX tower case. It’s also an overclocking champion – its only limits are the restraints of your other components. You can reasonably expect upwards of 5GHz consistently with this motherboard. We’re not joking.
You don’t need to break the bank to get your computer off on the right footing. This board from MSI is a great, inexpensive solution. It’s limited in options for future expansions, so it’s ideal for a one-and-done build. Since it’s a gaming motherboard it has support for things like “Mystic Light Sync,” which lets you synchronize all your RGB lighting with a single click.
This Micro ATX motherboard from ASRock packs a lot of features onto a smaller form factor. You lose out on the possibility of extra PCIe slots, but there are 4 memory slots to upgrade to a maximum 64GB DDR4 RAM. It also has support for on-board graphics, so if you’re building a computer piecemeal, you can still use it before buying a dedicated graphics card.
The best Intel Mini-ITX motherboard on this list kicks things off by being one of the best Z370 motherboards you can buy today. Featuring the chipset behind Intel’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors, the Asus ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming will support everything from the Core i7-8700K all the way down to the Core i3-8100. While it may lack support for Nvidia SLI and AMD Crossfire, it does ship with an included Asus 2 x 2 Wi-Fi adapter.
With the X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi, Gigabyte further illustrates its mastery of motherboard design. Rocking the new AMD X470 chipset, allowing full support of the new AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation processors, this is the best motherboard if you’re looking to side with Team Red. What’s more, it supports Quad-GPU SLI and extremely fast RAM (up to 3,600 MHz) for peerless expandability, and thanks to its multi-zone RGB lighting, it looks good while it does it.
For years, AMD has been the reigning champion of budget builds, and in 2018 that doesn’t seem to be changing. Marketed exclusively to gamers, the MSI X470 Gaming Plus is loaded front to back with features like 2 PCIe M.2 slots and quick performance tweaking buttons to make sure you’re on top of the game at all times. And, since it’s a gaming-centric motherboard, you can expect it to have all kinds of flashy RGB lighting that you can even customise from your smartphone.
If you want to get where you need to go, and you don’t care about things like fancy RGB lighting or eye-catching, futuristic-looking heat dissipators, the AB350M Pro4 is the motherboard for you. In spite of its plain-Jane looks and no-frills aesthetic, this is a solid motherboard with plenty of room to expand and grow with your computer needs.
Big things come in small packages – a fact that ASUS aims to prove with the ROG Strix X470-I. Supporting the latest AMD chipset, everything in this tiny board is designed with performance in mind. Even down to the BIOS, where you can find a stress-test for overclocks before you boot into Windows. This board even elevates beyond the constraints of the Mini-ITX form factor by including a M.2 Audio Combo riser, so that you can install your M.2 NVMe drive without getting in the way of other components.
The X-series processors are here and they’re spectacular, so if you want to take advantage of all they have to offer, you need an X-series motherboard. This ASRock X299 is an excellent choice, with support for overclocked memory speeds up to 4400MHz(!!!) and 8 different slots for memory modules. It also supports up to 128GB of RAM, so with an X-series processor and a good graphics card (or 3…) this thing will absolutely tear apart anything you throw at it.
If you’re the type of builder with lots of cash to burn and an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ build-method, this Ryzen Threadripper board is certainly for you. It supports 4-way SLI or Crossfire configurations, so you can just empty your bank account in the name of PC glory. All that graphical horsepower can be supported by as much as 128GB DDR4 memory, and it even features some flashy RGB lighting to let everyone know what they’re looking at.
Coming to terms
If you’re unfamiliar about what makes the best motherboards, well, the best, we would like to include a bit of a primer for anyone who might not know what to look for. Motherboards are available in a range of different form factors, most commonly ATX and micro ATX. However there are plenty of more esoteric form factors including the recent mini ITX. Don’t worry though, because most of the time PC cases will support one or both of these form factors.
Moreover, in our rundown of the best motherboards, we detailed the socket type that each mobo adheres to. For those not in the know, the socket is the part on the motherboard that the CPU locks into. Typically, newer Intel processors use either LGA 1151 or 2066 while the latest AMD Ryzen architecture is designed for the AM4 chipset.
Next up, these are the best gaming monitors you can buy this year