Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big motherboard test 2021. Here we present all the mainboards we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best motherboard for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a motherboard.




Summary

  • The mainboard is one of the most important components in your computer. You can think of it as the control centre where the most important components gather and communicate with each other.
  • Mainboards come in different formats. The most important are ATX and micro ATX. Choosing the right form factor depends on your case.
  • When you buy a new mainboard, you already determine which CPU you will use. The processor is installed on the socket of the motherboard. Intel CPUs only fit on Intel sockets, AMD CPUs only fit on AMD sockets.

The Best Mainboard: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a motherboard

What size motherboard do I need?

As you saw above, there are many different form factors for motherboards. Choosing the right size depends on your case.

(Image source: 123rf.com / 72668605)

These come in all shapes and sizes, from the small Mini Tower to the compact, medium-sized Midi Tower to the large High or Full Tower.

In most cases, the ATX format fits, apart from the smaller cases.

Which mainboard size you choose also depends on the intended use. Gamers and power users can do little wrong with the ATX form factor.

Which mainboard sockets are there and which is the right one for me?

Every mainboard has a socket on which the CPU sits. This makes it easy to replace the processor in the event of a defect.

There are countless sockets on the market. However, many of them no longer support the current processors. The two market leaders in the field of CPUs are Intel and AMD.

When buying a mainboard, you have to decide whether you want to use an Intel or AMD processor.

A CPU from AMD, for example, will not fit on a socket from Intel and vice versa. Some current sockets are presented below.

Intel Socket 1150

The Intel 1150 socket was presented in 2013 as the successor to the 1155 socket. It supports the processors of the Haswell (4th generation) and Broadwell (5th generation) series.

Intel Socket 2011-3

The 2011 does not stand for the year of release, but for the number of contacts.

This socket was brought onto the market in August 2014 as the successor to the 2011 socket. The socket was the basis for the Intel Haswell-E processors.

Intel Socket 1151

Socket 1151 is required for the current 6th and 7th generation processors from Intel.

This came onto the market in July 2015 and will continue to serve as the basis for Intel's latest CPUs for some time to come.

It is therefore very future-proof. There are processors in every price range for this socket, from entry-level to high-end.

AM3+

The AM3+ is actually only an extension of the predecessor socket AM3 and has some improvements as well as a wider range of functions.

Almost all AM3 processors fit into an AM3+ socket, but often not vice versa. However, many manufacturers offer a BIOS update to fix this problem.

AM4

AMD's AM4 socket has been on the market since March 2017. As with Intel's 1151, there are and will be CPUs from entry-level to high-end.

The latest Ryzen processors were designed for this socket. Thus, the AM4 is also very future-proof.

What is the function of a motherboard and how is it constructed?

The motherboard is, so to speak, the control centre of every computer.

All the important slots for the main components of the computer are located here. These include the processor, the main memory, the graphics card and various interfaces.

You have already seen the processor socket. But the mainboard has much more to offer:

The chipset - the link between the individual components

The chipset is the most important component of the mainboard. It ensures that communication and data exchange can take place between components such as the CPU and RAM.

A bad chipset can seriously slow down the performance of a computer. The two most important manufacturers are - as for processors - Intel and AMD.

RAM slots

The motherboard also offers some slots for RAM components. Of course, the more the better.

However, it is also important that the board supports DDR4. DDR4 was introduced in 2014 and is the current standard for RAM .

PCI slots - graphics, sound and co.

The PCI slots (Peripheral Component Interconnect) are ideal for all kinds of expansions. For example, a graphics card, sound card or network card can be plugged in here.

The different slots have different transfer speeds.

SATA slots

The SATA slots (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) are also important. Hard disks and SSDs are connected here.

Motherboards are the control centre of your computer, so to speak, because this is where all the important slots for RAM or graphics cards are located. The chipset of the motherboard is particularly important for the high performance of your PC. (Image source: Pixabay.com / webandi)

How important is a good motherboard in a computer?

In short: very important! When choosing a motherboard, you should not only look at the price.

You often hear that cheaper mainboards give up the ghost more quickly. Advantages of a high-quality mainboard:

  • Less error-prone
  • Better equipment
  • Better communication between components
  • More durable than a cheap motherboard
  • Possibility of overclocking

Which motherboards are suitable for gaming?

In many product descriptions (e.g. on Amazon) you will find the words "gaming motherboard".

These often have higher-quality features, more ports and extended options for overclocking the processor.

If your mainboard is to be installed in a gaming PC, first make sure to choose a future-proof socket.

These would be, for example, the new AM4 from AMD and the Intel 1151 socket. They support the powerful, current processors that provide a good gaming experience.

Furthermore, at least four DDR4 RAMslots should be available.

The current SATA standard with transfer speeds of 6 GBit/s is also mandatory. As a chipset, we recommend the current Z270 from Intel.

What does a mainboard cost?

Mainboards are available in all price ranges - from inexpensive items for simple computers and low demands, to high-end gaming mainboards for which a three-digit sum is due.

The price range is around 40 - 250 euros. As already mentioned, you should not save on the mainboard, as it is one of the most important components of the computer.

How much you ultimately spend therefore depends on your own requirements. Basically, you can assume the following classification:

Type Price
Entry-level from approx. 40-70 euros
Mid-range from approx. 70-150 euros
High-end from approx. 150 euros

Can I also buy mainboards in a bundle?

In addition to buying them individually, you also have the option of buying your mainboard in a bundle, i.e. a combination of components.

The advantage of this is that you don't have to deal with the matching socket and the components harmonise well with each other.

Mainboards are available in a bundle with a matching processor and also so-called PC upgrade kits, where the RAM and graphics card are also included.

A well-known supplier of PC upgrade kits is CSL-Computer. Bundles tend to be slightly more expensive than buying the components individually.

How do I replace the mainboard?

Replacing the mainboard in a computer is feasible even for non-professionals and is easier than it sounds.

Nevertheless, you should be careful, of course, as you are dealing with sensitive electrical components.

If you are unsure and inexperienced, it is better to go to a specialist shop. This is often not expensive and can be done quickly.

Decision: What types of mainboards are there and which is the right one for you?

Buying a new mainboard can be a disaster if you don't take a few things into account.

Depending on what other PC components you use, a different type of motherboard is suitable for you.

In the following section we would like to help you find out which type of mother board suits you best.

Before you do this, you need to consider the form factor and the socketused.

The form factor provides information about the size of the motherboard and the arrangement of the connections.

There are many formats, but most of them are only suitable for special applications such as servers. The most important formats in the home computer sector are:

  • ATX
  • Micro-ATX
  • Mini-ITX

The form factor tells you whether your new mainboard will fit into the enclosure.

Smaller formats, such as the micro-ATX format, often fit into ATX cases, but not the other way around.

What is the ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended) format and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

ATX is the most commonly used design for motherboards and is now considered the standard in the computer sector.

It was introduced in 1996 and replaced the AT format that had been popular until then. The dimensions are 305×244 mm or 12×9.6 inches.

Advantages
  • More PCI as well as RAM slots
  • Processor is better to overclock
  • Better compatibility
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for smaller cases
  • Slightly more expensive than smaller form factors

Mainboards in ATX format fit into most modern, normal-sized cases due to their high compatibility.

What distinguishes a micro-ATX format and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The trend is towards ever smaller and more stylish cases. Therefore, the components must also become smaller.

Micro ATX is, as the name suggests, smaller than the ATX format. The dimensions are 244×244 mm or 9.6×9.6 inches.

Advantages
  • Cheaper than ATX
  • Ideal for smaller cases
  • Compatible with ATX cases
Disadvantages
  • Fewer PCI and RAM slots
  • Cooling becomes more difficult
  • Less suitable for multi-GPU

Due to its size, this format is often used in smaller enclosures, such as a mini-tower.

However, most micro-ATX boards also fit into normal ATX cases.

If you need space in your case and do not attach much importance to many connections, this format is well suited for you.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Mini-ITX (Information Technology eXtended) format?

Mainboards with this size are even smaller than the micro-ATX format. The dimensions are 170×170 mm or 6.7×6.7 inches.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Space-saving
  • Ideal for very small cases or home servers
Disadvantages
  • Few connections
  • Limited functions
  • Only conditionally usable for desktop PCs

With this format, you can save a lot of space in your enclosure. However, the functions are even more limited than with the micro-ATX format.

For your desktop PC it is, therefore, better to go for ATX or micro ATX. For small home servers with little space inside, Mini-ITX is well suited.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate motherboards

In the following, we show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate motherboards.

This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

The criteria are:

  • Range of application
  • Future-proof
  • Form factor
  • Socket
  • Chipset
  • RAM slots
  • PCIe slots
  • SATA slots
  • USB interfaces
  • Multi-GPU

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what the criteria are in detail. To do this, we will first look at general factors, and later at the technology.

Area of application

Before going into the technical details, you should ask yourself what you want to use the mainboard for.

A bad mainboard would slow down your other components.

A high-end mainboard with bad components makes no sense because it is too expensive and you won't use the performance to its full potential.

If you want to play computationally-intensive games, you should choose a current gaming motherboard with good equipment.

For simple multimedia applications, an inexpensive, somewhat older motherboard will do.

Future-proof

The speed of today's technical progress is enormous. PC components such as the motherboard are not spared.

For example, many older sockets no longer support the new processors. The technical standards for connections (USB, PCIe, etc.) are also constantly being developed.

To stay up to date, keep yourself regularly informed about current developments and trends.

Form factor

We have already shown you above what form factors there are and for what purposes they are suitable.

Nevertheless, we would like to point out once again that the form factor is very important for the purchase decision, because otherwise the mainboard will not fit into your case.

If you plan to play elaborate games or use resource-intensive programmes, opt for an ATX board.

If you want a small, stylish case, a micro-ATX board is more suitable.

If you want something even smaller, for example for your home server, choose a Mini-ITX board. In most cases you will need an ATX mainboard.

Socket

We have already introduced some sockets above. The choice of socket is a very important purchase criterion, because here you already determine what kind of processor you can use.

In addition, some sockets are already obsolete and therefore no longer recommended.

Jörg GeigerPC-Experte
Because mainboards come in different shapes, you should pay attention to the CPU socket. Intel and AMD have different sockets between the generations. So pay attention to which CPU generation fits which mainboard.

Another decisive factor is the chipset installed in the mainboard. This determines how well the processor can be overclocked. You should also pay attention to the size, as a larger mainboard may not fit into a small case.

(Source: chip.de)

The question "Intel or AMD?" depends on your preferences and cannot be answered across the board.

The current sockets are the 1151 fromIntel and the AM4 fromAMD. Since AM4 has only been on the market for a short time, you will still find many motherboards with the predecessor AM3+.

Chipset

We have already emphasised how important the chipset is for the computer's performance.

The CPU manufacturers produce the chipsets themselves in order to create optimal conditions for the processor on the mainboard.

The perfect processor is of no use if the chipset has been skimped on. The best on the market are currently the Intel Z270 and theH270chipset.

These were introduced in the first quarter of 2017. The "Z" designation stands for more features and better overclocking options.

Chipsets with the designation "H" are somewhat cheaper, but less well equipped.

The changes to the predecessors (Z170 and H170) are not very big, however. This means that the Z170 and H170 are still recommendable.

For a gaming PC, the chipsets with the "Z" designation are very suitable.

RAM slots

To be prepared for the future, you should choose a mainboard that supports DDR4.

The board should also have at least two, preferably four slots. Also pay attention to the maximum possible memory size of a DDR4 module.

DDR4 RAM is clocked faster than its predecessor DDR3 and therefore achieves faster transfer rates.

If motherboards with DDR4 support are too expensive for you, you can still work well with DDR3.

PCIe slots

Every motherboard has several PCIe slots on which expansion cards can be placed. Depending on the size of the slot, a distinction is made between x1, x4, x8 and x16.

For desktop PCs, however, only x1 and x16 are relevant. x4 and x8 are used in the server sector. Because of their size, graphics cards are inserted into the x16 slot.

If you want to use several graphics cards at the same time, make sure that x16 slots are available accordingly.

The x1 slots are used for smaller network cards, for example. (Picture source: 123rf.com / 72115117)

Sata slots

The Sata slots are intended for hard disks, SSDs and CD/DVD drives. Today's standard is Sata 3 with a transfer rate of 6 GBit/s.

We no longer recommend older Sata connections with 3 Gbit/s. They can slow down the performance of the SSDs.

This means that speed is unnecessarily wasted, as SSDs work with higher transfer rates.

Today's ATX mainboards often have 6 such slots. Micro-ATX boards sometimes have fewer.

Think about how many hard disks, SSDs and drives you want to use beforehand.

USB ports

The USB slots are for connecting external gadgets like mice, keyboards or printers. The current standard is USB 3.1.

Decide beforehand how many devices you want to connect via USB.

Most mainboards have enough ports for common items. There should be at least 6 in any case.

But you should also pay attention to the standard. USB 3.1 is faster than 3.0, 3.0 is faster than 2.0.

USB 3.0 connections are very common. However, many boards also use 2.0 connections.

These are cheaper and for some boards the speed of the connection is not decisive.

Multi-GPU

Multi-GPU is particularly interesting for gamers. This refers to the ability of a mainboard to operate two or more graphics cards simultaneously.

The tasks are divided between the graphics chips, which leads to better performance. The well-known manufacturers ATI and NVIDIA each use their own technology.

AMD uses CrossFireX, NVIDIA's counterpart is called SLI. Currently, it is possible to use two (2-Way CrossFireX / SLI), three (3-Way CrossFireX/ SLI) or up to four graphics cards (4-Way CrossfireX / SLI) at the same time.

If you want to use multi-GPU, you must choose a mainboard that supports it. This is always specified in the item description.

Interesting facts about mainboards

What is the difference between a mainboard and a motherboard?

Both terms mean exactly the same thing and can therefore be used synonymously.

The motherboard is a somewhat older term but is still frequently used today. The German term is Hauptplatine(motherboard).

However, this is not very common - not even in German-speaking countries. Which term you ultimately use is up to you.

What is the history of the motherboard?

The birth of the motherboard can be seen as the development of the first PC by IBM in 1981.

At that time, a motherboard was used that could be equipped with various plug-in cards.

At that time, the boards were of course - just like all other components - significantly larger than today.

Over time, the importance of the mainboard increased and more and more components, some of them permanently soldered, were added.

Did you know that the IBM personal computer contained the first mainboard?

It was called "Planar" and had several functions. The mainboard even housed the CPU and RAM memory. The computer appeared in 1981 and set a standard for subsequent PCs.

Over time, the form factors were established to have a uniform standard.

Today's trend is to outsource components to the processor, for example.

This was previously the task of the mainboard. The newer CPUs from Intel and AMD, therefore, have their own graphics units.

How do I find out which mainboard I have?

Many PC users do not know which mainboard is installed in their computer. In the case of complete PC systems, for example, the mainboard is often not specified in the description. Nevertheless, it is easy to find out.

There are two possible approaches: You unscrew your PC and look at the motherboard. There you will usually find the information you are looking for.

The simpler option, however, is to install a small tool. The program CPU-Z is recommended. You can download it here.

After you have started the tool, go to the Mainboard tab at the top and find the information you are looking for.

What is the BIOS or UEFI on the mainboard?

The BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) is the level between the hardware and the operating system. Every mainboard has a BIOS chip on which it is stored.

When a computer is started, the BIOS checks all components for their functionality.

If everything is in order, the BIOS causes the operating system to start.

It also offers some setting options, such as the boot sequence. You can access the BIOS settings by pressing a certain key during the boot process.

In the meantime, the UEFI has largely replaced the BIOS. UEFI stands for "Unified Extensible Firmware Interface" and eliminates some of the weak points of its predecessor.

It is much easier and more intuitive to use.

Where do I get / how do I install drivers for a mainboard?

In order to be up to date and for security reasons, we recommend that you regularly update your chipset drivers.

Once you have installed your new mainboard, you should first install the appropriate chipset drivers so that everything works perfectly.

Above we have already described how to find out your mainboard.

You can find drivers on the manufacturer's website. Often there is a search function where you can enter the exact name.

After the download, start the installation and follow the instructions of the installation routine.

You should also update the BIOS regularly or if problems occur.

Image source: 123rf.com / 54302116

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