The motherboard is the main component of any desktop PC. It must have a sufficient number of necessary connectors so that the user can install a powerful video card, a large amount of RAM and several drives. In addition, do not forget about the need to connect various peripherals. The best motherboards of 2021 are presented in our rating.

The right choice of “mother” is the basis of PC Assembly: if the processor within one socket can be changed to a faster one if desired, the memory can be increased, the video card can be replaced, then the motherboard usually lives in the case until a radical upgrade or serious breakdown. So you should choose a motherboard with the expectation of long-term use… Although the proverbial love of Intel for regularly changing processor sockets without backward compatibility already leads to the fact that even a small upgrade forces you to change the motherboard along with the CPU. In this regard, AMD’s conservatism looks more reasonable – remember how long the AM3+ socket has lived, which is only now being replaced by the incompatible AM4, and there is every reason to believe that the new ryzen build will be able to be updated on a single Board for a long time.

For our rating of the best motherboards, we decided to choose three socket options:

  • LGA 1151-Intel Skylake processors, Kaby Lake, in version v2, incompatible with the previous one (well, this is Intel!), and Coffee Lake. This allows you to choose processors from Celeron G4900 to Core i9-9900K-that is, from a simple office build to a powerful workstation or gaming PC.
  • AM4-socket from AMD, which came with AMD Ryzen. And this is the ability to use processors from the inexpensive AMD A6-9500E for “office-home” builds to the top-end Ryzen 9 3950X, and the AM4 socket is guaranteed to live for more than a year or two. In addition, APUS (processors with integrated graphics that previously used their FM sockets) were also transferred to it.
  • LGA 2066 is a socket for top-end Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake – X processors-the ones that are successfully trying to catch up and overtake the old AMD thermal package. But if you have almost 110 thousand for an 18-core Intel Core i9-10980XE, then you will definitely find money for cooling that can cope with its 165 W of heat generation.

Best motherboards for LGA 1151-v2 socket

GIGABYTE Z390 DESIGNARE (rev. 1.0)

Opens our rating of motherboards for socket LGA 1151-v2 GIGABYTE Z390 DESIGNARE. The design of this motherboard was worked on so much that it seems at first glance, even reflected in its name (in fact, designare is not from the English design, but the Italian “intended”) – but what about the physical content of a bright image? Well, the Board is equipped with a 12+1-phase processor powered by 8+4 pin and supports processors starting from Celeron G4900 (I wonder if someone will be worthy to plug this into the socket of the Board for 20 thousand?) and ending with the Core i9-9900KS, allowing you to use up to four DDR4-4266 modules with a maximum capacity of 32 GB each. There is support for Thunderbolt 3 (in two USB Type-C ports), built-in two Gigabit network controllers, Bluetooth version 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz). We season this with one or two M. 2 SSDS if desired, but it is better to use one video card – only a single slot can work in x16 mode, two video cards will work as x8, and since the third version of the bus is used here, this will cut the speed for modern video cards. If there was support for PCI Express 4.0… but for this you need to go to AMD. X4 and x1 slots are also available. The “sixteenth” slots are reinforced and far apart (as far as the ATX form factor allows): if you want to use a discrete sound card, not trusting the ” built – in “despite the proudly protruding” audiophile ” capacitors, then you can easily put it in the lower slot to cool the second video card, and in a configuration with a single video card-anywhere… except for the upper x1 slot, which the video card, of course, will close.

It is worth noting that due to the shortage of PCIe lines, even with the expansion of their chipset, the upper M. 2 slot shares lines with SATA 5 and 6 connectors.the Lower M. 2 slot, depending on what type of drive it has, “squeezes” either SATA 2 (if the SSD itself is SATA) or SATA 1 (if the SSD is PCIe). That is, they are guaranteed to work regardless of the m configuration.2 only SATA 3 and SATA 4 ports.

The main advantages:

  • Powerful power subsystem
  • Thunderbolt 3 Support
  • Two M. 2 slots (but working through the chipset and sharing resources with SATA)
  • Quite a good layout of PCI e connectors

Minuses:

  • With so many physical PCIe lines, 3-Way SLI support doesn’t make much sense

ASUS PRIME Z390-A

The Intel z390 chipset is not particularly different from the previously released Z370 (well, this is more and more typical for processors in the “blue”, what is there). In fact, only introduced support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 and the CNVi controller.

The ASUS PRIME z390-a motherboard is capable of working with a wide range of Intel processors – from cheap selerons to the ninth-generation i9. The power subsystem is in nine phases, and the radiators are in contact with the throttles through thermal pads, not only with the MOSFETs. As an example of many “game” boards, regular VRM radiators are quite effective, and are not mainly decorative “ingots” made of aluminum.

To build a high-performance system, the Board offers everything you need: two M. 2 slots for fast NVMe SSDS, 4 slots for DDR4 memory with a maximum capacity of 64 GB in total and an effective frequency of up to 4266 MHz, two full-fledged PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (the third works in x4 mode) that support SLI for Nvidia cards and CrossFire X for Radeon video accelerators. Slot connectors are reinforced with metal inserts and can easily withstand the load from heavy cards.

The Board offers excellent overclocking capabilities for K-series processors – the UEFI interface is rich in settings and intuitive. So for experiments and squeezing all the features out of the system, it is no worse suited than for working on stock frequencies. In addition, we note the traditionally high-quality built-in audio path and, where without it, a customizable RGB lighting system.

The main advantages:

  • Support for LGA 1151-v2 processors up to i9-9900K
  • Availability of two M. 2 slots

Minuses:

  • For overclocking the i9 taking into account its power consumption at 5 GHz VRM is still weak

GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO (rev. 1.0)

This motherboard is the closest competitor to the ASUS PRIME Z390-A. It is built on the same top-end chipset, supports all current processors on the LGA 1151-v2 socket, and the power subsystem is even more powerful due to the use of 13 phases (but more on this below) and an additional four-pin connector for connecting to the power supply. That is, in theory, it is already possible to safely “drive” and 9900K. However, there are some concerns about radiators-there is a lot of metal in them, but the total area is not particularly impressive. It seems that there are as many as eight 4-pin connectors for cooling fans and two connectors for SVO pumps on the Board for good reason – you should think about at least forced blowing of the VRM during serious experiments with overclocking.

If you look at the Board carefully,you can understand that marketers still had a hand in the circuitry: the power phases of the processor cores are actually paired in pairs. That is, the same efficiency would have 6+1 phase with two parallel MOSFETs for processor cores on each, and this is the scheme supported by the ISL69138 controller installed here. But “13 phases” sounds much more beautiful, right? And the temperatures in the tests really prove the lack of efficiency of radiators without forced cooling: even at stock frequencies, the i9-9900K heats the radiators up to 75 degrees, while overclocking the temperature exceeds a hundred. So the replacement of radiators on the water blocks of the SVO in this case is definitely necessary.

4 reinforced memory slots allow you to install up to 64 GB on four bars, the maximum officially supported frequency is 4133 MHz, which means that Gigabyte can overclock memory at least a little, but less than Asus.

As a result, we will still put Gigabyte in third place in the rating of the best motherboards: for use “as is” Asus looks more interesting. But for building custom water-cooled systems, we would choose Gigabyte, and wait for the second revision of the Board for comparison.

The main advantages:

  • Powerful power subsystem
  • Plenty of connectors for fans and pumps, and with support for 3-pin voltage adjustment

Minuses:

  • Insufficiently efficient VRM radiators for overclocking top-end processors
  • Inconvenient location of part of the fan connectors

ASUS PRIME H370-PLUS

Continues our rating of the best full-size ATX motherboard for building systems that do not need to squeeze the last drops of potential: anyway, the maximum supported memory frequency is 2666 MHz. And the crossfire X support stated in it looks exclusively like “to be” – the second x16 slot has only 4 lines. Initially, the Board only supported the eighth generation of Intel processors, but by updating the BIOS to version 0904, you will be able to install at least i9-9900K.

Given the” non-racing ” chipset, the six-phase power subsystem is quite modest, but on processors with a standard TDP of 95 W, it copes with its tasks, and the temperature of the radiators remains at an acceptable level.

The sound is assembled, although with Nichicon capacitors and competent track layout, but on the ALC887 codec-its capabilities will suit You if the insidious disease “audiophilia” has not yet clung to You with its sneaky paws. Multi-channel speakers are inconvenient to connect, and there are enough connectors for a standard set of two speakers and a subwoofer.

The main advantages:

  • Compatible with Coffee Lake and Coffee Lake Refresh
  • Decent quality

Minuses:

Budget code with not the most impressive level of nonlinear distortion and noise

MSI B360 GAMING PLUS

But not everyone needs top-end “stoves” as processors and extreme overclocking? Then let’s take a simpler motherboard: the “non-racing” b-series chipset and fewer VRM phases clearly hint at the limited capabilities of the MSI B360. And the maximum supported memory frequency is only 2666 MHz. Another thing is that for systems built on boards from this price range, faster memory still falls out of the build budget, and does not give much benefit.

The main connector for video cards is the upper one: of the two x16 slots, only it is connected directly to the processor, the lower one is “tied” to the chipset and physically has only 4 lines. But, again, it is unlikely that anyone will use two video cards on this Board.

For the rest of the hardware, the motherboard is also a typical “average”, but its price is probably even too high: there are competitors for similar money, but already on the z370 chipset. Therefore, we will definitely lower the rating.

The main advantages:

  • VRM cooling is satisfactory for an adequate selection of processors

Minuses:

  • Average sound quality compared to more advanced boards
  • The video card connector gain is too weak

Best motherboards for AM4 socket

ASRock X570 Creator

In our opinion, ASRock X570 Creator wins the rating of the best motherboards for AM4 socket. Despite the similarity with the x570 Phantom Gaming X Board, the purpose of which is obvious from the name, this motherboard is designed for building high-power workstations. 14 phase VRM, MOSFETs which are covered by the developed heat sinks with the heat pipe, able to cope with the power the most power-consuming CPUs Ryzen for which 4 slots of RAM supports frequencies up to 4666 MHz, if we are talking about Ryzen third-generation, or up to 3600 MHz, if the processor is the second generation. The maximum amount of memory is 128 GB.

The set of interfaces is more than decent: two PCIe x16 slots that work directly with the processor and one via the chipset allow you to use CrossFireX on three AMD video cards. If you use Nvidia cards, you will have to limit yourself to 2-way SLI. Three more PCI e x1 ports are connected via the chipset. On the chipset, 4 six-Gigabit SATA ports are” hanging”, and the same number are connected via separate asmedia asm1061 controllers. For M. 2 drives, there are two slots, one works directly with the CPU, the second-via the chipset. Thus, when building a computer, you can build a disk RAID with a good margin for redundancy, and have at hand fast SSD drives for the operating system, application programs, and frequently requested data. In addition, there are two forty-Gigabit thunderbolt 3.0 connectors, Gigabit and ten-Gigabit network interfaces, Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi.

The latest x570 chipset is made using modern 14-nanometer technology, and the chipset is actively cooled. The fan is noisy at normal settings due to its small diameter and correspondingly high rpm, but it keeps the temperature within a stable acceptable range: you need to take into account that the chipset radiator also serves as the radiator of the second M. 2 drive. There is also a “quiet” mode – but if you work for a long time with a heavy load, you can already risk overheating.

The main advantages:

  • Plenty of interfaces, including high-speed ones
  • Reinforced PCIe x16 slots
  • Powerful power subsystem

Minuses:

  • High price
  • Noisy active cooling of the chipset
  • Missing EZ Mode section in UEFI

GIGABYTE X570 AORUS PRO (rev. 1.0)

Here we first note the correct location of the chipset-its fan is decently shifted down relative to the upper slot for the video card, so even massive dual-slot cards will not interfere with the cooling of the X570, which can not be called cold.

Fee fully supports AMD 3xxx Ryzen, including equipped with a microphone (in this case on the back panel removed the HDMI connector) – although it is difficult to imagine a person buying an expensive game cost to install APU in there, not a top-end CPU without the “insertions”. The maximum officially supported frequency for RAM is 4400 MHz, but anything higher is at the risk of overclocker. You can also overclock the processor: VRM with 12+2 phases (working through doubling, the VRM controller itself works according to the 6+1 scheme) and the 8+4-pin power connector clearly hint at this.

PCIe x16 slots – three pieces, two of them – reinforced with the expectation of installing heavy video cards and working directly with the processor. X1 slots two (“opened” via chipset as the bottom x16), and they are located right next to the x16 slot – that is, if You want to build a configuration with two cards and a discrete audio to replace the built-in “Realtime” (albeit one with high-quality Japanese capacitors, but it is still “insertions”!), then the sound card will remain available just as the x16 slot, otherwise the sound card even single-slot graphics card will “block the wind” (the author checked for himself – to put the sound card directly under the video, even with a good purging of the housing is not necessary). Also, it is worth noting that in x16 mode, only the upper slot works, when using two cards, both work as x8, the lower one – x4. Also note that the distance between the top slot for the video card and the processor socket is chosen well – a large cooler will fit here normally, and it, given the Board’s targeting of the top (and hot).) “iron” is still relevant here.

There are two M. 2 slots on the Board, both have their own radiators (not particularly developed in fins). Both slots are on PCI Express version four, which is worth considering when choosing a drive.

The main advantages:

  • Good location of the main slots, and the slots for RAM and video cards are reinforced
  • Support for working with two M. 2 drives at the maximum speeds provided by PCIe 4.0
  • Good cooling of the chipset
  • Powerful processor power subsystem
  • Two exits to the LSS pumps

Minuses:

  • The upper x1 slot is almost meaningless, as well as the lower one when using two video cards

ASUS PRIME X570-P

Unlike the interface-Packed Board from ASRock, ASUS looks decently simpler – but the price gap is very serious, despite the fact that the chipset in both boards is the same. At the same time, ASUS Prime X570-P is fully ready to use top-end AM4 processors of the third generation, including under overclocking: the VRM built according to the 8+4 scheme can withstand high currents, and the processor power is connected via the 8+4-pin connector. The maximum supported amount of RAM is 128 GB in four slots with frequencies up to 4400 MHz.

There are two PCIe x16 connectors (when using Ryzen 3xxx working in PCI Express 4.0 mode), but only the upper one works directly with the processor – the second one is connected to the chipset and actually works in x4 mode, so CrossFireX support is more for show here – and not everyone needs configurations with two video cards, for that matter. The three PCIe x1 slots also work via the chipset, as does the lower m slot.2-the upper one works directly with the processor. Since, unlike ASRock, the chipset radiator (which has active cooling) does not serve as a storage radiator at the same time, the thermal mode was made more comfortable. This is important: long video cards strongly restrict the flow of air to the chipset fan (Gigabyte has a much better fit), and even” throw ” hot air to it, but the temperature continues to be kept at a normal level for operation. There are six SATA connectors.

The main advantages:

  • VRM has a good power and thermal reserve
  • Availability of two M. 2 slots

Minuses:

  • Bad placement of the chipset fan
  • “Stripped-down” lower PCIe x16 slot

ASUS TUF B450M-PRO GAMING

To build a computer in a low case and on a single video card, this motherboard is quite interesting: the AMD B450 chipset, support for memory with a frequency of up to 3533 MHz in overclocking, two m slots.2. high-Quality cooling of the ten-phase (alas, again with doublers for CPU SoC) power subsystem will definitely not be superfluous, and the manufacturer’s special protection against static electricity of important circuits and the use of military grade components is a good bonus to reliability.

Unfortunately, the compact format of the Board will require more attention to the choice of processor cooler, especially if the memory is already purchased with high radiators. But this is a common problem for most microATX boards.

Note the traditional Asus quality of the sound path on the Realtek S1200A. The only pity is that there is no optical output.

The main advantages:

  • Overall high quality
  • Well-designed power subsystem

Minuses:

  • Limited number of PCI e slots, and only one works in x16 mode (chipset limitation)

GIGABYTE B450 AORUS ELITE (rev. 1.0)

Overclocking capabilities here are lower than what you expect from the Board on the B450 chipset – the manufacturer claims to support memory frequencies only up to 3200 MHz. Given how well Zen and Zen+ respond to the increase in operating frequencies of RAM, this slightly worsens the impression of the Board.

If the SSD you selected is M.If it is very hot during active use, then Gigabyte’s decision to complete the Board with a radiator with developed fins will definitely go to the pros. But it would be worth at the same time to make the Board wider – the standard mounting points on the right side in the case do not reach it, and the edge “hangs” in the air. Given the rather thin textolite, this will require caution when connecting 24-pin and SATA connectors. The 8-pin connector for powering the processor is clamped in a narrow place between the casing and the radiators, it is inconvenient to connect power, as well as to wrap the mounting screw located next to it.

In General, the Board, of course, is quite attractive for a new build, and only the errors described above do not allow us to raise its rating points.

The main advantages:

  • High-quality power subsystem
  • Good SSD cooling in the upper M. 2 slot

Minuses:

  • “Sagging” edge of the Board
  • It is inconvenient to install the Board and connect the processor power

ASRock B450 Pro4

For more or less budget builds, this motherboard is quite good: its assets include a chipset with Zen+ support, and sufficient cooling. However, an empty space on the Board bothers my eyes: in theory, there should have been a slot for SD M.2, but you can only see the CMOS battery instead. Upper m slot.2 is located above PCIe x16 on the same line as PCIe x1, which limits the maximum possible length of the drive. The manufacturer does not offer a radiator for it.

In General, the motherboard, although it meets the price, and gives good opportunities, but the feeling of some “unfinished” does not allow it to raise the rating. And the sagging right edge of the Board, taking into account the thin textolite, spoils the impression.

The main advantages:

  • Availability of two M. 2 slots
  • Good VRM radiators, although the power phases themselves are not enough to accelerate the eight-core Zen+ “to the maximum»

Minuses:

  • The illogical location of the top of the slot M. 2

Best motherboards for LGA 2066 socket

ASUS WS X299 PRO

Heavy rendering, working with 4K video (although 8K is not new, for that matter)? In such applications that require high computing power and are well parallelized, HEDT processors will be at ease – and the WS X299 PRO Board developed specifically for workstations will help them in this.

Eight RAM slots are designed for DDR4-4133, and four PCIe x16 slots are available, all of them reinforced. The top two are traditionally separated into one slot, while the lower ones are adjacent, and between them and the second PCIe x16 slot is the x4 slot. However, no one will build a configuration with four video accelerators on this Board, because, depending on the number of processor lines, its maximum is working in 3 – Way mode (x16-x16-x8 for processors with 48 and 44 PCIe lines), or 2-Way (x16-x8 for processors with 28 lines). PCIe devices are powered by a six-pin connector on the Board (non-standard, please note). For high-speed solid-state drives, there are two M. 2 slots, both on the PCI Express 3.0 bus (Hey, Intel, and AMD already has 4.0!), as well as a U. 2 connector.

A powerful power subsystem powered by two 8-pin connectors is collectively cooled by three radiators on a common heat pipe. Given that HDD processors do not consume energy, but literally eat it for both cheeks, this is not superfluous.

The Board itself is on thick textolite, with a decent margin of safety for heavy tower coolers. However, it is also regularly provided for the management of high-performance LSS (there is a separate power outlet for the pump with increased current output) or simpler AIO liquid cooling systems – although putting AIO on HEDT is an idea from the category, to put it mildly, eccentric.

There are also “Goodies” – for example, a high-quality sound subsystem with optical digital output and, which is hardly necessary for a workstation, support for synchronized dynamic lighting Aura. In General, the Board came out very decent – for really powerful (both” computationally “and” electrically”) systems, it will be a good choice.

The main advantages:

  • Powerful power subsystem
  • Support for two video cards in x16-x16 mode
  • Two M. 2 slots and support for SSD U. 2
  • Mechanical strength of the Board
  • Post-code indicator, power management and restart buttons on the Board itself for easy overclocking

Minuses:

  • The second Board will block the x4 slot, in the 3-Way configuration, you will not be able to install anything other than video cards at all without using risers

GIGABYTE X299 UD4 Pro (rev. 1.0)

If the motherboard from ASUS is designed for maximum “hardcore”, then Gigabyte, assembled on the same chipset, is designed for more moderate loads. Suffice it to say that the VRM is powered through just one 8-pin connector, and the number of VRM phases is less – that is, it will fit under the “Junior” HEDT processors, while the most powerful ones will inevitably overheat the VRM and, accordingly, fall into trottling on a signal from the thermal sensor. Even though the maximum TDP of processors in the list of supported cards is 165 watts. The latest BIOS version (F6) now supports tenth-generation processors (Cascade Lake-X), from i9-10900X to i9-10980XE.

The Board supports four-channel operation with RAM up to 4400 MHz, the maximum capacity in eight slots is 128 GB, if a 44 – lane or 28-lane processor is used-“Junior” processors on 16 lines can use only 4 slots and, respectively, up to 64 GB and in dual – channel mode. Two M. 2 slots are provided for drives. and there are as many as five PCIe x16 slots, and four of them work directly with the processor lines, only one “hangs” on the chipset. In x16 mode, only two slots work, the third one is x8, and the rest are x4. At the same time, working with three video cards in x16-x16-x8 mode is only available for processors with 44 and 48 lines… which are too voracious for this Board, so the real Board ceiling is x16-x8 in 2-Way mode.

The main advantages:

  • A good configuration of connectors – the” high-speed “(gray) ch16 slots are far apart, even in a configuration with three video cards, installing the expansion card in the upper “slow” (black) slot will not block the air cooling of the upper card
  • Support for U. 2 drives
  • Good cooling settings and temperature monitoring capabilities

Minuses:

Weak for” older ” HEDT VRM processors

Which motherboard is better to buy?

If the processor can be called the” brain “of a personal computer, then the motherboard is its”skeleton”. It defines how all the components of the Assembly will interact and restricts the set of components themselves. Well, a bridge that is prone to overheating will cause no less problems than an old fracture – everything seems to work, but sometimes you don’t want to “walk”.

We will not go into the discussion of platforms: it is stupid to compare the Lamborghini Gallardo and UAZ Patriot, everyone has different needs. So let’s focus on what your motherboard should have, regardless of the processor type:

  • Sufficient VRM cooling for the intended CPU. A low-power stone with a TDP of 45 watts will fit absolutely any Board, but with a consumption of 90 W or more, the number of phases and the presence of radiators is critical. Otherwise, you will, as the author of these lines, fasten an additional fan over the MOSFETs. The use of solid-state capacitors is mandatory.
  • The video card connector should ensure its normal installation: the card should not interfere with the removal of memory modules, and even more so close the necessary connectors. For heavy multi-slot “stoves” it is better to choose motherboards with reinforced connectors.
  • The layout of the motherboard is chosen taking into account the features of the intended cooler – otherwise You may find that it rests on the RAM bars.
  • Stock for upgrades will never hurt, except for the cheapest builds. Again, don’t repeat the author who owns the boiler on AM3+. For Intel, taking into account their traditions, it is better not to save on the motherboard – take it even more expensive with a younger processor in the line, but with the ability to install the top one from it in the future, and not immediately take the top stone on the old socket: then you will not put anything faster.
  • Of the connectors for peripherals, we note the importance of M.2: modern SSDS have long surpassed the throughput of SATA 3, so switching to M. 2 can give You a serious boost to data processing speed.
  • Built-in sound: if the sound quality has high requirements, then either choose the top – end” build-in”, or any-but with an external sound card. If you have an amplifier or receiver with “optics” at home, then a motherboard with the appropriate output will not be the worst option.

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