Building a gaming PC on a budget has become easier than ever in 2021 due to the incredible range of hardware we have available to us. The competition between AMD and Intel has also produced some great options in terms of budget CPUs, and it is now really easy to build a competitive gaming machine on a budget. Motherboard manufacturers have also expanded their lineups to all sorts of different price brackets in order to provide compatible motherboards in different price categories. AMD is famous for having 3 really competitive motherboard chipsets at different price points and that allows the manufacturers to make motherboards for each price category of CPUs.
A320 is AMD’s most basic motherboard chipset which is meant for entry-level PCs with low powered chips from AMD’s Ryzen lineup. The A320 chipset also uses the same AM4 socket as the rest of the Ryzen motherboards so different AMD Ryzen CPUs can be installed on these boards. The main drawback of A320 is that there is no overclocking ability in these boards so you will be stuck with stock operation for the Ryzen CPUs. That is completely fine for this price range though, as A320 is meant to be an entry-level chipset that is good for basic affordable gaming CPUs.
With that out of the way here are the 5 best A320 motherboards for entry-level PCs in 2021.
ASRock has always been one of the finest motherboard manufacturers when it comes to AMD chipsets and the ASRock A320M Pro4 is no exception. This is a surprisingly good A320 board which is a great option for any Ryzen 3 or even Ryzen 5 processor on the market. The board is well-built and has plenty of features which makes it a good choice for entry-level gaming PCs.
One of the best features of this board is that it has 4 DIMM slots for your DDR4 memory. This is a particularly strong point for the A320M Pro4 due to the fact that many cheap A320 boards and even some cheaper B450 boards only have 2 DIMM slots which significantly limits our total capacity and upgrade path. The 4 DIMM slots on the A320M Pro4 allow you to install 2 memory modules right now while giving you the option to upgrade to double capacity later down the line. Limiting the memory slots to 2 is a cost-cutting measure that many manufacturers choose but thankfully the Pro4 has avoided it.
The ASRock A320M Pro4 also has surprisingly decent power delivery for an A320 board. This board is one of the few A320 boards on the market to have proper VRM heatsinks too. Even more expensive B450 boards sometimes skip the VRM heatsinks and that significantly hinders their thermal performance. The A320M is a great A320 option and it can definitely handle even the more power-hungry Ryzen 5 processors at stock speeds. The A320 boards are more suited to Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 processors and we would recommend against putting any “X” or “XT” series processors in these boards as well.
In terms of features, the A320M is packed with the basic features that one might need on an entry-level gaming PC. It is a micro-ATX board so it is more likely to fit into smaller cases, and it contains 4 SATA ports for your storage drives. In addition to the SATA ports, the A320M also features an M.2 slot which is a nice touch at this price point. The M.2 slot allows you to install much faster PCIe Gen 3 NVMe SSDs on this board.
Overall the A320M Pro4 from ASRock is one of the finest A320M boards on the market. It is a little bit more expensive than the alternatives, but we do recommend stretching your budget a bit for this one if possible.
Another good A320 board on the market comes from Gigabyte with their GA-A320MA-M.2. Ridiculous naming scheme aside, this offering from Gigabyte rivals the ASRock Pro4 in nearly every category. This board is one of the better-built boards we have seen on the market when it comes to A320 boards.
Just like the A320M Pro4 from ASRock, Gigabyte has included 4 DIMM slots in the A320MA-M.2. This allows the user to have plenty of expandability down the line in terms of memory if required. Having 4 DIMM slots is a pretty rare feature in A320 boards and even some entry-level B450 boards skip these in favor of 2 slots to save costs. Gigabyte also offers a similar board with 2 DIMM slots for a cheaper price tag and we will take a look at that later in the list.
Power delivery on the board seems to be adequate for entry-level Ryzen chips. In fact, it is in line with what we would expect from a good A320 motherboard. There are no VRM heatsinks on the power delivery components on the board and that hurts its thermal performance for sure. We would have liked to see some VRM heatsinks on the board considering the small premium Gigabyte is commanding for this board over the S2H version. Nonetheless, the VRM seems adequate for a Ryzen 3 or a non-X Ryzen 5 CPU in an entry-level build.
Connectivity is a strong point of the A320MA-M.2. Not only does the board have 4 SATA ports for your storage drives, but it also contains an M.2 slot for super-fast PCIe Gen 3 NVMe SSDs to be installed in. This can be predicted by looking at the name of the motherboard though. One of the more interesting features in terms of connectivity is the inclusion of a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port in the I/O of the board. This high-speed USB port is a welcome addition to the A320MA-M.2
All in all the Gigabyte A320MA-M.2 is another solid option in the A320 market. This board will pair nicely with budget CPUs in the Ryzen lineup and can be a part of a potent entry-level gaming machine. Gigabyte’s offering is a little cheaper than ASRock’s, so that is another point in favor of this board.
The Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H is a slightly cheaper and a little cut-down version of the Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H although it carries with it the comical naming convention. Gigabyte has removed some of the features of the more expensive board and made a cheaper version of it in the S2H in order to provide an A320 board at an even lower price. This is great news for those people who are building an ultra-affordable Ryzen gaming machine or an HTPC that needs a Ryzen APU to function.
One of the areas where Gigabyte has cut costs is the DIMM slots. Sadly, Gigabyte has removed 2 of the slots from the A320M-M.2 and gone with a 2 DIMM Slot configuration. This is one of the more difficult points on which the user will have to compromise while going with this board because 2 slots can cut your total capacity effectively in half. If you opt for a single module in order to save the other slot for a future upgrade, you will lose any dual-channel functionality of the board and will in-turn lose a lot of your CPU’s performance. Populating both slots will mean that you have no slots left for future expandability.
While the VRM of the A320M-S2H seems adequate enough, we would not recommend pairing this motherboard with a Ryzen 5 CPU. You should look for the A320M-M.2 for those CPUs due to the fact that you will be leaving a lot of the performance on the table if you choose to populate only one DIMM slot. Therefore, Ryzen 3 and Athlon CPUs will be better suited to this motherboard. The S2H also does not have any VRM heatsinks but that is an expected move.
The A320M-S2H offers the basic features that you expect from an A320 motherboard. Like other boards on this list, there are 4 SATA ports and one M.2 slot for storage which is a nice touch. Gigabyte chose to leave the M.2 slot in the S2H which is a good move since removing the M.2 slot would have been a bad decision to save cost.
The A320M-S2H from Gigabyte is one of the more affordable entries in our roundup and it is in-fact a very well-build motherboard. If you are satisfied with 2 DIMM slots and want to save a bit of money on your motherboard purchase, then this is the board to buy.
4. MSI ProSeries A320M Pro-M2 V2
MSI's Budget Offering for AM4
- Above Average VRM Design
- Supports M.2 Devices
- Decent Memory Support
- Only 2 DIMM Slots
- Strange Brown Colored PCB
Chipset: A320 | Form Factor: Micro-ATX | DIMM Slots: 2 | Dimensions: 8.1 x 9.6 x 1 in | Storage: 4xSATA Ports, 1x M.2 Slot
The MSI A320M Pro-M2 V2 is an improved version of the original Pro-M2 which is MSI’s business oriented series, although it does work great for normal DIY PC builders as well. The Pro-M2 V2 is the only MSI offering that is worth considering due to its adequate power delivery design and affordable cost. MSI does offer the MSI A320M Bazooka in some regions which is a better motherboard although availability and pricing for that board is unreliable.
The MSI A320M Pro-M2 V2 is also a motherboard that decides to cut costs by only offering 2 DIMM slots. This significantly limits the upgrade path in terms of memory as the user now has to decide between dual-channel operation and future capacity upgrades. Populating only one of the two DIMM slots removes the dual-channel capability and lowers the performance of your CPU while populating both DIMM slots with modules will mean that you are left with no upgrade capability.
The VRM design of the Pro-M2 V2 is good enough for an A320 motherboard. We have certainly seen worse power delivery components installed in more expensive boards so this configuration should suffice. We recommend against putting a Ryzen 5 processor in this board due to its lack of DIMM slots and the potential for single-channel operation, however, any Ryzen 3 or Athlon processor will be just fine with this board.
When it comes to connectivity, the A320M M2-V2 offers 4 SATA ports and an M.2 slot which is capable of supporting PCIe Gen 3 NVMe drives as well. A big drawback of this board is the strange brown colored PCB which is a weird choice by MSI as most motherboards nowadays choose a black or grey colored PCB that tends not to clash with other PC component colors. However, if this motherboard falls within your price budget and satisfies your needs, then there is no room to complain about the color.
All in all the A320M M2-V2 is a good alternative to the boards listed above and it does have some decent features in it. The main attraction of this board however is its competitive price point which is a bit lower than the boards that offer 4 DIMM slots. It is up to the buyer to decide whether or not the lack of expandability is worth the savings.
The ASUS Prime A320M-K is one of the cheapest A320 boards on the market and for good reason. This is the most barebones A320 board you can buy from a reputable manufacturer right now. The A320M-K strips even more features from normal A320 boards like the ASRock A320M Pro4 and is meant for ultra-cheap builds with entry-level CPUs or APUs.
The A320M-K also has 2 DIMM slots which is a disappointing choice that these motherboards have to make in order to cut costs. It does have an M.2 Slot which is good news at this price point. The A320M-K also has 4 SATA ports for your storage drives and its I/O selection is good enough as well.
Where the A320M-K really falls behind is in the power delivery. The ASUS Prime A320M-K has one of the worst VRM designs of any AM4 motherboard and that is a choice that ASUS had to make in order to reduce the price of this board. There is also a single 4-pin CPU header for power while all the other boards in our list have 8-pin CPU headers as a standard. This VRM design makes this board suitable for only Athlon and Ryzen 3 CPUs and APUs.
The ASUS Prime A320M-K is not one of the more feature-rich boards on the market but it’s not trying to be either. This is one of the most affordable AM4 boards out there and it does suffice for a basic entry-level gaming build on a tight budget. Installing this board in an HTPC when paired with an affordable Ryzen APU or Athlon CPU will be a more reasonable application for this motherboard. If you are more serious about gaming though, you should consider stepping up to one of the more expensive options in our lineup, preferably the ones with 4 DIMM slots.
Overall, the ASUS Prime A320M-K is an ultra-cheap motherboard with just the basic features that it needs to work. There are no bells and whistles at this price point and this is not a board you want to buy for a serious gaming machine.