CPU Cooling on MSI Motherboard
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek

What to Look For in an Intel Gaming Motherboard in 2023

First, you should consider whether the board you’re eyeing is compatible with your CPU. In other words, its chipset and the CPU socket must be compatible with the processor you plan on buying.

After you find out your CPU’s socket and the chipsets your processor is compatible with, it’s time to focus on motherboard features. The most important feature of every board is its voltage-regulating module (VRM), which keeps the voltage supplied to your CPU consistent.

If you get a board with a low-quality VRM, said motherboard won’t be able to run your CPU at its max power and performance, which can leave a lot of gaming performance on the table.

Next, focus on expansion ports, connectivity, and storage support. You should find a board that hits all the boxes regarding your needs and then some, so you have enough storage support to add more SSDs or HDDs, hook up more case fans, and have enough USB ports for any new peripherals you might add in the future.

For instance, while multi-GPU gaming is dead and gone, you might want to pick a board with multiple high-bandwidth PCIe x16 slots—like dual PCIe 5.0 x16 slots that can work in x8/x8 mode along with another PCIe 4.0 x4 slot—in case you want to add a capture card, an adapter allowing you to install more NVMe SSDs, or a beefy 10Gbps network card in case you rock a network attached storage (NAS).

Similarly, extra features such as the ability to update BIOS without a CPU, or diagnostic LEDs that can quickly identify the source of the issue you’re having, can be handy if you’re running into issues.

Also, a 2.5Gbps LAN (RJ-45) port and a quality Wi-Fi solution are always good to maximize your internet bandwidth or if you upgrade your internet plan in the future. On the other hand, if you need a 10Gbps LAN port, it’s better to get a 10Gbps LAN PCIe card instead of spending hundreds of dollars more on a high-end motherboard rocking a 10Gbps LAN port.

Concerning audio, you should know that even basic audio chips these days are good enough for most users. Beefier boards usually do a better job isolating audio-related components than affordable models, resulting in a clearer audio signal instead of packing enthusiast-grade hardware.

Many affordable DACs are better than most onboard audio solutions anyway. You can upgrade your sound experience with a quality yet affordable DAC and spend way less than getting a high-end board featuring a high-end audio solution.

When it comes to the form factor, there are loads of excellent ATX gaming motherboards for your Intel CPU. The mATX or micro ATX form factor isn’t as popular, but you can find a few quality models. SFX aficionados are limited to a couple of high-end models if you’ve picked a K-series CPU and one or two budget mini-ITX boards, mostly from ASRock, in case you’ve bought a non-K Intel CPU.

Best Intel Motherboard for Gaming Overall: Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Elite AX

GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX on pink and yellow background


  • Competitive price
  • Lots of features
  • Excellent connectivity options
  • Four M.2 slots
  • Supports BIOS Q-Flash
  • High-quality VRM


  • The built-in audio solution could've been better

If you ask us what the best motherboard for a 12th or 13th gen Intel CPU is, we’d suggest the Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Elite AX. This is one of the best bang-for-buck choices on the market right now, thanks to its competitive price, a wide range of features, a plethora of ports, and the fact that the board’s available in both DDR4 and DDR5 flavors.

The design isn’t anything to write home about, but the board’s VRM can handle any current Intel CPU without issues. It’s got four M.2 slots, all of which support PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs. Its main PCIe x16 slot supports PCIe 5.0, and the board includes Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and 2.5Gbps LAN.

You’ve also got two extra PCIe x16 slots, both working in x4 mode, which is more than enough for a capture or 10Gbps LAN card. The Z790 Aorus Elite AX also includes six SATA III ports if you want to add 2.5-inch storage drives.

The rear I/O hosts one USB-C 20Gbps port, two USB-A 10Gbps ports, four USB-A 5Gbps ports, four USB-A 2.0 ports, a single HDMI 2.0 port, and a single DisplayPort connector.

Regarding extra features, you can update the BIOS without a CPU, and you can find an internal USB-C 10Gbps header. Finally, the audio section is handled by the Realtek ALC897 audio codec, which is supported by high-end audio capacitors resulting in pretty good audio quality.

Overall, this is a great Intel motherboard for every gamer out there.

Best Intel Motherboard for Gaming Overall


The GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX is the best Intel motherboard for gaming for most users. It's got great connectivity options, lots of fast USB ports, four M.2 slots, and a high-quality VRM. The only major downside is the disappointing built-in audio solution.

Best Budget Intel Motherboard for Gaming: MSI PRO B760M-A Wi-Fi DDR4

MSI PRO B760M-A on orange background


  • Excellent VRM
  • Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5Gbps LAN
  • Attractive Design
  • Compact form factor
  • Multiple M.2 ports with PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD support
  • Competitive price


  • Lacks the BIOS flashback button
  • Missing I/O shield
  • No USB-C ports on the rear I/O

Now, if your budget is $170 or less, we’d recommend the MSI PRO B760M-A Wi-Fi DDR4. This motherboard has the best VRM on the budget Intel motherboard market. You can slap the Intel Core i9-13000K on it, and the CPU will reach its full potential as long as you have a good enough cooling solution.

The specs here aren’t great, but we couldn’t ask for more since this is a budget Intel motherboard. You’ve got two M.2 slots supporting PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs, one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot working in x4 mode, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot.

The board also comes with four SATA III ports, 2.5Gbps LAN, Wi-Fi 6E support, and its audio section is based on the Realtek ALC897 audio codec. If you want the best audio quality, however, you’ll be to get a separate DAC. The rear I/O features two USB-A 10Gbps ports, two USB-A 5Gbps ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. There are also two HDMI and two DisplayPort connectors.

The good news is that the MSI PRO B760M-A Wi-Fi DDR4 has an internal USB-C connector in case your PC enclosure features a front USB-C port, but it’s a USB-C 5Gbps connector instead of a USB-C 10Gbps. Another good news is that you’ve also got four debug LEDs, which can help troubleshoot hardware issues.

Downsides here include the lack of a BIOS flash button, no I/O shield, and no USB-C ports on the rear I/O panel. However, considering the price, we can’t complain.

Those who want DDR5 support can get the MSI MAG B760M MORTAR WIFI, which costs about $200.

Best Budget Intel Motherboard for Gaming


The MSI PRO B760M-A WiFi DDR4 is one of the best budget motherboards for Intel CPUs on the market thanks to its high-end VRM, compact design, multiple PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, and excellent connectivity options. It has some downsides but you'll hardly get a better package at this price.

Best Mini-ITX Intel Motherboard for Gaming: MSI MPG Z790I Edge WIFI

MSI MPG Z790I Edge on yellow background


  • High-end VRM for a Mini-ITX motherboard
  • Three M.2 slots
  • Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5Gbps LAN
  • Excellent price
  • High quality audio


  • Lacks Thunderbolt 4 ports

The best Mini-ITX Intel motherboard for gaming is the MSI MPG Z790I Edge WIFI. MSI knocked it out of the park with this board, considering that it offers a ton of features for $350—an excellent price for a high-end Mini-ITX motherboard. You only need to worry about cooler compatibility; make sure you can mount the cooler you want before buying it or the board.

Specs-wise, you’ve got DDR5 memory support, a single PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, and three M.2 ports. Two can handle PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs, while the third supports PCIe 3.0 NVMe and SATA SSDs. We are delighted to see three M.2 slots on an ITX motherboard since most ITX designs pack only two M.2 slots. The VRM here can handle the Intel Core i9-13900K without issues, just don’t try to overclock it.

The goodies continue with Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and a 2.5Gbps LAN. The Realtek ALC4080 audio codec that powers the audio section is the cherry on top. The ALC4080 is an excellent built-in audio solution for mid-range and high-end motherboards.

The rear I/O features four USB-A 10Gbps ports, four USB-A 5Gbps ports, a single HDMI, a single DisplayPort connector, and a BIOS flash button. No USB-C or Thunderbolt 4 ports here, a notable omission. Luckily, you’ve got an internal USB-C 20Gbps header, which softens the blow somewhat.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, the GIGABYTE Z690I AORUS ULTRA LITE is an excellent deal priced at around $170. It has a high-end VRM for an ITX motherboard, many USB ports, and Wi-Fi 6; just don’t forget to update the BIOS if you want to install a 13th gen Intel CPU. You can update BIOS without the CPU thanks to the flash button on the rear I/O.

Best Mini-ITX Intel Motherboard for Gaming

MSI MPG Z790I Edge WiFi

The MSI MPG Z790I Edge WiFi is a brilliant Mini-ITX Intel motherboard for gaming that packs three M.2 slots and a high-end VRM. The board lacks Thunderbolt 4 ports on the rear I/O but that's about the only major negative we can find.

Best DDR5 Intel Motherboard for Gaming: ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero

ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero on grey background


  • Slick design
  • High-end VRM
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Five M.2 slots in total
  • A ton of high-bandwidth USB ports
  • BIOS flashback button
  • Great RGB implementation


  • Lacks a 10Gbps LAN port

If you’re looking for a high-end Intel motherboard for gaming with DDR5 support but don’t want to pay the premium for a flagship model, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is right up your alley.

The board features an overkill VRM that’s pretty good for overclocking, three M.2 slots with support for PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs, and two extra M.2 slots on the PCIe M.2 expansion card bundled with the motherboard.

Expansion options include two PCIe 5.0 x16 ports that run in x8/x8 mode when both are populated simultaneously. This way, you can use two PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSDs, with your GPU having eight PCIe 5.0 lanes available, equivalent to x16 PCIe 4.0 bandwidth. There’s also the third PCIe x16 slot, which supports PCIe 4.0 and runs at x4 mode.

The ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero features a 2.5Gbps LAN port, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity. It’s good, but we’d like to see 10Gbps LAN support at this price. On the flip-side, ASUS did an amazing job regarding the connection options on the rear I/O: two Thunderbolt 4 ports, five USB-A 10Gbps ports, one USB-C 10Gbps port, four USB-A 5Gbps ports, BIOS flashback and clear CMOS buttons, and a sole HDMI port. Impressive.

The board also comes with a great audio section. The ESS ES9218 Quad DAC aids the Realtek ALC4082 audio codec for a high-end experience. You’ve also got a huge RGB zone on top of one of the VRM heatsinks that are super bright.

In short, this is a brilliant Intel motherboard for gaming at a price that won’t make you cry.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero

The ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is a high-end Intel motherboard for gaming that packs everything you might need aside from a 10Gbps LAN port while costing less than any flagship Intel motherboard.

Best Intel Motherboard for Overclocking: Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Tachyon

Z790 AORUS TACHYON on grey background


  • The best VRM you can find in a motherboard compatible with Intel CPUs
  • Four M.2 slots
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • BIOS flashback button
  • Lots of OC-friendly features
  • High-end audio solution


  • Very Expensive
  • Lacks Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Comes without a 10Gbps LAN port

The Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Tachyon is a beastly motherboard made for overclocking that broke several Intel CPU and RAM OC records. If you’re looking for an Intel-compatible gaming motherboard made for overclocking the memory and the CPU, this is the board to get. This is an Extended-ATX (E-ATX) board, meaning it’s wider than a regular ATX motherboard. Make sure it can fit inside your case before pulling the trigger.

The Z790 Aorus Tachyon features only two RAM slots because you can get better results when overclocking your memory. The overkill VRM unit is here to ensure the best CPU OC results. Other specs include four M.2 connectors, all four with PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD support, four SATA III ports, one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot working in x8 mode, and one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot running at x4.

Connectivity options include a single 2.5Gbps LAN port, Wi-Fi 6E by Intel, and Bluetooth 5.3. The rear I/O hosts one USB-C 20Gbps port, three USB-A 10Gbps ports, and four USB-A 5Gbps ports. The rear I/O includes a BIOS flash, clear CMOS buttons, and a single HDMI port.

The lack of Thunderbolt 4 here is a major downside. Yes, this is a motherboard made for OC, but still, considering the price, we’d expect at least a single Thunderbolt 4 port on its rear. The Realtek ALC1220-VB Codec powers the audio section. It’s not the best solution but good enough for most users, especially those focused on overclocking their CPU.

If you’re looking for a flagship Intel motherboard for gaming that costs less, comes with more features, has lots of RGB, and can still net you pretty good overclocking results, we recommend the Gigabyte Z790 AORUS XTREME.

This flagship Intel motherboard has multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports, 10Gbps LAN, a higher quality audio section, and a lower OC potential than the Z790 Aorus Tachyon. Overall, a better choice for users who don’t want to spend countless hours exploring the OC limits of their CPU.

Best Intel Motherboard for Overclocking

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Tachyon

The Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Tachyon is the best Intel motherboard for overclocking you can get. It's equipped with plenty of OC-friendly features but it also lacks some features you'd expect in a flagship motherboard such as Thunderbolt 4 ports, 10Gbps LAN, or four RAM slots.

Frequently Asked Questions

The two main differences are CPU sockets and chipsets. Intel and AMD processors use different CPU sockets and are compatible with different chipsets used to control the flow of data between the CPU, GPU, memory, and other components in your PC.

Note that different generations of Intel and AMD CPUs use different CPU sockets and are compatible with different chipsets. For instance, the Intel Core i9-13900K is only compatible with motherboards rocking the LGA 1700 CPU socket and one of the chipsets made for 12th and 13th-gen Intel CPUs, which include the following chipsets: W680, Q670, B660, H610, H670, Z690, B760, H770, W790, and Z790.

You can take a look at the motherboard itself, check the box your motherboard came in, read the documentation available in the box, or check the model by using one of the tools available in your operating system.

You can read our guide on how to check your motherboard model number on your Windows PC for a complete list of software-based ways to find out what motherboard you have in case you’re using Windows.

To update your motherboard BIOS either download the BIOS file for your motherboard model, copy it to a USB thumb drive, and perform the update while in BIOS or use the BIOS flashback feature in case your board supports it. For a detailed explanation, read our guide on how to check your BIOS version and update it.

To test your motherboard before installing it inside your case, place it on the top of the box it came in, connect the necessary power supply cables, install the RAM, CPU, and GPU, and mount the CPU cooler.

Then, turn on the system, and if you see the post screen that shows you how to enter the BIOS menu, followed by a black screen with a notification that reads something like “Operating System not found,” you’re good to go.

For a detailed step-by-step guide, watch Britec09 YouTube channel has an excellent and informative guide on how to test a new motherboard.

TPM, or “Trusted Platform Module,” is a chip found on your motherboard used for disk encryption. If you want to install Windows 11, you’ll need TPM 2.0 on your motherboard. Most motherboards made in the last 6-7 years should feature TMP 2.0.

To find out more, read our TPM explanation piece. To learn how to enable TPM 2.0, visit Microsoft’s guide on enabling TPM 2.0 on your PC.

Profile Photo for Goran Damnjanovic Goran Damnjanovic
Goran Damnjanovic is a freelance writer specializing in PC hardware, gaming hardware in general, and video games. He has over seven years of experience writing for various online publications, including TechSpot and EsportsHeadlines.
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