The motherboard is the building block of your PC. It forms the interface through which all the other PC components use to communicate with each other. Many market companies compete with each other through their motherboard products, such as MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, ASRock, etc., offering their motherboards for both Intel and AMD.
How to choose the right motherboard?
There are already guides on our websites regarding the different motherboards for gaming, content creation, etc. But how do these motherboards stack up in the market and the motherboard tier list? Then you have come to the right place!
Which motherboard should you get for your first PC build? Read on to find out!
Intel Vs AMD motherboards
Due to the stiff competition between Intel and AMD for the larger market share, various motherboard manufacturing companies have joined the mix to help sell their product and keep the competition healthy. There are all kinds of motherboards, from entry to premium, from the top to the lower end, so every kind of PC builder can be accommodated.
Things to look out for
The size of the motherboard matters quite a lot. If you have space to get a large casing, you will go with a larger motherboard, if you want to save space, you should go for a compact casing which will give you less space, and you will end up getting a smaller motherboard.
The form factor of a motherboard is the size of the motherboard and its dimensions. The bigger the motherboard, the more features it can host. The smaller the motherboard and the number of features reduce.
Currently, there are multiple form factors in which motherboards are designed. I will list the most commonly used by size.
- ETX (Extra Large size motherboard)
- ATX form Factor
- Mini ITX form factor
- Micro ATX form factor
Most PC builders tend to prefer the ATX form factor motherboards as they come with many features such as expansion slots etc, and can be cooled ambiently.
In modern-day PC building, CPU overclocking has become quite mainstream, which allows users and tweakers to get that extra bit of performance from the CPU by increasing the base and the boost clock speeds of the processor.
Now, while overclocking does result in that extra bit of performance, it comes at a price. It would be best if you had ambient cooling and cooling solutions, which the motherboard doesn’t always support. So if you are looking for a motherboard that supports overclocking, then you should see the temps of the VRMs or the Voltage regulator module, as it is responsible for supplying stable voltages and current. If the current draw isn’t stable, you won’t get what is expected.
Still, most ATX boards and even high-end mITX boards have support for cooling solutions such as fan headers, a chipset fan, and AIOs.
Not all motherboards out there are compatible with all the processors. Intel and AMD motherboards come with different sockets and chipsets for their various processors.
Also, a motherboard chipset designed for Intel won’t support processors from AMD, and it won’t support all the processors from the previous generation either or the processors from the future generations either. It will work with specific CPU generations.
Some chipsets which support Intel processors are Z590, Z690, Z790, H670, B660, H510, and B460, etc. While some chipsets which support AMD processors are X570, B450, X670, B550, X470, etc.
The different chipsets give out additional features on the motherboard, such as an extra PCIe 4.0 slot, DDR5 RAM support, CPU overclocking, and the number of USB ports that can be included on the motherboard. Remember, if the motherboard chipset doesn’t support a specific feature, you won’t have access to that feature on your PC.
The features that make a motherboard future-proof are considered, such as the need to upgrade a specific component while keeping the rest of the PC components as it is.
For example, an X570 motherboard paired up with a Ryzen 9 3900XT can also support the Ryzen 9 5950X, making it future-proof due to the same processor socket that it comes with, AM4, which supports all the series apart from the latest 7000 series processors by AMD. AMD had to design a newer socket as the chipset didn’t support the newer Memory technology, DDR5. Also, the inclusion of PCIe slot 5 adds to the future-proofing of the motherboard.
We can also loosely call boards future-proof which have multiple storage support as you can additionally hook in a single storage drive at the start and then have the option to add more later on. Although it’s not exactly future proofing still, we can add to it. One of the best future-proof motherboards is Asus ROG Dark Hero VIII, which has all the premium and future-proof features that one would need from a motherboard, as it can still build a high-end PC that will serve you for several years without becoming obsolete.
A Motherboard generation depends on the chipset and the features that it comes with, such as memory support, CPU socket, peripheral interconnectivity, etc. But mainly only the chipset; for example, an intel motherboard that supports a 10-gen processor is known as a 10th-gen motherboard, a motherboard that supports an 11th-gen processor is known as an 11th-gen motherboard, and so on.
Due to the newer generation of the processor, companies also tend to give out better features on the newer generation of motherboards.
Motherboard Tier List Ranking
Now let’s dive into the Motherboard hierarchy and tiers and see how different mobos stack up against each other.
These are the best AMD motherboards and Intel motherboards that money can buy right now. They are the complete package with maximum premium features to give you the best PC experience.
These motherboards have the best storage options in terms of number and performance. They have robust VRMs with multiple power stages for the most stable overclocking. These boards usually have the form factor of ATX since that has ample space for all the features you would get on a premium board so that motherboard partners can target the high-end market of PC enthusiasts.
They have high-speed storage slots for NVMes, eight SATA ports at least for large storage, multiple high-speed USB ports, a high-quality audio module, a premium wifi module, and not to forget an integrated graphics module as well. These boards also support multi-GPU setups, although Crossfire and SLI, that tech has become obsolete.
The S-tier motherboards have the features and design to push high-end hardware, such as your processor and graphics card, to the extreme, so whether you are gaming, doing content creation, or doing any other form of resource-intensive tasks, you will not be held back by hardware bottlenecks. Many tweakers use boards from the S tier with liquid nitrogen to reach and make overclocking records.
These include boards from the Asus ROG series, such as the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero for AMD and Gigabyte Z690 Aorus ultra for Intel, which come with ambient cooling features and belong to the same tier.
The A-tier motherboards are priced slightly less than the S-tier ones, but the features still need to be reduced. There will be trade-offs, such as a weaker Wi fi module or somewhat weaker VRMs and power delivery, compared to S-tier motherboards.
Still, the boards sharing the same tier in this category are quite well-equipped to give you a high-end PC experience. Most motherboards in this tier will have a large number of USB ports as well as SATA ports, including the high-speed USB 3.2 gen 2 ports located in the rear IO, and they will have reduced PCIe 4.0 slots.
The audio modules are also of lesser quality than the S-tier boards. These motherboards are of different form factors, and they will be mostly ATX, along with some boards having the form factor of mini-ITX.
If you want a board that is available at a good price, then from a value-to-feature point of view, these motherboards will have the best prices in the PC market. These boards will give you a lot of headroom when it comes to overclocking, provided that you have placed them in a casing with good ambient airflow.
If you are looking for a feature-rich motherboard that doesn’t break the bank, then A-tier motherboards are your sweet spot. Here are some motherboards from the A tier
The B-tier boards are the best budget boards and offer the best price to performance value.
Nonetheless, there are considerable trade-offs, such as weaker VRMs, and power delivery, and these boards are missing a chipset fan on them as well, which means ambient cooling is missing. You will have to invest in a big air cooler for better airflow.
Still, it contains PCIe 4.0, PCIe 3.0 slots, and even a second slot for NVMes. There are also ample USB ports, even USB 3.2 gen 2 ports, but there might be only a couple of them included on these boards since they are mid-range.
This tier will have more Mini its boards than the others, and you will see a need for wifi and low-audio-quality modules. When on a budget and on the hunt for PC components to build a new gaming system, you should consider the following motherboards as they are deal breakers.
These are lower-ranked boards which is why they have been placed in the C tier. These boards don’t support overclocking, and many features are removed to meet the price point. These are cheaper boards that will serve you well if you want to build mid-range entry-level pc builds.
These boards will also host mid-range hardware, so there is no need for overclocking or tweaking. This is why the VRMs are much weaker and provide enough stable current to keep the processor running near its base clocks.
The storage drives and various SATA ports are reduced, as well as the form factor of the board in this tier, to compensate for the cheaper price.
These are the cheapest, and they are older boards that will be running older generations of processors such as the Intel 3rd gen etc.
Due to better and newer boards offering much better price features, these boards have been placed in the lowest tier. They contain older gen of USB ports older than the USB 3.2 ports, and they are also fewer in number.
Still, you can build a PC that will be used to perform basic tasks such as browsing and creating PowerPoint presentations. Although you can use these motherboards to make an entry-level gaming build, it will only be able to run older titles or Esport titles. Expect these boards to give you something other than stellar level performance.
How we test and rank motherboards?
In the above Hierarchy, we have tried to stack the motherboards against each other using the VRM stability and power delivery, slot features, storage options, ambient airflow of the board, audio module, pricing, aesthetics, and performance and not to forget, chipset and socket.
You might have noticed that many high-end motherboards of the same socket are present in the S and A tiers. These boards offer the most performance in your PC as they have the technological features, such as PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0, to host high-performing components to give you the best PC experience.
Then the B and C tier boards give you a nice combination of price to value, and these boards perform quite well, although their age is beginning to show.
While the D tier contains older boards that are used to build budget PCs that will be running apps that don’t take a lot of resources, such as Browsing etc.
If you want to build a top-end gaming or content creation PC and have deep pockets, then the S-tier motherboards are the obvious choice. If you are on a budget, then the A, B, and C tiers contain multiple options that fit your budget, so you can have a price-to-performance PC that gets the job done for you no matter what you use it for.
Make sure you consider the size of the board as well; if you have the space go for an ATX board, that is your best bet. However, if you are short on space, you can also go for the mini ITX board. Even smaller boards are coming with high-end features to compete with larger boards at a cheaper price.
With so many options in the market, it can become quite overwhelming to choose the right motherboard for yourself, which is why this motherboard hierarchy has been formed so you can make an informed choice for yourself.