The best motherboard: Best Motherboards 2022 for Gaming, by Socket and Chipset

How to Buy a Motherboard: Chipset, Socket & Form Factor Explained

Choosing the best motherboard is in many ways the most integral part of your PC build, although choosing the best graphics card and best CPU often get more attention. Every part of your PC plugs into the motherboard you choose. Its form factor dictates the size of your computer and how much you can plug into it, and the chipset / CPU socket define what kind of processor you can install.

Motherboards (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Motherboards—particularly high-end models—are often made up of a confusing collection of features, and can range in price from sub-$60 (£50) budget boards to as much as $1,000 or more. We’re here to help untangle the complexities and make sure you pick the right model for your needs, without blowing too much of your build budget for other parts.

Speaking build budgets, if you’re looking to save some money while shopping , you should check out our feature about the eight features you probably don’t need on a motherboard.

And if you’re after a brand-new board from Intel’s new Z590 or AMD’s X570 linuep, note that motherboard prices for both platforms have increased over previous generations, at least in part due to support for PCIe 4.0. Just note that while AMD’s B550 boards support PCIe 4.0 now with a Zen 2/3-based processor, the Intel Z490 boards that list PCIe 4.0 support (and all new Z590 boards) will only activate that support when paired with a next-generation Rocket Lake-S CPU. Those processors aren’t quite here yet, but should arrive in the next few months.


  • Get the right socket for your CPU: You can find great CPUs from either Intel or AMD, but whatever CPU you buy, make sure that your board has the correct socket to support it. The latest mainstream AMD chips use AM4 sockets while current Intel 10th and upcoming 11th Gen Core CPUs work in LGA 1200 sockets.
  • Smaller boards = fewer slots and features. Motherboards come in three main sizes, from largest to smallest: ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX (Yes, Mini is smaller than Micro). You can use a smaller chassis with the micro or mini boards, but you’ll have to settle for fewer PCIe slots, RAM slots and other connectors.
  • You can spend under $150: You can often find a decent motherboard for less than $150. But if you want to overclock an Intel chip, you want PCIe 4.0 or you need a lot of ports, you will have to spend more, often more than $200. High-end desktop chips like AMD Threadripper require expensive $200-plus motherboards.
  • Pay for built-in Wi-Fi, high-end ports only if you need them. Don’t spend extra for wireless if you are using a wired connection. You can futureproof your PC by getting USB 3.1 Gen 2 and / or Thunderbolt 3 support, as well as PCIe 4.0.

The Basics: Chipsets, Board Size, Connectors & Ports

If you’re after a refresher on motherboard basics, including the differences between chipsets, motherboard sizes, connector and port features, and RAM slots, you can find them in our Motherboard Basics feature. There we dive deep into the complexities of board design and features, so you’ll know exactly what to look for (or ignore) when shopping for a motherboard.


How much can you spend on a motherboard?

Prices range from below $50 (£40) on the low-end to above $1000 (£772) for premium boards that support HEDT (High-End Desktop) chips like Core X and Threadripper. Here’s roughly what you get at each price range:

  • Up to $100/£80: You can get overclockable boards for AMD chips (even with the premium, last-generation X370 chipset) in this range. But with Intel, you’re stuck with stock speeds (though that may change with Intel’s upcoming B560 and H570 boards). Depending on sale prices, you can get a host of features, including onboard Wi-Fi, although Wi-Fi-equipped boards usually start above $80/£60.
  • Sub $150/£140: Boards with Intel’s Z490 and chipset, which you’ll need for overclocking, start at the low end of this range. You also start to see more AMD boards with higher-end chipsets (X570) and premium features such as RGB lights lights and Wi-Fi. Note that, when we wrote this, pricing for the full range of Intel’s latest Z590 motherboards was still very much up in the air.
  • Sub $200/£180: As you start to climb into the premium tier, you’ll see more RGB lights, beefier heatsinks and better power phases and VRMs (voltage regulation modules)—which are important for competitive overclocking. You’ll also find a better selection of ports at this level, including a greater number of USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 2 connectors. The bulk of Intel’s  Z490 boards also start in this range, right around or above $150.

Also in this price tier, you’ll find HEDT motherboards for CPUs with very high core counts (Intel Core X and AMD Threadripper). Threadripper boards in particular start at around $300 (£250).

What CPU are you using with your motherboard?

The CPU you’re planning on pairing with your board will narrow down your options, since the CPU socket on a given motherboard will only work with the chip line it was designed for.

For instance, if you’re buying an Intel 10th or 11th Generation Core processor, you’ll need a board with an LGA 1200 socket. Older 9th Generation processors need boards with an LGA 1151 socket. AMD makes this process a bit less confusing because (for now at least) the company uses the same AM4 socket for all of its mainstream current-gen chips, from Athlons all the way up to 16-core Ryzen 9 parts, although you may run into complications installing newer CPUs on previous-generation motherboards. Intel, on the other hand, has a tendency in recent years to switch sockets (or at least socket compatibility) from one generation to the next, although that’s not the case this generation, with Socket 1200 sticking around for two generations.

For the true high-end, both Intel (LGA 2066) and AMD (TR4) have different sockets to accommodate the larger size and power draw of their Core X and Threadripper processors. For more on processor considerations, see our CPU Buying Guide.

Sockets Enthusiast/Mainstream HEDT
Intel LGA 1200 LGA 2066

What size motherboard do you want?

We’ve covered this in detail in our Motherboard Diagram feature. But most modern motherboards come in three sizes.

  • ATX is the de facto standard and offers the most space for plugs and slots.
  • Micro-ATX is 2.4-inches shorter, which means less room for expansion slots.
  • Mini-ITX can make for a tiny PC, but you’ll usually only have room for one add-in card (like a graphics card), and fewer connectors for storage and RAM.

What ports do you need?

It’s always important to check the I/O area on a motherboard to make sure it has the external connection options you’re after, but also check for USB headers on the motherboard. These will let you add more ports via front-panel connection on your PC case, or via inexpensive expansion slot brackets at the back.

Here’s a list of common ports, and our take on each:

  • USB 3 / USB 3.1 Gen1: You can never have too many of these, because they work with most peripherals.
  • USB 2: Slower than USB 3 / 3.1, but more than adequate for keyboards, mice and many other devices.
  • USB 3.1/3.2 Gen2: Not many peripherals take advantage of this standard yet, but it delivers 10 Gbps of bandwidth, which is double what you get with USB 3.1 Gen 1 / USB 3.0. USB 3.2 Gen2 2×2 doubles that bandwidth again, with two 10 Gbps lanes. You’ll often only find one of these ports on mid- and high-end boards.
  • USB Type-C: These ports could be either USB 3.1 Gen1 or USB 3.1 Gen2 compatible and are designed for newer devices such as phones. A few are also just USB 2.0, and often get labeled as Audio USB-C ports, aimed at connecting USB-C headsets.
  • HDMI / DisplayPort Video out: You only need these if you plan to use integrated graphics. Discrete cards have their own ports.
  • Audio ports: Important if you plan to connect analog speakers or headphones.
  • PS/2 ports: Give you compatibility with really old keyboards and mice.
  • Thunderbolt: Very rare to find this built into motherboards, but some boards support it through dedicated add-on cards. Provides the fastest possible connections, up to 40 Gbps.

While you may not need many USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Type-C ports today, they are good ways to future-proof your PC.

How many RAM slots do you need?

Most mainstream boards these days have four RAM slots, although compact Mini-ITX models often have just two, and high-end HEDT boards (like the one pictured below) frequently offer eight. The amount of slots of course limits the amount of RAM you can install.

But for mainstream tasks and games, 16GB is sufficient and 32GB is ample. And even with just two slots, you can install as much as 64GB of RAM. Note, though, that you will often pay a premium for denser 64 and 32GB kit that uses two sticks, rather than a kit that’s spread across four sticks.

What expansion slots do you need?

You’re most likely to come across just two types these days: the short PCIe x1 shot (often used for things like USB and SATA expansion), and the longer PCIe x16 slot (used for graphics cards, RAID cards, and extremely fast PCIe storage like Intel’s Optane 905 SSD). If you’re just planning on installing a single graphics card, a couple of SATA/M.2 drives, and perhaps a video capture or sound card, you should be fine with most ATX or Micro-ATX boards, which offer at least one x16 slot and one or two x1 slots.

But note that recent X570 and B550 as well as upcoming Intel Rocket Lake-S boards (and, confusingly, some previous-generation Z490 boards) also support PCIe 4.0 rather than the 3.0 that’s been standard for the past several years. PCIe 4.0 technically doubles the available bandwidth of every PCIe lane. But outside of PCIe 4.0 SSDs, most devices haven’t taken major advantage of PCIe 4.0 yet. So think of it as some future-proofing on your board.

However, figuring out how many drives and cards you can install is tricky, because no matter how many physical slots you have, there’s a limited number of HSIO (high-speed input/output) lanes and PCIe lanes that all of your components must share. We could spend 3,000 words trying to explain how these lanes work, but the bottom line is that many mainstream motherboards compensate for bandwidth limitations by switching some connections off when you install hardware in specific slots.

For example, adding a PCIe M.2 drive may disable some SATA ports, or installing a card in a third PCIe slot may disable a second (or third) M.2 slot, etc. These issues vary greatly by motherboard model, so you’ll need to consult online manuals before buying—especially if you’re planning on loading up your board with lots of components.

That said, if you are planning on plugging lots of drives and cards into your PC, it’s worth considering one of the high-end HEDT platforms, as they have more PCIe lanes to work with. All of AMD’s Threadripper processors have 64 lanes (60 from the CPU, 4 from the chipset), while Intel’s competing Core X platform provides up to 44 lanes, depending on the CPU, and up to 24 more from the chipset. So if you’re planning on plugging, for instance, multiple graphics cards and a RAID array of PCIe/NVMe storage, or other bandwidth-hungry hardware into your system, these higher-end platforms are definitely the way to go.

Which chipset should you get?

Your CPU choice will dictate your compatible chipset options, and if you opt for the highest-end consumer Intel or AMD chips (Core X or Threadripper), you’ll only have one choice (X299 for Intel or X399 for AMD). But for mainstream users who just want to install a single graphics card and a few drives, you can often get the features you’re after by opting for a chipset below Intel’s Z590 or X570 for AMD.

Previously, if you chose, say, an h570,  B460, or h510 board on the Intel side, you’d lose the option to overclock, though only a handful of mainstream Intel chips are unlocked for overclocking anyway (those with product names that end in the letter “K”). But that looks to be changing with upcoming Intel 500-series boards. Stay tuned to our motherboard reviews for more info there as we get to test a new round of mainstream Intel boards.

On the AMD side, the B550/X570 (as well as older B450, B350 and B300) chipsets still support overclocking. Although you will lose some fast USB and SATA ports and PCIe lanes over the X570 chipset, enough of those connectivity options remain to support most mainstream computing tasks. If you need more ports and drives, stepping up to an X570 board is worth the money, especially considering that many higher-priced B550 boars are just as (if not more) expensive than many X570 offerings.

Do you plan to overclock?

As we noted in the chipset section above, if you plan to overlock on the Intel side, for older boards, you’ll need to opt for a Z490 chipset and a CPU with a “K” in its model name (like the Core i7-8700K), or step up to the high-end X299 platform and a Skylake X chip. It looks like lesser Intel 500 series boards will also make overclocking possible, though you’ll still need an unlocked «K» processor. On the AMD side, things are a lot simpler, with nearly all current-generation Ryzen chips supporting overclocking, and all but the lowest-end chipsets (A320 and A300) supporting overclocking as well.

But that doesn’t mean that mainstream users should overclock their processors. As we said in our CPU Buying Guide, in order to make your CPU achieve higher clock speeds than it’s rated for out of the box, you’ll likely spend extra on an enhanced cooling system and a high-end motherboard. By the time you factor in all these extra costs, you may be better off budgeting another $50-$100 (£40-80) for a CPU that comes with higher clock speeds out of the box.

Now, if you already have a top-of-the-line chip and want to push it even further, or you just enjoy the challenge, by all means, spend the extra money and time to squeeze out that extra speed.

What about audio?

Unless you’re a serious audiophile, you happen to get faulty hardware, or you opt for the lowest-end motherboard possible while still expecting exquisite sound, you should get by with on-board audio these days just fine.

Motherboard audio quality is primarily defined by the audio codec (aka the audio processing chip) a given board uses. So, if you’re a stickler for sound quality, you can look up the codec a given board uses before buying and see if it’s a mid-range or high-end model. Alternatively, you can, of course, still opt for a dedicated sound card, or USB speakers that move the DAC (digital-to-analog converter) hardware outside of the PC altogether, like the Audioengine A2+ .

Given the sheer number of features that board makers sometimes slap on motherboards—particularly high-end models—it’s impossible to discuss them all. But here are a few to keep an eye on:

  • On-board on/off switches: These can be handy in the initial build process, or if your system is being housed in an open case for benchmarking/component testing. But for the average user, on-board buttons (which sometimes also include buttons to clear the CMOS or do basic overclocking) aren’t necessary.
  • LED diagnostic readouts: The tiny speaker that plugs into motherboard headers to provide diagnostic beeps when something goes wrong is going the way of the dodo. In its place, many mid-to-high-end boards now include a two-or-three-digit display for the same purpose, giving you an alpha-numeric code when something goes wrong. This can be a real help when building a PC or upgrading and you either forget to plug something in, something isn’t seated properly, or one of your components turns out to be faulty.
  • Wi-Fi Card: If you don’t have Ethernet near your computer, you want this. And if you plan on keeping your PC around for years to come, look into a board with Wi-Fi 6. 
  • Dual Ethernet ports: A single Gigabit Ethernet port has plenty of bandwidth for Internet traffic, so this is helpful mainly if you plan to use the computer as a server and the board can aggregate the two connections into one. For those with heavy-duty wired network needs, look for a board with 2.5Gb or 10Gb Ethernet.

For more on what features you don’t need, see our 8 Motherboard Features You Probably Don’t Need.

How important are aesthetics to you?

If the only time you’re going to see your system’s innards is when it’s powered down with the side panel off, there’s no reason to opt for RGB lights or flashy I/O covers and heatsinks. However, if your case has a window, you should get a board that you like looking at—with lights if you like them.

Just keep in mind that, particularly if you’re a novice builder, a dark motherboard can make building or updating your system more difficult, as on-board labels will be harder to see. Also, if you are building a system that you want to look as clean as possible (that is, with few visible wires snaking around the motherboard), look for a board with its fan and USB headers placed around the edges, and SATA and USB 3 header ports that point to the side, rather than sticking up vertically. This will make accomplishing a clean build much easier.

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: All Motherboard Content

MORE: How to Sell Your Used PC Components

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After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.


Buyer’s Guides


A Diagram (and Explanation) of Motherboard Parts and Their Functions

If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking at, motherboards—particularly high-end models—can look more like the Transformers’ home world of Cybertron than something you might plug your drives, CPU, and graphics cards into. And with dozens of models available for most platforms, unless you’re up on all the lingo and the latest tech, it can be tough to know where to start.

Below we’ll diagram most of the major ports, headers, and slots common on today’s motherboards, followed by some helpful basics about expansion slots, RAM, and motherboard form factors. For more detailed advice, check out our motherboard buying guide.

Motherboard Diagram

Let’s take a look at a typical higher level motherboard for an example of connector and port types. We chose the Asus Prime X470-Pro for its inclusion of many modern motherboard features, and its contrasting color design, which makes it easier to see smaller board components.

1. CPU socket 2. Chipset 3. DIMM/RAM slots
4. PCIe x16 slot 5. PCI x1 slot 6. M.2 connector
7. SATA ports 8. Front panel connectors 9. USB 2. header
10. USB 3.1 Gen1 header 11. USB 3.1 Gen2 header 12. ATX power connector
13. CPU power connector 14. BIOS chips 15. CMOS battery
16. Fan headers 17. Front panel header 18. VRM heatsink
19. COM/Serial header 20. TPM header 21. RGB header

Above we’ve illustrated many of the common motherboard port and connector types. Of course, not all boards feature all types, and things like fan headers, M.2 connectors, and the BIOS battery will be located in different spots on different boards.

Also note that the M.2 connector (#6 in our diagram above) may have up to four PCIe 3.0 or 2.0 lanes feeding to it. Today’s fastest NVMe drives utilize four PCIe lanes for maximum speed, but some (like MyDigitalSSD’s SBX drives) use just two lanes to hit lower price points while still being much faster than SATA drives.

Alternatively, an M.2 slot may only connect to SATA lanes/drives, or it may support both SATA and NVMe/PCIe drives. So be sure to check what the board’s M.2 connectors are capable of before buying a drive. For more about fast storage, be sure to check out our SSD buying guide.

Expansion Slots

These days, most motherboards feature just two slot types: the long PCIe x16 and the short PCIe x1 slot. You may occasionally see an x4 slot (which sits between those two in length, but they’re pretty rare. And since you can install an x4 or an x1 card into an x16 slot, x4 slots aren’t all that useful unless you’re holding on to an old expansion card (that somehow has modern drivers) and you want to use your x16 slots for graphics cards.

Note that some PCIe slots may be wired for fewer lanes than the slot length suggests, or have some lanes disabled depending on what other slots or fast drives are installed. Also know that slot arrangement/spacing is key if installing more than one or two expansion cards. In the image above, if you install a gaming graphics card (the vast majority of which are at least two slots tall) in either of the two x16 slots, the shorter x1 slots below them will be blocked. So while there are six slots on the board here, if you install two graphics cards, you’ll have just two accessible slots to add other cards.

If you are planning on installing lots of expansion cards, you’ll want to opt for an ATX motherboard (if not an E-ATX model), as smaller form factors have less room for slots (as well as other features that take up lots of PCB space). Even if a smaller board has all the slots and ports you need now, it’s good to have some left over for future upgrades.

Lastly, a note about metal-wrapped PCIe slots: These are increasingly common in high-end and even mainstream boards. The idea is that they provide more support for large graphics cards, to keep the plastic slot from cracking or outright breaking under the weight of heavy cards. We have seen slots break before—usually when large cards are installed in a system that’s been shipped across the country. But unless you are going to ship your system, or plan to cart it to LAN parties and you have a very big, heavy card, metal slots are more for show than a necessity.


Mini-ITX motherboards are usually limited to two RAM slots due to board space constraints. Some low-end chipsets are also limited to two slots, because only one DIMM per channel is supported. If you need more, you’ll need to opt for a board with at least four DIMM slots. Many boards based around high-end chipsets (X399/Threadripper for AMD and X299/Core X for Intel) have eight slots (and support quad-channel memory for more bandwidth).

That said, for most mainstream tasks (including gaming) 16GB is good enough and 32GB is ample. And the availability of 16GB modules means you can install 32GB of RAM on even a tiny Mini-ITX board—though you will pay a price premium for that extra density versus opting for a RAM kit that spreads the 32GB across four sticks.

Rear Ports

22. PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port 23. USB 3.0/3.1 Gen1 ports
24. DisplayPort 25. HDMI port
26. USB Type-C 27. USB 3.1 Gen2
28. Ethernet port 29. Analogue/digital audio ports

One thing to know about USB ports is that color isn’t consistent. USB 3 ports are usually blue and USB 2.0 ports black, but that’s not always the case—especially when board makers add feature like sleep-charge to some ports. Likewise, the USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the board above are a blue-green shade, while MSI often makes its USB 3.1 Gen1 and Gen2 ports red.

Also note that, if you are planning on installing a dedicated graphics card, you likely won’t be using the on-board video ports. If that’s your aim, look for a board with fewer (or no) video ports, to make room for more USB or other ports.

Form Factor

If you’re overwhelmed by all the features and details above, you’ll be relieved to hear that, when it comes to motherboard size, your options are pretty simple. The vast majority of today’s consumer motherboards come in one of three sizes: ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX.  

ATX is the de facto standard, and offers the most space for features and expansion. Mini-ITX allows for compact PCs that still have space for one graphics card, while Micro-ATX splits the difference in both size and expansion.

You may also run across E-ATX motherboards, which are larger than ATX, but those are primarily used in workstation systems. And a tiny Mini-STX form factor (5.5×5.7 inches) also exists, but is extremely rare. As of this writing, Newegg was selling a single Mini-STX motherboard from ASRock. Chances are, you’re going to be opting for one of the three sizes illustrated above.


Another key board consideration is, of course, what CPU you need it to support. For all you need to know about choosing a processor, you can head to our CPU buying guide. But once you’ve settled on a CPU, you often still have chipset options which dictate things like how many high-speed components you can install, or how many super-fast USB ports are supported.

Since the chipset is arguably the main component that’s permanently attached to the motherboard (as opposed to removable CPU or RAM), we’ll list the primary features of each current-generation chipset below, to help you choose. But chipsets can be incredibly complex, enough so that a story could be written about each one. Along those lines, you can peruse the finer details of Intel’s latest mainstream h470 and B370 chipsets and boards in our Cheap Coffee Lake feature. For feature details and comparisons of those and other current chipsets, you can check the charts below.

AMD Chipsets

AMD Chipset PCI Express Graphics USB 3.1 G2 + 3.1 G1 + 2.0 SATA + NVME SATA RAID SupportsOverclocking
Enthusiast X399 3×16+1×8, 2×16+3×8, 1×16+5×8 2+14+6 12 + 3 0,1, 10 Yes
Enthusiast X470 1×16/2×8 (AMD Ryzen processors) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon processors) 2+10+6 6 + x2 NVMe (or 4 SATA plus 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 Yes
Enthusiast X370 1×16/2×8 (AMD Ryzen) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon) 2+10+6 6 + x2 NVMe (or 4 SATA plus 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 Yes
Performance B350 1×16(AMD Ryzen)1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon) 2+6+6 4 + x2 NVMe (or 2 SATA 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 Yes
Mainstream A320 1×16 (AMD Ryzen) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon) 1+6+6 4 + x2 NVMe (or 2 SATA 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 No
SFF Options X300 1×16/2×8 (AMD Ryzen) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon) 0+4+0 2 + x2 NVMe (or 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1 Yes
A300 1×16 (AMD Ryzen) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon) 0+4+0 2 + x2 NVMe (or 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1 No

Intel Chipsets

Intel Chipset Supported Processor PCI Express Port Configurations USB Revision Max Number of SATA 6. 0 Gb/s Ports Intel Optane Memory Support Supports Overclocking
Enthusiast X299 Depends on CPU Model 3.0/2.0 8 Yes Yes
Enthusiast Z370 1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8+2×4 3.0/2.0 6 Yes Yes
Mainstream h470 1×16 3.1/2.0 6 Yes No
Mainstream Q370 1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8+2×4 3.1/2.0 6 Yes No
Mainstream B360 1×16 3.1/2.0 6 Yes No
Mainstream h410 1×16 3.1/2.0 4 No No

One thing that’s important to note about chipset features: Just because something is supported by the chipset, doesn’t mean the motherboard maker has implemented it on a given board. For example, Intel’s Z370 chipset supports up to 10 USB 3.0 ports (and 14 in total), but most boards ship with 4-8 USB ports. And the newer h470 chipset features up to four faster USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, but the Gigabyte h470N WiFi motherboard lacks any of those speedy next-gen ports. In other words, sure to check the box or specs page of a board you’re interested in to make sure it has the features you’re after.

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard

MORE: 8 Features You Probably Don’t Need on a Motherboard 

MORE: All Motherboard Content

After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.



Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard review

Our Verdict

The Gigabyte Aorus Pro sits in a Z690 sweet spot that combines value for money and a core feature set into a well-rounded package.

  • Four M.2 slots
  • 13 rear USB ports
  • Strong VRM
  • Lots of grey metal might not blend into your build
  • WiFi 6 only




Reduced Price



£349. 99


Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs are pretty darn fast, and now that the 65W CPUs have been released, there are some really affordable options. Sadly, Z690 motherboards have taken a big step up in price since last generation. Though there’s some value to be found, especially if you don’t care for expensive high-end exclusives such as Thunderbolt 4 or 10G LAN.

The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro will set you back $330 (£290, $569 AUD) and in years past, that would have been high end pricing, but in today’s market that’s positively mid range. If you’re a gamer looking to build a 12th Gen rig, the Aorus Pro will tick most of the boxes. And rather than spending big on an unnecessarily high-end motherboard, you’ll be able to divert the savings over to that other price-inflated necessity, a GPU.

It’s worth noting that while we’re reviewing the Aorus Pro DDR5 model, there’s also a DDR4 version. Sadly, though it’s easily found in my native Australia, is not available in the US or the EU. That’s a real shame as the Aorus Pro DDR4 looks like it’s one of the better featured DDR4 boards, though I guess we can understand the desire to keep the DDR4 models more on the budget end of things.

The DDR5 version of the board features a highly contrasting design, with lots of grey heatsinks. Though a lot of the grey chipset and M.2 cooling will be hidden beneath a GPU, it might not be the easiest board to blend in with your build. There’s also minimal RGB lighting with just a tiny Aorus logo atop the rear I/O heatsink. That’s rare for a gaming motherboard in 2022. There are four RGB headers, though, with two of them being addressable, so you can still add plenty of flashy illumination if you really want.

Z690 Aorus Pro

Socket: Intel LGA 1700
CPU compatibility: Intel 12th Gen
Form factor: ATX
Memory support: Up to DDR5-6200(OC), Up to 128GB
Storage: 4x M.2; 6x SATA
USB: Up to 2x USB 3. 2 Gen2x2, 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 8x USB 2.0
Display: 1x DP 1.4
Networking: Intel Wi-Fi 6; Intel i225V 2.5G LAN
Audio: Realtek ALC4080 7.1 Channel HD Audio
Price: $330 | £290 | $569AU

The board itself comes with a single PCIe 5.0 x1x slot plus another two further PCIe 3.0 x16 physical slots that operate at x4 electrically. There are six SATA ports, seven fan headers, plus another for a water pump. A power button and debug LED are also welcome additions at this mid range Z690 price point.

One of the strengths of the Z690 chipset is its wider chipset-to-CPU DMI link, which runs at PCIe 4.0 x8. That’s double the bandwidth of the PCIe 3.0 x8 link of the last-gen Z590 chipset. This means the chipset is capable of running more devices simultaneously with fewer compromises. In addition to the primary CPU connected PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot, the Aorus Pro comes with a further three slots which all run at PCIe 4. 0 x4, and all of which have heatsinks. If you use them all, however, you’ll need to have good airflow to prevent them absorbing heat from a GPU when you’re gaming.

The Aorus Pro comes with a strong VRM and it’s likely this was designed with AVX-512 loads in mind prior to its late official removal by Intel . The overpowered VRM systems are certainly part of the reason that Z690 boards are more expensive than their Z590 predecessors. The Aorus Pro’s 16+3 phase VRM with 90A stages would have been exclusive to high end boards just a couple of years ago. With 1440A on tap, even an LN2 overclock isn’t beyond the board. Air and water coolers will run into CPU cooling limits well before the board itself is stressed.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

The heatsinks are effective, but we’re sorry to see Gigabyte didn’t include the finned heat sinks of the higher tier Aorus boards. When subjected to a VRM torture test the Aorus Pro returned a peak temperature of 57°C. That’s about the middle of the pack, but 8°C hotter than the excellent finned heat sink of the Aorus Master. As long as your airflow is adequate, the VRM of the Aorus Pro will easily handle an overclocked Core i9 12900K .

The rear I/O is very good, most especially the complement of 13 USB ports! Few modern boards come with more than that, especially at this price point. It’s made up of four USB 2.0 ports, four 3.2 Gen 1 ports, four 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a Type-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 port. There’s a single 2.5G Ethernet port, Wi-Fi antenna ports, and a DP 1.4 port for use with Intel’s Xe integrated graphics. 

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Perhaps the only omission is a full set of analogue audio ports connected to the Realtek silicon. There are line in and line out ports only but that’s really only nitpicking.

The Z690 Aorus Pro comes with pure Intel networking, consisting of a 2.5G Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6. We’re okay with that at this price, because 5G LAN and Wi-Fi 6E are among the things used to justify the sky-high pricing of Z690 boards costing a lot more. 

System performance

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Gaming performance

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Z690 boards seem to perform within a margin of error of each other for the most part, with few outliers. The Aorus Pro did well in multi-threaded tests, gaming tests, and storage tests. It seems that Intel’s long duration 241W PL2 limit is leading to a convergence of results. Previously, some makers played fast and loose with Intel’s power settings and tau, which doesn’t seem to be the case now that limit has been extended.

Using CPU overclocking as the measure of a board’s quality is all but useless when any mid-range to high end board will have a VRM thats not stressed before you reach CPU cooling limits. Memory overclocking is a different matter, however, as it relies a lot on BIOS optimization, especially in these early days of the DDR5 era.

Our G.Skill DDR5-6000 test kit is 100% stable at 6,400MHz on some boards, such as the Asus ROG Z690 Apex , but we couldn’t find stability at that speed with the Aorus Pro . The Aorus Pro’s early BIOS really struggled with our Samsung-based G.Skill kit, but after a couple of updates, it ran at its rated XMP speed. 

We think 6,400 MHz could well be on the limit of our memory controller, at least without going too crazy on VDDQ voltage. The takeaway is: don’t forget to update the BIOS of the Aorus Pro if you’ve got a fast DDR5 kit on hand.

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(Image credit: Gigabyte)

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Gigabyte’s Z690 Aorus Pro sits in a genuine Alder Lake sweet spot, where it offers good value for money and a nice, rounded feature set. Features such as Thunderbolt 4, a fifth M.2 slot, or 10G LAN would add considerable extra cost which is hard to justify. With plain Wi-Fi 6, 4x M.2 slots, a strong VRM, and loads of USB ports, most gamers will be happy. And at $330 you’ll have a few dollars that you can put towards the scarcer things, like DDR5 memory or a faster GPU.

With those kinds of key features, and an attractive price, the Aorus Pro is a good, solid mid-range board. It feels like it’s not quite at its best yet BIOS wise, but it’s come a long way from its pre-release state, and the same can be said of many boards. We’re still in the early days of the platform. Make sure you download the latest BIOS, though, once you do that the Aorus Pro is a board we’re happy to recommend for your 12th Gen build.

Read our review policy

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro

The Gigabyte Aorus Pro sits in a Z690 sweet spot that combines value for money and a core feature set into a well-rounded package.

Chris’ gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an ‘educational PC’ that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he’s gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.

ASRock Z690 Taichi Review | PC Gamer

Our Verdict

ASRock has delivered a mature and feature rich offering, but like all too many PC components in 2021, its pricing is difficult to accept.

  • Dual Thunderbolt 4 Type-C
  • Mega VRM
  • Good networking
  • Only three M.2 slots
  • Like all high end Z690 boards, it’s expensive







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Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs may be impressive chips, but you need a good motherboard home for them. The new Z690 chipset is the high-end offering, and we’ve got the ASRock Z690 Taichi here to put through its paces. But what difference can a motherboard really make when all is said and done?

When ASRock first launched its Taichi brand, we were impressed with its less-is-more design approach. It offered a good feature set and value for money without the excessive RGB overload that was common to gaming boards a few years ago. The brand has now evolved into a genuinely high end one. The yet-to-be-seen Aqua is the company’s top model, but with its expected limited-edition nature and likely stratospheric price, the Taichi will essentially be ASRock’s premium Z690 motherboard. 

It’s designed to compete with the likes of the Aorus Master, MSIs MEG Ace and the Asus Maximus range. There’s some tough competition among that lot to be sure. Let’s see what makes the ASRock Z690 Taichi tick, and tick it does. Literally.

The look of the board is definitely unique, and though looks are in the eye of the beholder, for me the Taichi’s cyberpunk theme, with its copper coloring, looks great. You get a good splash of RGB and there are cogs above the I/O that actually move. It looks expensive. If you use Razer products, there’s a Razer themed Z690 Taichi for easy integration into the Chroma ecosystem, too.

An overview of the board reveals some interesting features and design choices. You get dual PCIe 5.0 slots that operate at either x16/0 or x8/x8. There’s a PCIe 4.0 slot and a PCIe 3.0 1x slot. The latter may be valuable for many as some competing boards, such as the Aorus Master and Asus Hero, include just the three x16 slots. 

Z690 Taichi specs

Socket: Intel LGA 1700
CPU compatibility: Intel 12th Gen
Form factor: ATX
Storage: 3x M.2; 6x SATA
USB: 2x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C; Up to 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 9x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 3x USB 2.0
Video out: 1x HDMI
Networking: Killer Wi-Fi 6E; Killer E3100G 2.5G and Intel I219V 1G LAN
Audio: Realtek ALC1220 7.1 Channel HD Audio
Price: $590 | £530

There are a total of seven SATA ports, one of which (along with a single USB port) is independent from the others. Asrock says these can function as a protection from malware. You also get a VGA holder bracket to prevent your GPU from sagging.

It’s worth noting is the location of two of the CPU fan headers, which are positioned above the primary M.2 slot. Does this help or hinder cable management options? It depends on your configuration, but it’s worth considering when you put your build together.

Perhaps the main feature weakness of the board is its M.2 complement. There are only three slots, with one of them supporting PCIe 3.0 x2 only. It may not be an issue for a typical gamer with a couple of M.2 drives and a SATA drive or two, but the Taichi does lack a little compared to some other boards in this price range, ones that support up to five M.2 drives.

(Image credit: ASRock)

If you’ve read our Core i9-12900K review , you’d have read that under stock operation, it can pull a serious amount of power, and that’s before even thinking about overclocking. As is the case with most high end Z690 boards, the ASRock has a very strong VRM solution. With its 20-phase 105A stages, even a heavily overclocked 12900K won’t stress it. 

It seems likely that vendors designed the boards to cope with power guzzling AVX-512 loads, a feature that was subsequently removed. Officially anyway . The Taichi’s VRM heatsinks have less surface area than some, but note there is an internal fan adjacent to the I/O area. We’ll admit we didn’t even know it was there until after disassembling the system. 

Should you require further cooling, ASRock bundles a tiny 30mm fan and a bracket for an optional 40mm fan. Not that you should need to use them unless you have terrible case airflow. Our VRM test, consisting of 20 minutes of Cinebench looping delivered a 53°C VRM temp. 

That’s not even close to being worrying.

The highlight of the rear I/O features are the dual Thunderbolt 4 ports. These are joined by two 3.2 Gen 2 ports and four 3.2 Gen 1 ports. We think six type-A ports is not enough for a high-end board, but the point is moot as ASRock includes a PCI bracket if you wish to add a couple more USB 2. 0 ports via a header. 

Networking duties are handled by Killer E3100G 2.5G and AX1675 Wi-Fi 6E controllers. Intel owns Rivet networks now, the company behind Killer NICs, so really, it’s all Intel. They are joined by an Intel I219V Gigabit controller. At this end of the market, 5 or 10G Lan controller would be welcome but then again, some users love to have dual LAN. The rest of the I/O panel is fairly standard, with HDMI 2.1 and ALC 1220 audio. We’re happy to see ASRock include a good quality ESS Sabre 9218 DAC; that’s a good step up from generic onboard audio.

System performance

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

Somewhat unexpectedly, given that BIOS’ and Windows 11 have some room to mature, the Taichi and the other Z690 boards we’ve tested are very close in performance to one another. This is likely due to Intel’s new turbo definitions which means the CPU clocks don’t vary a lot between boards.

Gaming performance

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

Test rig

CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
GPU: Zotac RTX 3080 Ti Amp Extreme Holo
Memory: G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 C36
Storage: Adata XPG Gammix S70 2TB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1000
Case: Thermaltake Core P8
Cooling: MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360
OS: Windows 11 Pro

Notably, the Taichi did well at gaming tests, often leading the pack. Though 1 fps here or there isn’t significant, it’s better to lead than trail. The board was happy to run DDR5-6400 memory, something not all Z690s could do with our pre-release testing. This indicates a nice level of maturity, though as is often the case with a brand-new platform and standard, there is surely some refinement to come.

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(Image credit: ASRock)

(Image credit: ASRock)
(Image credit: ASRock)

The ASRock Z690 Taichi looks every inch a premium product. Its unique aesthetic will appeal to many. Its key features including Dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, a solid audio solution, and strong early memory support weigh in its favor. 

At $590 (£530) it’s an expensive motherboard, though boards like the Asus Maximus Hero and Aorus Master aren’t exactly bargains either. It’s just sad the way the market is now, that boards at these prices are a new normal. But, let’s keep an open mind. In a few months’ time, the value for money analysis could be a whole lot different. 

The Taichi’s great looks, solid performance and strong feature list (apart from its below par M2 support) make it a serious competitor in its price range. Let’s just hope that early adopter pricing, component shortages and DDR5 availability improves. Then a 12th Gen upgrade becomes a lot more compelling, because right now it’s firmly sat in the dreamland rig build category.

Read our review policy

ASRock Z690 Taichi

ASRock has delivered a mature and feature rich offering, but like all too many PC components in 2021, its pricing is difficult to accept.

Chris’ gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an ‘educational PC’ that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he’s gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.

These are the best motherboards you can buy in 2022

Building a new PC or even upgrading an older system isn’t just about buying the best CPUs, best graphics cards, or best SSDs. A motherboard is the backbone of your PC as it holds all the components together. It’s recommended that you spend just as much time going through the best motherboards to pick the one that’s compatible with everything that goes into your PC.

The choice of motherboard will also influence a few other aspects of your build including the size of your PC case, storage drive options, number of ports, and more. So before we jump into the collection, let’s take a quick look at some important things to consider before buying a motherboard:

  • Choose the right socket: Make sure the board has the right socket to support your CPU of choice. It’s an important specification highlighted by each manufacturer. The latest mainstream AMD CPUs use an AM4 socket while the current-gen Intel CPUs require LGA 1200 sockets.
  • Motherboard size: Most modern motherboards come in three sizes — ATX, micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX. ATX boards are more suitable for standard-size builds and they offer the most space for connections and slots. micro-ATX boards are slightly smaller with less room for ports. Lastly, mini-ITX boards are made for small enclosures with limited space. They have the least amount of ports and slots for peripherals.
  • Pick your ports & slots: The smaller the size of your motherboard, the fewer ports and expansion slots you’ll get for your build. So plan your build accordingly.
  • Wi-Fi card: If you don’t have access to ethernet then you’ll need a Wi-Fi card. We recommend choosing a board with Wi-Fi 6 if you plan on keeping your PC around for years.
  • Motherboard aesthetics: Since most PC cases have a transparent side panel a.k.a a window, you may want to consider a motherboard with some RGB lights or at least good aesthetics.

With that out of the way, let’s get started with our collection.

Editors Note: With both AMD Ryzen 7000 and Intel 13th Gen on the horizon, there will be a raft of new motherboards designed for these new CPUs. Any new Intel motherboards will begin to arrive from October 20 alongside the CPUs. AMD X670 boards are beginning to roll out now but are currently still limited in range. 

Navigate this article:

  • Best overall motherboard for AMD CPUs: ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming
  • Best overall motherboard for Intel CPUs: Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR5 Motherboard
  • Best B550 AMD motherboard: NZXT N7 B550
  • Best budget AMD motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS
  • Best budget Intel motherboard: ASRock B660M Pro RS
  • Best compact AMD motherboard: Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WIFI
  • Another great  Z690 motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi

Best X670 and X670E motherboards for Ryzen 7000

If you’re buying Ryzen 7000 then you need to buy one of the new X670 or X670E motherboards for AM5. As Ryzen 7000 has only just gone on sale, testing on the new motherboards is still in progress and initial availability is still rolling out.

Nevertheless, based on what we know, these are some of the early contenders you should be looking out for.

    ASUS ROG Strix X670E Gaming Wi-Fi
    Reliable choice
    This motherboard has 18+2 power stages combined with a pair of PCIe 5.0 x 16 slots, four m.2 SSD slots of which three are PCIe 5.0, heatsinks and ports galore and ARGB. It’s an absolute beast of a motherboard, and even has Wi-Fi built in.
    See at Amazon