Intel is one of the leading processor manufacturers out there. They make some of the best performing processors, hence why it’s not surprising they occupy over 75% of the total market share at the time of writing. Several motherboard manufacturers make boards on Intel chipsets. The leading manufacturers include MSI, Gigabyte Aorus, ASUS, ASRock, and more. All these companies manufacture and sell boards in different price ranges, which can go from $50 to thousands of dollars. Thus, picking up the perfect motherboard for your gaming build can be confusing at times.
Also, the varied power draw and heat output of different processors makes the choice even more difficult for the average user. This article is your solution to these problems. We will include a small note on the available Intel Southbridge chipsets, then get into discussing the best choices on the high-end, with budget constraints, and at the entry-level.
Intel Southbridge Chipsets
Intel has six series of Southbridge chipsets. These include the server-grade Wx80 and Qx70 chipsets, the high-end Zx90 chipset, the mid-range Hx70 chipset, the low-end Bx60 chipset, and the entry-level Hx10 chipset (x=generation number). The 10th and 11th generation processors are based on the 400 and 500 series of chipsets. These two chipsets are based on the same LGA1200 socket. The new Alder Lake uses the 600 series of chipsets as a basis, which itself uses the LGA1700 socket as a foundation. Server chipsets make sense only if you are building a server-grade desktop, and they aren’t meant for gaming. Therefore, we will stick to the last four chipsets Intel offers.
Intel’s current formula has been to stick to the same socket for two consecutive generations. That means any two generations of Intel Core processors are supported on any single chipset.
Best Enthusiast Grade Motherboards Based on the Zx90 Chipset
These motherboards will help you push your gaming performance to the maximum on the 10th, 11th, and 12th generation of Intel gaming CPUs:
1. Among the Absolute Best: ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
ASUS ROG Z690 Maximus Hero is one of the best high-end motherboards in the lineup the company offers. Overkill heatsinks and cooling solutions mean that this motherboard is one of the top choices for overclocking. Several records have been set in the past with these boards, and the Z690 iteration of this board is no exception. It is ASUS’ new flagship offering for Intel users at a hefty price point of $599.99.
This motherboard is extreme in many ways. It has LEDs over the rear I/O shield and the Z690 chipset heatsink. These LEDs display the ASUS ROG logo by default. Almost the entirety of the board is covered with black heatsinks to prevent any blank gaping part of the underlying PCB. It has a 20+1 power phase design, supports DDR5 memory up to a whopping 6400 MT/s, and has two Thunderbolt ports on the rear I/O. It also comes with the latest and greatest Realtek ALC4082 audio codec and a built-in Wifi-6E.
2. Top Choice on a Budget: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon Wifi DDR5
MSI is one of the leading manufacturers alongside ASUS and Gigabyte. Their MPG lineup is the middle-ground of performance and value. The Carbon Wifi is an unbeaten entry in this series, and it packs high-end hardware at an affordable price tag of $399.99. The board sports a black finish and RGB LEDs are found over the rear I/O shield and the Z690 chipset heatsink.
Its rear I/O port is loaded with USB ports, too. The board packs the Realtek ALC4080 audio codec, a dedicated Wifi-6E card, and an Intel i225-V 2.5Gbps LAN controller. It supports DDR5 memory up to 6666MHz, which is higher than high-end offerings from other manufacturers like ASUS and ASRock. MSI also launched a spiritual twin of this board, called MPG Z690 Force Wifi DDR5. That one not only comes in aesthetic white but is also $10 cheaper at $389.99.
3. Best of Z590: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero
ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero is an awesome board that uses a Z590 chipset. In fact, it was ASUS’s flagship offering on the platform. Maximum XIII Hero is the predecessor of the latest Maximus Z690 Hero. It packs lots of top-of-the-line extreme hardware, including 14+2 phase 90A VRMs which work like a charm when overclocked. It comes with 10 USB ports, two of which are Thunderbolt 4. Likewise, it comes with four M.2 slots, which is way overkill than what a regular customer would need. The motherboard packs the latest and greatest Realtek ALC 4082 audio codec, which delivers the best-in-class audio output your ears can feast on.
All these extreme solutions make the Maximum XIII Hero faster than other Z590 motherboards. This one comes at a hefty premium of $599.99. However, this board is the go-to for overclocking enthusiasts. ASUS also sells a ramped-up sibling of the Maximus XIII Hero. It is called the Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial, and has been designed for custom cooling, The board comes with an 18+2 phase 100A VRMs, with an extreme focus on custom water loops and aesthetics. It comes at a premium of $1499.99, so spending this much on a motherboard does not make sense.
4. Best Z490 Offers: ASRock Z490 Taichi
Z490 chipset might not be the latest and greatest from Intel. However, because 10th generation Ice Lake processors still perform wonderfully, this motherboard is undoubtedly relevant. We know you’re wondering why we skipped Z590 boards that support 10th and 11th gen Intel processors. That’s because buying it for an Ice Lake processor does not make any sense. Z590 motherboards are sold at a premium for features like PCIe Gen4.0 which 10th generation processors don’t support. Thus, it is a waste of money.
ASRock makes excellent motherboards at reasonable prices. For instance, their Steel Legend, OC Formula, and Taichi boards are among the best in the market. Steel Legend in particular is renowned as an awesome choice at a great price point. This board is based on a 15+2 phase VRM design and has some solid 12-phase 50A VRMs for regulating the Vcore voltage.
At $370, the Z490 fills in the gap between ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi st $399, GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Master at $389, and MSI MEG Z490 Ace at $400. As you can see, Taichi has a price advantage. However, bad software and lack of Wifi 6 might destroy it. However, Taichi has a strong focus on design and is unquestionably a great pick on the Z490 platform.
Best Mid-Range Motherboards Using the B560 Chipset
Intel motherboards that use B560 chipset represent a balance between price and performance, and these are on top:
1. The Absolute Winner: Gigabyte B560M Aorus Pro
B560M Aorus Pro is among the best B560 motherboards. Although terrible software and bad longevity keep Gigabyte out of the charts of recommended products, B560 Aorus Pro is too good to miss. The Aorus Pro version of B560 is a smaller M-ATX variant of B560 Aorus Pro AX and comes in a gray and black printed PCB. This motherboard is filled to the brim with features, but the smaller Platform Controller Hub (PCH) heatsink may look concerning. Luckily, the B560 chipset is rated for just 6W and won’t require crazy thermal solutions.
Aorus ProB560M has three PCIe slots, of which two are full length, and one is x1. The topmost slot is a PCIe 4.0 x16, and it has been steel riveted to prevent heavy graphics cards from bending it. The other slots are PCIe 3.0. One of them is x4 and the one in the middle is x1. The board has two M.2 slots, one of which is PCIe 4.0 and comes bundled with a heatsink. The other slot is PCIe Gen3.0, and is left bare. The Gen3 slot supports SATA drives too. Also, this board comes with 6 SATA ports and supports up to 128 GB DDR4-3200 memory.
The rear I/O comes filled with 10 USB ports, built-in Wi-Fi, a LAN port, a full set of 6 audio ports, an HDMI and a DP display output, and a PS/2 port. The board has impressive performance in real life and was able to keep the Core i7 11700 stable out-of-the-box at 4.4 GHz. Thus, we can say that Gigabyte made a really impressive product with this Aorus Pro board.
2. The Runner-Up: Asus ROG Strix B560-A Gaming WiFi
ROG Strix is known for manufacturing top-of-the-line overkill hardware your system would ever need. However, ROG Strix B560-A is a more budget-focused offering from the company. It has a black and silver finish along with a pinch of pink RGB over the PCH heatsink and a customizable RGB ROG logo over the rear I/O cover. B560-A has one PCIe 4.0 x16 port, one PCIe 3.0 x4 port, and two M.2 slots. One M.2 slot is PCIe 4.0 x4 while the other is PCIe 3.0 x4. The second slot supports SATA SSDs. This board has six SATA ports and supports up to 128 GB of DDR4 memory rated at DDR4-3200.
The rear I/O comes filled with 4x USB 2.0 ports, 3x USB 3.2 Gen2, x2 Type C ports, 1x 2.5G Ethernet port, and a built-in Wi-Fi 6 cum Bluetooth v5.1 port. It also supports 8-channel HD audio, has a USB 3,2 Gen2 x2 audio output, HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.4 video outputs, and a dedicated BIOS flashback button. Add getting a Thunderbolt 4 header to the list, too. This makes B560-A a board with one of the plushest I/O configurations. It also performs quite well under load, and can easily handle Core i7 11700 a 4.2 GHz out of the box. To sum up. ROG Strix B560-A is one of the best picks if you are shopping for a B560 motherboard.
3. The Overclocking King: MSI MAG B560 Tomahawk WiFi
The MSI Tomahawk series provides high-end hardware with an affordable price tag. This lineup of motherboards is quite popular among system integrators. Therefore, it’s a hot recommendation to anyone who wants to attain a good performance without breaking the bank. It’s also important to know this is a product from the company’s more value-oriented produced lineup, MAG or MSI Arsenal Gaming. The Tomahawk boards have a military-focused design, much like the Tomahawk missiles, which are very popular among the US military.
B560 Tomahawk Wi-Fi is no exception as it comes with a premium feature set that can be quite envious even at the high-end. It is a full-sized ATX motherboard, and it comes in a black and gray finish. It has a pinch of RGB under the PCH heatsink. The board has four DIMM slots that support up to 128 GB DDR4 memory at a maximum of 5000 MHz. The board has two full-sized PCIe slots. The top slot is PCIe Gen4.0 x16 and is silver riveted to the multi-layer PCB design. The second slot is PCIe Gen3.0 x4.
The board also packs a PCIe Gen3 x1 slot and has three M.2 ports. One of the is PCIe Gen4, and the rest are Gen3 ports with support for SATA SSDs. The board comes with six SATA ports, Four of these ports are vertically placed, while the remaining two are placed horizontally at the bottom of the board. Coming to the rear I/O, B560 Tomahawk comes with 4x USB 2,0 ports, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x DisplayPort 1.4 output, 4x USB 3.2 Gen1 x1 ports, and a single USB 3n2 Gen2 x2 Type C port.
The board comes with support for 8 channel audio port along with an optical audio output via an SP/DIF port. However, it uses an unknown audio codec. To top all these, the board also comes with built-in Wi-Fi via an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi and a Realtek RTL8125B 2.5 GbE controller. At $199.99, B560 Tomahawk is pricey compared to the better M-ATX offers, but its overclocking capability is awesome.
4. A Worthy Mention: ASUS TUF Gaming B560M-Plus WiFi
TUF Gaming is a more value-oriented lineup from the company. The products on the TUF lineup have historically followed a black, gray, and yellow accent and the B560M-Plus is no exception. It is a micro-ATX form factor, which the letter ‘M’ in the name signifies. The board has an 8+1 power phase delivery. A single 8-pin EPS header powers the CPU, suggesting that processors like the Core i7 12700K and the Core i9 12900K should not be paired with this board to use their full potential.
The board has four DIMM slots, and it supports up to 128 GB DDR4 memory at up to 3200 MHz. The board has one full-sized PCIe Gen4 x16 slot, 1x full-sized PCIe Gen3 x4 slot, and a third PCIe Gen3 x1 slot. There are two M.2 ports, too. One of these is a PCIe Gen4 port, which has a dedicated heatsink to cool the Gen4 SSD. The other M.2 port is a Gen3 slot with support for SATA SSDs. It has six SATA ports, three of which are vertically placed, and the other three are vertically placed at the bottom of the board. The B560M-Plus supports up to 128 GB of DDR4 memory at speeds of up to 5000 MHz.
ASUS TUF Gaming B560M-Plus has 3x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 x1 ports, and 3x USB 3.2 Gen2 x2 ports, one of which is USB 3.2 Type-C. This board also has a 2.5G Ethernet port, a dedicated Wi-Fi 6 card, and an 8-channel audio output, including an optical SP/DIF audio out port. To top things, we also get an HDMI 2.0 and a DisplayPort 1.4 port.
At $149.99, the TUF Gaming B560M-Plus WiFi provides a solid value for your money. ASUS also sells a non-WiFi variant of the board, which is pegged at a lower price as compared to the one with it. However, the availability and pricing of the non-WiFi variant have been off the charts.
Best Entry-Level Motherboards Based on the H510 Chipset
Intel motherboards that use the H510 chipset as a basis are a superb way to venture into gaming on the cheap:
1. Ultimate Choice: ASUS Prime H510M-E
ASUS Prime H510M-E is one of the best boards based on Intel’s entry-level H510 chipset. However, you must consider the low power limits of the H510 chipsets and the cheap build quality of the sub-$100 boards based on it. With that in mind, we do not recommend pairing anything above Intel Core i5 11400 or Core i5 10400 with any H510 board.
These boards cannot handle the other beefier offerings in Intel Rocket Lake or Ice Lake lineups, although they are theoretically supported. As a result, those processors throttle and clock themselves down to maintain stability. In that case, the investment turns out to be a waste of money.
The ASUS Prime H510M-E is a barebones motherboard, with no fancy heatsinks or top-of-the-class features. It just includes the basics required to get a system up and running. The board comes with a single full-size PCIe Gen3 x16 slot, 2x PCIe Gen3 x1 slots, a single Gen4 M.2 NVMe slot, and 2x DIMM slots. The rear I/O has no cover, and it has just 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 x1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a 2.5G Ethernet port, a mouse PS/2 port, and a keyboard PS/2 port.
The display ports are abundant, and include a VGA, an HDMI, and a DisplayPort 1.4. Added with these, we also get three audio jacks, one Line-In, one Line-Out, and a microphone jack. This board comes in at $94.99, which makes it a bit pricier compared to other H510 offerings, but the PCIe Gen4 M.2 slot justifies the price hike. To sum up, H510 boards are best for a home theater or a media consumption PC. It can also be used in offices, and the overall low-power design will be more economic for commercial usage.
2. Noteworthy Mention: ASRock H510M-HDV
ASRock H510M-HDV is a great value board in the H510 lineup. Overall, the specs sheet is identical to the ASUS Prime H510M-E. Yet, ASRock H510M-HDV is pitched for $15 less, at $79.99. The board comes with a single full-size PCIe Gen3 x16 slot, 1x PCIe Gen3 x1 slot, a single Gen4 M.2 NVMe slot, and 2x DIMM slots. The rear I/O has no cover. That’s because it only boasts 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 x1 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a 2.5G Ethernet port, a mouse PS/2 port, and a keyboard PS/2 port. The display ports are plush, with a VGA output, an HDMI out, and a DVI Port.
Although the ASRock H510M-HDV might seem good on paper, it is significantly worse in terms of handling beefier processors like the Core i5 11600K and the Core i7 11700. Thus, we only recommend this board if you are going for a weaker Core i3-based system. Or, perhaps, if you’re planning for a PC strictly focused on media consumption.