Choosing a motherboard is a complicated business, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Model naming conventions can look like complete gibberish even to people who know what they are looking at.
However, the good news is, if you are pedantic about checking for compatibility for the rest of your build’s components, it is actually very hard not to select a motherboard that is at least decent for the job.
Initial Compatibility Check
Things you will want to check for:
- RAM compatibility
- Processor compatibility
- GPU compatibility
While there are other parts to the gaming PC, these are the important ones to check for as far as compatibility is concerned. Ideally, you choose the motherboard that is compatible with the specifications of those other three components, and you find hardware that is all compatible with each other.
This research may be time-consuming, but it is definitely worth it to make it past POST and give you the best run with your new build.
Finding the Right Connections
In all actuality, motherboards cannot directly impact the performance of your computer. The motherboard’s job is to connect all the other parts of your computer and make them talk to each other.
However, the motherboard you choose impacts what features you may be able to utilize. If you do not select a motherboard with the appropriate hardware slots, you won’t be able to use that particular piece of hardware or that amount of hardware.
Essential connections to ensure you have:
- Enough RAM slots
- Enough GPU (PCIe) slots
- Appropriate hard drive or solid state drive slots / ports
- Bluetooth or WiFi capability as desired
- Enough fan headers
- Enough USB ports
If you can find a cheaper motherboard with all of the slots you need, you may not need to purchase the most expensive option. Buying something a little pricier may help you futureproof your new PC.
Other Factors to Consider
Here are some other factors to consider when picking a good motherboard for gaming.
Size of the Motherboard
Larger motherboards won’t be better for a gaming build than a smaller motherboard. However, smaller motherboards will mean you have fewer slots and may not have the space for all the expansions you want, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
Relationship Between the Motherboard and the CPU
Many gamers want to overclock their CPUs to increase FPS. If you’re going to do this, you’ll need to select a motherboard that supports overclocking and a processor that can be overclocked. Within the range of motherboards that do support overclocking, you’ll want to check how well it handles overclocking compared to other models.
Relationship Between the Motherboard and the GPU
While the motherboard won’t directly affect performance, and thus your FPS, your motherboard will affect how well your GPU can perform. This is where you will want to compare the quality of the PCIe slots and how fast they can read and transfer data.
Or how many slots you can have. Motherboards that support SLI (Scalable Link Interface) for connecting multiple GPUs are necessary if you want to utilize the SLI feature.
Longevity of the Motherboard
This is an instance where a pricier motherboard may not increase the performance of your games, but it might mean you are gaming longer. Typically, motherboards aren’t the first thing to go in a rig. You’ll often damage a GPU, a fan, or a power supply first. But, if you’re unlucky, one component failing may take the motherboard out with it, so be prepared.
Ideally, pick a motherboard with a more extended warranty so that you don’t have to spend as much money to replace it.
In summation, the best things to look for in a motherboard when it comes to gaming are the types of slots and ports the motherboard has and its compatibility with other pieces of hardware.
You want compatibility with your other hardware handling the brunt of your performance specs. You want a reasonable amount of expansion slots to get the build of your dreams and upgrade once or twice in the future. You also want those little features that will make your PC gaming experience more enjoyable.