Best Intel Motherboards

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Intel motherboards have been popular for many years and will likely remain favorable long into the future. Many of these models are made by other manufacturers, like ASUS, Gigabyte, and ASRock, but the chipsets used on them are made by Intel and designed to work with Intel CPUs. Your motherboard connects all other pieces of hardware within your computer, and houses the BIOS firmware used to boot up your system. Since the board acts as the central nervous system of a computer, it’s a vital component with a tremendous impact on overall performance.

As you look at different Intel motherboard models, you should consider older chipsets, such as the Z87, as well as newer ones like the Z97 and X99. There are a lot of technical specifications involved in evaluating and comparing motherboards, so check out the Intel motherboard buyer’s guide below for more information to help you pick out the best model for your system.

Best Performance Intel Motherboard:

There are an astounding array for motherboard available for Intel CPU's which can make choosing the one right a little difficult. We’ve selected the best performance Intel motherboards because they’ve all been designed with M.2 ports for support of the latest drive technologies, offer at least three-way multi-GPU support, and all feature top notch network connectivity. These picks also offer outstanding sound support with custom audio chipsets which provide a minimum of 5.1 channel sound. You can also purchase these motherboard in confidence as they’ve been manufactured by companies with outstanding industry reputations for durable construction and high quality components. To protect your investment, these picks are all covered by three year comprehensive warranties from their respective manufacturers.

Asus Z170 WS Motherboard

This best of the best board from Asus feature four-way GPU support and a host of other great features. However, this class leading offering comes at a premium price so get ready to dig deep. Read Full Review

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    Asus Z170 WS Motherboard

    ASUS X99 Rampage V Extreme U3.1 Motherboard

    For socket 2011v3, this best of class of the best board from Asus is an outstanding choice. However, expect to pay a high price for its top of class features such as the Intel X99 chipset, Bluetooth V4.0 support, and sixty-four gigabytes (GB) of ram at speeds up to thirty-three hundred megahertz (MHz). Read Full Review

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      ASUS X99 Rampage V Extreme U3.1 Motherboard

      ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard

      Waterproofed with ASRock Conformal Coating to safeguard against any water-cooling accidents, this board from ASRock should be on anyone’s short list. With four DIMM slots and twelve phase power selection, this a great choice for builders interested in the Z97 chipset. Read Full Review

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        ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard

        Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) Z170 Intel Motherboard

        If exceptionally fast ram and lots of high speed SSD storage options are among your priorities, this board deserves a look. This motherboard includes two M.2 ports for SSD storage devices in addition to six SATAIII ports and three SATA Express connectors. Read Full Review

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          Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) Z170 Intel Motherboard

          MSI Computer ATX DDR4 Motherboard Z170A GAMING M5

          This Z170 offering from MSI has an excellent feature-set such as two M.2 ports, six SATAIII ports and two SATA Express ports. With a Qualcomm Killer E2400 Gigabit LAN chipset, this board deserves a serious look. Read Full Review

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            MSI Computer ATX DDR4 Motherboard Z170A GAMING M5

            Best Intel Motherboard for Overclocking:

            Any serious look at Intel overclocking must address three socket designs and a number of Intel chipsets. The boards I've assembled for my list see to the needs of users interested in all three sockets and all the First, these boards offer class-leading BIOS's with comprehensive accommodations which are essential for the fastest possible CPU and memory Speeds. Next, these picks feature M.2 sockets and USB 3.1 support to accommodate the latest drive technologies and state of the art peripherals as well as offering support for high-end, multi-GPU setups. Lastly, these picks all provide networking solutions for an extra edge while gaming as well as equipped with top notch audio chips for an immersive sound experience every time.

            Asus Rog Maximus VIII Hero Alpha ATX DDR4 3000 LGA 1151 Motherboard

            This top of class offering has a great reputation for best of the best overclocking performance with DDR4 ram allowing sixty-four megabytes of ram at speeds of entity-eight hundred megahertz (MHz). Additional features an in-house ROG SupremeFX 2015 audio chip and three PCIe Gen 3.0 x16 slots for support of three way multi-GPU setups should be enough to put this board on your short list. Read Full Review

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              Asus Rog Maximus VIII Hero Alpha ATX DDR4 3000 LGA 1151 Motherboard

              ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard

              Motherboard waterproofing and a wealth of other essential features define this class leading board from ASRock. If you plan on a DIY water-cooled or sub-zero system setup, this board should almost certainly factor into your blueprints. Read Full Review

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                ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard

                ASUS X99-A Intel Motherboard

                This is an outstanding X99 board from Asus for socket 2011-v3 that offers several great features for overclockers such as the latest USB 3.1 and M.2 technologies. Capped off at an affordable price point for price for an X99 board and you might be looking at your next motherboard. Read Full Review

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                  ASUS X99-A Intel Motherboard

                  Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) Z170 Intel Motherboard

                  If four DIIM slots allowing sixty-four gigabytes of DDR4 ram and lots of high speed SSD's are of interest to you on the socket 1151, this board deserves a look. Considering its feature set which includes two M.2 ports and support for three-way GPU setups, this pick offers excellent bang for your buck. Read Full Review

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                    Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) Z170 Intel Motherboard

                    ASRock ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

                    Aimed at both gamers and overclockers this board offers much to users interested high power overclocking. It offers two PCIe x16 slots for support of multi-GPU setups and an M.2 port which supports drive speeds up to ten gigabytes per second (Gb/s). Read Full Review

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                      ASRock ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

                      Best Z97 Motherboard:

                      The Intel Z97 chipset was introduced in May 2014 for socket 1150. It supports Intel Haswell, Hawaell Refresh, and Broadwell CPU's which include a full range of Core i3, i5, i7, Pentium and Celeron CPU's. We’ve chosen the following picks as the best Z97 motherboards currently on the market because they all offer outstanding drive support with M.2 slots which support fast SSD's. Additionally, they all offer  multi-GPU support ensuring compatibility with high-end GPU setups. These motherboards have also been designed by respected manufacturers, with each protected by a minimum three year product warranty.

                      ASRock ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

                      Catering to gamers, this motherboard from AsRock offers great bang for your buck with an eight phase design catering to the serious overclocker. It combines high quality construction and top notch features into a good looking package that’s priced just right. Read Full Review

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                        ASRock ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

                        Asus ATX Z97-E USB 3.1 Motherboard

                        High end features and outstanding construction characterize this motherboard from Asus. With an M.2 slot to handle the latest SSD's and two USB 3.1 ports, this is a future-proofed board that should be on anyone’s short list. Read Full Review

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                          Asus ATX Z97-E USB 3.1 Motherboard

                          ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard

                          This board from ASRock has no problem standing out thanks in part to a yellow and black color scheme and features like waterproof ASRock Conformal Coating, a Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 LAN chip, and four DIMM slots. However, it comes at a steeper price that some of the boards on our list so be prepared to dig deep. Read Full Review

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                            ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard

                            Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Intel Z97 Motherboard

                            This is an excellent board with great features such as Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 Lan chip and multi-GPU support thanks to three PCI Express 3.0 x 16 slots. However, this motherboard isn’t quite as future proof as some of our other picks due to an absence of USB 3.1 connectivity. Read Full Review

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                              Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Intel Z97 Motherboard

                              MSI ATX DDR3 2600 LGA 1150 Motherboards Z97-G45 GAMING

                              A great price and solid construction earn this motherboard a spot on our list. While it doesn't have as many features as more expensive offerings, you still get some nice options like three PCIe 3.0 x16 for multi-GPU setups and a Realtek ALC1150 chip for 7.1 channel audio. Read Full Review

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                                MSI ATX DDR3 2600 LGA 1150 Motherboards Z97-G45 GAMING

                                Best H97 Motherboard:

                                The selections of H97 boards available to consumers are composed of many budget offerings and small form-factor boards for Intel socket 1150. They’re an excellent choice for builders who are interested in constructing small systems while getting good value for their money. We’ve chosen the following best H97 motherboards because they all offer high definition (HD) sound with at least 7.1 channel audio as well as equipped with PCI Express x16 slots supporting the newest high-end video cards. These boards are also constructed by top notch manufacturers so you have the assurance of high quality workmanship behind these picks.

                                ASRock ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

                                This is an excellent board from ASRock with an excellent feature set such as a Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 LAN chipset as well as a PCI Express 3.0 x16 and a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. An affordable price point and warranty protection round out this excellent offering. Read Full Review

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                                  ASRock ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

                                  ASUS Mini ITX DDR3 Motherboard

                                  This H97 motherboard is an outstanding choice for those of you builders out there interested in a small form-factor PC. With an excellent layout and great features, this mini-ITX board should be on your short list. Read Full Review

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                                    ASUS Mini ITX DDR3 Motherboard

                                    ASRock Micro ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards H97M PRO4

                                    This board from ASRock is an excellent choice for a micro-ATX PC with PCI Express 3.0 x16, a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, and an Intel I218V LAN chip for Gigabit networking support. While it lacks some of the advanced drive compatibility that some boards offer, it nevertheless remains a very good option. Read Full Review

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                                      ASRock Micro ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboards H97M PRO4

                                      MSI H97M-G43 Micro ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1150 Motherboards H97M-G43

                                      This is a fine micro-ATX offering from MSI that offers an M.2 slot, Realtek ALC892 audio chip, and a Realtek 8111E LAN chip among its features. However, quality has its price as this motherboard a little pricier than some of our other offerings. Read Full Review

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                                        MSI H97M-G43 Micro ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1150 Motherboards H97M-G43

                                        Gigabyte GA-H97M-HD3 Intel H97 Motherboard

                                        This is a sold offering from top tier Gigabyte with four DDR3 DIMM slots for thirty-two megabytes (Mb) of ram and two PCI Express x16 slots for multi-GPU setups. Even better, this board’s quality construction and excellent features all come at an affordable price point. Read Full Review

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                                          Gigabyte GA-H97M-HD3 Intel H97 Motherboard

                                          Best X99 Motherboard:

                                          The Intel X99 chipset was introduced in 2014 and supports LGA 2011-v3, and Core i7 Extreme (Haswell-E), Xeon E5-16xx, and Xeon E5 26xx (Haswell-EP) CPU's. We’ve chosen the following best X99 motherboards because they all offer multi-GPU support for the latest high-end video cards. Additionally, these picks also all offer support for the fastest storage drives with M2. Ports as well as integrating top quality audio chipsets with support for at least 7.1 channel HD sound. To protect your new system investment, these motherboards are all covered by a minimum three year manufacturer’s warranty.

                                          Gigabyte LGA2011-3 Intel X99 SLI ATX Motherboard

                                          This board from Gigabyte is equipped with features which ensure compatibility with the latest drive and peripheral hardware. Providing eight DIMM sockets. This motherboards handles up to one hundred twenty-eight megabytes (Mb) of DDR4 memory at speeds up to thirty-three hundred thirty-three megahertz (Mhz). You need not look further for a future proof X99 build. Read Full Review

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                                            Gigabyte LGA2011-3 Intel X99 SLI ATX Motherboard

                                            ASUS X99-A Intel Motherboard

                                            This is an up-to-date X99 Board full of outstanding features such as Quad-GPU support for both AMD and Nvidia GPU's with four PCI Express x16 slots. Considering what you get for your money, this board offers a lot of bang for the buck. Read Full Review

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                                              ASUS X99-A Intel Motherboard

                                              ASRock Extended ATX DDR4 X99 Motherboard

                                              This is a solidly built, high quality offering from ASRock that has many outstanding features such as ten SATAIII ports, a SATA Express port and an Ultra M.2 port. This motherboard also provides users with dual Gigabit networking support via two LAN ports. Read Full Review

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                                                ASRock Extended ATX DDR4 X99 Motherboard

                                                ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer 3.1 Motherboard

                                                If you are looking for a top of class small form-factor build, this board should be on your short list. It has an Ultra M.2 port which supports drives at speeds of thirty-two gigabytes per second (Gb/s) and three PCIe x3 slots for full support of multi-GPU's hardware setups. Read Full Review

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                                                  ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer 3.1 Motherboard

                                                  MSI X99A SLI Plus Motherboard

                                                  A great feature-set and an a good price characterize this offering from MSI including an M.2 port, a SATA express port, and a Realtek ALC892 audio chipset. Offering many features ordinarily found more expensive options, this motherboard is a real steal. Read Full Review

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                                                    MSI X99A SLI Plus Motherboard

                                                    Best Z170 Motherboard:

                                                    The Z170 chipset is made especially for Intel Skylake CPU's and socket LGA 1151 and the boards we’ve assembled for this list all are exceptional considerations for your next system build or upgrade. First, they all offer M.2 ports that support some of the fastest SSD's currently available. This is very important because your PC is only as fast as its slowest component, usually the storage drives. Next, they all support the fastest video cards along, provisions for at least three-card GPU setups, as well as offering exceptional audio chipsets which provide a minimum of 7.1 channel sound. Last but not least, these motherboards are all from high end manufacturers who all maintain excellent reputations for designing quality, reliable computer components.

                                                    Asus ROG Maximus VIII Ranger Motherboard

                                                    This top of class offering from Asus brings outstanding construction and great features to the table like an integrated M.2 socket to work with the fastest SSD drives as well as four DIMM slots supporting up to sixty-four gigabytes (Gb) of DDR4 memory. Considering the features you’re getting, its price comes across as very reasonable. Read Full Review

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                                                      Asus ROG Maximus VIII Ranger Motherboard

                                                      Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) Z170 Intel Motherboard

                                                      This is a great offering from Gigabyte with a number of exemplary features paired with an affordable price point. If exceptionally fast Ram, the ability to support multi-GPU setups, and lots of high speed SSD storage options are your priorities, look no further than this motherboard. Read Full Review

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                                                        Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) Z170 Intel Motherboard

                                                        Asus ROG Maximus VIII Gene Motherboard

                                                        For the very best in small form-factor build options, this motherboard is an outstanding choice with four DIIM slots supporting up to sixty-for gigabytes (Gb) of DDR4 memory at speeds up to thirty-eight hundred gigabytes per second (GB/s). Designed with good looks in mind, the exceptional construction of this motherboard is only outdone by the amount of features it offers. Read Full Review

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                                                          Asus ROG Maximus VIII Gene Motherboard

                                                          ASRock ATX Z170 PRO4S Motherboard

                                                          This offering from ASRoick doesn't skimp on features such as an M.2 port to support drives running at speeds up to thirty-two gigabytes per second (Gb/s). There’s also multi-GPU support provided by three PCI Express x126 slots. A Realtek ALC892 chipset provides game-enhancing audio as well. Read Full Review

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                                                            ASRock ATX Z170 PRO4S Motherboard

                                                            MSI Computer ATX DDR4 Motherboard Z170A GAMING M5

                                                            This class leading offering from MSI brings with it solid construction and features like three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots to ensure compatibility with high-end multi-GPU setups. This motherboard also has a Qualcomm Killer E2400 Gigabit network chipset to ensure consistent network performance. Read Full Review

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                                                              MSI Computer ATX DDR4 Motherboard Z170A GAMING M5

                                                              Best Z87 Motherboard:

                                                              Intel Z87 chipsets use socket 1150 and support4th generation Core i3, i5, i7, Pentium, and Celeron CPU's. It has largely been supplanted by the newer Z97 chipset and so there are not as many Z87 motherboards available as there once were. Still, the boards that are available are proven hardware and will perform admirably. We’ve assembled the best Z87 motherboards because they have at least three PCI Express x16 slots with supports for multi-GPU setups and offer at least six SATAIII ports. With each having full RAID functions available, they also all offer High Definition (HD) sound with at least 7.1 channels. Finally, they all are made by top-tier manufacturers known for the highest quality motherboard designs and construction.

                                                              ASUS GRYPHON Z87 DDR3 1600 LGA 1150 Motherboard

                                                              High quality construction and outstanding features characterize the board such as two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot for Multi-GPU support, and eight channel sound provided by a Realtek ALC892 chipset. However, its excellent construction and good looks come at a premium price. Read Full Review

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                                                                ASUS GRYPHON Z87 DDR3 1600 LGA 1150 Motherboard

                                                                ASRock Z87 Extreme4 Intel Motherboard

                                                                This is an outstanding value from top tier ASRock which features an eight phase power design to handle the demands of high speed overclocking. With four DIMM slots allowing up to thirty-two gigabytes (Gb) of DDR3 Ram at dynamic speeds of twenty-eight hundred megahertz (Mhz), this board deserves a serious look. Read Full Review

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                                                                  ASRock Z87 Extreme4 Intel Motherboard

                                                                  ASUS Z87 PRO LGA 1150 Motherboard

                                                                  Excellent construction, four-way GPU support and high memory speeds are some of the best features of this board. This one is a real winner when it comes to bang for the buck especially when you consider the stunning black and gold color scheme. Read Full Review

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                                                                    ASUS Z87 PRO LGA 1150 Motherboard

                                                                    Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD3H Desktop Motherboard

                                                                    This is a well-rounded offering with good looks and outstanding construction at a good price. You’re looking at a real contender for your next build with features like four dual-channel DIMM slots, DDR3 at speeds up to three thousand megahertz (Mhz), as well as USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity. Read Full Review

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                                                                      Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD3H Desktop Motherboard

                                                                      MSI Computer Corp. Motherboard ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboard

                                                                      This board offers top of class features at a price less than many other offerings. Although MSI boards aren't known for overclocking prowess, this board was definably made with gamers and high-end users in mind. Read Full Review

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                                                                        MSI Computer Corp. Motherboard ATX DDR3 1333 LGA 1150 Motherboard

                                                                        Best Value Intel Motherboard:

                                                                        A motherboard suitable for value builds based on the Intel chipset covers a lot of territory with a variety of chipsets available and two different CPU sockets to choose from. Priced at around one hundred dollars or less, we’ve chosen the best value Intel motherboards for your consideration. These picks all have PCI Express 3.0 X16 slots for support of the fastest video cards available and offer at least 7.1 channel high definition (HD) sound. These boards have also been designed with superior build quality for long lasting service in addition to good hardware support from their respective manufacturers.

                                                                        ASRock H170 Pro4 Motherboard

                                                                        This is a top of class offering from MSI that excels at multi-GPU and fast drive builds. With four DDR4 DIMM slots allowing sixty-four gigabytes (Gb) of ram at speeds up to twenty-one hundred thirty-three megahertz (Mhz), this board deserves a serious look. Read Full Review

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                                                                          ASRock H170 Pro4 Motherboard

                                                                          MSI H170M ECO Motherboard

                                                                          This is an outstanding offering for those interested in a small form-factor build. It has one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, two PCI 3.0 x1 slots, and a Realtek ALC887 audio chip for 7.1 channel high definition sound. Read Full Review

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                                                                            MSI H170M ECO Motherboard

                                                                            ASRock Z170A-X1/3.1 ATC Motherboard

                                                                            This is a great quality budget board with a great feature-set such as a four DIMM sockets which deliver sixty-four megabytes (Mb) of DDR4 ram at speeds up to thirty-four hundred sixty-six megahertz (Mhz). It is an especially good choice for users interested in the highest memory speeds. Read Full Review

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                                                                              ASRock Z170A-X1/3.1 ATC Motherboard

                                                                              ASUS Mini ITX DDR3 Motherboard

                                                                              This board is an great choice users interested in a small form-factor builds. It features high quality construction and features usually seen in much more extensive motherboards such as an M.2 socket, four SATAIII ports for full RAID functionality, and a Realtek ALC887 audio chip for eight channel high definition (HD) sound. Read Full Review

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                                                                                ASUS Mini ITX DDR3 Motherboard

                                                                                Gigabyte Micro ATX DDR4 Motherboards GA-B150M-D3H

                                                                                This is a great budget offering from Gigabyte with several top of class features such as six SATAIII connectors, one SATA PCI Express port, and a Realtek ALC892 audio chip. It is worth noting that over clocking is not this motherboards strong point. Read Full Review

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                                                                                  Gigabyte Micro ATX DDR4 Motherboards GA-B150M-D3H
                                                                                   

                                                                                  Intel Motherboards Buyer’s Guide

                                                                                  Because so many other components rely on your motherboard to function properly, it’s very important to know as much as possible about a board before choosing it. If you already have some of the hardware for your computer, then you need to make sure you pick an Intel motherboard which is compatible with them. Conversely, for a fresh computer build, your motherboard establishes a lot of other components you can use, so look at what is compatible with a board before you purchase one. The options may seem overwhelming at first, but a little information can help you pick the perfect Intel motherboard for your system.

                                                                                  Socket Type and Chipset

                                                                                  The socket type of a motherboard refers to the physical types of CPUs or processors you can install onto the board. Since the processor impacts so much of your computer’s performance, it’s important to know which CPU you want and then choose an Intel motherboard that will work with it. For example, Intel core i7 and i5 processors can fit in LGA 1150, while LGA 2011 sockets only work with Intel core i7. For more information on different types of processors, check out the processors/CPUs buyer’s guide.

                                                                                  The socket also impacts what kind of chipset is placed on the motherboard by the manufacturer. While that’s not a major concern for a lot of computer users, if you’re an enthusiast looking for the best performance possible, then look for a motherboard with a Z97 or X99 chipset.

                                                                                  CPU Type

                                                                                  While the CPU type is related to the socket type, they’re not the same thing, although both are important elements of a motherboard. The CPU type refers to the model of the processor, such as an Intel core i7 or core i5 processor. The i5 and i7 processors can both be installed in LGA 1150 sockets, but are very different CPUs.

                                                                                  With Intel, you can tell the series of a processor based on the number after “i”. Later generations are typically faster, though other factors like cores and threads are also important. Take a look at the processors/CPUs buyer’s guide for even more information.

                                                                                  Manufacturer

                                                                                  While Intel provides the chipset on a motherboard, the manufacturer is the company actually assembling the board. There are a number of different companies which make Intel motherboards, including ASRock, ASUS, MSi, and Gigabyte. Each manufacturer has names for its boards like the “ASRock Extreme4” or “ASUS Maximus VII” which usually refer to series of boards, including new versions of an established series indicated by number. Don’t worry too much about the name of the board; instead focus on the other features and options. Manufacturers offer different types of warranties on their motherboards, so look for a manufacturer with a 2-3 year warranty to really protect your investment.

                                                                                  Memory Type and Quantity

                                                                                  The memory type and maximum amount relate to the RAM that you can install into a motherboard. These are referred to as memory slots or DIMM slots. You can put one stick of RAM into each slot, so the number of slots indicates how many physical sticks of memory you can insert into the motherboard. There’s also a maximum amount of memory, usually measured in gigabytes or GB.

                                                                                  A motherboard with four slots and maximum memory of 64GB could handle four 16GB sticks of RAM, while a board with eight slots and 128GB maximum memory could support eight sticks of 16GB of RAM or less. There are also different speeds of RAM measured in megahertz or MHz, such as 2400MHz or 1600MHz.

                                                                                  Finally, look at the type of RAM such as DDR3 or DDR4 memory, higher numbers indicate significantly faster memory. For the best performance possible, you’ll want to find a motherboard with at least four slots that support very fast RAM.

                                                                                  Expansion Slots

                                                                                  The expansion slots on a motherboard are used to install additional components inside a computer system directly onto the board itself. These are commonly used for video cards, but other components like sound cards and internal modems can also connect through an expansion slot.

                                                                                  For a video card, look for a PCI Express or PCIe port, the speed of the port is described by generation and a number indicating bandwidth such as PCIe 3.0 x16 or PCIe 2.0 x8. If you’re interested in running multiple video cards together in CrossFire or SLI, then look for a motherboard with two or more PCIe 3.0 x16 slots for the fastest performance possible. For more information about picking the right video card for your motherboard, check out the graphics card buyer’s guide.

                                                                                  Storage Connections

                                                                                  Storage refers to the hard drives that are connected to a motherboard, typically installed within a system’s case. Older hard drives used parallel connections, PATA, and motherboards might only have one or two ports, each capable of connecting to two hard drives. Modern hard drives, however, use serial or SATA connections for faster performance. There are also different speeds for these ports, measured in gigabytes per second or Gb/s. Look for a motherboard with multiple, fast SATA ports; each one gives you more internal connections for hard drives.

                                                                                  Back Panel Ports

                                                                                  The back or rear panel on a motherboard is exposed out the back of a computer case. This panel is important because it offers ports and connections for other devices and hardware. Look at the different ports on the back panel, such as USB ports, mouse and keyboard connections, and speaker and microphone jacks.

                                                                                  Many motherboards also have back panel SATA ports for external hard drives. If a motherboard has any onboard video, then the panel will also have a video output connection, but that’s not important if you plan on installing your own video card. You’ll want to find a motherboard with as many fast USB ports as possible, with USB 3.0 and 2.0 being faster than the earlier USB standards.

                                                                                  Additional Onboard Features

                                                                                  There are also a lot of internal, onboard features that are important to consider before buying a motherboard. CPU fan ports let you connect the processor heatsink and fan to your motherboard, and additional case fan connections give you options to control the speed of your case fans through your motherboard settings. Internal USB connections on your motherboard connect to USB ports on your computer’s case, so choose a board that has enough connections for any case ports you have.

                                                                                  Physical Form Factor and Power Requirements

                                                                                  One important but easily looked over aspect of a motherboard is the physical size of the board. Different towers only have enough room for motherboards of certain sizes. The most common motherboard sizes are ATX and MiniATX. ATX is a bit larger but can fit in full and midsize towers, while MiniATX is more appropriate for a smaller computer case. If you have a very small case, consider a MicroATX or NanoATX board.

                                                                                  Once you make sure a motherboard can fit into your computer tower, then you should consider the power requirements for the board. The processor and other electronics on a motherboard require a certain amount of power, with about 400 watts being the bare minimum for a decent board. You want to consider the power connectors on your motherboard and pick a board that has the right connections for your power supply, or choose a PSU to match your board. For more information to help you pick the right PSU, check out the power supply buyer’s guide.

                                                                                  Overclocking Options

                                                                                  While other elements on a motherboard, such as RAM and expansion slots, can certainly impact the effectiveness of a board for overclocking, there are also some key features of the board itself to consider. Heat generation and dispersal is a major concern for overclocking, so look for motherboards designed to stay cool and protect components from heat damage.

                                                                                  A motherboard designed for liquid cooling, with heatsinks for the components on the board, can make it easier to keep your system cool once overclocked. There are also some boards with voltage controls and check points built into them that help you monitor and control voltage, preventing damage from power spikes or tuning your system up to dangerous levels.

                                                                                  These features aren’t very common, but if you want to push your hardware to the very limits of its performance, then look for a board that can help you do it.

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