The best motherboard is the most important part of your computer build. However, choosing the best graphics card or the best CPU may get more attention. The motherboard is where every part of your computer plugs in. The form factor determines the size and amount of the computer, while the chipset/CPU socket defines the type of processor that you can install.
If you are interested in building budgets and how to save money when shopping, check out our article about the eight features that you don’t really need on a motherboard.
If you are looking for a new motherboard from Intel’s Z590 or AMD X570 series, keep in mind that the prices have increased for both platforms, at least partially due to PCIe 4.0 support. While AMD’s B550 boards now support PCIe4.0 with a Zen 2/3 processor, all new Z590 boards and the Intel Z490 boards which list PCIe4.0 support will only activate this support when paired up with the next-generation Rocket Lake S CPU. These processors are not yet available but should be in the coming months.
The Price Range of a Motherboard
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Below is an example of what you will get for each price range.
Overclockable boards for AMD chips up to $100/PS80. This range includes the last-generation X370 chipset and premium X370 chipsets. However, stock speeds are the only option with Intel (though this may change with Intel’s new H570 and B560 boards). You can purchase a variety of features depending on the sale price, but Wi-Fi-equipped boards typically start at $80/PS60.
Below $150/PS140: These boards with Intel’s Z490 chipset and X570 Motherboard that can be overclocked are available at the lower end of the range. Also, you will see AMD boards with higher-end chipsets and premium features like RGB lights and WiFi. The pricing for the entire range of Intel’s Z590 motherboards was not yet set when we wrote this article.
Sub $200/PS180: As you climb up to the premium tier you will see more RGB lights and heatsinks. VRMs (voltage regulation module) is also important for competitive overclocking. This level also offers a wider range of ports, including more USB 3.0/3.1 Gen2 connectors. This range is where the majority of Intel’s Z490 boards start, at or near $150.
$200/PS180+: This was the premium price range for mainstream platforms. It used to include the most expensive components, large heatsinks (often very stylized), and I/O covers that were designed to give the platform a premium, sleek look. These are often key features that mainstream builders don’t require, and include extreme overclocking capabilities.
- Make sure you have the right socket for your CPU. In addition to Intel’s CPUs, AMD’s CPUs are also quite good. But, regardless of which CPU you choose, ensure that the socket is compatible with it. Modern AMD chips use AM4 sockets, while the upcoming Intel 10th Gen Core CPUs will work in LGA 1200 sockets.
- You will find fewer features and slots on smaller boards. Motherboards are available in three sizes: ATX, Micro, and Mini. Although you can use the micro and mini boards with smaller motherboards, it will mean that there are fewer slots for PCIe, RAM, and other connectors.
- A decent motherboard can be purchased for as low as $150. If you are looking to overclock your Intel chip or need more ports, you’ll have to spend more. Often, it will be more than $200. The motherboards required for high-end desktop chips such as AMD Threadripper are expensive at $200 and up.
- Only pay for high-end ports and built-in Wi-Fi if you really need them. If you’re using a wired connection, wireless can be cheaper than wired. Futureproof your computer by purchasing Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 support.
An Overview of Board Size, Chipsets, Connectors, and Ports
You can refresh your knowledge of motherboard basics by reading our Motherboard Basics article. We dive into the details of motherboard design and features so that you know what to look out for when buying a motherboard.
What is the Maximum Amount You Can Spend on a Motherboard
The premium boards that support HEDT chips (High-End Desktop), such as Core X or Threadripper, have prices starting at $50 (PS40) and going up to more than $1000 (PS772) when priced above the low-end.
Motherboards particularly high-end models are often made up of a confusing collection of features and can range in price from sub-$60 (PS50) budget boards to as much as $1,000 or more. We can help you sort through the maze and find the suitable model for you, while not consuming too much of your build budget.
The most expensive boards for the more recent chipsets, such as Z490 or Z590 start at $250. HEDT motherboards are also available in this price range for CPUs with high core counts (Intel Core X, AMD Threadripper). Particularly Threadripper boards start at $300 (PS250).