PC Building 101: Does Your Motherboard Matter for Gaming?

We’re living in the Golden Age of video games, as testified by over 2 billion gamers worldwide, and each one of them years for powerful PCs to build, shoot, drive, and explore in beautiful virtual worlds.

So, what is essential? Of course, people would say a mighty CPU and GPU, and they would be absolutely right. But, before getting these expensive PC parts, ask yourself: “Does the motherboard matter for gaming?” The answer will surprise you.

Let’s get you on board!

Is a Good Motherboard a Must for Gaming?

Yes, and no. While a high-quality motherboard does not directly contribute toward the overall gaming experience, it enables and supports the parts that generate those sweet FPS numbers. Think of the motherboard as the foundation of your gaming house—without a strong base, the construction is unsafe, unstable, and unsupportive of unconventional additions.

Computers and motherboards have the same relationship. What good are a powerful graphics card and a processor if you cannot use them properly to their fullest potential? Or even use them at all? Basically, PC motherboards connect and affect everything. They allow your CPU to kick into overdrive and let you push your build to its absolute limits. 

So, you can understand why gamers would want a good gaming motherboard, right? They seek only one thing: as many frames per second (FPS) they can get at as high graphics settings as possible. Games look gorgeous then, and they run smoothly and tear- and stutter-free. However, that goal can only be achieved if their motherboard fully utilises the newest chips.

With a newer, buffed-up motherboard, gamers will enjoy:

  • The latest PCIe interface slots to get the full speed of the latest GPUs;
  • The best quality components and support for the latest CPUs;
    • Top-shelf motherboards feature robust power delivery and regulation.
  • The fastest USB ports for optimal data transfer speeds;
  • More RAM slots and better RAM stability;
  • Supreme overclocking capabilities that easily handle higher frequencies;
  • Increased expandability for SATA devices, m.2 drives, USB devices, etc;
  • Unique features, such as diagnostic displays, dedicated UEFI update buttons, WI-FI adapters, RGB lightning, better cooling, dual BIOS, and more.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for, and while all the above is not essential to play on a PC, enthusiast gamers still get good PC motherboards for maximum quality and performance.

Things to Consider When Hunting for a Good Gaming Motherboard

When getting a new gaming motherboard, think about your existing hardware and your needs and preferences. First, conduct proper research to ensure your PC components work well together. Then, you can think about the following motherboard features:

When Size Matters: Motherboard Form Factors

Motherboards come in various sizes to cater to smaller and larger builds. Naturally, smaller motherboards have fewer features and limited expandability, but they look great in minimalist compact systems. To summarise the size difference in motherboards, we outline three of the most common form factors below:

Size Pros Cons
Mini-ITX 17 cm x 17 cm
  • Most compact motherboard type
  • Works with regular PC components
  • Only two DIMM slots
  • One PCIe slot
  • Not ideal for overclocking
  • Most expensive of the three

Micro-ATX 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm
  • Fits in most PC cases
  • The most affordable of the three
  • Fewer expansion slots than ATX
ATX 24.4 cm x 30.5 cm
  • Supports a multi-GPU setup
  • Excellent overclocking features
  • Large number of expansion slots
  • Most available of the three
  • Cannot be used in compact PC cases

 

Note: Other unconventional form factors also exist in addition to the above motherboard sizes, such as the EATX. However, these are rarely useful to gamers.

Your CPU’s Home: Chipset Compatibility

As the name suggests, chipsets are a group of onboard chips and controllers that control the communication between PC components (CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, and other peripherals). While designed by Intel and AMD, chipsets are built by third-party manufacturers. 

So why does the chipset matter on a good gaming motherboard

Well, chipsets are separated into different classes based on price, and they change with each CPU generation. Obviously, high-tier chipsets are found on more expensive enthusiast-grade motherboards. If you pay more, you’ll get more and newer PCIe lanes, RAM slots, and SATA and USB ports, as well as better overclocking support.

Тhe Test of Time: Durability and Reliability

Another vital characteristic to consider is the sturdiness of any motherboard used for gaming. Price, unfortunately, is a major indicator of quality and, by extension, overall durability. As a result, more expensive PC motherboards generally include a PCB with more layers that facilitate stronger and cleaner electrical signals. They also incorporate bigger, better, and heavier heatsinks that add to the board’s cooling capabilities and durability.

To Overclock or Not to Overclock?

Overclocking is a method of boosting the performance of a chip’s clock frequency, which ultimately results in better gaming performance—something gamers yearn for desperately. However, overclocking is a tricky venture, and it might not even yield satisfying results. 

Before venturing down the overclocking road to prove yourself a gaming enthusiast, ensure you have all or most of the following:

  • An overclocking motherboard with an excellent VRM design
  • Components with greater overclocking headroom, 
    • Like Intel’s unlocked K-series processors and a GPU with exceptional power delivery and cooling capabilities
  • RAM sticks made with better chips and larger heatsinks
  • Great case airflow, along with high-quality coolers and fans
  • A top-tier power supply with a sufficient and steady power delivery

Once you have everything in place, hunker down, and get ready to put in a lot of hours since the entire process involves researching, dialling the knobs, testing for stability, and benchmarking the results. The ultimate goal is a stable system that actually offers a satisfying level of extra performance. Why waste power and run a hotter system otherwise?

PC Motherboard Prices: How Much Is Too Much?

Should you invest upwards of £1000 for a state-of-the-art water-cooled motherboard? Or would the cheapest one (£50) you could find do? Also, ask yourself: How cheap is too cheap? Saving money by getting a cheap board is not always a wise course of action since your components might not be supported or powered correctly, and you might miss on a much-needed feature.

When buying a new gaming motherboard, consider your needs first, then conduct proper research into various boards to see which ones have everything you need or want. Then, see if you can live without a certain motherboard feature to drop the price. Finally, compare the boards that meet your needs and read their reviews to learn which is the best bang for your buck.

On average, an entry-level cheap gaming motherboard costs around £100. Anything more affordable than that is not recommended since these boards offer:

  • Limited expandability
  • Older performance standards
  • Subpar power delivery systems
  • The most basic, barebone features

Above £150, you can buy mainstream boards that will run your system well and offer plenty of expansion potential. We don’t get to the fascinating stuff until we hit the £300 mark i.e. enthusiast territory. Some buyers even splurge close to £1000 for fancy water-cooled boards that offer the best overclocking potential money can buy.

Therefore, when buying a motherboard for a gaming PC, consider mid-range options that provide great performance and features at an affordable price. Examples include the ASUS Prime Z590M-PLUS—an excellent choice for 10th and 11th Gen Intel CPUs—or the GIGABYTE B550M DS3H—Ultra Durable PCIe 4.0 board that supports the latest Ryzen CPUs.

Before You AFK

Though not the most crucial computer part for gaming purposes, the motherboard’s importance is often disregarded. They still enhance the overall user experience indirectly by facilitating a smooth, cool-running, and complete system. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to get a good gaming motherboard. Choose one that you can comfortably afford, and don’t worry—despite not having all the fancy features, mid-range boards will still do a fine job!

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What is a gaming motherboard?

A high-performing motherboard made with the enthusiast’s computing needs in mind.

Can a motherboard bottleneck your system?

Most definitely! Some boards might not support your components completely, and while they would still work, they will not utilise their full potential.

Does your motherboard matter for gaming?

A soft ‘yes’. While your motherboard doesn’t contribute to your system performance directly, it allows your components to use their full potential.

Does a motherboard affect FPS?

Though it doesn’t affect FPS directly, the motherboard influences your PC’s GPU and CPU performance (and overclocking ability), thus indirectly enhancing (or hindering!) frame rate.

Does the motherboard matter for your graphics card?

Obviously, component compatibility is an important consideration when purchasing your motherboard. You should look for a motherboard that fully supports your chosen GPU.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.

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