Dear Budget Gamers, You DON’T Need Expensive Motherboards

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Unlike the stigmatization, budget motherboards for gaming are capable enough to provide decent performance without breaking the bank.

 

Story Highlight
  • There are several myths around expensive motherboards, such as over-emphasized chipset names and an overload of features.
  • The real impact of gaming comes from CPUs and GPUs, faster storage, and lower-latency RAM kits.
  • A motherboard’s overclocking potential and VRM quality are the only aspects directly impacting a PC’s gaming performance.

Occasionally, I get requests to help someone from my social circle with their budget gaming PC, and the main reason why they can’t sit within their budget is that they’re adding an expensive motherboard. Now, hear me out, but it’s not worth going for high-end Z790 or X670E chipsets just for gaming. Budget motherboards for gaming will do the job just fine. Read on, and let me clear it up for you.

Dismissing The Myth Of Expensive Motherboards

I have overclocked enough RAM kits, processors, and NVMe SSDs on the budget B660 and B650 chipsets to tell you with a straight face that expensive motherboards are more or less a marketing gimmick. Similarly, here are some other myths for you:

Over-Emphasized Chipset Names

MSI MEG Z790 ACE MAX
MSI MEG Z790 ACE MAX (Image by Tech4Gamers)

Getting a hold on a motherboard’s performance isn’t as simple as a CPU’s or a GPU’s. That’s why many people, when questioning me, over-emphasize chipset names. For example, it’s easy to believe that a Z790 chipset motherboard will outperform a B760. However, after comparing the Z790 and B760 chipsets in my testing, I realized the only major difference is that the former supports greater overclocking.

On that end, you can still utilize Intel’s Turbo Boost to gain an edge in performance in most games. That’s why I believe chipset names don’t directly dictate an improvement in gaming performance.

Overloaded Features

If you’re building a budget gaming PC within $1,000, you won’t need most of the overloaded features a high-end motherboard chipset comes with. For example, I was thinking of installing the MSI Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi in a $1,500 build the other day, but the extra storage options, insane connectivity, and the remarkable USB 4.0 Add-in card connector would go to waste.

Therefore, for average gamers like myself, a B660 motherboard for an AMD build is plenty to allow overclocking, have enough storage options, and offer decent future-proofing as well.

The Real Impact On Gaming Performance

If a motherboard isn’t impacting the gaming performance of your PC, then what exactly is it? Well, for starters, motherboards can provide a performance uplift, but you don’t need a fancy chipset to achieve that. Here’s what I mean:

CPU & GPU Dominance

Intel Core i9-14900K Installed
Intel Core i9-14900K Installed (Image By Tech4Gamers)

When it comes to gaming, the processor and graphics card play the biggest roles in providing greater performance. My general rule of thumb is to set aside around half my total budget just for the graphics card. Meanwhile, I tend to look at the CPU and motherboard as a bundle package as I need to look into the socket compatibility.

So, by saving some money on the motherboard, you can spend slightly more on the CPU or GPU to provide your desired performance. Except for Intel’s B760 chipset, you won’t have any overclocking issues, either.

Memory & Storage Concerns

Although they do not directly impact gaming performance, faster RAM kits and NVMe SSDs have always helped keep my PC’s loading times at a minimum. The catch is that you’ll need a motherboard that supports the RAM generation, capacity, and frequency. However, if you’re building a budget gaming PC, I recommend staying on DDR4 and saving money for another PC component.

VRM Quality & Power Delivery

ASRock Z790 NOVA WiFi - Power Delivery Circuit
ASRock Z790 NOVA WiFi VRM (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Unless you plan extreme overclocking, the VRM quality in a high-end or mid-range motherboard won’t affect you too much. However, I have noticed a slight performance difference when using a motherboard with high-quality VRMs.

Similarly, even when I’m choosing a mid-range B660 motherboard, I always tend to search for an efficient power delivery system so that my PC doesn’t overheat. That way, I can save it from thermal throttling, too. Moreover, better power delivery equates to lower chances of bottlenecking your GPU.

Overclocking Capabilities

You’ll only start seeing the difference between high-end and budget motherboards for gaming if you’re a manual overclocker like myself. I’m not talking about extreme overclocking, either. For example, if I install my Intel i5-13600K CPU on an H610 motherboard, I might not achieve the same overclocking performance as a B660 motherboard.

On the same note, a B760 or a B650 chipset won’t provide the same overclocking capabilities as an X670E or Z790 chipset. Hence, I recommend weighing the benefits and prerequisites before choosing which chipset to purchase.

Final Thoughts

To summarize my thoughts, you simply don’t need a high-end motherboard chipset for gaming. Budget motherboards for gaming will provide enough performance to keep you happy. On the other hand, if you’re an enthusiast overclocker, I recommend purchasing the best motherboard you can find for your endeavors.

As a budget gamer myself, I always advise other budget gamers to prioritize their money on buying the best CPU and GPU they can get. After that, spend a moderate amount on a RAM kit and at least buy a 128GB 2.5″ SSD drive. I don’t suggest a high-end X670E or Z790 motherboard for budget gaming at 1080p. The extra features would only go to waste and you’d be throwing money at places unneeded.

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