Best Gaming Motherboards of 2019: Complete Reviews with Comparisons
When it comes to building your own PC, knowing what components work well is key to being satisfied with your experience. One of the core elements of any gaming PC is the motherboard.
Often overlooked, the motherboard is the powerhouse of your PC and enables you to support everyday use, gaming, and running multiple programs. As such, we’re taking a closer look at the five best gaming motherboard of 2019.
Best Gaming Motherboard Reviews
1. ASUS Prime Z390-A
Asus Prime works to provide you with a solid rig that offers both support and room to grow and change your PC build as needed. Plus, the Prime comes equipped with automated system tuning, cooling controls, and audio enhancements.
Here’s an overview of what the ASUS Prime Z390-A offers:
- Five-way optimization: As a new upgrade, the Prime features enhanced overclocking modules which are designed to work with the new Z390 platforms. This helps the PC adjust to your gaming needs by changing the overclock CPU and thermal telemetry to cool your rig down quickly. So, instead of manually having to edit all of your settings, your overclock will auto adjust when you need it.
- Ultrafast connectivity: Unlike previous versions, the Prime has x4 PCI which can connect via express bandwidth 3.0 or 2.0. Pair this with the 32 GPS transfer speeds and backward compatibility with USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A and C. This brings your bandwidth and transfer data speeds to a blazing 10 Gbps.
- OptiMem II: Crosstalking may be an issue with other builds, but the OptiMem II focuses on reducing this by adding shielding zones and reducing vias throughout the PCB layers. On top of that, there’s more memory control to help out with overclocking using an advanced T-topology layout which cuts back on delayed signals.
- Enhanced cooling: ASUS uses the Fan Xpert 4 to help provide better cooling dynamics to your rig. It features three thermal sensors that assist with auto cooling and keeping your PC at operating temperature. This enhances performance and keeps the graphics card, GPU, and other components at an ideal temp.
- Upgraded audio: Using Realtek S1220A, the Prime features a line in 120 dB ratio that includes a line out of 113 dB. This provides you with a clear auto quality that can adjust to optimal ranges. Perfect for both headphone and speaker users.
- Visually stunning design: Besides the performance, the Prime includes a fantastic aesthetic that is sure to impress any gamer. The system consists of a full RGB LED control that allows you to change the presets.
What's to like about the ASUS Prime Z390-A
Overall, we find that the ASUS Prime includes all the performance you could ask for in a moderate price range. Designed with PC gaming in mind, you won’t find a system that functions as smoothly when it comes to keeping your rig cool, controlled, and high performing.
What's not to like about the ASUS Prime Z390-A
While the LED lights are a bonus, the RGB lights don’t come with any headers. This can be difficult, as you’ll need those to put the lights onto your PC frame properly.
2. MSI X470 Gaming Plus
The MSI X470 is designed to give you an enhanced experience with sound boosters. A majority of MSI motherboards include the MSI Audio Boost which enables you to hear every detail of your game.
Along with that, it’s designed to support the AMD Ryzen Series along with any processors in the 7th Gen A-series. You’ll experience lower latency, better bandwidth, and boosted gameplay performance.
Here’s a quick look at the MSI X470 Gaming Plus:
- Chemi-con audio capacitors: If you’re looking for the best sound output, you’ll be pleased with the upgraded audio system. This version offers golden audio capacitors which enable you to have an enhanced experience. Make movies, video games, and videos come to life with lifelike sound.
- Increased cooling: High performance requires a cool core temperature. There are multiple fans installed to help prevent the system from overheating while you’re maxing out your games. You’ll have full control of where to put the fans, fan headers, and the ability to adjust the controls.
- Smart fan optimization: MSI works to create motherboards that track thermal temperatures by monitoring your fan speeds. The smart system gives you updates on each fan, including CPU fans. You can set up, control, and change settings yourself, but the system can regulate the cooling system by itself.
- Mystical LED lights: Change the colors, hues, and brightness of your setup using the MSI Mystic Light Application. If you ever get bored of a color, you’ll be able to spice your gaming rig up by changing to a different theme with just a few clicks.
- Compatibility: The X470 Gaming Plus can be attached to AMD RYZEN series processors or any 7th gen A series or Athlon processors.
What's to like about the MSI X470 Gaming Plus
The smart fan optimization keeps your PC temperature regulated at all times. No need to go into the settings or BIOS and adjust anything. Instead, the smart fan system will sense when components are getting too hot and will automatically cool down your computer.
What's not to like about the MSI X470 Gaming Plus
Sadly, the lack of compatibility with more recent processors is its major letdown. While this may be good for those updating older models, it won’t work for the latest 8th and 9th Gens.
3. Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra
The Z390 Aorus Ultra is a motherboard that’s designed to put up with rigorous use. If you’re the type of person to leave your game running in the background, play for extended periods, or have multiple programs open at the same time, the Z390 will help keep your PC temperatures regulated. It’s been designed with speed in mind, which can help those with 9th generation Intel core processors.
Here’s what you would expect from Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra:
- Advanced design: The Z390 focuses its design on thermal regulation by using multiple heat sinks paired with a Direct Touch Heatpipe to help keep the temperature down. Add in the thermal padding and MOSFET cooling, and you have yourself a setup that repels heat away from its components.
- Ultra-fast WiFi: With WiFi speeds of up to 1.73 Gbps, you’ll be able to surpass the GbE barrier with the wireless design. A strong WiFi connection is key to having smooth gameplay, as it prevents lag, performance, and keeps you online at all times.
- Smart fans: Five different smart fans keep the main compartment cool. You’ll be able to change the fan positions and adjust the headers to help regulate each component. Included are multiple sensors to adjust fan speeds to the correct cooling capacity.
- Triple M.2: The Triple M.2 functions as a thermal guard to help prevent the M.2 SSD from throttling at higher speeds. Anyone who plans to overclock their system and use multiple devices or programs will benefit from this protection.
- RGB Fusion Lights: The RGB Fusion application enables you to change your systems colors to match your style. You’ll gain instant access to multiple lights and settings and be able to change the theme within a few seconds.
- Aorus 360 Armor: The 360 Armor is an extra layer of protection to help protect the main components of your PC. This includes PCIe, I/O shielding, and other added parts.
What's to like about the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra
If you’re looking for a highly durable motherboard, then you’ll be impressed with the Z390. The extra protection, thermal regulation, and smart cooling all blend to help extend the lifespan of the motherboard and prevent any thermal damage.
What's not to like about the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra
We’ve heard that it can be frustrating to setup the BIOS using this system if you’re running an i9-9900K. However, a quick fix to this problem is to update the BIOS.
4. EVGA Z390 FTW
If you’re looking for an affordable motherboard that can keep up with high-end gaming, then look no further than the EVGA Z390 FTW. It features all the necessary plug-in outlets, enhanced audio, and the ability to run your games at maximum while regulating the temperature. Overall, this is a well-rounded motherboard for mid-tier and is compatible with most 8th and 9th generation processors.
Upon unboxing, here are we found out about the EVGA Z390 FTW:
- Compatibility: The Z390 chipset supports a majority of 8th and 9th generation processors that use the LGA1151 Socket. This enables most modern PCs to use the chip, but if you’re on an older processor, you’re most likely out of luck.
- Ports: The ports feature six USB 2.0, 5 USB 3.1 Gens, Type-A, and Type-C. This will be enough to support multiple plug-ins and saves you the trouble from having to invest in adapters.
- Immersive audio: Using a 7.1 EVGA audio channel, the EVGA aims to enhance your gaming by giving you a completely immersive sound experience. You can hear every detail of your game by connecting your headphones or using speakers. Either way, the audio channel enhances the smaller details and makes it easy to distinguish where the sounds are coming from.
- Durable build: Of course, the FTW series is one of the strongest motherboards. The power design enables multiple SLI support along with metal reinforcements. This helps to lock everything in and keeps the smaller components protected from damage.
- GUI BIOS: Unlike other motherboards, the system is put through multiple tests to ensure that you can use the BIOS without any issues. It’s primed to be long lasting, and with the adjustable BIOS controls, you’ll be able to customize your experience.
What's to like about the EVGA Z390 FTW
The best feature about this motherboard is that there are so many extra ports that you won’t have to worry about not having space to connect other components or devices.
What's not to like about the EVGA Z390 FTW
Some motherboards were shipped with dead CMOS batteries. It’s important to check to see if it’s working before you fully configure your PC or else you’ll have to take everything apart to replace the battery. Luckily, the warranty covers these issues, and you can contact the EVGA support team.
5. ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC
The Z390 Phantom is a high-performance motherboard ideal for both 8th and 9th Gen Intel Core processors. If you’re looking for a clean design that enables you to install the system and set it up quickly, then you may enjoy the ASRock Z390. It has a stunning BIOS, superb build quality, and enhanced stability to support those high-performance games and programs.
Here’s an overview of the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC:
- Polychrome RGB: RGB setups are known for their illumination, but the headers, strips, fans, and other components can be synchronized with the RGB program. This enables you to connect multiple devices and control the colors, hues, and saturation to match your ideal style.
- Overheat protection: Using an M.2 Heatsink, the system features a full coverage system that helps disperse any hot air. This reduces the overall thermal temperature and enables your PC to stay at consistent levels. This will help reduce overheating damage, allowing you to use high speeds.
- Ports: Having multiple ports on an updated motherboard is essential. The system comes equipped with three Type-C, six Thunderbolt devices, and reversible USB Type-C devices.
- WiFi speeds: A lousy internet connection is the worst when it comes to high-performance games. If you’re playing something that requires a constant connection, you don’t want the WiFi to cut out on you, even if it’s just for a second. The system includes a wireless-AC 9560 adapter which can support high internet speeds of 1.73 Gbps. Pair this with the integrated wireless 802.11 ac solutions and 5Ghz WiFi support, and you have yourself a speedy motherboard.
- Cinema5 Sound System: The sound is just as important as graphics or performance. The audio is designed to create realistic sounds that mimic the real world. If you’re gaming, watching shows, or using VR, the system will amplify realistic sounds for both headphone and speaker users.
What's to like about the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC
The ASRock Z390 is one of the best motherboards because of its balance with all features. You have stable BIOS, good overheat protection, and high speeds that support hardcore gaming.
What's not to like about the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC
So far, there hasn’t been that many complaints regarding the performance or features of the system. The lack of instructions, though, may be frustrating to some users who aren’t familiar with setting up motherboards.
Often we see the first-time PC builders purchase the first motherboard they see. While you can get away with doing so, it’s not recommended.
Ideally, you’ll want to select a motherboard based on what type of gaming experience you want. Some motherboards excel at high-speed internet, while others range on sound quality and some work for overclocking. Hence, in this section, we plan to introduce you to the main buying considerations you should keep in mind when selecting one of the best gaming motherboards.
The chipset is one of the most important aspects because it connects the motherboard to other parts of the PC. If you want high performance, a chipset needs to be high quality to communicate efficiently with the memory, processor, and other components of the PC.
Most of the hype for chipsets come from the brand Intel. They tend to make the highest quality of chipsets, and you’ll find them already installed in most motherboards.
Memory, also known as RAM, is controlled by how much space the motherboard allows. Since memory always has to be installed in pairs, you’ll need two different sticks. Check how many Gigabytes the memory holds and then install the RAM sticks.
If there’s 16 GB supported and four slots, you can choose to use two 8GB sticks or four 4GB sticks. Honestly, the memory size should be selected based on how much RAM you think you’ll need. If you plan to download multiple games, consider a higher RAM capacity.
When purchasing a motherboard, you’ll need to protect it from getting scratched or messed up. If you’re not installing the system into your PC right away, then consider investing in a storage box. These handy devices are built to protect the intricate circuitry without them getting damaged.
Peripheral Component Interconnect Express is a type of connection that attaches extra expansion cards. It’s important to get a motherboard that has additional slots as the PCIe controls the bandwidth communication to multiple devices and other hardware. Without these, you won’t be able to connect to other devices.
Be careful and check what size of PCIe your motherboard takes since if you get the wrong size, you won’t be able to install it, especially if it’s too big. Generally, there are four different sizes: PCI Express 1/4/8/16.
Ports are the last essential key to consider when choosing a motherboard. If you plan to attach HDMI cables, DVI connections, Type-A, Type-C, or other connections, be sure the motherboard comes with a port to plug it in.
In some cases, you may be able to find an adapter for cords, but it’s less of a hassle to have multiple types of ports already in the motherboard. Also, be sure to account for how many slots you’ll need. If you plan to attach multiple USBs, you’ll be better off with motherboards that support up to six connections.
How Does the Motherboard Work?
One of the critical components that hold everything in your PC together is the motherboard, which is a printed circuit board. It functions by attaching to multiple parts of your computer and communicating signals between them.
Basically, a motherboard connects all existing cards, CPU, GPU, memory, storage, and other devices to your PC. Without it, a computer wouldn’t be able to start up.
How to Choose a Motherboard for Gaming?
Choosing a motherboard for gaming can be a frustrating task if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. In general, you’re going to want to choose a motherboard based off of the compatibility, performance, storage, CPU/GPU, and memory.
But what if you don’t know what you need? Well, an excellent way to select a motherboard is to get one that has a well-rounded balance between all components.
Most “gaming” motherboards are marketed using the word “gaming”. This can help clue you in if it’s worth it or not.
However, we find the easiest way to select one if you’re unsure is by going off recommendations or by reading reviews. You can get a general idea of what games a person plays and how satisfied they are with their motherboard by reading the pros and cons of what other gamers think.
How Long Do Motherboards Last?
It honestly depends on a number of factors, but an average span of time is usually four to five years. Even if your motherboard lasts longer than that, it’s always a good idea to upgrade it every five years as there are newer models that will be higher performing than the one you have.
How Important Is the Motherboard for Gaming?
If you’re a casual gamer who doesn’t really play that often or doesn’t play high graphics games, then a general gaming motherboard may work for you. If you’re serious about PC gaming and tend to play hours a day, then having a high-end motherboard is vital.
The motherboard comes with multiple components such as fans, sensors, and thermal protection to help sustain heavy gameplay. If you’re running everything on max settings and graphics, then a motherboard should be one of the top tier components of your gaming rig.
How to Find Out What Motherboard I Have?
With any other system, you’ll need to bring up your computer’s system information and check the system information utility tab. You can do this by heading to your desktop screen, holding down the windows key and the “X” key to access the task menu. From there, type in “msinfo32” and press enter. Your information should be displayed.
What to Look for in a Motherboard?
There are so many aspects that you should look for in a motherboard, but the most critical factor is if it’s compatible with your current setup. Most processors will only function with specific motherboards, which is why you need to match them up.
Investing in a motherboard that does not support your components is useless as you won’t be able to get it to function correctly. We’d say look for compatibility, durability, and extra features such as enhanced audio channels, thermal monitors and sensors, and ports.
As you can see, the motherboard is the lifeline of a computer. Similar to the nervous system, it connects and communicates to all other parts of the PC. If you’re running heavy duty programs, videos, or games, then you’ll need a sufficient motherboard.
If we had to choose one off of our list, we’d suggest the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra. Out of the five models, it features the best well-rounded features and enables you to have complete control over your system.