Motherboards are one of the critical components of a computer; they are responsible for housing everything and keeping them in touch in order to work.
Nowadays, motherboards are available in many variations, each serving the best to its selective audience. Intel and AMD are the two CPU manufacturers for the PC industry and the CPUs of both companies require different motherboards.
You can find motherboards for as low as 40-50$ and as high as 1400-1600$ which is kind of too expensive for almost 99% of the users around the world and the price gap is only because of the features that each motherboard comes with. The ones with fewer basic features are cheap while the boards that have the latest feature set are expensive.
So, now the real question emerges; how much should one spend on a motherboard for his build? For this question, there’s no single answer available as everyone has different preferences and budgets for their builds.
Spending on a newer processor, graphics card, storage drive, or even memory modules improves performance. However, in the case of motherboards; it is certainly not true and spending a good sum of your overall budget on it instead of a better GPU, processor, or memory kit is plain stupidity.
How much should I spend on a Motherboard?
So, how much should you spend on a motherboard? Motherboards come in many different sizes and features that set them apart in terms of pricing as every motherboard has a different set of features and form factor.
You should first keep your budget in mind and what kind of build you want. Is it for home/school use or is it for an office? Or just mid or high-end gaming? Each scenario would be eligible for a different kind of motherboard.
Gaming or Every-day Use?
If your use case is just basic browsing or reasonable gaming sessions at home then going for a cheaper motherboard like the A and H series would be more than enough. It would only cost around 60-90$ depending upon which model you go for and is fine if your budget for the PC is around 400-500$.
These motherboards come in mATX form factor which is one of the mainstream sizes of the motherboard. These motherboards are the cheapest and only come with the necessary features to be functional and do not provide expensive and latest features like 10Gbps ethernet in any way.
Budget Oriented Gaming Rig?
Not everyone has the capacity to spend a fortune on a PC and many go for the best bang for buck deals on a restricted budget. Such budget builds can cost around 600-800$ and the portion of that budget which you should spend on a motherboard is around 100-150$.
This will allow you to get the taste of some new features like PCI-E Gen4 or 2.5Gbps Ethernet and so on. As for the models that you should consider under such a budget are the B and H series of the Intel and B series of the AMD. However, on the intel side you wouldn’t be able to overclock your processor as B and H series boards do not support overclocking in case you end up getting a K series processor.
Thankfully this is not the case with AMD’s B series motherboards; all of the B series motherboards support overclocking as well as the processors and do not have types like K and non-K series of Intel.
Mid-Range Gaming or Productivity?
In such scenarios where your budget is at around 1000-1500$ and you’re looking for a balanced gaming or productivity rig then spending a little extra on the motherboard in comparison to the home-use scenario PC would be beneficial for you in the long run.
The figure you should be looking at to spend on the motherboard should be around 150-300$ according to your whole budget, whether it’s 1000$ or 1500$. This budget can get you cheaper variants of Intel’s Z and AMD’s X series of motherboards like the ASUS Prime X670-P and ASUS TUF Z790 WIFI that come equipped with exclusive features that you can only find in such chipsets.
Or either you can go for high-end variants of the B and H series of Intel or the B series of AMD. But there’s a catch for the Intel boards, which is the lack of overclocking support on non-Z series motherboards, unlike AMD ones which provide overclocking at all levels except for the A series motherboards.
High-Tier Gaming or Creative Use?
Suppose, you have a budget of around 1500-2500$ and your main purpose is either high-end gaming or editing, animation and all that kind of productivity stuff. In such a scenario, you should spare at least 300-600$ for a motherboard which would provide you with utmost performance as well as great looks to give your build a premium feel.
This budget is abundant for a suitable motherboard and you will receive all the newest and exclusive features that the mid-range and low-end budget builders can not. You can expect high-end motherboards of Z and X series from Intel and AMD like the Z790 Strix or the X670E Taichi Carrara.
Parallelism in Components is a Must
What this statement really implies here is that you should spend equally on all of your components to get the best out of them instead of falling into a bottleneck that would create an issue afterwards. Hence, uniformly divide your budget and get yourself a balanced build. For instance, if you’re going for a home use and lite gaming build then your preferred CPU would be Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3, and for these two you don’t need a high-end motherboard. You will be okay with a 60-90$ motherboard.
In case you have a slightly bigger budget and would like to own a budget or mid-range build then you should go with an i5 from Intel or AMD’s Ryzen 5 series processor. And for these two you should spend around 150-300$ maximum to get most out of them with a B or H series motherboard. Similarly, for the high-end processors like the i7/i9 or Ryzen 7/9, you must opt for a higher-end motherboard as well like the Z790 or X670E. This way you can fully utilize your components without overspending.
Motherboard Buying Guide
Now, let’s look into some of the factors that are crucial and play an active role in the price of a motherboard:
The chipset is the heart of the motherboard and both major CPU manufacturers offer a variety of chipsets to meet the needs of everyone. In AMD, motherboards come in A/B and X series while on the Intel side, they come in H/B and Z series and each series is built for a specific budget segment with its pros and cons either in the form of lack of the latest feature set or the higher price tag. X series from AMD and Z series from Intel are the high-end chipset that both companies offer to their customers and both chipsets offer the latest and some of the best features that can’t be included with lower-tier chipsets from either of the companies.
However, AMD offers a little more as compared to Intel as all of their chipsets support overclocking except the A series. Which is one of the reasons why AMD has an upper hand in the budget market over Intel. Intel to this day does not offer OC features in cheaper chipsets and it’s still exclusive to the Z series motherboards.
Voltage Regulatory Module
VRM is another key component that affects the price of a motherboard drastically, both the cooling and quality of the VRMs matter in a motherboard. These Voltage Regulatory Modules are essential for overclocking your CPU and keeping your PC to operate stably. The higher the number of VRMs in a motherboard the more expensive it will be, and the quality of cooling solution for those VRMs are equally responsible for the price increment of the motherboard.
Size of The Motherboard
Motherboards are available in many sizes or you can call it form factor as well; nowadays, motherboards come in mini-ITX, micro-ATX, ATX, and E-ATX form factors. And each size is different in terms of cost. Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards are the mainstream motherboard everywhere, however the micro-ATX boards are significantly cheaper than ATX ones.
Furthermore, the E-ATX are the most expensive ones to buy as they come equipped with tons of features and power. As for the mini-ITX boards, they are also expensive due to their compact design + powerful nature combo.
Features are the one of those things that leaves a big impact on the price of a motherboard. The more latest and in number the features are, the more expensive the board is going to be. Like the budget boards come with basic ethernet ports and do not offer built-in WIFI as well. However, the expensive ones come with built-in WIFI and 2.5 or 10 Gb/s Ethernet ports to make up for the higher price tag and give an edge over the cheaper boards.
Cheaper also doesn’t feature thunderbolt ports, PCI-E Gen5 expansion slots for GPU and NVMe drives, USB3.2 and similar kinds of other latest features to help reduce the price as much as possible.
Everything that is needed to spend the right amount on a motherboard has been compiled in this guide and you would be able to save your extra bucks as well which you could use on some other components like extra storage and memory sticks.