As an avid gamer, you are probably looking for the best motherboard with the latest features and specifications. But, choosing a motherboard for gaming is not as easy as it seems. You need to consider your budget, system requirements, and the features that you want in the motherboard.
I think a good starting point is understanding what type of games you play and what type of graphics cards you have. Because many different types of motherboards are available in the market, but not all of them are created equal. Some motherboards specialize in gaming while others have more features that can be used for other purposes. It is important to know what your needs are before you make a purchase so that you don’t end up with something that doesn’t work well for your needs or is too expensive. If you are still here it means you are interested to read it, so, let’s get started.
What is a Motherboard?
A motherboard is one of the most important components in a computer or laptop. It is a main printed circuit board that has all the other components attached to it.
The motherboard is typically made up of several chips and connectors, like a system on a chip (SOC) or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). These chips are primarily responsible for handling memory, input/output functions, and communications between the CPU, RAM, graphics card, and other devices.
How important is the motherboard for gaming?
A video game is a big software containing complex algorithms, millions of lines of code, Artificial Intelligence, and animations. Rendering all of these on your display requires incredible amounts of processing and rendering power from a computer’s CPU, RAM, and VGA, and the more modern games require cutting-edge hardware to run.
High-end hardware can only be inserted in a motherboard that has the necessary ports and capabilities to install and run that hardware. So, a weak motherboard means you won’t be able to install those fancy graphics cards and CPUs, which makes motherboards very important in terms of gaming.
What to look for when buying a Motherboard for gaming?
A motherboard consists of many components, each having a particular function. For a Gaming Motherboard, you need to keep in mind some important factors:
A CPU Socket should at least be capable of supporting a dual-core processor to support multi-layered processes required by video games.
DIMM slot determines how much RAM you can have on your computer. Video games put a lot of burden on processing and rendering hardware, and extra RAM helps improve the frame rate (speed) of video games. There are at least 2 DIMM slots in each motherboard, but it is recommended that gamers buy motherboards that have 3-4 slots allowing you to cram in more RAM and improve game speed.
M.2 Ports / SATA Ports
These slots determine which kind of storage device (Hard Disk Drives or Solid State Drives) you can install on your computer. Modern games occupy huge chunks of your storage space, so make sure you have a storage device of at least 1 TB capacity.
Choosing between the two storage mediums is also important. There are gives and takes when it comes to HDDs and SSDs. HDDs are cheaper but slower, and SSDs are faster but more expensive.
HDDs are supported on virtually every motherboard because it’s an older technology. SSDs require M.2 ports which are only available on modern motherboards. Consider your gaming budget and requirements before making a choice.
PCI Express Slot
Now the big one. PCIe slots are where you insert your beloved graphics cards. Modern graphics cards only work on PCI Express x16 technology so that is compulsory. Choosing a motherboard with more than one PCIe slot can also come in handy if you do not have a budget problem because it allows you to create a multi-GPU setup (more than one graphics card working together) for a powerful gaming experience.
PC gaming is no longer limited to a keyboard and a mouse. There are a number of gaming devices such as Console Controllers, Joysticks, and motion controllers that provide immersive gaming experiences to serious gamers. All of these devices require USB ports to plug into. Most motherboards have at least 6 USB slots, but there are some which contain 10 USB ports. Choose a motherboard with more USB slots to make your gaming experience more memorable.
Most developers of CPUs, RAMs, and VGAs purposefully reduce the clock speeds on these devices to optimize them better for computers and to avoid overheating the computer. With some modifications to your computer’s voltage system and with help of special-purpose fans to manage the heat produced by high-end hardware, you can unlock those hidden clock speeds and improve your computer’s gaming performance. That process of extracting the hidden speed from the rendering/processing devices is known as over-clocking.
Gaming Motherboards are manufactured with overclocking in mind. These motherboards make it easier to reconfigure the BIOS settings and change the system voltage to help you overclock devices if you want to.
Should I spend less on a Motherboard than on other components?
Because of the high price points of the more advanced CPUs and graphics cards needed to run modern games, gamers tend to believe that they should be spending the majority of their gaming budget on buying high-end processors and graphics cards while saving money on motherboards by buying a cheaper one.
While it is true that a motherboard does not directly affect gaming performance; it does determine which kind of CPU, RAM, and VGA you can have inside your computer (and how many). You can buy a Ryzen 3970X Threadripper alongside an RTX 4090, but if your motherboard does not have the CPU Socket and PCIe Expansion slot necessary to support those devices, those devices become useless.