Motherboards have come a long way with respect to onboard features. Selecting a good motherboard is important to ensure a stable computing platform and optimum operating efficiency of all PC components. The PC market is still split between Intel and AMD offerings and so are motherboards. Each platform offers chipsets to cater to all budgets and thus, you will find corresponding motherboards that incorporate these at different price points.
There are several factors that must be considered while buying a motherboard. The most important of them being support for your platform of choice. Intel and AMD have different chipsets and processor sockets so it is important that your board supports your CPU of choice. Another important consideration is the board's form factor. Most motherboards come in miniITX, microATX, and ATX form factors. You need to select the appropriate form factor for your computer cabinet depending on the physical space you can afford. Remember that the onboard features very depending on the form factor you choose. However, these days you should be looking at a minimum of one PCI-E x16 slot, an M.2 slot, and 2 RAM slots.
With that information, here's a look at the 8 best motherboards in 2019 across Intel and AMD platforms.
1. Asus ROG Maximum XI Hero (Wi-Fi)
The Asus ROG Maximum XI Hero is one of the best motherboards for the latest Intel Core i7 and i9 8th generation and 9th generation CPUs. The board comes in a special Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 theme and is great for RGB enthusiasts and overclockers. Asus offers a 5-way optimization system wherein users can tweak almost every aspect of the board. The interface is easy to understand even for first-time overclockers while pros can dive deep in to the UEFI settings for more. Overclockers will also appreciate the many cooling controls that can accommodate RGB fans or custom water coolers that can be easily managed via FanXpert 4.
The Asus ROG Maximum XI Hero is a very expensive board and you should be looking for it only if you are able to take advantage of all the features. One issue is that Asus advertises this as an 8 phase VRM, but it is actually a 4 phase duplex. That being said, you can still push the Core i9-9900K over 5 GHz on all cores as long as you use a proper cooling setup.
- Pros: Fully loaded; Pre-installed I/O shield; Overclocker friendly BIOS
- Cons: Expensive; VRMs not properly advertised
2. Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 (Wi-Fi)
- Features: 10+2 VRM design; ALC-1220-VB audio codec; RGB Fusion; Integrated I/O shield; Rear power/reset/clear CMOS function; Debug LEDs; Swappable BIOS chip; Dual M.2; 2-way SLI/CrossFire
- Socket: AM4
- Chipset: AMD X470
- Form Factor: ATX
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 12.2 x 14.17 x 3.54 in
For those looking at an AMD system, the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 offers a very robust high-end solution. The Gaming 7 uses a 10+2 VRM phase design that provides enough power for overclocking the Ryzen 7 2700X and the direct touch heatpipe ensures that excess heat from the VRMs is transferred away. This board also comes integrated with Intel 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi that offers speeds up to 1.73 Gbps. A good feature of the board is the presence of many BIOS safety features such as a rear CMOS clear switch, a swappable BIOS chip, and debug LEDs that indicate if any malfunction has occurred.
While the Aorus Gaming 7 is one of the best motherboards for Ryzen, it does have a few shortcomings. The BIOS is not as fully featured or intuitive as some of the competing offerings and also some of the inbox apps are buggy. Some users have complained of QC issues with the onboard audio chip. All said and done, the Aorus Gaming 7 is one of the best high-end X470 boards you can buy.
- Pros: Good feature set; Clean power delivery for overclocking
- Cons: BIOS layout needs improvement
3. ASRock B450M-HDV
The ASRock B450M is for those interested in looking for the best budget offering for the AMD Ryzen platform. The ASRock B450M is one the best microATX AMD motherboards available. But don't let the size fool you as this is a very capable solution for small form factor PCs. This motherboard is based on the latest B450 chipset from AMD. Thus, it is compatible with most modern Ryzen processors apart from the Threadrippers. B450 is not particularly known for overclocking but the ASRock B450M offers a 7-phase power design that should be able to supply steady voltage should you decide to increase the clocks. You also get most common connectivity features and can use both ECC and non-ECC RAM modules.
However, there are some limitations given the form factor. You can only use up to two RAM sticks so you might have to plan your upgrade options beforehand. Also, there are some issues when it comes to the memory XMP profiles, which would hopefully be rectified in a future BIOS update. That being said, this is easily one of the best buys for those looking at a compact HTPC setup or a mini gaming rig.
- Pros: Affordable; Good feature set
- Cons: Limited RAM expansion; Issues with setting XMP profiles
4. ASRock X299 Taichi
The ASRock X299 Taichi is one of the best motherboards for the Intel X299 platform. This platform includes support for the high-end desktop computing (HEDT) Intel Core-X series processors. This motherboard offers some serious CPU and RAM overclocking options and is a recommended option if you are looking towards Intel's Skylake-X processors. The X299 Taichi supports overclocked memory up to 4.4 GHz. You also get four PCI-Express x16 slots, which means you can easily use a Quad SLI or a 3-way CrossFire setup. The Intel Skylake-X platform offers more PCI-E lanes than the consumer Core variants so you can install multiple NVMe or SATA drives and configure them in RAID. This is perfect for those in content creation and production industries.
The ASRock X299 Taichi offers a very stable platform for Intel HEDT CPUs such as the Core i7-7820X. However, you might run into issues if you try to boot older Windows versions or even try to use Linux. You might not notice immediate benefits of the X299 platform unless you max out all other components and use multiple PCI-E devices so it's best to weigh your use case before splurging on this board.
- Pros: Great for serious overclockers; Supports a wide array of peripherals
- Cons: Not really easy to use OSs other than Windows 10
5. Asus ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha
With Intel offering HEDT solutions, AMD cannot be far behind. In fact, the Ryzen Threadripper series is by far the most favored HEDT CPU given its insane core counts and high clock speeds. The Asus ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha is based on the X399 platform and is one the best motherboards for Threadripper processors. It is expensive, but you get features that should justify the price. Given the massive PCI-E lane count of the Threadripper CPUs, we see support for 4x PCI-E x16 slots and 3x NVMe slots. You can also add more NVMe drives via an add-on card if you desire.
The Zenith Extreme Alpha also offers a 10 Gigabit LAN that is optimized for gaming and other network intensive tasks. The BIOS is extremely well detailed and offers plenty of overclocking options. There is also a status indicator that shows the current CPU clock along with diagnostic LEDs that indicate if there is anything wrong with the system. Those looking at using extreme cooling solutions such as custom waterblocks will be pleased to find the required number of headers on board. The backpanel also includes a pre-installed I/O shield that helps with the overall aesthetics. Overall, there is nothing much to fault with the ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha and if you can overlook the high asking price, this is one of the best motherboards for the Threadripper platform.
- Pros: Huge feature set; Future-proof; 10G LAN
- Cons: Expensive
6. MSI X470 Gaming Plus
The MSI X470 Gaming Plus is a high end motherboard for the Ryzen platform. The X470 chipset supports advanced Ryzen features such as Precision Boost 2.0 and XFR 2.0. You can also use the new 7th gen A-series Athlon processors as well, but the board is best utilized with the Ryzen 5 and above. The Gaming Plus can support various XMP profiles up to 3200 MHz and above. Navigating the BIOS in the Gaming Plus is a treat as it offers a good intuitive interface and can be easily used by both newbies and pros. Up to two AMD Radeon GPUs can be used in CrossFire mode. The PCI-E x16 slots are covered by steel to secure the GPUs in place.
The MSI X470 Gaming Plus uses chemi-con capacitors for a distortion-free audio and also features built-in enhancements for life-like audio for games and movies. It also supports enough number of fan headers so that you can provide adequate cooling whenever needed. This is one of the best motherboards under $150 and offers something for almost every user.
- Pros: Good features; Enough number of fan headers
- Cons: None as such
7. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC
The MSI MPG Z390M is one of the best microATX motherboards available for the Intel platform and supports the latest 8th gen and 9th gen CPUs including Core, Pentium, and Celeron. Despite being a microATX board, it offers many high-end features including DDR4 RAM overclock up to 4500 MHz, 2x M.2 slots that are Intel Optane read, and Turbo Boost USB 3.1 Gen 2. You also get MSI's Mystic Light RGB LEDs along with addressable headers. Other Mystic Light compatible peripherals can be controlled with MSI's software. The best part about this board is that it is dual-GPU capable despite being such a compact form factor.
The MPG Z390M also offers built-in Intel Gigabit Wi-Fi with speeds up to 1.73 Gbps. VRMs are covered by heatsinks to prevent thermal throttling and the onboard audio components do a fine job of delivering good multi-channel audio. Overall, if you are looking for a good Z390 board in the microATX form factor, the MSI MPG Z390M should be high on your list.
- Pros: Good feature set; Dual M.2 NVMe slots; Gigabit Wi-Fi
- Cons: None as such
8. Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming
The Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming offers excellent specs and is a high-end Intel Z390-based motherboard for the latest 8th gen and 9th gen processors. The ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming offers everything one expects from a flagship gaming motherboard including good overclocking abilities. Like many other Asus boards, the Strix Z390-I Gaming offers a 5-way optimization that can overclock the CPU based on predictive algorithms and thermal headroom. You can use your own customized cooling solution including waterblocks or can control multiple fans using FanXpert 4.
The Z390-I Gaming also uses a pre-mounted I/O shield that adds to the aesthetics of the board and the board also supports AuraSync RGB. The onboard SupremeFX audio is based on the Realtek S1220A codec that is tuned to offer a great audio experience in games and movies, especially when using headphones that support virtual surround.
- Pros: Good overclocking options; Fail-safe memory overclock
- Cons: Only one USB 2.0 header
So, that was our round-up of the best motherboards to buy for both Intel and AMD platforms in 2019. Compared to a few generations ago, we are seeing motherboards offering advanced features onboard without the requirement of additional add-on cards. Shopping for motherboards can get tricky with all the technicalities involved. However, our guide should help you give an idea of the choices on offer irrespective of your platform preference.
Let us know in the comments below if you need any other information and we'll be sure to get back to you at the earliest.