These are the best motherboards you can buy in 2021
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:
Navigate this article:
- Best overall motherboard for AMD CPUs: ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming
- Best overall motherboard for Intel CPUs: ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming
- Best B550 AMD motherboard: NZXT N7 B550
- Best budget AMD motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS
- Best budget Intel motherboard: Gigabyte Z490 Gaming X
- Best compact Intel motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming
- Best compact AMD motherboard: Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WIFI
- Best AMD motherboard for enthusiasts: Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Master
- Best Z690 chipset motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
Best overall motherboard for AMD CPUs: ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming
|Specification||ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming|
|Voltage Regulator:||12+4 power stages|
|Expansion slots:||2 x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)|
2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 4.0 x16 (max at x4 mode) *1
2 x PCIe 4.0 x1
|USB Ports:||7 x USB 3.2 Gen 2|
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2
The ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming motherboard is one of the current flagship chipsets for AMD builds. It brings full support for PCIe 4.0 including devices connected to both its CPU-integrated controllers. This isn’t the best motherboard for AMD builds, but it brings a good mix of features and performs well for the price. It’s one of the best ASUS motherboards on the market right now and it tends to fly off the shelves rather quickly.
The ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming motherboard features AMD’s AM4 socket, which means it’ll support Ryzen 3000 as well as Ryzen 5000 series processors. You can install up to 128GB of RAM using the four DIMM slots on this board. You don’t need anything more than 32GB for gaming, but having an option to add a copious amount of RAM makes it suitable for those eyeing a high-end video editing rig.
This motherboard also comes with a good selection of ports by today’s standards. ASUS has included as many as seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, an optical S/PDIF out, a 2.5Gb LAN, Wi-Fi, as well an additional USB 3.2 Gen-2 USB-C port. You also get a DisplayPort and HDMI for Ryzen CPUs with integrated graphics, although you’re more likely to have a discrete GPU if you’re spending this much on a motherboard for your build.
The Strix X570-E Gaming motherboard also has plenty of RGB connectors and pump headers for water cooling. Most motherboards these days have enough fan headers, so that’s not an issue here either. Notably, you get two M.2 slots, a few SATA, and even PCI slots for connecting other components like, say, a sound card. As a premium motherboard from a reliable manufacturer, the Strix X570-E also comes with high-quality components and a great power delivery system. It’s critical for motherboards to use reliable parts with a stable power delivery system, and we recommend you check the specifications to see what’s being used. It’s holding a lot of expensive core components of the PC, after all.
Lastly, it’s also worth pointing out that this is one of the best-looking motherboards out there on the market right now. Its gorgeous black PCB design along with ASUS’ Aura RGB effects would good great even on most high-end builds, with or without any flair. You also get plenty of heat sink on the board to keep your components like the M.2 SSD cool at all times.
Overall, the Strix X570-E Gaming motherboard is our pick for the best motherboard for AMD builds simply because it delivers good features and reliable performance at a reasonable price. Of course, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you’ll often find on an enthusiast motherboard. However, it’s a good-looking board with cool RGB effects and reliable components.
You can also check out some B550 motherboards like the Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming Wi-Fi if you don’t feel comfortable spending this much for your PC build. It trades some of the features to help you get a system up and running for less money.
Best overall motherboard for Intel CPUs: ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming
|Specification||ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming|
|Voltage Regulator:||12+4 power stages|
|PCIe x16:||2 x PCIe 4.0/3.0 x16 (x16, x8/x8, x8/x4)|
1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (max. x4)
|USB Ports:||4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports|
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
4 x USB 2.0 ports
The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming is our pick for the best motherboard for an Intel-based build. Yes, it’s essentially the same board we picked above for the AMD builds, but this one comes with support an Intel CPU socket. It’s the Intel counterpart that works with the latest 10th and 11th Gen processors from the Blue Team. It features a similar gorgeous black-coloured PCB with some cool ASUS Aura RGB effects.
We’re also looking at the same set of premium and reliable components, including all the expansion slots required to build a solid high-end PC. The LGA1200 socket supports almost all the Intel CPUs on the market right now. Of course, this won’t support anything older than a 10th gen Intel Core CPU, but we don’t recommend building a PC with an Intel processor that’s older than the 10th gen, to begin with.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming motherboard comes with a solid BIOS and fantastic overclocking potential. You can even use it to build a premium PC with, say, an Intel Core i9-11900K and get the most out of your build. It tends to run a little hot while overclocking, but it’s nothing a good PC case with decent airflow can’t fix. It also comes with support for super-fast M.2 NVMe storage drives and up to 128GB of RAM to further supercharge your build. The dual M.2 slots get their own heat sinks too, which is great. The motherboard also has good passive cooling for VRM to ensure both CPU and GPU are getting clean power supplies.
As for ports, the Strix Z590-E motherboard features dual 2.5Gb LAN, up to four USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one USB Type-C port and three USB Type-A ports), two USB 3.2 Gen 1, and four USB 2.0. Additionally, you also get optical S/PDIF, Wi-Fi, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI for integrated GPUs. It goes without saying that ASUS has also included more USB headers required for other components. Enthusiast builders looking to add a fancy water cooling solution will also get enough pump headers on the board. You may have to spend a little time routing the tubes for the cooling solution as the DIMM slots are closer to the edge.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming is an impressive motherboard for Intel builds. It may not have all the fancy features like custom water blocks or 10 GbE that you get with the ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial, but it’s also not as expensive either. The Strix Z590-E is also known to work with a variety of Intel CPU’s without a hitch, making it more reliable. This is an ATX motherboard, so make sure you at least have a mid-tower case, if not a full-tower, to fit this motherboard comfortably.
Best B550 AMD motherboard: NZXT N7 B550
|Specification||NZXT N7 B550|
|Voltage Regulator:||12+4 power stages|
|PCIe x16:||1 x PCIe x16 (x16 mode)|
1 x PCIe x16 (x4 mode)
2x PCIe 3.0 x1
|USB Ports:||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C)|
3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A)
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Type-A)
2 x USB 2.0
The B550 chipset replaces AMD’s ageing B450 chipsets on the market with some noteworthy improvements like for Ryzen 3000 series processors, PCIe 4.0 for GPUs and SSDs, dual-GPU configurations, and more. The B550 motherboards are recommended for those who’re not looking to splurge a lot of money to get the premium X570 features. NZXT’s relatively new N7 B550 motherboard is our pick in that regard.
NZXT worked with ASRock to build the N7 B550 motherboard for AMD enthusiasts. It’s the company’s first AMD motherboard and they released it by popular request after its N7 Z490 motherboard for Intel processors. This board, as you can see, brings a clean and unique look to the table. A huge chunk of the board is covered with flat metal shrouds, barely leaving any room to expose PCB design or RGB lights. It matches the aesthetics of NZXT’s H Series cases.
On the features side, the NZXT N7 B550 motherboard includes PCIe 4.0 support, Wi-Fi 6E, as many as six SATA ports and plenty of USB ports on the rear IO. The motherboard also has fantastic power delivery to support even an overclocked Ryzen 9 5950X. While there are plenty of features to look forward to, we think it’s the support for Wi-Fi 6E that makes this board stand out from others. Notably, the N7 B550 motherboard also supports 2.5GbE, so you’re not missing out on ethernet either.
The NZXT N7 B550 is also known to handle performance well. As mentioned earlier, it supports overclocking and can handle even the Ryzen 9 5950X at peak frequencies. The VRM cooling isn’t the best in the business, but it can comfortably support even the most demanding AMD CPUs on the market. In case you’re wondering, it comes with 12+2+2 phases to handle the incoming load from power-hungry chips.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the NZXT N7 B550 motherboard. It brings a good mix of features and a sleek-looking design. This capable motherboard with ultra-fast Wi-Fi easily reserves a spot in our collection for the best motherboard. Even with a high-end graphics card and a PCIe 4.0 SSD, the B550 leaves enough bandwidth for other components, making it perfect for high-end premium builds. We recommend pairing it with an NZXT H-series case to maintain the aesthetics, but it’ll look great with any minimal setup.
The ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS is a great alternative for those looking for a relatively cheaper motherboard. But you’ll miss out on some good features like support for Wi-Fi 6E, the number of fast USB ports, and more. You’ll find more affordable B450 motherboards on the market too, but we don’t recommend them unless you’re really trying to save some money with your build.
Best budget AMD motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS
|Specification||ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS|
|Voltage Regulator:||8+2 DrMOS power stages|
|PCIe x16:||1 x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16 mode)|
1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 mode)
1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x4 mode)
3 x PCIe 3.0 x1
|USB Ports:||2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports|
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
2 x USB 2.0 ports
The AMD TUF Gaming B550-Plus motherboard is our pick for the best budget AMD board on the market. The budget-conscious shoppers who’re not looking to get the absolute best can save as much as $100 by going with this motherboard. It’s safe to say that the ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS motherboard comes with plenty of features you need, and none of the fancy features you don’t.
The ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS comes with an AM4 socket which means it’s good for Ryzen 3000 and 5000-series processors. It’s not powerful enough to handle extreme overclocking conditions though, so you might want to keep your expectations in check in terms of the chip support. We recommend this motherboard for a fairly budget build involving chips like the Ryzen 5 5600X. It’s not an enthusiast-grade motherboard designed to handle high-performance CPUs.
Despite a relatively affordable price tag, the ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS comes with support for PCIe 4.0 for GPUs and SSDs, dual-GPU configurations, and 4x 32GB (128GB) of RAM. It’s overkill considering you won’t need these many features for a fairly simple build involving a mid-range CPU, but it’s nice to have the headroom for future upgrades. You don’t get a heat sink covering the M.2 SSD slot, but there’s a large one on top next to the connections.
The motherboard also comes with integrated WiFi AX200 and Realtek 2.5G LAN and TUF features, making this a well-rounded board for the price. We think it’s priced reasonably well for a micro-ATX board, and goes head-to-head with other options on the market like the ASRock’s B550M Steel Legend. However, most of them lack some features that you may find in more expensive boards. Alternatively, you can also check out the ASUS TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS variant of this board. It’s a smaller micro-ATX motherboard that resides in the low-/middle-end of the B550 range. It lacks some of the features you may find useful on the larger B550-PLUS motherboard, though.
We’ve added the ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS to our collection for its reliable performance. You can get a decent mid-range PC up and running with this motherboard without any hassle. And even though, it doesn’t have all the premium features, it’s plenty to cover all the important stuff. You’re not missing out on anything with the B550-PLUS, except a touch of RGB, of course. You can also look at some B450 motherboards if you’re truly strapped for cash, but then you’ll be settling for PCIe 3.0 for GPU and SSDs, limited chipset support, and more. Not to mention, they’re also nearing their end of life on the market.
Best budget Intel motherboard: Gigabyte Z490 Gaming X
|Specification||Gigabyte Z490 Gaming X|
|Voltage Regulator:||11+1 Phases|
|PCIe x16:||1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot|
1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
3 x PCIe 3.0 x1
|USB Ports:||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port|
7 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
The GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X is our pick for the best budget Intel motherboard right now. It’s one of the non-Aorus boards from the company and we think it provides a solid entry-point for those who are looking to step into the world of PC with an Intel build. Its specifications include three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, six SATA ports, and an Intel Gigabit Ethernet port.
It’s also a decent looking motherboard with a rather striking black and grey colored PCB design. The heat sinks have grey accents and brushed aluminum look to them. Taking a look at the slots, you’ll see it features two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots running at x16/+4, along with three more PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, and three PCIe 3.0 M.2 slots. It has four DIMM slots next to the LGA1200 socket with support for up to 128GB of RAM. You’re also looking at a 12-phase power delivery system and six SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays.
Moving to the port selection, the GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X lacks USB Type-C connectivity at the back. It’s not exactly a deal-breaker considering its price tag, but it’s worth making a note of. As an end-user, you’ll get two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. You also get a PS/2 combo port to use legacy keyboard and mice. You only get an HDMI output port at the back to take advantage of iGPUs, and a single Ethernet port that’s powered by an Intel Gigabit controller.
We like the addition of premium controllers and the standard Gigabit networking with the Z490 Gaming X motherboard. You can choose to look at some of the Aorus models too for a more premium set of features, but those will burn a deeper hole in your pocket. We think the Z490 Gaming X hits the sweet for economic shoppers who’re willing to make peace with the fancy features on the more premium Z590 motherboards. It’s a great board to step up for your first PC build and easily be paired with any mid-range chips including the Intel Core i5-11600K/KF, and more.
The lack of a USB Type-C port is a bummer, but that shouldn’t keep you from buying this board. You’re bound to miss on some features, especially with one of the cheapest models on the Z490 chipset. We’ll keep an eye out for the new motherboards as the floodgates open with Intel’s Alder Lake launch next year. We’re expecting to see some better options in the budget space from the likes of MSI, GIGABYTE, ASUS, and more. That being said, this is a great motherboard for an Intel-based build in the current budget sphere.
Best compact Intel motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming
|Specification||ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming|
|Voltage Regulator:||8+2 power stages|
|PCIe x16:||1 x PCIe 4.0/3.0 x16 slot|
|USB Ports:||1 x Thunderbolt 4 port|
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 port
4 x USB 2.0 ports
Mini-ITX or small form-factor builds are slowly getting popular now with the influx of supported components on the market. With plenty of PC cases and potent solutions making it easier to build in a mini-ITX, we think it’s equally important to consider those who’re looking to dip their toes into the world of SFF builds. We recommended the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming for an Intel-based mini-ITX build for now.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-1 Gaming motherboard offers a lot of potential without the excess baggage. It has an LGA 1200 socket which means it’s ready for the 11th Gen and 10th Gen Intel Core processors. You can also use this board to build a PC with Pentium Gold and Celeron processors if you wish. What we like the most about this motherboard is ASUS managed to pack plenty of features including some RGB lights.
This motherboard can be a good foundation to build high-end SFF PCs. It features VRM and aluminum I/O heatsink with two skived fins. The heatsink also covers one of the two M.2 slots on board. Thanks to the full-sized PCIe x16 f.0 slot, you can install even the modern GPU without any issues. Although you might want to check for clearance since the slot is pushed towards the edge of the board. Mini-ITX cases tend to be selective with GPU support, so you already have a limited set of options, to begin with.
You can also install up to 64GB of RAM and the motherboard also supports Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) to help you get the most out of your memory. What we also like is the addition of the Wi-Fi 6 module, making it a great option for building a future-proof system too. As for the ports, you get a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, and four USB 2.0 ports. The options are fairly limited but we like the thoughtful addition of a Thunderbolt 4 port. Notably, you also get a 2.5Gb LAN, DisplayPort, and an HDMI port.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming has a bunch of fans, an AIO pump, and USB headers, so you won’t feel restricted with the build. Despite a rather sophisticated VRM cooling though, this motherboard doesn’t sit well with extreme overclocking though. Mini-ITX builds are often limited when it comes to overclocking, but you might want to be more careful with this board, especially without proper airflow within the case. That being said, the Strix Z590-I is arguably one of the best mini-ITX motherboards you can find on the market right now. Although this might change soon as the new crop of motherboards are flooding the market after Alder Lake’s launch.
Best compact AMD motherboard: Gigabyte X570-I AORUS Pro WiFi
|Specification||Gigabyte X570-I AORUS Pro WiFi|
|Voltage Regulator:||Direct 8 Phases|
|PCIe x16:||1 x PCI Express x16 slot|
|USB Ports:||4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports|
1 x USB Type-C port
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port
The Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WiFi is our pick for the best compact AMD motherboard on the market. This can be a great foundation for your next SFF or mini-ITX build. Aorus, in case you don’t know, makes high-end, premium motherboards for Gigabyte, and this is no exception. Despite the form factor, this is one of the most premium motherboards in our collection with some thoughtful additions like the M.2 thermal guard with a multi-layered heatsink design.
The Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WiFi features an AM4 socket for Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series CPUs. You can comfortably install even the high-performance Ryzen 9 5950X CPU and push all the 16 cores and 32 threads. It also retains a full PCIe slot and lets you install two M.2 SSDs and up to 64GB of RAM. You only get 2 DIMM slots though, so you be sure to pick a 32GB kit to go along with this board.
This motherboard also supports Wi-Fi 6, making it a future-proof option for those not wanting to deal with Ethernet all the time. You do get an Intel i211AT GbE LAN accelerator if you need one. As for the ports, the Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WiFi offers a DisplayPort, an HDMI port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a USB Type-C port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, an RJ-45 connector, and audio jacks. Additionally, there are plenty of I/O connectors on the board for fans, extra USBs, an AIO pump, and more.
As we mentioned earlier, the motherboard comes with a massive heat sink with a 5 W/mK LAIRD thermal conductivity pad. What we also like the addition of the M.2 thermal guard with a multi-layered heatsink design. You’ll also see an addressable and a normal LED RGB header next to the DIMM slots on the right. It’s a nice addition to the overall package.
Our recommendation would be to pair this gorgeous and powerful motherboard with a capable mini-ITX case like the Cooler Master MasterBox NR200P Max. This particular case also comes with its own power supply and an AIO cooler to save you some money for the rest of the build. It’s one of our favorite mini-ITX enclosures with decent airflow to keep this motherboard, along with the other components, ticking. There are no RGB lights on the board itself, but you do get an RGB strip running along the right edge.
The Gigabyte X570-I is not the most affordable mini-ITX case on the market, but we think it’s reasonably priced. You do get a lot of thoughtful addition despite the small form factor. You can also look for mini-ITX motherboards without Wi-Fi support to save some money, but won’t be saving too much unless you’re willing to step down to B550 or B450 platforms.
Best AMD motherboard for enthusiasts: Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Master
|Specification||Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Master|
|Form Factor:||E-ATX Form Factor|
|Voltage Regulator:||16+3 Phases|
|PCIe x16:||2 x PCIE 4.0 x16 slots, running at x16|
2 x PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, running at x8
1 x PCI Express x1 slot
|USB Ports:||4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports|
1 x USB Type-C port
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port
While we’ve added plenty of motherboards in our collection for those working with a mainstream Intel or AMD CPU, we wanted to close it out with what we think is one of the most powerful motherboards on the market. The Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Master is made for enthusiasts who don’t necessarily have a fixed budget for their build. With a price tag that matches the budget of an entire PC build for a lot of people, the Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Master is the most expensive motherboard on our list.
This board has practically everything you’d need for a high-end PC. First off, it unlocks support for up to a 64-core Threadripper CPU with 128 threads. You also get as many as eight DIMM slots with support for up to 256GB of quad-channel ECC/ Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4 RAM. The motherboard also has server-class power distribution for stable overclocking, and even an audio ESS 9118 Sabre DAC. It comes with 16+3 phases Infineon Digital VRM solution with a 70A power stage. It also features an advanced thermal design with a Fins-Array heatsink and a heat pipe that extends along the side.
The Gigabyte TRX40 supports as many as four GPUs so you can build a fully decked out PC of your dreams. It supports Nvidia’s Quad-GPU SLI and AMD’s Quad-GPU CrossFire technologies. As for the expansion slots, the board has two PCI Express x16 slots (running at x16), two additional PCI Express x16 slots (running at x8), and a single PCIe x1 slot. They all conform to PCI Express 4.0 standard.
This particular board also comes with hardware monitoring sensors to detect high voltage, high temperature, water cooling flow rate detection, overheating warning, and more. You can also control the fan speeds directly provided you install a fan (pump) that supports the speed control function. The only real drawback of this motherboard is the associated price tag. But is that really an issue if you’re planning to buy an AMD Threadripper?
Workstation-grade PCs involving AMD’s Threadripper or Intel’s Xeon processors are significantly more expensive than the mainstream PCs. That’s because the powerful platforms also demand high-performance components like this motherboard. You can also buy another variant of this board called the TRX40 AORUS Xtreme. It comes with a sophisticated design, a better thermal solution with more heat sinks and a metal shroud covering the PCB. However, it costs $300 more than the Aorus Master edition.
Workstation boards for Intel’s Xeon processors are priced similarly, but you might want to until the new set of motherboards arrive on the market along with Intel’s next-generation CPUs. The Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Master motherboard is readily available on the market as it’s not as popular as other mainstream boards.
Best Z690 chipset motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
Now that Intel’s new Alder Lake CPUs are available to purchase, we wanted to add a couple of Z690 motherboards to the list. Intel’s new 12th-gen CPUs demand a new motherboard with the new Z690 chipset and the new LGA 1700 CPU socket. Even though the CPUs are relatively new to the market, there are plenty of these compatible motherboards available to purchase. Out of all the available options, we think the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is a solid option to consider. It’s a high-end motherboard that comes with all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a premium board.
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, as you can see, comes with a black-colored PCB. A large portion of the PCB is covered with a shroud. It even lights up in pretty colors, adding a touch of lights to the internals of your PC. There’s a big shiny ROG logo on the top and ASUS is calling it the Polymo Lighting. This isn’t an OLED panel like we’ve seen in some other premium motherboards like the MSI Godlike family. It appears to use RGB LEDs in an array to display the pre-programmed patterns.
The motherboard comes with a total of 20+1 power stages with circuits that can handle up to 90 amps. The VRM is perfectly capable of hosting an unlocked CPU like the 12600K or even the 12900K. The VRMs on the board are cooled by two large heatsinks. They’re joined together by two large metal pipes along with the two large heat-spreaders. The shroud extends all the way to the bottom, covering the M.2 Key M slots too.
One of the best things about this motherboard is that it comes with plenty of I/O ports. You get a bucketful of USB ports including Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and more. Additionally, you also get two antenna connections for the 6E Wi-Fi, an RJ-45 jack, an HDMI port, the standard five 3.5mm audio jacks, and an optical S/PDIF port. Notably, the I/O shield comes pre-installed with the motherboard, which means it’s easier for you to install the board while building the PC.
As a premium high-quality motherboard, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero also comes with a ton of headers for USB, fans/pumps, RGB, and more. New to the ASUS Z690 Hero board is the addition of a new feature called PCI-E Slot Q-Release. It’s essentially a button that pulls a steel wire that is attached to the locking lever on the PCIe x16 slot. This pulls the GPU lockout of position, thereby making it easier for you to remove it. ASUS has also installed three M.2 Key M slots to the board. One of them is directly connected to the primary PCIe x16 slot and can hold any M.2 NVMe SSD. The other two can only accept M.2 modules up to 80mm in length.
Overall, we think the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one of the best Z690 chipset motherboards you can buy for your new Alder Lake CPU build. It’s not the best or the most premium Z690 motherboard out there but it’s still plenty to enable a high-performance build without any bottlenecks. It also supports both DDR5 memory modules and PCIe 5.0, which is great for those who want to invest in a futureproof machine.
- The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one of the best Z690 chipset based motherboards you can buy right now. It carries the LGA 1700 socket for the new 12th gen Intel CPUs and it has a customizable display on the I/O shield cover that looks fantastic.
Alternate pick for the best Z690 motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi
For those of you who think spending $600 on a new motherboard is way too much, then we’ve got a solid alternative in the form of the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi. This one shaves off $200 from the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero’s price tag, yet offers stellar performance and reliable features. Despite the slightly more affordable price tag, it cut no corners whatsoever. MSI has opted to go with the clean black-colored PCB for this board. It’s mostly covered with shrouds and heatsinks for cooling, similar to a lot of other boards on the market.
There’s also very little in the name of RGB lighting, but we think it is just enough to add a nice touch of colors to the overall aesthetics of your build. The VRM is kept cool with a large-sized heatsink that extends further towards the bottom. The M.2 slots are also covered with a shroud with thermal pads to keep them cool. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon motherboard will let you install up to 128GB of DDR5 RAM. It supports memory speeds of up to DDR5-6666 MT/s, which means you can install a set of high-performance DDR5 memory kits.
The motherboard also comes with PCIe 5.0 support and opens up two PCIe 5.0 x16 slots for GPUs and expansion cards. There’s an additional PCIe 4.0 x16 slot too in case you need it. You also get up to five M.2 slots on this board, which is fantastic. It’s more than what you can install on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard too, which is fantastic. You also get up to six SATA 6Gb/s ports for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi comes with a Z690 chipset and it has an LGA 1700 socket for the new Alder Lake CPUs. MSI seems to have done a pretty good job of cooling the VRMs. This is crucial since the modules will get rather toasty, especially when you’re using a high-performance CPU like the Intel Core i9-12900K. Yes, the motherboard also supports overclocking, so you can push the CPU to its limits provided you have a quality CPU cooler.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi motherboard also comes with plenty of ports, and the I/O shield is also pre-installed. One of the major complaints we have with this motherboard is that it only comes with a 2.5Gb LAN port. It would’ve been nice to see a 5Gb or even a 10Gb port, but it looks like MSI wanted to cut some corners here to keep the price low. Overall, we think the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is a solid option for anyone who’s looking to build a new PC with Intel’s new Alder Lake CPUs. You get a lot of value for your money with this motherboard. The fact that you get a futureproof board with DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support for this price, makes it a solid recommendation. You can click the link below to get the best price for this board online right now.
Motherboards build a strong foundation for a PC build and we’ve got a healthy list of options for you to choose from. We recommend the ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming and the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming as our top picks for most mainstream AMD and Intel builds respectively. But you might want to check out the budget options like the Gigabyte Z490 Gaming X if you’re working with a low budget. In addition to mini-ITX boards, we’ve also added the Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Master as an option that can seriously blow through your budget quickly. Those leaning towards an Alder Lake build can check out the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero or the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi motherboard. They both are equally good and offer plenty of great features like DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support.
With the arrival of Windows 11 and the launch of new Intel processors on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to plan a new PC build. You can also check out our collection of the best monitors, best keyboards, and even best webcams if you’re looking to create a fully-kitted set up with the best peripherals. As a rule of thumb, always remember to buy a component that suits your needs, and not because it’s new or the fastest on the market. It’s important to make sure your budget has enough room to accommodate the other supporting components for your build too.