Did you know an underperforming motherboard can lower the CPU, graphics cards, and other hardware performance? Careful selection of motherboards is critical when building a gaming PC. It requires a thorough understanding of each interface and selecting the best option for your hardware. The motherboard chipset, integrated audio, LAN, cooling options, and interface are critical for assembling a high-end gaming rig.
A motherboard is like a highway that keeps the traffic flowing. A poorly constructed road can cause traffic jams. It doesn’t matter whether you drive a fast or a slow car; Everyone will be going at the same speed. The motherboard should provide a quicker interface to ensure no communication bottleneck between computer components. Gamers involved in competitive, casual, or building game accounts like Valorant or Fortnite game accounts can equally benefit from a high-end motherboard. This guide will explain the key aspects to look for in motherboards and unlock your hardware’s full potential. Here are the motherboard features that make an impact on gaming performance:
Gaming Motherboard Features That Matter
1. Socket Compatibility with CPU
The CPU sits on the motherboard’s socket and engages with hardware based on the interface/protocol available. The CPU must be compatible with the socket to ensure sufficient and correct connection.
There are two big central processing unit manufacturers, AMD and Intel. Each of them has socket designs based on the generation of the CPU. Following are the latest sockets relevant for gamers:
- AMD: AM4 and AM5
- Intel: LGA1200 and LGA1700
Compared with AMD, Intel changed its socket more frequently. According to the recent development, Intel aims to stick to their LGA1700 socket for longer as it provides more connecting pins and power delivery options than the LGA1200.
Note: The socket on the motherboard should match the CPU socket. It is an essential requirement for compatibility.
2. Chipset Features and Limitations
The chipset is the critical component of the motherboard that determines its speed and compatibility with hardware. There are multiple chipsets for a similar socket design. Each caters to users based on their requirements and budget. There are flagships, mid-tier, and entry-level chipsets for each processor type. Here are the recent chipsets from both AMD and Intel:
- AMD: X670E, X670, B650E, B650, A620 (600 Series)
- Intel: Z790, B760, and H770 (700 Series)
Each chipset offers unique features that gamers can utilize for gaming hardware, such as graphics cards, external devices, storage devices, etc. Here are the vital aspects of a chipset that a buyer should consider:
- PCIe Lanes and Version: PCIe is a high-speed serial expansion bus standard that allows communication paths for hardware. Each hardware requires a specific number of lanes to become functional or perform optimally. The PCIe version is equally important as it determines how the motherboard can carry data between the GPU, CPU, Storage Device, and Expansion cards. PCIe 5.0 boosts a speed of 32GT/s, whereas PCIe 4.0 works at 16GT/s. Here is a simple table to understand the PCIe differences between different chipsets:
|Chipset||Total PCIe Lanes||Lanes for Graphic Card||Lanes for NVMe|
|Z790||28||1×16 PCIe® 5.0||1×4 PCIe® 5.0|
|H770||24||1×16 PCIe® 4.0||0|
|X670E||44||1×16 PCIe® 5.0||1×4 PCIe® 5.0 plus 4x PCIe® GPP|
|B650||36||1×16 PCIe® 4.0||1×4 PCIe® 4.0 (PCIe® 5.0 Optional)|
- USB and Thunderbolt Support: The speed and quantity of USB and Thunderbolt depend on the motherboard chipset. Both the interface technologies require PCIe lanes to operate. A USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 requires 2 PCIe lanes, whereas a Thunderbolt 4 requires 4. CPU and motherboard collectively provide the PCIe lanes. Generally, the motherboard should have sufficient PCIe lanes to support the latest USB and Thunderbolt ports.
3. Memory Support
The RAM’s speed can directly affect games’ frames per second (FPS). The impact is less significant than a graphic card, but it’s still substantial enough to reduce the frame rate. There are four aspects of memory support that users should consider:
- RAM Version: The version of the RAM and motherboard should match. DDR5 and DDR4 are the recent versions of RAM available for users. Purchasing two memory stick bundles can also enable dual-channel configuration. Follow the motherboard instructions to install similar RAMs in dedicated slots for a performance increase of up to 20%.
- Supported Speed: Speed compatibility is vital for accurate memory module performance. After matching the RAM versions, the user must observe the compatible speed on the motherboard specifications. The
- Number of Slots: The number of slots represents the expansion capability of the motherboard. A higher number of DIMM slots is better for installing smaller-capacity RAMs. It results in better heat dissipation and an increase in performance. Currently, 16GB is the minimum required RAM space for most games. However, AAA tiles may be more demanding.
- Overclocking Potential: Modern motherboards with powerful VRMs (voltage regulating modules) can boost RAM speeds beyond their rated frequencies. The capability of tweaking with timing and VRM for memory overclocking is also an additional tool to increase gaming performance.
4. Storage Options
A user can connect their storage drives on a modern gaming motherboard through two main ways: an M.2 or SATA connection. The M.2, as mentioned earlier, requires PCIe lanes to operate with NVMe protocol. In comparison, the number of SATA ports depends on the motherboard chipset and ports. Your motherboard should have the following specifications to ensure good gaming capability:
- One or more M.2 slots
- A decent number of SATA ports
- NVMe compatible M.2 slot
5. Expansion Slots
An expansion slot is vital for graphic card compatibility. As a gamer, you must ensure that the PCIe x16 slots are the latest version. It will keep the graphic card running at its potential and avoid any potential bottleneck. Look for:
- One or more PCIe x16 slots
- PCIe x16 slot with the latest PCIe 5.0 version or higher
- Reinforced and reliable design to avoid slot damage by heavier cards
Whether gaming online, streaming, watching YouTube, streaming videos, or just downloading stuff from the internet, the speed mainly depends on the networking connection. It can be a wireless or wired connection. Gamers and creators prefer a wired connection over a wireless connection, mainly due to speed. You will need to consider the following aspects before making a purchase:
- LAN: The R45 connector is the standard port for LAN connection. The speed of the port also depends on the motherboard chipset. Aim for a high-end chipset with a 2.5G or 10G LAN connection to avoid any potential bottleneck.
- WiFi: WiFi technology is rapidly changing. WiFi-6E and WiFi-7 are the latest technologies available. WiFi-7 can ramp up to speeds of 30 Gbps with 3ms latency as a WiFi-6E 9.6 Gbps with 20ms latency. Make sure that your chipset has the latest technology. In addition, ensure that your home/office WiFi router has a similar or a higher version of WiFi.
- Bluetooth: BT is the most common mode for connecting devices such as headphones, smartphones, and gadgets. The latest BT version is Bluetooth 5.4.
Audio serves an essential role in an immersive gaming experience. A low-quality sound can put you off wandering in the wrong direction. Games like Valorant, Call of Duty, and Counter-Strike require pinpoint precision when aiming. Audio is a crucial part of detecting enemy locations. Here are the main things to consider on motherboard audio:
- USB-C and 3.5mm jack port
- High-quality audio capacitors
- Different PCB audio layers to avoid noise
- High-resolution audio support such as 24-bit/192kHz
With so much current flowing through gaming components, they tend to produce heat. Heat removal is vital to ensure the healthiness and performance of parts. If the temperatures rise and do not come down, the components will reduce their speed to decrease heat generation. To keep the hardware performance at its peak, ensure that the motherboard has the following features:
- Decent-sized VRM and Chipset heatsinks
- Heatsinks for M.2 NVMe SSDs
- Fan headers on every side of the motherboard
- AIO water cooling compatible ports
9. Overclocking Features
Overclocking is the trending feature of all motherboards. CPU manufacturers provide unlocked processors capable of increasing speed based on the requirement. Overclocking enthusiasts can even push for higher frequencies by applying top-tier cooling systems. Look for the following features when searching for a motherboard:
- Voltage control through motherboard BIOS
- A higher number of VRM modules, such as 16+1 power stages.
- Higher power stages mean better stability when running overclocked hardware.
- Thick PCB with thicker copper tracing
- A graphical user interface for UEFI BIOS
10. Additional Features
Additional features such as RGB, on-board diagnostic display, BIOS flash buttons, dip-switch for configuration, on-board diagnostic tools, etc, are the features that users may require depending on their overclocking or maintenance needs. However, they do not directly affect gaming performance, so they are generally under additional features.
After going through the individual features of the motherboard, a reader can conclude the importance of careful motherboard selection. Every component on the motherboard can affect your gaming performance. A substandard protocol may lead to a bottleneck in hardware performance. Overclocking features, storage drive protocol, RAM speeds, chipset technology, and cooling options are all vital to building a high-performance gaming machine. Similarly, quality audio or networks can have an impact on competitive gamers.
Gamers who build up their game accounts to earn crypto or cash through trusted marketplaces can increase their speed with a good motherboard. Buttery smooth frames help with aim and game completion speed. So, whether you are a competitive gamer or an account seller, investing in a good motherboard is always the best option. So why wait? Go and find the best motherboard for your gaming rig!
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