Top 5 Best Intel Motherboards for Gaming | Review & Buyer Guide 2021

In the battle between Intel vs. AMD, Intel has been the ultimate champion for the past 3-years. Intel shook the entire gaming community with their  8th gen i7-8700K processors back in 2018, and they haven’t stopped ever since. However, you still need a compatible motherboard to unleash the true power of Intel processors. In this article, I will provide an updated list of the best Intel motherboards for gaming in 2021.

Top 5 Best Intel Motherboards for Gaming | Review & Buyer Guide

Why do you need a compatible motherboard?

People who upgraded their processors actively report that their processor is not compatible with the motherboard and displays the “No CPU found” error. It is because Intel is actively trying to achieve maximum performance while reducing the processor’s size and the number of pins. On the contrary, older motherboards are designed for larger processor chips and comparatively a lower speed. Therefore, it is not wise to use the latest Intel processor with an outdated motherboard.

Which Intel Processor is best for Gaming in 2021?

According to GameBible, the 8th generation processors provide the best gaming performance. Among them, the Intel Core i7-8700K is the most expandable processor ever.

  • Cores: 6
  • Base frequency: 3.70 GHz
  • Ram: 128GBs
  • Generation: 8th
  • Graphics:  Intel® UHD Graphics 630
  • Graphics memory: up to 64 GBs

Top 5 Best Motherboards for i7-8700K of 2021

The market is full of motherboards from several brands. However, only a limited number of boards are optimized for the latest Intel processors. Moreover, the features of the motherboard provide the upper hand you need for the best gaming experience. You have to choose a product that provides maximum features. Here are my top picks of 2021 for the best Intel motherboards for gaming in 2021:

Our Top Picks

In a hurry? Let me make a quick suggestion. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon is the best motherboard, in my opinion. It supports up to 9th generation processors and comes with SLI/CROSSFIRE support for multi-GPU. Moreover, you can get it at an affordable price.

MSI
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • USB: 3.1 Gen 2 USB Type-C
  • RAM: 128GB, 4400 MHz DDR4
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 2
  • Socket: LGA 1151-V2
  • Built-in WIFI: No
  • RGB: Mystic Light
  • PCIe : 3.0
  • Multi-GPU: SLI/Crossfire
ASUS
ROG Maximus XIII Hero Z590
ROG Maximus XIII Hero Z590

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • Socket: LGA 1200(Intel 11th/10thGen)
  • PCIe: 4.0
  • Built-in WIFI: Yes WIFI-6
  • USB: 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type-C
  • RAM: 128GB, 5133MHz DDR4
  • RGB: Yes
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 3
  • Multi-GPU: Crossfire/SLI
GIGABYTE
GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO
GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 2
  • PCIe : 3.0 x 4
  • USB: 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type-C
  • Socket: LGA 1151-V2
  • Built-in WIFI: Yes WIFI-6
  • RGB: Fusion
  • RAM: 64GB, 4400 MHz DDR4
  • Multi-GPU: No
ASUS
ROG Strix Z590-A Gaming
ROG Strix Z590-A Gaming

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • USB: 3.2 Gen 2x2 USB Type-C
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 3
  • Socket: LGA 1200(Intel 11th/10thGen)
  • RAM: 128GB, 5133MHz DDR4
  • RGB: Yes
  • PCIe: 4.0
  • Built-in WIFI: Yes WIFI-6
  • \Multi-GPU: Crossfire/SLI
ASUS
ASUS TUF Z390-Plus Gaming
ASUS TUF Z390-Plus Gaming

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • PCIe : 3.0
  • Socket: LGA 1151-V2
  • RAM: 128GB, 4266 MHz DDR4
  • RGB: AURA
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 2
  • Built-in WIFI: YES
  • USB: 3.1 Gen 2
  • Multi-GPU: AMD Crossfire only
  1. ROG Strix Z590-A Gaming:

Rog

When building a gaming PC, you have to consider the present as well as the future upgrades. You will need to upgrade the system after some time to play the latest games. ROG Strix Z590-A is the best motherboard with a wide range of compatibility to support several future upgrades. In short, if the price isn’t an issue, Strix Z590-A is the best gaming motherboard you can get in 2021.

Artificial intelligence is gradually taking over everything, and motherboards should not be left behind. The Asus Republic of Gamers Z590-A is the futuristic motherboard that you desire.  It is one of the few latest Intel motherboards for gaming.

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • USB: 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type-C
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 3
  • Socket: LGA 1200(Intel 11th/10thGen)
  • RAM: 128GB, 5133MHz DDR4
  • RGB: Yes
  • PCIe: 4.0
  • Built-in WIFI: Yes WIFI-6
  • Multi-GPU: Crossfire/SLI

This board comes with an AI-cooling system, AI-networking, AI-lighting, and AI-compatibilities, respectively. In short, every aspect of your motherboard is monitored automatically, and you don’t need any tech knowledge to keep your system optimized. The motherboard also offers 5-way optimization for dynamic control for your ease.

Surely you need a motherboard that remains functional for future upgrades. Rog Strix Z590-A is known to support up to 11th generation Intel processors. So, whether you want to build a beast gaming setup or a high-end gaming rig, this motherboard is suitable for all modern gaming hardware.

Heat management is another deciding factor for gaming motherboards. This board comes with a built-in header for small-large AIO water coolers. You can install up to a 240mm AIO system or a large CPU cooling fan without alteration. The AI-cooling system detects your current cooler and monitors the CPU temperature in real-time. The cooling speed is optimized according to your system to provide efficient cooling while saving power where possible.

Similarly, the storage drives are also not left alone by the AI heat management. The dual M2 heatsink actively manages the heat and HDD speed of mechanical drives. This ensures a longer lifespan and prevents bad-sectors from the drives. So, the price tag of this motherboard is justified by its features and wide range of compatibilities.

PROS
  • Multiple PCIe slots
  • It doesn’t overheat
  • Best for gaming and rendering.
  • Built-in extension headers.
  • Heavy-duty build
CONS
  • The WIFI and Lan drivers are not stable and sometimes cause speed drop.
  1. GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO

Gigabyte

GIGABYTE provides different variants of every motherboard. Each of these boards has at least one unique feature that is appealing to different users. For instance, the pro motherboards are suitable for heavy-duty gaming machines and rendering. Similarly, the M series is for compact systems generally suitable for offices. You can choose your preferred motherboard that has all the basic features without spending any extra cash.

A high-end gaming system requires  GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO due to its extended ram slots and advanced heat management system. However, you can get an M model if you only want a stable computer while saving some cash.

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 2
  • PCIe : 3.0 x 4
  • USB: 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type-C
  • Socket: LGA 1151-V2
  • Built-in WIFI: Yes WIFI-6
  • RGB: Fusion
  • RAM: 64GB, 4400 MHz DDR4
  • Multi-GPU: No

The Z390 Pro AORUS is the perfect combination of performance and stability at an affordable price. You can use up to 9th generation Intel processors with Skylake architecture in this motherboard. Moreover, it offers an improved heat management system that favors overclocking to some extent.

This board never says any to any upgrade that you throw at it. For instance, if you love more storage, you always have room to add multiple storage drives, including SATA and M2. However, the heat management is only useful for CPU and GPU i. e., you will need to install additional cooling fans to prevent any damage to the storage section.

It also comes with a built-in WIFI chip enhanced with VRM technology. This chip provides the fastest WIFI connection with little to no data packet loss at any time. So, you can enjoy your favorite multiplayer games without worrying about the ping drop issue.

Similarly, It uses 12+1 phase digital CPU power and extra CPU solid pins. This setting is optimized for the newer 9th generation processors. It provides maximum stability without compromising on the processing speed. People who complain about FPS drops usually have a poor cooling system. When the system draws more power from the CPU & GPU, they become overheated and lose the performance boost.  The advanced smart fan five systems provide individual temperature information about the various components. So, you can know which hardware is overheating and apply thermal paste to that region only.

AORUS Z390 has set new standards for a sturdy motherboard. Each component of the motherboard is protected by a special layer. This sturdy layer encloses sensitive components like ram, processor, GPUs, and PCIe slots. So, you can be assured that your precious hardware is protected with sturdy armor all the time.

PROS
  • Stable BIOS
  • Ultra-fast WIFI.
  • RGB fusion
  • 360 Armor protection
  • Smart fan 5
  • Supports 8th and 9th gen
CONS
  • The color scheme is the only negative point. It seems a bit odd for some PC builds.
  1. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon

MSI

MSI always remains on top of every list for several reasons. Their products are heavy-duty, highly compatible, and remain thermally stable all the time. MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon has all of these qualities. If you are looking for the product with the most positive user reviews, MPG Z390 will never disappoint.

The highly compatible feature can be understood by the fact that Carbon motherboards are one of the first to support Intel Core i9 processors. It offers an enhanced architecture with regular BIOS updates to ensure that it remains compatible with all future upgrades.

Specifications:

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • USB: 3.1 Gen 2 USB Type-C
  • RAM: 128GB, 4400 MHz DDR4
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 2
  • Socket: LGA 1151-V2
  • Built-in WIFI: No
  • RGB: Mystic Light
  • PCIe : 3.0
  • Multi-GPU: SLI/Crossfire

The BIOS firmware is very stable and pre-installed with UEFI settings. MSI introduced default UEFI mode when others were still thinking about it. Thus you get an advanced BIOS with an easy-to-use graphical interface.

The latest MSI BIOS update features an automatic detection system. For instance, you can upgrade from Core i5 to Core i9 without changing any BIOS settings. The system will detect and optimize the hardware according to your current gaming system. Secondly, multi-GPU is a rising trend among gamers. You can enhance your gameplay by adding two of the most powerful graphics cards in the market to your rig. However, the problem is that most motherboards are picky about SLI or Crossfire support. In the case of the Carbon motherboard, you get both of these ports with dual graphics support.

MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon provides SLI/Crossfire support as long as you are using the same cards. Furthermore, the RAM speed is another critical factor for the benchmark scores. A slight change in the RAM speed can greatly affect your score. So, this board can utilize up to 4400MHz RAM in dual channels. You can use up to 128GB of RAM whenever it is available in the market. Similarly, you also get 6 SATA and 2 M2 slots for adding as much storage as you like.

The motherboard is specially optimized for overclockers. You can never be too careful with heat management yourself. So, the board protects your precious hardware from overheating. The thermal guard on M2 cards and SATA storage protects your drives from data loss and regulates the heat all the time. So, sit back and enjoy overclocking your hardware to test its limits.

PROS
  • Voltage regulator
  • Overclocking optimized
  • Mystic Lighting
  • Dual GPU support
  • Built-in I/O shield
  • M2 Shield Frozr
  • Nahimic 3 Audio Boost
CONS
  • You have to add the WIFI chip as an optional upgrade.

Related: Motherboard For Gaming Under 100$

  1. ROG Maximus XIII Hero Z590

ROG

ROG Maximus XIII Hero Z590 is the budget variant of the Asus Maximus series. It is slightly less powerful than the Pro version, but you still get the same features at a lower price. Still, this motherboard is superior to several premium motherboards with a hefty price tag. So, if you are looking for an upgrade but with a lower budget, go for the HERO Z590.

In terms of hardware compatibility, this motherboard is pretty similar to the Strix boards. Moreover, you get to choose from up to six colors to match your gaming rig’s theme. The built-in Aura RGBs only add to the elegance of this board. You can control the color scheme from the smartphone app and even set a custom pattern for the light fading effect.

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • Socket: LGA 1200(Intel 11th/10thGen)
  • PCIe: 4.0
  • Built-in WIFI: Yes WIFI-6
  • USB: 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type-C
  • RAM: 128GB, 5133MHz DDR4
  • RGB: Yes
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 3
  • Multi-GPU: Crossfire/SLI

Intel’s 11th generation processors are the latest talk these days. However, the problem is that these new processors have a newer architecture that several older boards don’t support. Those that are compatible are very expensive. The good news is that the Hero Z590 is optimized for these processors. You can get maximum performance with an 11th gen processor combined with an RTX 3080 GPU and not worry about compatibility issues.

Secondly, artificial intelligence is becoming a major part of Asus motherboards, and the Hero series isn’t deprived of that. You get the same AI-based cooling and networking features with this motherboard. The built-in AIO head for a 240mm water cooler is also present in this budget gaming motherboard. Several temperature sensors from all across the motherboard work collaboratively to provide real-time temperature information to the AI cooler. This system then releases sufficient cooling to the particular region while conserving your power from other coolers. So, not only do you save money in buying this motherboard, but the long-term saving factor is also there for you.

Last but not least, the AI sound system is also a big part of your gaming experience. The sound card detects your current headset and adjusts the equalizer automatically to ensure the best experience in gaming, music, and movies.

PROS
  • Supports up to 11th generation Intel.
  • Armor shield for M2 and SATA.
  • Aura Sync
  • Improved cooling system
  • Elegant colors.
  • AI-based motherboard.
CONS
  • Hero Z590 is not suitable for overclocking.
  1. ASUS TUF Z390-Plus Gaming

ASUS

The last product on the list is also the best budget gaming motherboard for Intel processors. Usually, the mid-range boards are not durable and stable. However, this isn’t the case with ASUS TUF Z390-Plus motherboard. It offers all the features like any premium motherboard while saving your budget.

Asus is one of the first brands to support Core i9 9th generation processors. The Z390-Plus comes with built-in BIOS settings to enable the power output required for such demanding processors. Similarly, the hybrid graphics option allows you to use Intel UHD graphics when not playing heavy games of 2021. Thus, the TUF Z390-Plus saves your electricity bill whenever it is possible.

  • Form factor: S-ATX
  • PCIe : 3.0
  • Socket: LGA 1151-V2
  • RAM: 128GB, 4266 MHz DDR4
  • RGB: AURA
  • M2/ NVMe SSD slots: 2
  • Built-in WIFI: YES
  • USB: 3.1 Gen 2
  • Multi-GPU: AMD Crossfire only

The transition from an integrated graphics chip to a dedicated graphics card is so smooth that you will barely notice it.

Asus TUF products stand for a sturdy build quality and enhanced protection features for your hardware. The TUF guards provide military-grade protection for all the sensitive components of your system. The TUF chokes, capacitor guards, and MOSFETs ensure maximum resistance from impact damage.

Similarly, The advanced cooling system is optimized for overclocking at safe levels. You can also include a combination of AIO water cooling and mechanical cooling fans for further optimization. In short, if you want a heavy-duty system at an affordable price, Asus TUF Z390-Plus is the best option for you.

PROS
  • 8-channel HD Audio.
  • ASUS TUF components.
  • AURA sync
  • ASUS OptiMem II
  • Affordable price.
  • Built-in WIFI chip.
CONS
  • The motherboard is not optimized enough for overclocking.
  • The multi-GPU support is only for AMD crossfire graphic cards.

How to Choose the best Intel Motherboard for Gaming? 

Choosing the best motherboard ensures that you get a maximum output according to your hardware. No computer can provide maximum performance unless the processor is compatible with the motherboard. However, an incompatible motherboard will only result in a laggy experience with several errors. Here are a few factors that you should consider when choosing a motherboard:

  • Processor:

The physical size, shape, and structure of the processor is the basic factor for compatibility. Some processors have fewer but more powerful pins than others. Moreover, the manufacturer determines whether or not your motherboard is suitable for a certain processor. For instance, AMD processors use AM4 architecture while Intel processors are based on Skylake.  Similarly, the processor structure depends on whether you have LGA or PGA processors. Almost all Intel gaming processors are LGA so that you can use any product from this list.

  • Form Factor:

You can choose from micro-ATX, mini-ATX, S-ATX, and E-ATX motherboard sizes. The PC case should be compatible with your motherboard; otherwise, it won’t fit. All sizes have their own limitations and possibilities. You need to choose the motherboard size carefully, or else the GPU, processor, RAMs, and CPU coolers won’t fit in the motherboard.

  • RAM speed:

RAM speed is necessary for optimum system performance. According to benchmark results, a system that provides a 6300 score with a 2800MHz RAM is only limited to a 6115 benchmark score with 2400MHz RAM.

However, the motherboard determines whether or not the RAM speed is suitable for the system. If you use 3200MHz RAM with 2400MHz RAM, only 2400MHz will be utilized. So, make sure that your motherboard supports your RAM speed to unleash its true performance.

  • Multi-GPU:

Modern games have realistic graphics but are very resource-demanding. You can never have just enough hardware resources for all upcoming games. Therefore, modern motherboards provide multi-GPU support to use two of the same cards in the PC. However, you can either use an SLI or Crossfire GPU for multi-GPU support. So, make sure that the motherboard supports the GPU architecture of your graphics card to have some room for future upgrades.

  • Additional Features:

It all comes down to the unique features of your Intel motherboard. Some motherboards have easy-to-use graphical BIOS, others have built-in RGBs, and the rest have a powerful built-in WIFI chip. Similarly, the Asus motherboards use artificial intelligence to enhance your gaming experience. You have to choose a motherboard that best suits your preferences depending on features and performance.

FAQs:

What socket do I need for Core i7 9th generation?

The 9th generation Intel Core i7 uses LGA 1151 rev2 or LGA 1200 and Coffee Lake memory architecture. Any motherboard that supports this structure is compatible with your Intel processor.

Can I play demanding games with Core i7-8700K?

Core i7 8700k is one of the best processors for gaming. You get an average 3.70GHz frequency that can help turbo boost to 4.70 GHz in the 8th generation i7. So, yes, you can play almost all games released till 2021 if you have enough GPU and RAM power.

What is the AMD equivalent of Intel I7-8700K?

In terms of performance, the Intel Core i7-8700K is very similar to AMD Ryzen 7 2700x. However, it is unfair to compare the two because they have different memory architecture.

Conclusion:

By now, you can understand the importance of having a compatible motherboard for your processor. Otherwise, you can never unleash the true performance of your system. In this list, I have provided some of the hottest Intel motherboards for gaming in 2021.

Leave a Comment