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How do you choose a good motherboard for your build?

Maestro.III

6 months ago

When I was building my first PC I choose the ASRock Phantom Gaming 4 motherboard. I haven't experienced any problems but reviews online generally say that the motherboard is not that good. Before I do my next PC build, I just want to get some general tips and things to look out for when hunting for a motherboard. I have seen some things online about VRMs and the like but I'm still lost as to what all of it truly means. Any pointers on what to look for with motherboards would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • 5 months ago
  • 2 points

I do mine real simple..

1st: figure if I want Intel or Amd and what is my use (gaming, just browse the net, server etc etc)

2nd: figure what size of case I want the MB to fit..Full case, mAtx or itx case and I am going to watercool or air cool whats on the MB so I I have room in the case. I spent a few months re-re-re-re designing/researching the system I wanted to build. (I went with itx case so that leaves me with itx MB choices).

3rd: am I OC it (always yes for me). I looked at many websites of the companies that make itx MB's and also read/watched/forums as much reviews as I could find about the VRM (if the MB can handle OC/heat with the CPU I wanted) on them. (I went with MSI B450i Gaming Plus AC MB with a R5 2600).

If you buy cheap then you get cheap imho. It is hard to balance what you $$ and what you get in a MB (bells, whistles etc etc). I have used ASUS for ages for my builds and never had an issue but when I built my new system a few months ago I think ASUS has priced their MB a little to high so decided to try MSI and I have not been disappointed with the MSI MB I bought.

I have to add the good ole days (late 80's-90's) of building systems was simple/easy but these days there is SOO much to think when designing/building a system.

And Happy PC building with whatever you decide to build :)

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! That helps a lot!

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Well, I follow this guideline :

If you want something cheap and don't care about stability not overclocking, get ASRock. If you want something more easily compatible to make a Hackintosh or something stable and that has good VRM's, get Gigabyte. If you want something solid, easily overclockable but you'll pay a bit more and have something reliable, get ASUS.

Other than that, it depends on your needs. You didn't say AMD nor Intel, and you didn't say your needs like to make a Server, Desktop for internet, Desktop for gaming or a Power house.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

I will be looking at motherboards that is for desktops for gaming unless getting a 2080 makes the desktop a powerhouse. I would like to keep with intel CPUs since the PC will be for gaming and not multitasking with streaming or anything like that.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Gaming is more GPU bound than CPU bound. You don't need really high end CPU to achieve 100+fps in FullHD. I had an OCd 9600K with a 2070 and no games were under 60-70fps in Ultra.

I would prefer a i5-9600 non-K and lower, and invest more into the GPU.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

First considerations are chipset compatibility, physical size, number of DIMM slots, number and kind of ports (SATA, USB, m.2, fan headers).

Once you have that worked out, the next consideration is locked vs unlocked for Intel. K CPU's are overclockable and in general it's a waste to put them into a non-overclockable motherboard. K CPU goes with Z-series motherboard. You can put a non-K CPU into a Z motherboard to get memory overclocking but usually you put a non-K CPU into a B or H motherboard. For AMD this is mostly moot because the only non-overclocking boards are the very entry level A320's.

Next you look at power needs of the CPU and this is where the VRM's come into play. Lower power CPU's don't generally stress the motherboard power delivery and it's not a big issue. Once you start overclocking, or driving higher TDP processors like an AMD 2700X, you need to make sure that you aren't going to overheat the VRM's. Good heat sinking (not just a plastic cover) or more and better phases are the two approaches and the best boards do both.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Is there a good website to check when it comes to motherboards or is this a more research-based thing? I'm fine with doing the research but if there is a site that checks out all of these things with motherboards (Like jonnyguru.com does with power supplies) that would be really helpful.

I plan to run a i5-9600K with at least two M2 plugins and enough headers for RGB fans. I will also be overclocking everything I possibly can on the build as well. I realize now that my ASRock motherboard is pretty crappy for all of that and I would prefer to find a motherboard that fits all of that within a budget of $2400.

  • 5 months ago
  • 2 points

This guy, Buildzoid, I think does a great job on going over motherboards.

Here is a link for b450 MB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWAwOH-egFs&t=571s

but I am sure he does others also (b350, X series etc) which I do not have a link to those.

Hope this helps. :)

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you!

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

I don't know of a website that specializes in motherboards. HardOCP used to do a bunch, and anandtech / tomshardware as well. The new TheFPSreview site will probably be doing some good hardware reviews.

In Z390's, the gigabyte line has been generally well reviewed particularly for power delivery. Take a look at the midline Z390 Aorus boards.

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

For me, it just took a lot of research and watching/reading multiple reviews. Motherboards are an often overlooked component by first time builders. It's why SI's like ibuypower or cyberpower cheap out on them while flashing the 'i9-9900k + 2080 Ti' combo for under $2500 (with a cheap PSU). Then when you get it and run MSI Afterburner with rivatuner statistics OSD and see your system running below stock speeds due to cheap VRMs on the motherboard getting way too hot (thermal throttling), well, yeah, that was me. Thankfully, I returned it, did my own research, and built my own system.

All I can tell you is that doing your own research will empower you to make your own informed decisions. As far as VRMs, it is the power delivery system for your CPU. More phases is generally better as they won't get as hot (therefore they will not throttle your CPU frequency down), but you need to check the amps as well. Generally you don't really have to know the exact setup if it's getting to be too much for you. Just watch or read some reviews regarding thermals on the motherboard. Youtube channels like Hardware Unboxed and Gamers Nexus are good sources for reliable testing.

Other things to look out for in a motherboard are features like how many ports or slots for things like USB, M.2 drives (if you want an M.2 SSD), DIMM slots, wifi. Remember, everything plugs into the motherboard, so if you end up getting a bad one, or one that doesn't have enough expansion slots, that means taking everything out of the case and reinstalling everything. Even Windows doesn't like it when you swap out a motherboard (I replaced my board with the exact same one due to a defect and Windows was trying to hassle for me another key which I managed to get around).

Just take your time and try to do a bit of research before selecting your next board. It also never hurts to ask questions here. Of course you can always just ask someone to pick a board for you, but IMO it's always better to at least know the basics for yourself and know the reasoning why you picked a certain board for yourself.

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the detailed answer! I'm trying to learn more about motherboards so that I can give people more reliable part list whenever they ask for help. I also need the information for my own builds that I do as well. I don't want to make the same mistake of getting the motherboard I currently have. While it has performed good enough for me, I was not informed enough and I could've easily gotten something that made my current build worse.

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

an often overlooked area is the quality of the UEFI. Think about it like a smartphone the hardware defines a lot of the experience but the OS and firmware applied by the manufacturer heavily influences the stability, reliability, usability and overall experience.

A great board requires both hardware design ( VRM, layout, trace design, core specifications ) along with good quality and well-supproted UEFI to ensure a great experience especially if overclocking.

This also plays into compatibility with a large number of devices.

An example is one board may be a very good overclocker but with a limited number of DIMMs ( memory module ) while another may have a smoother and better experience with a wider range of modules. As a DIY user, this is important as it is difficult to know what you may pick.

This goes along with many of the other points noted by others.

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the added note! All of these comments have been helpful!

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