How to Buy the Perfect Motherboard for Your Next PC

Buying a new motherboard for your upcoming PC can be an ordeal that might end up taking a lot of your time. Gone are the days when buying something as crucial as a motherboard was simple and easy to do. With people being more and more aware of the choices available in the market, and how they work out, it can be a less than easy experience for most of us. There is also an Advanced Motherboard Guide if you are into that tech level.

Keeping that in mind, we must know that whenever we are in the market looking for a motherboard, we might need some guidance as to what option is the best to go with. If you really want to go with the best possible motherboard in the market just like the ones we covered in our main article of the best motherboards for the 9900k here, this guide will only make it easier for you.

The guide covers nearly every aspect so you do not have any issues buying the right motherboard. So, let’s not waste any time on the formalities and start looking at all the factors that go into buying the perfect motherboard.

Determine How Much You Can Spend

First things first. You need to be able to determine just how much you can spend. This is one of the most important factors to consider whenever you are buying a motherboard simply because of the long list of options available at varying price points.

Just to give you an example, you can buy a motherboard for as low as $50, or as high as $500; and if you are into extreme PC building, you can even go hi8gher should you wish to. Below is a small breakdown of what different price points will get you.

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  • $100 and Below: In this range, you can find some really good motherboards on both AMD and Intel side. You can even find overclock supported motherboards in this price range if you are building an AMD PC but if you are building anIntel-based PC, you might have to look harder for Z370 chipsets in this price point. There are some options available on sale that you can always look for.
  • $150 and Below: If you are looking for Z370 or Z390 motherboards, you will have some decent options available to you on Intel side of things. The same applies to the AMD side of things as you can find some really neat motherboards that offer the bells and whistles most gamers are looking for in the modern day.
  • $200 and Below: In this price range, you can pretty much find a whole host of amazing motherboards. Sure, it might be a little difficult for you because as you go up the price tags, you find more and more options that you can buy, and in such situations, there is just so much that you can go for that it can easily confuse people.
  • $200 and Above: This price range is reserved for the best of the best motherboards available. Talk about extensive overclocking features, great I/O, amazing looks, brilliant aesthetics, and all of the above combined into one package. You can find countless high-end motherboards in this price range and the best part is that you do not have to look a lot further, either. One more thing that we want to talk about is that you can find the HEDT motherboards in this price range, as well. Meaning that it is easy to buy the best X299 motherboard or AMD Threadripper motherboards in this price bracket.

The CPU That You Plan to Use

Once you have decided the budget, the next step is choosing the CPU that you plan on using with it. You only have two companies to choose from but several options, to begin with. For starters, you can go with Intel, but then you will have to decide whether you want the mainstream 8th gen or the 9th gen. However, if that is not what you are looking for, then you can always go for Intel’s HEDT processors that go in the X299 chipsets. The mainstream processors from Intel use the LGA 1151 socket, whereas the HEDT chipset uses the LGA 2066.

On the AMD side of things, you can choose from both mainstream and HEDT processors, as well. The mainstream processors run on the AM4 socket, whereas the HEDT runs on TR4 or Threadripper socket. Before you make a decision, make sure you are fully aware of the type of workload your PC will be handling so you do not run into any issues that can compromise your overall experience.

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The Size of the Motherboard

Another really and most overlooked factor is the size or the form factor of the motherboard that you should invest in. With so many options available, you really need to go for a motherboard that is good for you and does not create any issues for you, either. After all, you will be installing it in the case, and going for the wrong case size can cause some issues that might come in the way.

The most common sizes are ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX. These motherboards have the most support in terms of the cases available in the market. However, if you are going for really high-end mainstream motherboards or the HEDT motherboards, then you might need to invest in something like an E-ATX motherboard for a proper experience. Asus and MSI are typically favourite for making all sized motherboards.

The Ports on the Motherboard

This is actually a rudimentary consideration at best, but whenever you are buying a modern day motherboard, you should always check for the ports because you do not want to end up with missing ports, or ports that you do not plan on using at all.

Keeping that in mind, below are some of the ports that you most certainly should look for.

  • USB 3.0/3.1: This is one of the most crucial ports since most of the peripherals in the market come with support for this port. Most high-end motherboards available in the market happen to have up to 8 of these ports.
  • USB Type-C: Another important port that you should look for is the USB Type-C. It is not as new as it once used to be, but since most of the phones and even some keyboards and mice are supporting this, it is just better to have it. Most motherboards that come with these ports offer fast charging for the devices compatible as well as faster transfer rates, which is always a plus point to have.
  • Thunderbolt 3: This is a rather rare feature that you will get to see in most motherboards in the market, but it is extremely important. Especially when you realize that a single Thunderbolt 3 can drive high-end devices and can provide transfer rates of up to 40 gigabits per second. Something that you should not take lightly.

Aside from the ports that we mentioned above, make sure that the motherboard you are buying has the usual mix of ports such as the audio ports, and video inputs should you need them.

 

The Number of RAM Slots You Need

Another important thing that you should always consider is the number of RAM slots you need. This can be a conflicting decision for most people. However, the most common ATX motherboards come with 4 RAM slots, if you go for HEDT motherboards, they have 8 RAM slots, and if you go for ITX or mini ITX motherboards, you get two slots in the majority of cases.

There are some rare HEDT motherboards that are available in mini-ITX form factor and can offer up to 8 slots but as I have mentioned, they are mostly rare. You must check X399 Motherboards for these types of cases.

The Expansion Slots Required

Another thing that you should consider whenever you are buying a motherboard is that the expansion slots matter a lot. More often than not, we end up paying a premium for most of the motherboards available in the market just because we are under the impression that having extra expansion slots is a good thing and while that is true, an important thing you must know is that you are going to pay high for extra expansion slots.

Simply put, always go for the motherboard that has the slots that you want to use and you are planning to use. Not the ones that are unnecessarily available.

The Right Chipset to Use

This is something that often ends up confusing most expert PC builders. The chipset is one of the factors that can make or break your experience.

For starters, on the Intel side of things,  you can choose from H370, Q370, B360, H310, and Z370. The best from the bunch is Z370 because it gives you benefits from all the other chipsets into a single package, but it is only good if you are buying a processor with a K SKU so you can easily overclock it, as well.

On AMD side of things, you have the option to choose from B450, B350, B300, X370, and X470. The good thing is that most of these do support overclocking, so you really do not have to worry about anything that might come in your way.

Aesthetics

The last thing that I want you all to consider whenever you are buying a motherboard, do pay attention to the aesthetics. Considering how you are probably building a gaming PC, the aesthetics to play an important role and will certainly help you buy the best possible motherboard available in the market, as well.

Thankfully, there are so many motherboards available from different manufacturers that take good care of the aesthetics. Therefore, you can easily buy the one that fits your color requirements.

Conclusion

Buying a motherboard is not difficult at all. However, with so many options now being available in the market, it can be a tedious process for many people. As a matter of fact, many people find themselves in situations where they end up spending a lot of time finding the right motherboard.

With this buying guide, we aim to make things easier for those who are looking for a good motherboard to buy, and we hope that it helped you buy the perfect motherboard.

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Bill Wilson
Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.