A motherboard is one of the most crucial components of a PC and it works like a path for the components to work with each other and does not indulge itself directly bottlenecking your other PC components. 

In this article, we will be going in a bit of depth and finding out what really is a bottleneck and does a motherboard actually bottlenecks your CPU, and what factors to keep in mind while getting one.

What is a bottleneck?

All components need to be equally fast in order to process data in the most feasible way. Even if one of the components is slower than the others then it will also limit the performance of the other components. 

This is what bottleneck really is, and it’s common in Memory, Processor, and Graphics cards. For instance, if you have a much slower graphics card from the budget category and pair it with a high-end CPU. Then the card will not allow the CPU to reach its limit and vice versa.

How can a motherboard cause a bottleneck?

As stated before, motherboards do not bottleneck PC components like the processor, at least directly. However, there’s one way through which the motherboard can indulge the CPU into a bottleneck. 

If the motherboard has a mediocre chipset with entry-level VRM cooling and phase design, then it would likely not allow the CPU to work at its maximum potential. Also, a bad VRM design can result in a quick failure of the motherboard.

Factors that Contribute to Motherboard Bottlenecks

The bottleneck could come into play because of multiple reasons, and you should have the basic knowledge to troubleshoot it yourself and ultimately find a solution for it. These are some of the key factors that contribute to bottlenecking of motherboards.

Chipset and Processor Compatibility

Chipset and processor compatibility is necessary as otherwise, your PC wouldn’t work at all. The Chipset of a motherboard is like a brain that stores data about the parts that are going to get installed and gives limited instructions like how much data can the components process and which components would be compatible with each other.

Chipsets usually consist of a single or a few small chips that give instructions and a few controllers for the peripherals that will be connected to the PC. 

Number of Expansion Slots

Expansion slots on a motherboard allow it to accommodate necessary or optional components for your specific work with the PC. The more expansion slots a motherboard has, the more stuff you can utilize simultaneously.

However, a higher count of expansion slots can increase the motherboard’s price as it’s not cheap in manufacturing. This is also related to the chipset as well, entry-level motherboards only come with 1x NVMe and 1x Graphics Card slot because of the smaller storage limit of the motherboard’s chipset. 

Expansion slots also have types like Gen3 x16 or x4 and Gen4/5 x4 or x16 and each new type comes at a higher cost and hence can only be found in flagship-tier motherboards. So, if your processor is powerful but the GPU expansion slot isn’t, then the slot will limit the graphics card’s power of processing data. Which could result in a GPU bottleneck with the CPU.


Overclocking is a great feature to get some boost in performance at no additional if you have sufficient cooling headroom for your processor. Many motherboards come with the ability to allow CPU overclocking, especially almost all of the AMD lineup, except for the A series motherboards because of the absence of powerful VRMs. 

However, Intel only allows you to overclock your CPU if you have a Z series motherboard. Which are pretty expensive to get and only allow you to OC if your CPU is of the K series. So, this means that if the OC capabilities of your motherboard are of a mediocre level, you’re less likely to utilize your CPU to its max. Which kind of implies that you’re in somewhat of a bottleneck.

Quality of the Motherboard Components

The quality of the motherboard’s components is very crucial for its longevity, otherwise, the motherboard might die from its expected life. Hence, it’s necessary to pick the motherboard with quality components installed that will help the motherboard to stay operational for an extensive period.

Many motherboard manufacturers cheap out on the VRMs and other key components when it comes to entry-level variants of the flagship-tier motherboard. This causes the motherboard to limit the CPU’s performance and heat up more often and eventually die sooner than expected when they can’t handle the load anymore.

Symptoms of a Motherboard Bottleneck

If you hold the right knowledge then you can detect whether your PC is dipped into a bottleneck or not. However, if you don’t know then you can take the symptoms down here into account which will help you in discovering whether your motherboard is bottlenecking your components or not.

Reduced System Performance

One of the key symptoms of a bottleneck is that you will not see any significant performance increase in your system after upgrading the CPU. What this means is that your motherboard is not powerful enough to keep up with the speed of the CPU and has to limit its performance to keep things in line.

However, you can overcome this either by upgrading the motherboard or by replacing the CPU with a weaker one. For instance, if you’ve something like a B660, then you’re better off with something like an i5 12400F or i7 12700. Because they are built for chipsets like B660 and do not boost aggressively like their unlocked variants.

Overheating and Power Management Issues

Overheating is a common problem that your system faces when adequate cooling is not present. This issue can cause your CPU to start thermal throttling and ultimately underclock itself to work within safe temperature limits.

Power management issue in the motherboard is another factor that can stop your CPU to consume the required power and hence operating at a much lesser speed than normal. This significantly points toward a bottleneck, and you should get a powerful motherboard that can give enough power to the CPU to let it operate at the rated speeds and more.

Ways to Mitigate Motherboard Bottlenecks

If you have finally found out that your motherboard is the bottleneck in your PC then what could be the possible solutions to get rid of it? Well, a few solutions have been attached below to help you with your bottleneck.

Upgrading the Motherboard

Upgrading your motherboard is the easiest way to get rid of the bottleneck, however, it requires money depending on the kind of configuration you have and what kind of you want for your PC. 

But do proper research before getting anything to avoid problems and save yourself from overspending either. If you have an i7 12700k or Ryzen 7 7700x as your CPU and currently using B660 or B650 chipset motherboards. Then the best you can do is to sell these current motherboards and get yourself something like a Z690 or X670 chipset of mid-range tiers. Because ASUS HERO or AORUS EXTREME-like motherboards are well suited for an i9 or Ryzen 9 processor.

Optimizing System Configuration

Choosing the right and balanced components for your build is another way to optimize your PC and avoid bottlenecks of any kind. Avoid pairing overpowered components if others are going to be of the lower tier. This will only put a burden on your wallet and won’t offer any impressive boost in the performance of your PC.

If you have plans of building a mid-range PC, you should aim for processors like the Ryzen 5 7600/Intel i5 13400, and for the motherboard - keep B660 and B650 chipsets in mind because they’re more than enough for such processors. Lastly, for the graphics, go for something RTX 3070 Ti/RTX 3080 Ti or the RX 6800 XT from AMD. This configuration will minimize the chance of any major bottleneck. 


We looked at the motherboard bottleneck problem and its solution from a broader perspective to relate the situation of as many people as possible. And my final words on this topic are as follows.

Summary of key points

All in all, now we finally know that a motherboard does affect the performance of a system which usually we call a bottleneck. However, we also indulged ourselves in ways of reducing it to a minimal level. From balancing the whole build to upgrading or degrading a certain component - we discussed every possible solution to help you out in saving your time and money which you can utilize elsewhere.

One must keep things like the motherboard tier, its capabilities, and limits in terms of the VRMs as well as its cooling system in mind before proceeding to procure it. Because if these key things are what the motherboard lags in behind, then it will highly likely struggle to keep up with your powerful CPU and try to underpower it by minimizing the amount of power that the CPU demand.

Final Thoughts on Motherboard Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks are annoying and no one would want to pay full price for underwhelming performance out of his/her rig. This is why selecting the most suitable motherboard is the right way to build your PC. Also, overspending on the motherboard only makes sense when either you have a powerful processor that will utilize those extra fancy features that the expensive motherboards come with or you have plans to upgrade the CPU later down the line. 

Cheaping out on the motherboard is also something that one must keep in mind as cheap motherboards limit your PC’s overall performance. In the end, do your homework before building yourself a rig and allocate a fair budget to each component, especially to the motherboard.

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Zain Rao
Zain Rao

A business student by profession but tech enthusiast by passion, Zain loves to spend his spare time building and testing different PC configurations. His expertise lies in the less-trodden paths like motherboards, coolers, and PC cases. This powerful combination of business and tech means that his advice will save you a considerable number of bucks and unnecessary troubles and headaches.

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