When choosing computer parts for gaming, they must work together harmoniously to create a seamless, vibrant experience. Each piece of the build matters to some extent – even the PSU and hard drives can upgrade your experience if selected carefully.
So, of course, motherboard matters for gaming – but the reasons why it’s essential might be a bit different than you expect.
Three things make a motherboard important when building a gaming computer: quality, compatibility, and overclocking support can make a big difference in a gaming rig. However, it’s not the most crucial thing in your computer when it comes to performance by far.
The CPU, GPU, and RAM will probably affect your gaming performance more than the motherboard. However, the motherboard is what connects each of these components and lets them work as one. You don’t want to buy the most basic one you can find without considering whether it will be compatible and stable.
What Kinds of Motherboards Will Work?
There are lots of different motherboards with different designations. For example, it’s not unusual to see a board that says it’s made explicitly with the needs of gamers in mind.
You don’t have to buy a gaming-focused board. Instead, you should look at each of the specifications to see what it offers and what parts it will work best with. It’s possible that a non-gaming designated board might save you money and provide the same performance as a gaming board.
This isn’t to say that all motherboards are created equal and will work the same. They aren’t and won’t. Depending on how you like to play, there are definitely a few features you might want on a gaming motherboard.
Why Does a Motherboard Matter for Gaming?
Your motherboard matters for gaming because it is the base of the rest of your build. Its importance lies in its compatibility with other parts, but there are other aspects to consider when shopping for a new motherboard.
Quality and Stability
Some motherboards are simply built better than others. These quality upgrades might offer you more stability. Here are a few things to look for that might impact your experience with your motherboard.
- The PCB layer on the board can impact its stability. Often, boards built with more layers are higher-quality boards, but they tend to cost more.
- Check out what kind of ports are on the back of the motherboard. Make sure it has all the connections you might need.
- Some boards may advertise higher-quality materials. Certain of these may help mitigate heat better than other options.
One way to find a high-quality board is to check out many reviews and comparisons, especially those done by professionals with a reputation you trust. When multiple boards are compared to each other, you can hear what each excels at. Look for options that promote better temperatures, better power regulation, and faster ports.
If you’re planning to overclock your CPU and aren’t experienced at doing it yourself, a motherboard specifically designed to support overclocking might be a reasonable investment. Overclocking can be difficult, and some boards make it much more manageable.
Boards designed for overclocking also often have a higher build quality because of the expected increased demands of the system. They also come with software that can help you overclock. You’ll notice that many boards that offer this kind of support are targeted at gamers.
The most important feature of your motherboard is what peripheral devices it can support. For example, you don’t want to choose a motherboard that doesn’t work with your intended CPU, GPU, or RAM. Here are a few things that matter when choosing a motherboard for gaming.
- Consider what kind of RAM it can handle. Dual-channel RAM or quad-channel RAM is a necessity for gaming computers.
- Make sure it’s compatible with your CPU. It needs to have exact compatibility, or it won’t work.
- Check out what kind of drives you can hook in. Most newer motherboards come with an M.2 slot that has speed advantages over other types of drives.
Always make sure your motherboard has the ports and slots you need. Compare boards to each other to get an idea of the standard for each port versus how many you might need, especially if you’re making a high-end gaming build.
A few other features offered by some motherboards might appeal to a gamer enough to influence what board they choose to buy. Consider these features when purchasing a new motherboard.
- Some motherboards are designed to help overclock RAM, too.
- Look for a motherboard with visible error codes if you like to overclock and troubleshoot your build.
- Some motherboards offer a dual BIOS setup. If one crashes, you can still use the other.
- Many motherboards designed for gaming are upgraded for stable power regulation. Anything that helps the board work more smoothly will be good for gamers.
- Motherboards with onboard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are also available.
When you look through a motherboard’s specifications list, you can see how it compares to another board.
What Features Should I Look for on a Good Gaming Motherboard?
The most important feature of a gaming motherboard is its compatibility with your CPU, GPU, and RAM. Beyond that, there are a few features you may want to look for.
- Consider getting the upgraded drives, especially if you use your computer a lot. While the M.2 drives have less storage, they’re great for running the programs you use the most. When it comes to gaming, cutting down any lag between the action on screen and your eye is worth an upgrade.
- Look for motherboards that support high-speed RAM. Upgraded RAM may help your gameplay run more smoothly. You also need to make sure you’re buying a motherboard that supports your RAM type. While DDR 5 is the newest and very fast, DDR4 is still a solid choice for gaming.
- Try to find motherboards that offer some type of cooling solution. Boards with larger heatsinks or other integrated cooling options might hold up better in the long term.
How Do I Know if My Motherboard Is Good for Gaming?
Check out the recommended specs for the games you want to play. Focus on the CPU and graphics card. If your motherboard is good enough to support the corresponding components, then it’s good enough for gaming. That’s the thing that matters the most.
However, if you want any of the specific build features mentioned above, you must narrow down your choices. For example, choosing a board with DDR 5 might mean you can’t select a different board that supports DDR4 but also has a cooling option you like.
What if the Motherboard I Have Isn’t for Gaming but Works Well?
If your motherboard works and isn’t creating any issues or stopping your other parts from performing at their best, then your motherboard is good for gaming. You don’t need to switch to another motherboard unless your current one has some kind of problem or you need to upgrade for compatibility purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Motherboards Affect FPS?
Unless a new motherboard allows another peripheral part to work more efficiently and deliver more performance, it won’t affect your FPS. The motherboard on its own doesn’t influence how your games perform.
Do I Need an Expensive Motherboard?
You don’t need an expensive motherboard for gaming. As a matter of fact, motherboards are one of those areas where people will go a little cheaper on a build to put the money elsewhere. While you need to get a compatible motherboard and are better off going with a higher-quality one with more features if possible, you aren’t going to have an awful computer if you go with a budget board.
Should I Upgrade the Motherboard or CPU First?
If you have a choice, upgrade the CPU first. Just remember that your CPU has to be compatible with your motherboard. Upgrading your CPU won’t improve the upgradability of your entire machine – it’ll just make programs run better. Upgrading your motherboard may not give you equivalent boosts in performance, but it will give you the option to upgrade your entire build down the road.
Will I Notice the Upgrade if I Get a New Motherboard?
You won’t necessarily notice a considerable improvement in your gaming if you switch to a new motherboard. That’s one reason I don’t recommend doing it unless you need a new motherboard or are having issues with your current one.
It’s possible if your current motherboard is highly outdated, you might notice the upgrade a bit more. However, the motherboard is the base of your system but not the heavy hitter in it. You will notice an upgrade to almost any active peripheral more than one for the motherboard.