These are the best MSI motherboards you can buy in 2022

These are the best MSI motherboards you can buy in 2022

MSI is a brand that needs no introduction in the PC hardware space. From best gaming laptops to best monitors, there’s hardly a category that MSI hasn’t tapped into. MSI also has a lot of products to offer in the desktop PC components space. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best MSI motherboards you can buy on the market right now. We’ve already added a few MSI motherboards to our collection of the best gaming motherboards. But given the sheer number of options from MSI, we think it deserves a dedicated space.

We’re adding the best MSI motherboards for both Intel as well as AMD CPUs, so you’ll find plenty of options here. We’ve also added the new Z690 chipset-based motherboards to the collection for those looking to dish out a new PC with Alder Lake chips. So without wasting any more time, let’s get started with our collection of the best MSI motherboards you can buy right now.

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Best Z690 motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi

A black-colored MSI motherboard with RGB lights on a white background
MSI’s MPG series has a lot of popular motherboard options. The company has already launched quite a few Z690 motherboards under the MPG series, and we think the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is one of the best motherboards you can buy right now in 2021. This particular motherboard is a successor to its last-gen counterpart, the MPG Z590 Carbon WiFi. As the name suggests, the new motherboard carries Intel’s new Z690 chipset for the Alder Lake CPUs. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi also has an LGA 1700 CPU socket for the new 12th Intel Core processors.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is a fairly simple-looking motherboard. Its black-colored PCB is mostly covered with heatsinks and shrouds to hide all the components. The VRM heatsink cover sports the MSI Dragon logo that lights with RGB LEDs. There’s also Carbon branding towards the bottom of the motherboard. But besides these obvious pieces of branding, MSI has managed to keep the motherboard rather minimal. The rear panel cover over the VRM heatsink also has a carbon fiber texture, but that’s about it.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi motherboard features a robust power delivery system with a direct 18+1+1 phases power. You get dual 8-pin EPS connectors to deliver CPU power. The overall system is quite reliable and the thermal output is maintained well with a sophisticated heatsink. The heavy plated MOS heatsink has a heat pipe to transfer the heat. It has also MOSFET thermal pads to establish proper contact with the heatsink and the module itself. You’ll also see that the VRM heatsink extends towards the bottom to cover the chipset and the M.2 modules too. This type of design is usually seen on pretty expensive boards, so it’s a good sign.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon has four DIMM slots with support for up to 128GB DDR5 memory. According to MSI, you can install modules with up to DDR5-6666 memory speeds, which is pretty impressive. It also comes with support for XMP profiles for tuning. It’s worth pointing out that you will require the new DDR5 modules for this motherboard since it’s not backward compatible. None of the new DDR5 motherboards are backward compatible, so do keep that in mind.

This particular motherboard comes with three full-sized x16 PCIe slots. This motherboard supports PCIe 5.0, so it’s safe to say that it’s a futureproof board. For storage, you get as many as five M.2 slots and six SATA connectors with support for RAID 0,1,5, and 10. The IO shield at the back comes pre-installed out of the box and covers a wide variety of ports including 10 USB ports, a 2.5Gb LAN port, an audio jack stack, and more. Overall, we think the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon is an excellent motherboard for the new Alder Lake PC builds. You can also step up to more premium offerings from MSI, but the Z690 Carbon strikes a good balance between the price, performance, and features that it brings to the table.

    MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi motherboard
    The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is one of the best motherboards you can buy for your Alder Lake PC. It offers a good mix of features and performance at a decent price.

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Alternate best pick: MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi

A black-colored MSI motherboard next to its retail box

The MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi is our alternate pick for the best Z690 motherboard you can buy right now. This particular board is cheaper than the one we mentioned above, yet it offers a unique set of features. Besides the name and some very obvious changes, the Z690 Tomahawk WiFi is almost identical to the Z690 Carbon motherboard. The motherboard, as you can see, doesn’t have any RGB lights and it looks very minimal. The black PCB is covered with black-colored heatsinks/shrouds to hide the components. We think this is perfect for those looking to build a very minimal PC with no RGB bling.

This particular motherboard features the Z690 chipset for Intel Alder Lake CPUs. It also carries the LGA 1700 CPU socket, so it’s perfect for a new Alder Lake build. MSI sells two different variants of this motherboard — one with DDR5 memory support and the other with DDR4. This one with DDR4 support, which is this one, costs $300. This is what we think most people should buy unless you’re chasing the absolute best futureproof machine with DDR5 support. DDR5 is far from being mainstream, so there’s still time before the DDR5 modules are readily available on the market, that too for a reasonable price.

The MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi supports up to DDR4-5200 memory speeds. You can also install up to 128GB DDR4 memory. Between the high memory capacity and memory speeds, you’re not missing out on much, really. Besides that, even the DDR4 version of this particular motherboard supports PCIe 5.0. You get 3 full-sized PCIe x16 slots and a single PCIe x1 slot at the bottom. Only the top PCIe slot, however, is reinforced to hold bigger GPUs. For storage, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk motherboard packs four M.2 slots and offers six SATA connectors with support for RAID 0,1,5, and 10. As a premium Z690 board, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk also offers plenty of headers for USB, RGB lights, fans, and more.

The MAG Z690 Tomahawk motherboard comes with a reliable power delivery system with support for high-performance chips. You can even install an Intel Core i9-12900K and run it with overclocked settings without any issues. The VRM heatsink is covered by the rear panel cover. The VRM heatsink also extends to the bottom of the board to cover the chipset, M.2 modules, and more. This ensures the entire motherboard remains cool at all times. This motherboard is also great for those who like to have a ton of ports on their PC.

The pre-installed IO shield at the back sports as many as eight USB ports including USB Type C ports. You also get an HDMI and Displayport at the back to boot without a discrete GPU. Besides the WiFi antenna socket, there’s also a 2.5Gb LAN port at the back. Overall, we think the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi is a solid board for the price. You can also buy the variant with support for DDR5 memory, as we mentioned earlier. That variant, however, is a little expensive. You might as well step up to the Z690 Carbon WiFi at that point.

    MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi
    The MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi is a great option for those want to carry their DDR4 modules for the a new Alder Lake PC build.

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Premium Z690 motherboard: MSI Z690 ACE

A black-colored MSI motherboard with gold accents

MSI has a ton of motherboard options across different price points. In addition to the ones with an affordable price tag, we wanted to add a high-performance premium board to the list. As such, the MSI MEG Z690 Ace is our pick for the best high-quality motherboard you can buy for your new Intel Alder Lake build. This is arguably the best-looking Z690 motherboard we’ve seen so far. The MEG Z690 Ace, as you can see, comes with a stunning design with black and gold aesthetics. MSI says it uses 24K Gold foil on this motherboard.

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace is a premium board with and it screams quality from any angle you look at it. The black-colored PCB is mostly covered with heatsinks and shrouds, hiding most of the components. The VRM heatsink on the front is covered with an aluminum cover with the MSI Dragon logo on it. The motherboard also comes with a backplate, which is usually only seen on premium, high-end offerings. The backplate quickly loses its value once the motherboard is mounted inside the PC case, but it’s nice to have, especially while you’re working on your build. It helps keep the connections and circuitries safe.

The VRM heatsink also extends towards the bottom of the board to cover the M.2 modules and the chipset. There’s a heat pipe in place to carry the heat. MSI is also using a lot of thermal pads under the heatsink to the main proper contact. It goes without saying that this motherboard has a solid power delivery system for reliable performance. It also supports overclocking, making it a great option for a high-end build. A motherboard like this will also have no issues fitting into most premium builds since there’s nothing in the name of RGB.

As a premium board, you also get support for DDR5 memory modules. This particular motherboard supports up to 128GB DDR5 memory with DDR5-6666 memory speeds. There’s also support for XMP memory and you can overclock the memory modules further provided that you have a solid cooling solution for that in place. Besides the DDR5 support, the MSI MEG Z690 ACE will also support PCIe 5.0 peripherals when they’re launched. For storage, you can install as many as 5 M.2 modules and there’s space to add six SATA drives in RAID 0,1,5, and 10.

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace leaves no stones unturned to offer the best IO ports. You get a total of 10 USB ports at the back including two Thunderbolt 4 Type C ports. There’s no HDMI or Displayport support, but you do get two 2.5Gb LAN ports along with a full stack of audio ports. Overall, we think the MSI MEG Z690 Ace is one of the best Z690 motherboards you can buy right now. It’s just as good, if not better than the MSI Z690 Godlike motherboard that we added to our collection of the best Z690 boards. This is, however, a premium motherboard with an expensive price tag, so make sure you have solid components to pair with it.

    MSI MEG Z690 ACE
    The MSI Z690 ACE is a high-quality motherboard from MSI. This board is perfect for those looking to build a premium, high-end motherboard.

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Best affordable Z690 motherboard: MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR4

A black-colored MSI motherboard with silver accents next to its retail box

If you don’t want to spend as much as $500 on a new motherboard for your PC build, then you can also check more affordable options like the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR4 motherboard. This motherboard costs a little over $200 and offers almost all the features you’d expect from a modern motherboard. In fact, we think the MSI Pro Z690-A is what most people should buy for their Alder Lake PC on a budget. The best thing about this motherboard is that it supports DDR4 memory which means you can also bring your old DDR4 modules with you for the new build. This will save you a lot of money since DDR5 memory modules aren’t readily available on the market, let alone at an affordable price.

The MSI Pro X690-A WiFi DDR4 motherboard supports memory speeds up to DDR4-5200, which means you can install a lot of high-performance modules on it. Notably, you also get support for PCIe 5.0 with this motherboard, so you’re not necessarily missing out on all the important features. PCIe 5.0 peripherals aren’t available on the market yet, but you’ll have a futureproof machine in your hands for when the new peripherals like PCIe Gen 5 SSD, etc. come out. You get three PCIe x16 slots on the board in addition to a single X1 slot. For storage, you’re looking at four M.2 slots. This is better than a lot of other expensive boards we’ve seen on the market. Additionally, you can also connect six SATA drives with support for RAID 0,1,5, and 10.

In terms of the design, we’re looking at a fairly simple design for the motherboard. It’s an all-black motherboard with very no RGB bling or shrouds covering the components. The VRM heatsink cover sports an MSI logo where the chipset heatsink cover read ‘Pro series’ towards the bottom. Even the M.2 slots are exposed on this motherboard. MSI clearly wanted to avoid adding those to keep the price low. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s definitely something worth making a note of. You might want to pick up SSDs with a built-in heat-spreader to keep the temperatures in check.

Also missing on this motherboard is the pre-installed IO shield. Instead of installing it on the board itself, MSI will give you a separate IO shield for you to install while building the PC. This is commonplace for budget options, so we’re not really surprised. But you do get a solid selection of ports, though. You get as many as eight USB ports at the back including a USB Type C port. There’s also an HDMI port and a Displayport for booting without a discrete GPU. There’s also a legacy PS/2 port for the keyboard and mouse in addition to a 2.5Gb LAN port and a full stack of audio ports.

All in all, the MSI Pro-A WiFi DDR4 is a great motherboard for the price. Sure, there are better boards out there with high-quality components, but there’s hardly anything to complain about here given its affordable price tag.

    MSI Pro Z690-A Pro WiFi DDR4
    The MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR4 is one of the most affordable Z690 motherboards you can find on the market right for your Alder Lake build.

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High-performance Z590 motherboard: MSI MPG Carbon EK X

A black-colored MSI motherboard with a monoblock and RGB lights

If you’re in the market to buy a new motherboard for a high-end build with a custom cooling loop, then we think the MSI Carbon EK X is a fantastic option. MSI has partnered with EK custom cooler makers to build a solid board here with a built-in monoblock. The water block should be able to cool the CPU, VRM, and the primary M.2 section. This type of design essentially eliminates the need for an external water block. EK has also worked with ASUS to build a similar motherboard, and we think this one from MSI is just as good and efficient at cooling.

You can buy both the Z690 and the Z590 version of this motherboard depending on your build. It goes without saying that the Alder Lake CPUs will only work on a board with a Z690 chipset and LGA 1700 CPU socket. Z590 chipset board can be used for 10th and 11th gen Intel Core processors. Regardless of the generation, you can use this motherboard to pair with a high-performance CPU like the Core i9 without any issues. The monoblock design of the board eliminates the need for an external CPU cooler too, so that’s great. You’ll appreciate that because this isn’t exactly an affordable board.

The entire monoblock also lights up thanks to the RGB LEDs. There’s also an MSI Dragon logo on the heatsink cover and a Carbon branding at the bottom. All in all, this motherboard is perfect for those who like to have a ton of RGB on their build. The lights are customizable via the MSI MYSTIC LIGHT SYNC software. While the Z590 version of the motherboard only supports DDR4 memory and PCIe 4.0 peripherals, the new Z690 variant unlocks both of them for a high-performance build with no compromises.

You’ll be able to install up to 128GB DDR5 memory with high speeds to get the best results. And even though PCIe 5.0 peripherals are still not available on the market, it’s always best to have futureproof components that are ready for what’s coming next. The Z690 version of this motherboard comes with five M.2 slots. All of them are covered with MSI’s Shield Frozr to maintain the thermal output of the modules even under heavy load. Additionally, there’s also space to add as many as six SATA connectors with support for RAID 0,1,5, and 10.

This particular variant of the motherboard is essentially the same as the standard Carbon variant. This is, in fact, the same variant that we added above as our pick for the best Z690 MSI motherboard without the water block. But if you’re looking to build a PC with a custom cooling loop, then this motherboard will save you both time and money. All you have to do is simply route the coolant channel through the water block and you should be ready to go. Building a PC with a custom cooling loop isn’t an easy task, so we’ll take all the help we get. You can check out the pricing for the Z590 version of the board below.

    MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X
    The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X is a premium motherboard that comes with its own water block for the CPU, VRM, and the M.2 section.

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Best X570 motherboard: MSI MPG X570 Pro Carbon WiFi

A black-colored MSI motherboard with RGB lights

If you’re someone who’s looking to buy a motherboard for a new AMD CPU-based build, then we recommend checking out the MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard. This is, without a doubt, one of the best AMD motherboards you can buy on the market right now. It also happens to be a sophisticated board with tons of RGB lighting and heatsinks. The motherboard, as you can see, has RGB LED lights on the sides that throw subtle light on the PC case when installed. The VRM heatsink and the chipset heatsink also have carbon fiber textures, giving it a very unique look overall.

This particular motherboard, as the name suggests, comes with an X570 chipset. It also carries the AM4 CPU socket for AMD CPUs. You can use this motherboard to install both Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series chips. That being said, we recommend buying a sophisticated motherboard like this for a high-performance building involving high-ends CPUs like the Ryzen 9 5900X. That coupled with a solid high-performance CPU cooler will set you up for a premium PC build.

You can install up to 128GB of DDR4 memory on this motherboard. MSI says it can support up to DDR4-4200 memory speeds, which is indeed pretty for an AMD CPU. You can’t install DDR5 modules on this motherboard, though. None of the existing AMD CPUs support DDR5, so it goes without saying that there aren’t any X570 motherboards with DDR5 support. Notably, PCIe 5.0 support is also missing here. You get two PCIe 4.0 and two PCIe 1.0 slots on the board. For storage, you’re looking at only M.2 slots, but you do get up to six SATA ports with support for RAID 0,1, and 10. M.2 SSD support, as you can see, is quite limited.

The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard comes with a pre-installed IIO shield. The IO shield covers a wide variety of ports including seven USB ports, an HDMI output for using integrated GPU, an ethernet port, and more. You also get a full stack of audio ports at the back. In addition to this, this motherboard also has plenty of headers for USB, fans, RGB, and more. It’s not the best when it comes to ports selection, but it should be enough for most users.

The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi motherboard offers reliable performance. It’s proven to handle even the most demanding CPUs out there on the market. We recommend pairing this board with, say, a Ryzen 9 5900X and a potent CPU cooler. This board can also handle overclocking and the VRM heatsink should be able to keep the thermal output in check to prevent any sort of throttling. The chipset heatsink is also equipped with a fan at the bottom, so that’s going to be enough to keep things cool even under heavy load. There’s no shortage of AMD motherboards on the market, but you might want to hit the link given below to check the best price of this particular board right now.

    MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi
    The MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon is one of the best AMD motherboards you can buy on the market right now. It offers a good set of features and reliable performance at a decent price.

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Best B550 motherboard: MSI MAG B550 Mortar

 A black-colored MSI motherboard next to its retail box

The MSI MAG B550 Mortar is yet another solid motherboard in the company’s MAG lineup. This one comes with the B550 chipset and an AM4 CPU socket to support AMD’s Ryze CPUs on the mainstream market. This gaming motherboard is a solid option for those looking to build a gaming rig without burning a huge hole in their pockets. Priced at under $150, the MSI MAG B550 Mortar is as good as it gets in the B550 budget space. The motherboard itself, as you can see, looks fairly simple without any RGB bling or obnoxious colors. You get an all-black PCB with a matching VRM heatsink cover and a couple of shrouds.

The MSI MAG B550 comes with an 8+2+1 power delivery system for reliable performance. This board can support even the most demanding Ryzen CPUs out there, but we think it’s best to pair with, say, a Ryzen 5 5600X. This is a mid-range motherboard, so you might not be able to get the performance overclocking performance out of it. That being said, overclocking is definitely an option and it should be fine as long as you’re using a reliable cooling solution overall. You can install up to 128GB DDR4 memory on this board with memory speeds of up to 4400MHz.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s no support for DDR5 memory modules on this motherboard, so you’ll have to settle for DDR4. AMD’s upcoming AM5 platform is expected to unlock support for DDR5, so we’ll start seeing new AMD motherboards with DDR5 sometime next year. You also get support for PCIe 4.0 instead of the newer PCIe 5.0. This motherboard, in particular, has two PCIe x16 slots and two PCIe x1 slots. For storage, you only get two M.2 slots, but you can add more SATA drives to your rig. There are six SATA connectors with support for RAID 0,1, and 10.

The MSI MAG B550 Mortar comes with a pre-installed IO shield covering the backports. It’s a nice addition since a lot of boards in this price range tend to skimp on a pre-installed shield for the ports. This also makes the overall motherboard installation process a little less tiring. As for the ports themselves, we’re looking at a total of six USB ports including a Type C option. There’s also an HDMI and a Displayport for booting with a discrete GPU. Lastly, you also get an ethernet jack along with a full stack of audio ports.

Overall, we think the MSI MAG B550 Mortar is a great motherboard for the price. This motherboard, as we mentioned earlier, is priced at less than $150 which means you’re getting an insane amount of value for the money. This is a fantastic option for those looking to build a solid gaming rig on a budget. You can also step up to an X570 based motherboard to unlock more premium features and get the performance. They’re a bit expensive, but you’ll more benefits like better overclocking support, more M.2 slots, and more.

    MSI MAG B550 Mortar motherboard
    The MSI MAG B550 Mortar is a solid gaming motherboard for those looking to build a reliable PC on a budget.

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Best mini-ITX motherboard: MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Max WiFi

A black-colored mini-ITX motherboard with a chipset cooling fan at the bottom

In addition to all the high-end ATX and mATX options, MSI also offers a decent amount of mini-ITX motherboards. We’ve picked the MPG B550I Gaming Edge Max as our pick for the best mini-ITX motherboard you can buy right now. MSI also makes an Intel version for this board, so you might want to pick that one up if you’re leaning towards the blue team. This particular board, as you can see, is suitable for a form-factor PC build. Sure, you can use it even on bigger ATX PC cases, but it might leave a lot of empty space that can be utilized with a bigger board.

Despite its small size, the MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Max motherboard doesn’t skimp on any necessary features. Just like the bigger B550 board, we saw earlier, this one also comes with an 8+2+1 power delivery system. This ensures a reliable and consistent power delivery to the CPU. The MPG B550I also supports overclocking, but you might want to opt for a mid-range AMD CPU for this. The VRM module is covered with a sophisticated heatsink to keep it cool at all times. The chipset towards the bottom of the board is also kept cool with the help of a fan. The chipset heatsink also covers the M.2 slot at the bottom, which is great.

As a mini-ITX board, you only get two DIMM slots towards the right side of the motherboard. MSI says you can install up to 64GB of DDR4 memory with speeds of up to DDR4-4600. This should be enough for most AMD-based builds. It’s worth pointing out that there’s no support for DDR5 modules on this motherboard. You get a single PCIe x16 slot at the bottom with support for PCIe 4.0. This is a reinforced slot, so you can install the newer GPUs without a hitch. For storage, MSI has added two M.2 slots to the board. Additionally, you can also install four SATA drives to add more storage.

The motherboard also comes with a pre-installed IO shield that covers a variety of ports at the back. You’re looking at five USB ports at the back including a Type C port. There’s also an HDMI port for booting without a discrete GPU, and lastly, an ethernet jack with a full stack of audio ports. Interestingly, MSI has also added a legacy PS/2 port for the mouse and keyboard that sits next to the BIOS flash button. There’s also a WiFi 6E antenna socket for a reliable wireless connection out of the box with this board.

Overall, we think the MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Max is a solid motherboard for your mini-ITX builds with an AMD CPU. This motherboard skimp on necessary features like a lot of mini-ITX motherboards do, so that’s a huge advantage here. It also happens on the more affordable side of the market, making it a very good option for budget builds. You can click the link below to see its current price on the market.

    MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Max
    The MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Max is one of the best mini-ITX motherboards you can buy right now. It offers a good set for features for a relatively affordable price.

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Best MSI motherboards to buy: Final Thoughts

MSI has a really good selection of motherboards, that too across different price ranges. We think the MSI MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is the one to buy if you’re planning to build a new Alder Lake CPU-based build. The MSI Z690 ACE is also a solid option, but it tends to run a little expensive. Those leaning towards an AMD build can check out the MPG X570 Pro Carbon WiFi or the MAG B550 Mortar. We’ve also added a high-performance motherboard with a CPU monoblock for custom-cooled builds. You can also check out our collection of the best motherboards if you want to explore other options. Alternatively, we also recommend checking out our best LGA 1700 motherboards collection to see all the boards that are suitable for an Alder Lake build. As always, you can also join our XDA Computing Forums to discuss and get more product recommendations from our community of experts.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.